Keith Boykin

Keith Boykin (he/him) is a New York Times–bestselling author, TV and film producer, and former CNN political commentator. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Keith served in the White House, cofounded the National Black Justice Coalition, cohosted the BET talk show My Two Cents, and taught at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York. He’s a Lambda Literary Award–winning author and editor of seven books. He lives in Los Angeles.

Some arguments about race refuse to go away. It’s time, once and for all, to shatter them.
The most toxic racial arguments share one of five traits. They try to erase Black history, prioritize white victimhood, deny Black oppression, promote myths of Black inferiority, or rebrand racism as something else entirely. They’re all designed to distract society from racial justice, but now we have the tools to debunk them.

My entire apartment in LA is a workspace, but I set up a desk in a room facing a wall. It’s useful for focus because there’s nothing to look at, but if I turn around, I have a great view of Los Angeles.

Now that we’re in election season, I’m mostly just reading the news, which is sad. Every morning I read the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As for books, I recently read and loved Eddie Ndopu’s, Sipping Dom Pérignon Through a Straw, andI’ve been reading Gerald Horne’s history books, including The Dawning of The Apocalypse.

I have a cozy little reading nook in my bedroom. I did a photo campaign for Ralph Lauren a couple years ago, and they sent me this really nice cashmere throw as a gift, so I draped it over the chair, and it’s so soft to sit with it when I’m reading.

Working as a political commentator on CNN for five years, I got tired of fighting the same battles and responding to the same predictable arguments about race, so I wanted to create a handy guide to debunk all the misinformation in one place. Then Black people started creating these “Racism Bingo Cards” which feature some of the most annoying arguments we hear from white people about race, and I decided to turn the Bingo card idea into a book filled with facts, history, and useful information to rebut the arguments.

Debunking Racist Arguments.

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m basically a memoirist. I’ve written seven books, and all of them borrow liberally from my life experiences as a Black kid from St. Louis who grew up to live in 12 different cities and travel the world. I write at the intersection of journalism, history, and personal narrative, so I see myself as the narrator in each book telling a story about the world through my eyes.

Definitely James Baldwin. As a Black gay man, I would love to learn how he navigated America’s racial politics as a civil rights activist and author while being “out” in the 1950s and 60s. I want to know how he did it all, what he learned, and what obstacles he overcame.

I like soulful music and songs that tell a story, so I’m listening to Jazmine Sullivan, Victoria Monét, Durand Bernarr, Samara Joy, Coco Jones, Sevndeep, Usher, Anthony Hamilton, Celine Dion, Beyonce, Corece, and always Luther and Whitney. But when I’m in the gym, I’ve been listening to a BBC series called “History of Africa with Zeinab Badawi”.

The two best meals I ate in the past year were both overseas. The first was moqueca I had at a mom-and-pop restaurant on the beach of a small island off the coast of Salvador da Bahia in Brazil. The second was the ceviche at a restaurant called Outpost in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I recommended several of my friends read a novel called Desire Lines by Cary Alan Johnson, which depicts life in the pre- and post-AIDS world of New York City in 1980s.

I love following Sherilynn Ifill, Philip Lewis, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Mehdi Hasan, Aaron Rupar, and Acyn on Twitter. They keep me informed. My Instagram, on the other hand, is not that serious. I mostly just follow friends and guys I think are cute, but I do appreciate informative posts from Viola Davis, entertaining performances from Jenifer Lewis, inspiring messages from WeTheUrban, community-oriented posts from @NativeSonNow, and rachet posts from @TrappyHourHarlemReloaded. Oh, and I almost forgot, I love @itslennnie.

This is going to sound weird, but The Autobiography of Malcolm X was one of the most important books of my childhood. I found an old copy somewhere around the house, and it really opened my eyes to see the world differently at a young age. It wasn’t in kindergarten or elementary school. It was some time around junior high. That and The Bible really made an impact on me.

Sadly, I haven’t watched much television all year, except for the news. I haven’t even seen the latest season of The Crown, which is one of my favorite shows.

I would love to write a historical fiction novel.

I’m a classic Virgo. Neat. Organized. Analytical. Perfectionist. I’ve spent my whole life trying to evolve out of that.

The Color Purple is my favorite screen adaptation of a movie.

About eight years ago, I started writing a book about my travels to Cuba after I fell in love with this guy I met on one of my trips down there. I flew to Havana every month for two years to see him, and then I helped him escape to Guyana, Brazil, Peru, and Chile, where he decided on his own to make a dangerous 5,000-mile journey to the Mexican border, cross into the United States, and applied for asylum. It was so emotionally draining that I wasn’t ready to write about it back then, but maybe I’ll return to it later.

I’ve been waiting for some time to sit down and read Black AF History by Michael Harriot.

When I was younger, I used to dream that I could fly. The dream happened so often and was so real that I literally would not allow myself to stand on the rooftop of a tall building near the edge because I was afraid I would try to fly off. Fortunately, that dream went away, and now I don’t want to fly anymore. But it would be nice to teleport.

I usually don’t like group trips, but I would take a fun trip with several fictional characters: Jackie Washington (Jackie’s Back), Cookie Lyon (Empire), Elektra Evangelista (Pose), Shug Avery (Color Purple), Uncle Clifford (P-Valley), Ricky (Noah’s Arc), and Arabella (I May Destroy You). We could all go someplace warm and fun and drink and eat and party all night.