88 Cups of Tea

Love all things upbeat, warm, and uplifting? Welcome to 88 Cups of Tea, an online platform and podcast for creative writers who look for guidance in their storytelling journey and connection to a community, fostering year-round conversations around the personal and professional life of a writer. Our podcast episodes and online essays and articles explore and unpack conversations that touch on topics like overcoming rejections and challenges, querying tips and crafting advice, lifestyle habits that support the heart and the soul, what it means to be Human while navigating a creative path, and more. We pride ourselves in nurturing a supportive environment that aims to encourage, inspire, and entertain. Check out our website 88cupsoftea.com for essays, articles, and access to nearly 200 podcast episodes!

Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam In Conversation With Lelina Chang

Warm welcome to our new listeners, you can follow us on Instagram @88CUPSOFTEA to keep up with our latest posts and Instagram stories where we announce new episodes and essays, feature our favorite quotes, and host Instagram Story takeovers by some of your favorite authors. And join our private Facebook group to experience the warmth and encouragement of our community first-hand! 


In this special edition 88 Cups of Tea podcast episode, we feature National Book Award Finalist Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam of The Exonerated Five in conversation with 88 Cups of Tea guest-host Lelina Chang, an advocate whose work is focused on the intersection of racial equity and environmental justice.

In 1989, Dr. Yusef Salaam was just fifteen years old when he was tried and convicted in the “Central Park Jogger Case” along with four other Black and Latino boys. The Exonerated Five spent between seven to 13 years behind bars, until their sentences were overturned in 2002. Since then, they received a multi-million-dollar settlement from the City of New York for its injustice and were profiled in award-winning films, including The Central Park Five documentary from Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon and the award-winning Netflix limited series When They See Us, written and directed by Ava DuVernay.

In our podcast episode, Lelina interviews Yusef and Ibi about their newest co-authored novel in verse Punching the Air and how the book came to fruition. Yusef talks about the power of self-purpose and hope and how his spiritual journey was mirrored through the main character Amal while Ibi shares how she embraced and holistically weaved Yusef‘s stories and philosophies to craft a story told from a young Muslim, Black boy’s point of view. Further in, they break down and analyze two influential poems in the novel that speak to Yusef’s experience being boxed in with his thoughts and his own devices in his jail cell, and the power DNA has to tie individuals to the collective injustices of the past. Ibi shares how crafting her poems in different shapes and forms helps bring to life the meaning of the poems on the page. And later, they discuss what it means to bring about diversity with diversity and the crucial work that still needs to be done to create a holistic representation of communities of color in the literary world.

Please say ‘Hi’ to Yusef Salaam on Twitter! https://twitter.com/dr_yusefsalaam Please say ‘Hi’ to Ibi Zoboi on Twitter! https://twitter.com/ibizoboi

Head over to their shownotes page at https://88cupsoftea.com/yusef-and-ibi/ to find the resources and books mentioned in their episode, tweetable quotes, and the timestamps of highlights throughout the entire conversation. 

Subscribe to Our Newsletter