Exclusive Interview With Author Andrew Raybon
Both service member and author, Andrew Raybon aspires to serve the black community through literature and corresponding action. His thought-provoking ideas are timely, and he hopes his comprehension of African American experiences proves useful in reshaping both society and individual world-views. In this book he outlines the importance of unity and incorporates examples from the past that can very well shape our future. The Framework: Structure for the Black Community is a guide of key reminders we should all keep in mind to progressively move forward as people of color.
Q - Your trajectory is quite impressive, ranging from being an author, service member, student, and activists for the black community. Please tell us how you manage your time and how your journey as an author started?
A - First, I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to be featured. It is quite difficult at times managing different roles while also building the foundation for the newer roles I am stepping into. I commit myself to being a lifelong learner and so I will always be open to trying new things to find a place in which I can be firmly cemented. As for as being an author, this is truly something that seemingly manifested itself. I say that to say I have never considered or decided to become an author. That pathway became very necessary to me given the current social environment in the United States. I wanted to engage with people directly and have the opportunity to share my thoughts on the country in which we live and the dangerous trajectory we seem to find ourselves on. There is so much going on and it did not sit right with me to continue living my life as if these things did not exist. Believe it or not, most people have a choice as to whether they will speak up on certain issues or not. For me, becoming an author was a necessary path for me to take in order to affect change.
Q - What do you feel sets your book apart from other books on the market that cover empowerment of the black community?
A- Empowerment alone cannot change the conditions in which we live. While I do seek to empower the black community, I also offer a range of other beneficial pieces of information that would make the reader consider their life and how it is ultimately tied to a larger entity. My book was intentioned to challenge the audience on an intellectual level and potentially reframe the way we think about life today. Humanity is turning the page on a new decade and even though some issues remain that have lasted for centuries in the United States, it is appropriate to take stock of our collective stance that would truly define our experience in America. Additionally, a particularly important step in bringing people together is to find the foundation, in terms of principles and ideas, that we can all subscribe to. As identified in the title itself my hope is that the black community can find a common consensus in the topics I cover throughout the book, and we can continue to progress from there. To be clear, I am not assuming everyone will agree with my positions but finding common ground is an important step in the organization of any movement.
Q- Do you believe black economic power will do for us what religion and politics have failed to accomplish?
A- Great question. Black economic power, religion, and politics are all pillars in what would make us successful, well-rounded, and well represented people. To what I believe the question is asking however there are still events that take place in this country that remain inhumane and unacceptable, yet they continue. Economic power provides leverage in a way in which the other two do not and is somewhat tied to the other two as well. Although we are increasingly represented at the highest levels of socioeconomic power that is still but a small percentage compared to other groups of people. That being said, no one pathway alone can change the conditions in which we live. The types of issues we deal with require a comprehensive approach, structure, and organization. For example, the awareness of political power seems to be on the rise in our community. Ultimately, the goal is to engage with people, unify our efforts to the greatest extent possible, and put ourselves in positions to address the issues we face.
Q - In your opinion, do you believe economic power is the cure for all our ills as a race?
A - To put it plainly, no. Like many other groups of people our issues are multifaceted. Our history is deep yet only a small percentage of it has been revealed to us. We need better education systems, better healthcare treatment, but also a better sense of awareness to the obstacles placed before us. If our only goal and focus is to gain economic power, we would lose so much of what embodies who we are. Obviously, we are a remarkably diverse people, but every human has different elements that create the image you ultimately see. We should be developing ourselves in different areas to truly see the world for what it is. I have had the benefit of traveling around the world and being exposed to other cultures in that way changes your worldview. Economic power is important but the ability to change your mentality and your thought process is truly worth its weight in gold.
Q - This year has truly shown us that black America is in a state of emergency. For many of us, it has become painfully clear that many politicians do not have our best interest in mind. Do you believe voting is a significant way to change our current situation?
