The Khalil Amani Reader

Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!

Writers Are Born, Not Made! Believe Dat!

Writers Are Born, Not Made! Believe Dat!

By Khalil Amani

I’m a gifted writer! This! I know! Perhaps a few generations after I am no longer, a future generation will discover my work and label me a, “Literary Genius.” That remains to be seen. Not even my children know the genius and depths of my pen-game! I’m just abba/dad to them. As with most artistic expressions—people may never understand an artist’s impact on a given art-form until after they are dead. For such was the case with the likes of Zora Neale Hurston—a writer/author who died broke and in obscurity—and then Oprah Winfrey came along and helped revive her work and shared it with the world. Hurston was a master at slang and regional dialect and local colloquialisms, as evidenced by her brilliant work, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Writers are born, not made! Believe dat!

Just because you have a great story to tell does not make you the person who should tell the story. Just because you went to school for X-amount of years and learned the English language does not qualify you to write a book about your life or any subject for that matter. Writing is an art-form! Writing is a gift! Writing comes from the soul & spirit & heart and needs no motivation from outside stimuli. The person who is gifted in the art of words should hone his or her craft by taking a “Creative Writing” course or join a network of writers to better their craft. Some writers go on to earn degrees in Literature & English (such as myself), which can and will help the writer in his or her quest to become a great writer.

Writers are born, not made! Believe dat!

I’ve had a great command of the English language for as far back as I can remember. Spelling words came easy to me. The joy of taking a spelling test was exhilarating! I remember arguing with my fifth grade teacher over the word “theater,” because, instead of spelling “theater” in modern American English—this colored boy chose to be a smart-ass and spell “theater” the way the British spell the word—as “theatre.” I knew the difference, but since my local drive-in movie “theater” spelled the word as “theatre”—I thought I’d exercise my fifth grade grammatical global understanding of words and their variant spellings. If it weren’t for this one word (“theater”), I would’ve had a perfect paper. She marked the word wrong—and I, went round and round with her over the variant spellings of “theater/theatre” until alas! She gave in, only after I was able to tell her why the two words are spelled differently, yet both correct—and explain that my local drive-in movie “theatre” uses the British spelling—that she gave in and re-corrected my paper and gave me an A+! I got my “George Jefferson” on (You know? Chest pumped out) and walked my little narrow colored ass back to my seat! I guess she said to herself, “This little colored boy is a smart-ass, but he’s right!”

That next year—my “senior year”—okay, the sixth grade, before going on to junior high (middle) school is when I first got published—writing an article for our school newspaper. We’re talking 1971—when I was just a mere eleven years old at Miami Carol City Elementary School.

Never thinking that one day I’d write eight books (six books published thus far)—and never thinking that I would one day become one of the most well-known—and revered—and controversial writers—to a culture and genre of writing that had not yet been invented—“Blogging” (the newest artistic writing expression)—and writing for a genre of music that had not yet been invented—hip-hop/rap music—and further, writing the seminal work (“Hip-Hop Homophobes…”) on homophobia within that musical genre (rap) that has landed me in some of music’s and hip-hop’s biggest media outlets—Allhiphop.com (the first and most respected hip-hop website on the Internet)—and DJ Kay Slay’s, Straight Stuntin Magazine—and hip-hop historian, Davey D’s website—and—quoted in newspapers from the East coast to the West coast—The Miami-Herald/Miami New Times & LA Times—and quoted in magazines—Spin Magazine—the second largest and respected music magazine behind Rolling Stone. Writing has afforded me the opportunity to speak my truth and tell my story and share my world on five (5) national TV shows—on CBS’s, “West 57th Street” in 1988, twice on The Biography Channel on, “I Survived a Cult” in 2010 and “Escaping Evil: My Life in a Cult” in 2013—and Investigation Discovery Channel in 2018—and in an upcoming feature in the Spring of 2019 on the Oxygen Channel. Oh! Let's not forget that I'm featured in a current issue of People Magazine!

