— We believe Black x Brown Stories Are Priceless —
When God spoke to Jonah and told him about his mission, Jonah did what most people would do — he ran in the opposite direction. I imagine that Jonah was scared that God was speaking to him and shocked that God had chosen him. The universe + higher powers send us signals daily. However, many of us don't have the faith or belief to welcome these signals and further interrogate their meaning. But, more on this later.
The date is April 28th, 2021. We're officially 52 days from the release of our first self-published book entitled "When We See Ourselves / Black x Brown Love." Not afraid of showing my hand, I'm convinced this anthology WILL fundamentally revolutionize how Black x Brown communities view our relationships (platonic and romantic) and cement the #BlindianProject firmly at the intersection of Black x Brown culture.
When I initially launched the #BlindianProject as a passion project in 2017, my purpose was simple: highlight the stories of Black x Brown love, often marginalized and swept under the rug. I had no idea how impactful this work could be or how many other individuals faced similar experiences worldwide. But, I knew there was something special with these stories in which couples fought racism, culture, class, religion, and other stereotypes in the name of love. The beauty of these awe-inspiring stories was simple - they allowed individuals to feel "seen" and provided people with the opportunity to finally find acceptance.
At the beginning of 2020, feeling disillusioned with the meaning of success in my professional career and life, I decided to focus on my creative endeavors. While I earned a handsome wage working as a Technology consultant, the reality was that the systems and processes we implemented in organizations were often removed as quickly as we put them in. I traveled up to four hours a day and essentially spent half of our four-year-old son's life away from home. We didn’t have children for only one of us to raise them.
So, I chose to change my reality. I put my head down and dedicated myself to the work without caring who watched. I aimed to normalize Black x Brown relationships and dismantle anti-Blackness within both of our communities via the #BlindianProject.
No one could foresee the events 2020 would later unfold. Following the emergence of COVID19, where Black x Brown communities were disproportionally affected, and the devastating murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others — we were forced to confront racial inequalities tearing at humanity's threads. Later that year, Kamala Harris entered the White House as the first Black (Jamaican) and Indian elected as Vice President of the United States of America. Our community blossomed to a captivated audience of over 25,000 people within a year and provided a haven for people who'd often felt isolated throughout their lives.
Here's where the story gets interesting, following media coverage from The BBC World News, The Washington Post/The Lily, Homegrown India, and many other outlets, our dreams and aspirations were sky-high. However, with only a small team in place, we struggled to launch products/services for our community and capitalize on the momentum. Another thing that irked me was that we struggled to build an editorial team* to help facilitate the creation of longer-form content, which the community had shown an interest in. We'd done some fantastic work and materially impacted people's lives, but there was much more room for us to grow.
Now, back to where the story started. My first name is also Jonah. For years, signals presented themselves to me, but I ignored them. Until one day, I decided to pick up the phone and believe in my calling. Amazingly, there aren't many other platforms championing the unification of our Black x Brown cultures, despite our rich shared histories and accomplishments. That's not to say we need to wait for anyone's approval to create a world representative of our communities.
As we countdown the days to the release of our first book, I/we hope that our content continues to speak to you and our community. I know it's not easy to find positive representations of ourselves in mainstream media. We hope you continue to share, support, and highlight our work to others who'd benefit from what we're doing.
Keep your eyes peeled. We plan on launching a multi-sensory, experiential exhibition popping up in a city near you sooner than you expect.
Reaching for the stars,
Jonah Batambuze is a Ugandan-American, multidisciplinary creative community builder and author of the soon-to-be-released book entitled "When We See Ourselves - Black x Brown Love." He was born in Chicago and raised in the cornfields of Central Illinois. In 2001, following a successful collegiate basketball career, Batambuze studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, where he met a South Indian princess who later became his wife.