A - Having the ability to be involved in the process that ultimately decides the next sitting President, or local officials and representatives, is unmistakably important. With that being said, there are flaws in the system. To be clear there are not only flaws in the system that impact the black community but all Americans. Democracy is a work in progress, or an experiment if you will. We must be apart of the conversation that makes it better. It should not be a question as to if we should utilize this right or not. Instead we should, and in many cases already are, looking for ways to make it better. Therefore, voting is a significant way to change our long-term situation.
Q - Your books deals with moving from an individualized mindset to a collective mindset. What are some ways you believe we can accomplish this?
A - First through information. The Black Lives Matter movement has shown that we can and are willing to mobilize under one banner, even during a pandemic. To bring people together in most cases there must be a common cause. So when I say through information I am saying that I want to give information that can be commonly understood and that is accepted. I want to win hearts and minds and this truly begins at the individual level. Being more intentional about our efforts and goals is the beginning of how we start to move as a collective. If we recognize the importance and the necessity of working together it then becomes easier to make that shift.
Q - Do you have any suggestions on how we can start to create a new culture of togetherness amongst our youth?
A - There is so much to unpack in a question like that. The experiences, the access, and the development of our youth is unprecedented. So much has changed in terms of technology, information, and how that information is received. One of the best suggestions I could offer would be that we use the best of technology to speak to the newer generations but keep a firm base in reality. I find it particularly important that we continue to mentor our youth in ways that we might not have been mentored ourselves. It is my belief that the things we have seen already from Generation Z for example are extraordinary. Many of the parameters that once existed have been broken down and completely shifted the playing field. It is still important however that guidance and mentorship continues to be a focus point in our community because wisdom is imparted in this way.
Q - On a more personal note: Tell us a little about your life — family, job, hobbies, etc.
A- My father is a military veteran and my mother is a registered nurse. I was raised in a faith based, Christian household and it was always important to serve others. I admire my parents for their selflessness, determination, and capacity to help those around them. As a military kid I moved around a lot but the bulk of my childhood experiences took place in Valdosta, GA, otherwise known as Titletown USA. I eventually joined the military to gain discipline and to be apart of something larger than myself. I have enjoyed this experience and learn so many valuable lessons. Now I am in the process of transitioning back to the civilian sector to start a new chapter in my life and work on issues close to my heart. As far as hobbies go, I enjoy running and participated in the Honolulu Marathon last year. It was a great experience and taught me that I can do anything that I dedicate myself to.
Q - As a published author, what advice would you give to aspiring authors reading this interview?
A - To any aspiring author I would humbly say listen to your inner voice and allow that voice to be heard. Just a few short months ago I would sit with all of these thoughts and feelings. I would tell myself I wanted or needed to write them down, but I assumed that it was not my responsibility or that I did not have the credentials to do so. One day however I felt compelled again to write a book and the difference this time is that I then took action. It is truly amazing. I had a thought about writing a book, of which I had no experience, and now I have a book that I can give to people and share. My point is that it all started with an idea. No matter what your aspirations are act on them.
Q - Where can readers buy your book?
A - Anyone that is interested in reading my book can access it via my website http://www.theframeworkbook.com/ and if you want to receive updates be sure to subscribe using the “join us” link while you’re there.
Q - Where can we find you online? Are you on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platforms?
A - Outside of my website I can be found on Instagram @andrewraybon and @theframeworkbook. Readers can also contact me via email at email@example.com.
The Framework: Structure for the Black Community
This succinct overview of black experiences and realities serves as a guide to take rather complex circumstances and translate them into a series of lessons. Andrew Raybon pulls from his life experiences, ranging through various social classes, to encourage communities of color to reframe our objectives and responsibilities to each other. Heavy emphasis is placed on collectivism in a country that inspires individualism. His deep consideration of these issues is informed by his studies in human services, years of travel and military experience, and his devotion to the black community. His intention is to serve and ignite the discussions and actions that will lead to transformative thinking in a new decade of opportunity in the United States of America and beyond.