Writers are born, not made! Believe dat!

I have labeled myself on YouTube as “Whet Pen”—a play on the Bible’s book of Deuteronomy when it says, “If I WHET my glittering sword, My hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to my adversaries, and will recompense those who hate me” (32:41). Thus, the word “whet,” which means “sharp,” “keen” and “acute.” Nobody in these YouTube streets is seeing Khalil Amani on some literary writing stuff! The best they can do is dice & slice & splice & doctor up & edit my words to make the genius of my written words sound crazy—and then, peddle their videos to unsuspecting and naive minds with the intent to try and undermine my credibility and assassinate my character. The power of my written words and my oratorical delivery outshines any shady business that goes on amongst these no-talented YouTubers who would dare try to get at Khalil Amani.

Khalil Amani has built an impressive writing resume’ that he can be proud of. Where many would-be writers and “comics” and wannabe “journalists” get stuck in Social Media Land—in YouTube Land—Khalil Amani has been able to take his talent outside the bubble of self-publishing and Social Media and actually tap into mainstream media. This is the real test of talent! I tell would-be writers looking to get published all the time, “Do you wanna really know if you have the writing chops to be a published writer? If so, send your work—your manuscript out and see if any publishing houses want to buy your work! See if they wanna pay you to publish your work!” Therein lies the truth about your writing ability. Like YouTube—anyone can claim to be a journalist—or a writer—or a comic—or whatever, but the true test of talent is soliciting companies about your given talent and see if they want to buy into whatever you’re selling. Self-publishing a book is good, but that first book? Your first foray into the literary world? Serious writers want to have a literary publishing company publish their first book for validation—and ego—and to know that indeed, they have what it takes to become a writer and can boast that they are a published author. After that, the self-publishing route makes more sense.

This is the kind of letter you get when the C.E.O. of a book company personally reads your shit and wants to publish your work! This is when you know you have writing chops! This is when you know you got a mean pen-game!


My pen has been whet and smoking since 1997! Can you dig that muthafucka! I ain't new to this! I'm true to this!

Writers are born, not made! Believe dat!

Having a great command of the English language is just the foundation on which a great writer builds. What about the intangibles? You know—the things that are hard to teach; the innate creativity and imagination of the mind, through the use of slang, Ebonics, regional dialect, colloquialisms—and even profanity. A writer must also have his or her own writing style—their own unique way of conveyance that distinguishes them from the pack of would-be writers. Let us not also forget about the writer who wants to write nonfiction research oriented material; scholarship stuff. This is where being college-educated comes in handy. Doing a research book requires citing sources—using Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA) methodology when quoting others and citing sources, so that you don’t look like a novice or rank amateur or plagiarist.

When it comes to writing autobiographical stuff—true shit about one’s life—it takes a fierce and non-compromising mentality. And again, just because you speak and write English does not mean that you can tell your story in written form, especially if you’ve never written anything of substance. I’ve encountered many people over the years who have said that they want to write their life’s story. I encourage them to do so, but in nine out of ten cases—when I check back with them months or years later—they have not even begun the writing process, because, for most of them, they straightway find out and realize that writing a book is no small task! That writing a book takes more stick-to-itiveness than they are willing to commit to. And alas! They find out that writing is truly an art-form. This is why famous people who want to write about themselves hire a biographer—someone who can cogently write their story.

Writers are born, not made! Believe dat!

And so, the person who’s been molested and claims that they are going to write a book about being molested—really? Oh, you think so? I think not! Writing about the sensitive subject of being molested means that a person has to have a serious talk with themselves and ask themselves the question, “Am I willing to be totally transparent? Am I willing to open myself up to criticism and even scorn and ridicule?” Writing about molestation and seeing your words fall into the hands of people who give no fucks about you being molested—and would take those words and replay them for an audience who gives no fucks about your molestation—a non-reading audience who will hear your words and be totally freaked out because they have not read books that deal with the subject of molestation. This is what has happened to me, but I’m built for the drama.

