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Everything and Nothing at Once

Everything and Nothing at Once

A Black Man's Reimagined Soundtrack for the Future

Joél Leon
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For Readers of HeavyPunch Me Up to The Gods, and A Little Devil in America, a beautiful, painful, and soaring tribute to everything that Black men are and can be.

Growing up in the Bronx, Joél Leon was taught that being soft, being vulnerable, could end your life. Shaped by a singular view of Black masculinity espoused by the media, by family and friends, and by society, he learned instead to care about the gold around his neck and the number of bills in his wallet. He absorbed the "facts" that white was always right and Black men were seen as threatening or great for comic relief but never worthy of the opening credits. It wasn't until years later that Joél understood he didn't have to be defined by these things.

Now, in a collection of wide-ranging essays, he takes readers from his upbringing in the Bronx to his life raising two little girls of his own, unraveling those narratives to arrive at a deeper understanding of who he is as a son, friend, partner, and father. Traversing both the serious and lighthearted, from contemplating male beauty standards and his belly to his decision to seek therapy to the difficulties of making co-parenting work, Joél cracks open his heart to reveal his multitudes. 

"I learned that being Black is an all-encompassing everything...To be Black, to be a Black man in the era I grew up in, was easily everything and nothing at once."


Crafted like an album, each essay is a single that stands alone yet reverberates throughout the entire collection. Pieces like "How to Make a Black Friend." consider challenging, delightful and absurd moments in relationships, while others like "Sensitive Thugs All Need Hugs" and "All Gold Everything" ponder the collective harms of society's lens

With incisive, searing prose, Everything and Nothing at Once deconstructs what it means to be a Black man in America.


Joél Leon, also known as Joél L. Daniels., is a performer and storyteller from the Bronx. Currently, he's a creative director at the New York Times' T Brand Studio. Joél specializes in leading conversations surrounding race, masculinity, mental health, and the performing arts. His TED Talk on healthy co-parenting has been viewed more than 1.6 million times. His essays have been featured in the New York Times, Ebony, the Independent, and more.


  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
  • Publish Date: June 04, 2024
  • Pages: 304
  • Dimensions: 5.38 X 8.25 X 1.0 inches | 1.0 pounds
  • Language: English
  • Type: Hardcover
  • EAN/UPC: 9781250887108
  • BISAC Categories:  Cultural, Ethnic, & Regional - African American & Black, Ethnic Studies -  African American, Essays
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