Kofi is the author of the award-winning book, Bull in a China Shop: Evolution of a Racial Justice Activist.
He founded The Activated People (TAP), an independent activist organization that is dedicated to promoting racial equity.
Kofi previously served two terms as the president of the Fairfax County, Virginia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was awarded the NAACP’s Thalheimer Award for being the best branch in the country.
He is also the owner of Soul Rebel, a family-owned food truck based in northern Virginia that serves a unique blend of Caribbean-American fusion cuisine.
He served eight years in the U.S Army and holds a Master of Science in International Relations from Troy University, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology from Tennessee State University.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
I’ve always enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. In school, I often wrote essays that were two to three times longer than required. I also entered and won multiple short story and oratorical contests. I had a vivid imagination and developed a knack for painting vivid scenes that captured people’s imaginations. The thing I like the most about writing is using it as a medium to tell my story and the stories of those who do not have a voice. Watching the trend of books by authors of color being censored or banned is incredibly frustrating and scary. It is one of the first steps to the erosion of freedom of speech which is a pillar of any thriving democracy.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
Bull in a China Shop: Evolution of a Racial Justice Activist is a memoir by an immigrant from the Caribbean who despite having little foreknowledge of the inner workings of American politics, successfully challenged the inertia of the establishment political systems to generate positive changes for his community. My relative ignorance about how things “should” be done was a double-edged sword. On the one hand I quickly became president of a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) branch and sketched out an approach that led the branch to be recognized as the best in the nation. But on the path to doing so I created enemies within the establishment Democratic Party and NAACP and learned some difficult lessons that ultimately led him to lose faith in both institutions.
This memoir chronicles how my life experiences growing up in the Caribbean, coming of age in Washington, DC during the crack cocaine epidemic, and professional experience in The Army and Intelligence Community shaped my perspective and approach to the civil rights fight. The memoir can serve as an educational tool for seasoned civil rights activists who wish to become more effective, and a motivational tool for those not yet involved in the fight but have a desire to engage. For more information about me or to purchase the book, visit bullinachinashopbook.com
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?
I draw my inspiration from my experiences conducting racial justice advocacy.
4) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel? What projects are you currently working on?
I try to maintain a schedule, but it is a challenge because I’m not a full-time author. I am currently drafting a novel, but I did not outline it. It is more free flowing.
5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally? Who is your favorite author to read? What book are you currently reading?
My favorite author is Malcom Gladwell. I love the way he explores unconventional ideas and uses science and data to support his arguments.
6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
I won the 2022 Bookfest first place award for books in government and politics.
7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What is your advice for other writers to better be able to cope or navigate their way through the publishing process, be it traditional or self-publishing?
I’m still new so I’ll pass on this question.
8) Do you find it hard to juggle the creative side of being a writer against the business side of being a writer, in terms of marketing and promotion and things of that nature? How hard has it been (or easy) for you to build up your author platform?
It has been a struggle honestly. But I’m outsourcing the marketing aspect of publishing to avoid blunders on the first book.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself after it’s out there for the rest of the world?
I don’t have a problem with that. But I usually find something I would like to change.
10) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
I don’t think so. Everyone has a story to tell. In some cases, age brings experiences that youth does not.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I see writing as an extension of my civil rights advocacy. So, when I write I aim to be as bold and uncompromising as I am in-person.