Prince Shakur

Prince Shakur is a queer, Jamaican-American freelance journalist, cultural essayist, and grassroots organizer with a BA in Creative Writing from Ohio University. His words have been featured in Teen Vogue, Catapult, Level, Electric Lit, and more. In addition, Shakur is the proud writer in residence at Sangam House, Twelve Arts, The Studios of Key West, and La Maison Baldwin.

Author Events

8:00 pm EST
In Person
Two Dollar Radio
When They Tell You to Be Good launch event in conversation with Hanif Abdurraqib
7:00 pm EST
In Person
P&T Knitwear + PEN AMerica Prison and Justice Writing Program
In person bookstore event


  • Searing. . . . a deeply personal reflection that celebrates self-discovery in the face of intergenerational trauma and a violent colonial legacy.


  • A scorching, nonlinear journey through a Black man’s search for self.

    —Kirkus Reviews

  • Electric. . . . moving. . . . captivating. . . . A searing account of self-discovery in the face of structural oppression.

    —Publishers Weekly

  • Engaging—a tribute to resilience, and to building a better world.


  • Excellent.

    —Book Riot

  • Clear-eyed and unsentimental, an insightful, beautifully written memoir of family and identity.


  • This memoir of trauma, identity, and race will move you. Move you to tears. Move you to action. Shakur’s exploration of self is revelatory. He is the voice for readers forgotten by publishing.


  • Wrestles with the seemingly impossible task of fighting injustice globally.

    —The Week

  • A story that combines so much—sociocultural criticism, religion, and politics while centering on the microcosm of one Jamaican family and the aftermath of two male relatives’ untimely deaths. . . . Commands a tension and doesn’t release you well after the last sentence.

    —Morgan Jerkins, New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America

  • A daring coming-of-age memoir. . . . Shakur claims visionary thinkers and writers right alongside the people in his neighborhood, his family, friends, and comrades as his intellectual and emotional companions, establishing intimate, playful, heartbreaking, and powerful connections across all boundaries. I know we will be hearing much more from this irrepressible new literary voice.

    —madeline ffitch

  • As inspiring as it is detailed. . . . Intelligently explores the complicated yet straightforward relationship many men of all colors deal with: the subject of race.

    —Zeke Thomas

  • Shakur writes from a place of honesty that is both searing and poignant in its transparency. His story will resonate deeply for those who hold hidden stories of sadness and grief tightly behind a smiling public mask.

    —Khadijah Ali-Coleman

  • In When They Tell You to Be Good, Prince Shakur attempts to make sense of being born into, flung into, both the maw of American violence and the legendary lures and pressures of Babylon. While reckoning with the history of the murders of family members in Jamaica alongside the American state’s history of murdering its Black beings, Prince charts a path through his queerness, his family history, films, literature, the Black radical tradition, as well as his own twin cultures, until an activist, a rigorously-fought-for sense of morality, and the contours of a lucid self comes into view. This is how I’ve come to locate myself in time and space and legacy, Prince seems to say, while unraveling a map of his own life. With When They Tell You to Be Good’s evergreen pairing of both finesse and confidence, it’s miraculous to witness Prince assert that he is his own best cartographer.

    —Bernard Ferguson