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“How Do I Not Become The Next Hashtag?” – An Author Interview with Brian G. Buckmire

Brian G. Buckmire is a senior staff NYC public defender in the Criminal Defense Practice and Homicide Defense Task Force at the Legal Aid Society, representing indigent clients in Brooklyn, NY. He is the anchor for Law and Crime Daily, a nationally syndicated show covering the hottest cases and controversies from courtrooms nationwide. He is also a legal contributor for ABC and has covered events like the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, the trials against Harvey Weinstein and R. Kelly, and many more. In addition, he serves on the board of trustees for Coney Island Prep, a charter school in South Brooklyn. Born in Toronto, of Caribbean heritage, Brian, his wife Victoria, and their son Reid live in New York.

How do I not become the next hashtag?

As a lawyer and TV anchor, I’m sure you stay very busy, what motivated you to write Come Home Safe?

As busy as I am as an attorney and TV Host, the motivation for the book came from my younger brother and son.

The book, as it is now, came from a conversation my brother and I had after the death of Elijah McClain. My brother is 12 years younger than I am. And because of the age gap I have fraternal and paternal relationship with him. So when he asked me, his older brother, legal guardian, an attorney and TV Host/ legal analyst (something he listed), “how do I not become the next hashtag” in the context of police interaction, answering that question became my motivation. I didn’t have the answer, and I knew that it was a matter of “when” not “if” my son asks a similar question. So I endeavored to learn more and write something that could help them both. When others saw value in the book and connected me with a publisher, it became something I decided to share with the world.

Come Home Safe is marketed for young adults, what made you want to write for this audience?

I wrote for young adults because I felt the age group below them was too young to have the type of conversation I, and many of the people I interviewed, felt was necessary to have. Speaking to, for example, an 8-year-old about some of these topics felt too heavy. But speaking to an 18-year-old felt too late. So writing to young adults made the most sense.

Come Home Safe handles some heavy subjects revolving around social justice and growing up BIPOC in America. What do you hope your readers will take from your book?

I hope that readers take a number of things away from Come Home Safe. I hope that it sparks a conversation in homes perhaps struggling to have these conversations or even those that never thought they were needed to. I hope that this book shows that there is a community of people having these conversations. That those inside the community feel a sense of belonging as they see they are not alone and those outside a sense of understanding and empathy of a real desire to keep children safe. And maybe, probably a hope that may be too big to dream, I hope it helps a child in a difficult situation with the police to come home safe. 

At Diverse BookFinder, we’re all about the importance of representation in diverse literature for children and young adults. Can you tell us what representation means or has meant for you?

To me, representation means a sense of community, a sense of aspiration for something greater than what might have been believed beforehand and the fulfillment of dreams for those that came before us.

This story, as far as I’ve seen, hasn’t been told and seemed necessary.

What do you find to be the most difficult part of creating books for children today? What is the most rewarding?

I’ve only written one book, so I can only talk about the difficulty of writing this book. To me, the most difficult part of writing this book for children is probably communicating in a way that relates to them, while discussing a topic I genuinely believe we shouldn’t have to talk to them about.

There are other stories I rather tell that relate to my background. I’d love to tell the story of being a first generation Caribbean man in North America. Love to tell the story of playing soccer and getting an athletic scholarship in a different country. Love to tell the story of becoming the first attorney in your family.

But those would be easy, those stories have already been told. This story, as far as I’ve seen, hasn’t been told and seemed necessary. It was necessary for my family, and I thought it was necessary to share. But as necessary as I thought it was, it was just as difficult to discuss this topic as a new father talking about his own hypothetical children.

What was your favorite childhood book? What was it about it that you loved?

I’m embarrassed to say, but I don’t know if I have a favourite children’s book. I know I read a lot at a young age. And during school I read the books that were assigned to me or that were necessary to get a good grade. But nothing really stuck out as something that connected with me to this day. I was probably too busy playing soccer!

We know you’re just about to debut your first young adult novel, but are you working on anything else now? What’s next for you?

I’m slowly working on a second book after Come Home Safe. I don’t believe I am done just yet with telling Olive and Reed’s story. Then, maybe I can tell their story on a screen. Small or big, I don’t know. But I think I have one more story in me. The problem is I love holding my infant son too much to dedicate the time needed right now.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I’ll share this last point, as something I’d like to share. Sadly, I don’t have the answer of “how do I not become the next hashtag?” (Sorry to give the ending of the book away). But I have collected a lot of great lessons and insight in the book, so it’s worth reading. But what I do think is that we can find an answer. That discussing this topic and sharing in our knowledge and empathy that an answer will be found. My hope is that I can spark that change. So if you’ve gotten to this last question and have ordered a book, thank you for being part of my hope for a better world for all our children.

My hope is that I can spark that change.

Diverse BookFinder would like to thank Brian Buckmire for his time and input.

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