For many of us who are bi-racial, multi-racial or the children of immigrants, it can be difficult to figure out who we really are. Sometimes we feel like we don’t fit in. That we don’t belong to one culture or another. That we’re simply not enough. And while most of us eventually learn that the duality or multiplicity of our cultures is the very thing that makes us who we are, the road leading there can be a long one – but Jimmy Gomez, or the Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo Nawasha as we know him, is hoping to change that.
The musician, writer, cancer survivor, Indigenous activist and dad has released a kids book about identity in the hopes of empowering children to believe in themselves, no matter who they are.
And it’s called just that – A Kids Book About Identity.
“I had a long journey of educating myself and learning about both of my cultures, both being rooted in an Indigenous ancestry of course,” Taboo, who identifies as Native American and Mexican, tells CelebrityKind.
“For me, when I fully understood and embraced my identity was after I survived my battle against cancer.”
Taboo was 38 years old when he began experiencing serious back pain and found out he had stage 2 testicular cancer. He went public with his experience a few years later, following a gruelling series of chemotherapy treatments which lead him into remission, and often uses his platform to raise awareness about the disease. His health journey inspired the single “The Fight,” an empowering survival anthem with proceeds donated to the American Cancer Society. Now, aged 46, Taboo is seven years cancer-free.
“I found myself really reconnecting with my roots and moments like going to Standing Rock and becoming an advocate for Indigenous communities,” he says about his post-cancer life.
“Really seeing the power of using my voice to affect change and empower our youth. That’s when I fully understood the potential of my own identity.”
Taboo’s book is part of a collection of books by “A Kids Book About,” a company founded by writer and entrepreneur Jelani Memory, and one the Black Eyed Peas’ star has invested in, which publishes children’s books about important issues including Black lives, racism, divorce, bullying, body image and autism.
The pages are eye-catching and colourful. And the words are crafted to encourage honest, open dialogue between kids and their grown-ups.
As the blurb on the back cover reminds us, “your identity can be a lot of things: your heritage, gender, hometown, school, faith, or even what you’ve been through. The awesome thing is nobody is just one thing!” – an important message that could shape young minds to feel worthy just as they are, even if they don’t quite understand themselves just yet.
“I think the way to learn is to respect the process of learning about your roots and don’t ever feel ashamed about not knowing everything. It’s ok to be a student of culture and your identity,” Taboo’s message continues.
“I want the youth to be proud of who they are and how we can learn to celebrate our beautiful mosaic of cultures.”
Taboo hopes the book will lead to “a major shift in knowledge of self and mindfulness” when it comes to understanding each other.
“I’m all about empowering kids to believe in themselves and their identity.”
You can learn more or pre-order your copy of A Kids Book About Identity HERE.
(Feature Image Credit: Supplied/A Kids Book About)