When Cole Brown (COL ’18) sat down in his sophomore year entrepreneurship class with Georgetown University professor Eric Koester and found out he had to write a 20,000 word manuscript, he immediately knew the assignment was an opportunity to write about his experiences as a Black man.
Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood in Pennsylvania, where he attended private schools throughout his childhood, he struggled to find an accurate representation of himself in the media, Brown said in an interview with Forbes this year.
“The story of being young and in search of self and in search of identity that a lot of people feel, whether it’s Black negotiating white spaces or some other combination of traits, there is something universal about that,” Brown said in an interview with The Hoya.
In September, Brown published his book, “Greyboy: Finding Blackness in a White World,” which expands on the original manuscript he wrote as a student in Koester’s class five years ago.
Brown’s book is composed of a series of essays in which he explores the journey of the Black identity in a world of white privilege. He wrote on a variety of topics, such as parenting, police brutality, the rhetoric of President Trump, mental health and dating, according to Brown’s website.
“The book tells the story of me and kids like me struggling with what I view as a very limited understanding of what Blackness is, you know, trying to negotiate being one thing and, yet, the world telling you that you should be something else,” Brown said. “The desired impact would be to slightly expand that definition, to add another facet to a definition that is all too limited to include kids like me.”
When Brown arrived at Georgetown in 2014, he was enrolled in the McDonough School of Business, set on pursuing a career in finance. Uninterested in the conversations he was having in the MSB, however, Brown said he began searching for alternative options that provided more provocative dialogue. He eventually found the Justice and Peace Studies program after transferring to the College his sophomore year.
“I think that a lot of the book charts my journey towards adulthood and identity and so forth,” he said. “I was exposed to such a diversity of people and characters that I now hold dear, who shaped how I look at the world, and that couldn’t have happened without Georgetown.”
Although Brown never intended to be an author, Koester knew his original manuscript had the potential for success from the start, according to an email Koester wrote to The Hoya.
“When I read his very first story, I knew he had to get the story, the words and his work, out there and thankfully as a result of that first draft he created he was able to secure a book agent and get a publishing deal,” Koester wrote.
Brown does not plan to stop writing anytime soon, and he has already started both a novel and a short film in Sydney, Australia, where he lives part time, he said.
“There are a lot of people broadening the definition of Blackness in the media,” Brown said. “I’m hoping that this can just be added to that canon.”