Writing the autobiography—whether it be Nathan McCall’s teenage adventures in Makes Me Wanna Holler—or Monster Kody’s gang life in Monster or exploring America’s race problem in Ernest J. Gaines, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and Alex Haley’s, The Autobiography of Malcolm X—or sexual abuse autobiographies like Maya Angelou’s, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Sapphire’s novel, Push, which became the movie, “Precious”—starring Gabourey Sidibe. Khalil Amani’s memoir is in this same vain—like Push (Precious). The writing is intense and bold and in-your-face and vulgar and graphic and cringe-worthy.

Writers are born, not made! Believe dat!

For the vast majority of people who visit certain YouTube channels where molestation is a subject, it becomes evident that the YouTubers who run these platforms are dealing with non-reading and ignorant (I say that respectfully) people who, when faced with an excerpt from an audio book such as Khalil Amani’s autobiography on his childhood molestation—Betwixt Love, Lust & Loneliness… (a memoir about a lot of sex)—they become as little children in dealing with hearing the particulars about my sexual abuse. By their silly comments, you know that they’ve never read Sapphire’s, Push or Maya Angelou’s, I know Why The Caged Bird Sings. They are repulsed by Khalil Amani’s very open and candid and graphic and matter-of-factly and transparent and descriptive writing about seeing his mother having sex and describing in great detail, his own molestation on a city bus—and the sexual encounter on a greyhound bus with a woman—still sexual abuse—even though it was Khalil who initiated the sex.

I don’t fault YouTube commenters for their lack of compassion for my sexual ordeal. Hearing my story upsets their ocular sensibilities! No! I fault them not! Even my family—some of my children who have read/heard excerpts from my book are repulsed and have made similar comments about my writing. Hearing daddy bare his soul is troubling for them, especially in light of having been a loving father who didn’t allowed his troubled childhood to turn him into a molester in adulthood.

Khalil Amani has put his life on paper—for examination and cross-examination. The purpose of the autobiography is to share and teach and let people facing similar obstacles know that they too, can overcome. The autobiography is for posterity (future generations).

Clown Khalil Amani’s words if thou wilt—and then eat crow when you see his movie on the silver screen! He's bigger than you and YouTube!

Author, poet, essayist, blogger, troll, satirist, cultural critic, freethinker, father, grandfather, husband & C.O.O.N (Consciously Optimistic, Overtly, Nihilistic), Khalil Amani is "Gay hip-hop's Straight Advocate." A Miami native who writes for Allhiphop.com, DJ Kay Slay’s Straight Stuntin Magazine. He’s been featured in L.A. Times, Miami New Times, Miami Herald, Thump/Vice/Noisey.com, Forward, Spin Magazine, DaveyD.com, DJ Kay Slay's Streetsweeper Sirius XM Radio Show, The Opperman Report, Sa NeterTV, CBS's, "West 57th Street" (1988), The Biography Channel's, "I Survived a Cult" (2010), The Biography Channel's, "Escaping Evil: My Life in a Cult" (2013) and 2018's, ID (Investigation Discovery) Channel in conjunction with People Magazine "Cults." Look for upcoming feature on Mr. Amani in February 2019 on Oxygen Channel and currently in a special edition of People Magazine on cults. Amani is the author of seven books, including the groundbreaking “Hip-Hop Homophobes...” (iuniverse.com ’07). Khalil was the first media person to write about the allegations surrounding Afrika Bambaataa allegedly getting stabbed for date-raping a young man in 2013 and is in the upcoming documentary on the Afrika Bambaataa allegations, Trapped in a Culture. Amani majored in English and Black Studies at San Diego Mesa College and the University of Nebraska. Follow on IG @khalil_amani, Facebook, Twitter @khalilamani. Email @khalilamani@yahoo.com

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