Do you feel as though you live your life with purpose? If so, what is the driving force for that purpose?

Purpose “for which something exist” 

My purpose is the ability to listen and connect to others. I understand that everyone has a different story and sometimes they’re looking for someone that will listen, and not place them in a category that doesn’t depict who they genuinely are as a human. 

Why is it so difficult for black American men in this culture to be themselves, their essential selves, and remain who they truly are? 

For so long the black culture has drawn this blueprint of how black males should “live their life” in this blueprint fear of judgement becomes a Factor as well as the idea that masculinity being visible. Then it tells you who and how to love. The difficulty resides with adults that neglect to teach the youth self worth, creativity, and the power of using their voice to fight for what they believe.

At what point does a boy become a man?

I believe a boy becomes a man when he independently can make decisions that will benefit his future. Understanding that every situation doesn’t deserve a reaction. It’s not the idea of having sex, gaining masculinity nor is it in the physical appearances. My idea of becoming a man is when the individual is able to process and understand “who he is” and “who he’s becoming”.  

What is something that people misunderstand about you? 

There’s an idea from some that I’m stuck up, or I’m standoffish but that’s not the case. I’ve invested so much into myself that sometimes to protect my energy I will read the environment before I engage in the conversation. I love to laugh and smile. Sometimes it takes time for me to warm up! I have a Big heart and passionate about helping others 

What in life is beautiful to you? 

Growth. As an educator and mentor I’ve been able to witness individuals grow into amazing leaders, students, graduates, and some even parents. It’s rewarding to see them happy becoming something more than they were the day before. 

Where does your inspiration come from?

My youth from Fifth Street and my students from Santa Fe South. Their smiles, the joy and willingness to be greater has been the greatest inspiration for me. Knowing that anytime I walk into my school students are ready to listen to what they have to teach. Not only teach but the conversation we stir up. The emotions I see, the energy I feel, the  “talks” we have, it all contributes to my inspiration. 

Who is the most impressionable man in your life?

My brother-in-law James Byrd. He came into my family with the intention of loving my sister and to start a family. He not only has done that but he has found a way to love us. Through his 20+ years of marriage to my sister he has taught me to live, laugh, give, responsibility, hope, patience, and understanding. James is someone that doesn’t ask for anything but offers so much. If it hadn’t been for his words of advice/encouragement and his obedience to God, I would be lost. 

For future generations of  men reading this: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know? Do you follow this advice yourself?

Something I learned recently as an adult is that many people will have so much advice concerning your life. They will strongly suggest you listen to their opinion before fully hearing your idea. Do what YOU are passionate about. Create, build, give, and don’t be afraid to take time to self care mentally, physically and spiritually. Your dreams and vision to be more is waiting on you. Do research, save money, give your all and make life happen. Sitting has its perks but when you sit too long you witness it’s consequences.