Jason Reynolds

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I love you, I see you, I know. I know you're scared, and it's OK to be scared, and if you can't be scared out there you can be scared in here.

Jason Reynolds (born December 6, 1983) is an American author who writes young adult novels and poetry.


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  • It totally matters to me that teenagers think I'm cool. I mean, teens keep their fingers on the pulse of culture. When things shift, it's usually because they shift them. They call the shots. So if teenagers think I'm cool, then hopefully they'll want to get down with whatever I'm doing. My hope is that reading and writing becomes the new "waiting in line to buy Jordans."
  • I’m proud of young black america. I’m proud of them, even if they are misunderstood. I’m proud of them for using their voices, their way. Racism, classism, fear, it all exists. Still. It’s here, embedded into the fibers of our society. But I have to be honest, I do believe that because of technology, no matter how problematic it can be, and the rapid spreading of information, I’d like to believe there is a slow awakening occurring, and that our babies, or at least the generation after them will have a very different reality here. I know my role is to do what so many have done before me in this tradition — tell the stories, unashamed and unafraid.
I believe that it is in bearing witness that everything is made real.
  • Hip-hop saved me,. It gave me permission to use language in a certain way. It validated my community and my friends. It gave our slang a certain elegance. I have a chip on my shoulder I pet every morning, a constant feeling like I have something to prove. Hearing that the canon can’t be diversified, there’s no room for more brown faces—that fueled my fire. I loved music that people said was not music, that it was too violent, too crass, too sexual. And now everyone in the world is rapping Hamilton.
  • My uncle used to say that the good books begin with “… and shots rang out.” Shots rang out is a cliché, but what he meant is that no one has time for you to get us to the minefield. Drop us in the midfield in the beginning. Drop us off in the mix and you can move backward and forward from there. End in the mix. Don’t answer any questions. Leave me in the muck at the end, too. There can be less muck, but all the loose ends shouldn’t be tied up. There should be something unreconciled. That’s life. Nobody’s life is tied up in a bow. Stories that end in a bow are kind of disrespectful to the reader. If you want your story to be compelling, let it fade to black without reconciliation.
  • …And I just remember the pain – the pain of the lost friend but also the pain of meeting a part of myself that I didn’t know existed. A part of myself that could lose control to the point where I could commit a murder. That’s a very human thing. I think that most of us don’t ever meet that part of ourselves that exists within all of us. This rage that, when triggered, will cause you to do things that you don’t necessarily understand that you’re doing.
  • …Young people – especially young men – it’s not that they hate reading, it’s that they hate boredom. So my thing was: I need to write a story that is interesting, that is gripping, that can connect to them and their experiences, and write something that’s not very intimidating, because there’s so much white space.
  • I don't expect it to be easy, but I'm certain it will be fruitful. My mission is to take a different approach: Instead of explicitly encouraging young people to read, my goal is to get them to see the value in their own narratives — that they, too, have a story, and that there's power not just in telling it, but in the opportunity to do so.
The truths are universal: Every kid knows fear. Every kid knows family and friendship. Loss, love, laughter. Everything else is just detail.
  • I get to whisper to them, "I love you, I see you, I know. I know you're scared, and it's OK to be scared, and if you can't be scared out there you can be scared in here. Within the pages of this book, you can be who you wholly are." And perhaps that might be empowering enough to at least add a bit of significance to their lives.
  • People are like, "Well it's not standard English." So what? Standard English is for standard people.
  • Who else is there to write for, as far as I’m concerned. I’d rather go ahead and tap into these kids, who still are malleable, but who also have insight into things that we don’t know, with vision that we no longer have; who have imaginations that have already been zapped from us.

Quotes about Reynolds[edit]


  • If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
    • Variously attributed online (e.g., [1]) to Reynolds' book All American Boys. However, the book itself attributes this quote to Desmond Tutu. Compare Jason Reynolds; Brendan Kiely (29 September 2015). All American Boys. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books. ISBN 978-1-4814-6335-5. 

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