Do you feel as though you live your life with purpose? If so, what is the driving force for that purpose?
Yes I do. My purpose has always been to try and help people realize their potential and then use that potential to create a roadmap to make their plans & goals come to fruition; while also encouraging them to do the same for others. The driving force behind that for me is God, myself and my family. Knowing that my purpose aligns with what I believe, with what I believe God has planned for me and knowing that it is something my family can be proud of, keeps me encouraged that I am doing what I was meant to do.
Why is it so difficult for black American men in this culture to be themselves, their essential
selves, and remain who they truly are?
I believe in this culture that is difficult for some, because of the multitude of requirements that people put on their list that black American men are supposed to check off, in order to be put in the box that has been created for them. And because that list is forever changing, because it's typically different from person to person, neighborhood to neighborhood, from family to family; when that man steps outside of the box in which he has been in for years and enters another stage of life, he has the exhausting task of trying to recreate himself to fit in that newest box. This keeps him from being his essential self, everyone has experienced it; it's human nature to want to fit in but there will come a point where you are good with you; no changes needed.
At what point does a boy become a man?
That's always a difficult question, generally because of how subjective it is. But as a basis, I would say for me, I knew I was a man, when I realized that I am not in this world alone, that I have an obligation to make decisions that are good for myself and for society, that my actions have consequences and that I must take responsibility for them, and that I must work hard to live and survive. Age also plays a factor in this, I realized that basis at an early age but I was still at a point where I needed the direction and care of my parents. You evolve through stages of going from boy to young man to grown man with many nuances in between each; it's not the same for every boy and there is no clear cut path.
What is something that people misunderstand about you?
I think people misunderstand my need for control. When I have a creative vision, the execution of that vision, especially if it's for my people has to be correct and so I need to be in control. And sometimes I believe some people shy away from asking for advice because they believe that I will exercise that same control over their vision. But that's definitely something that will not and does not happen for anyone with which I have worked.
What in life is beautiful to you?
Seeing people grow and thrive positively & celebrating life with family and friends.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my parents. Their love and commitment to each other, their focus on the importance of family, of education, their hard work and no nonsense attitude for foolishness has always given me the encouragement to go after what I want and be vocal about it.
Who is the most impressionable man in your life?
My father. He genuinely loves being a provider, protector, husband, and father. He has worked hard his whole life and took care of his family and others. He is the second to youngest of 13 children, yet he is the rock of his older brothers and sisters. As children, he showed me and my siblings, what it means to care for family, by taking care of his mother and being there for not only his family but also my mother's, showed us what it meant to be a good husband by loving my mother unconditionally, and taught us hard work by getting up at 4am every morning and going to work. We learned the importance of side hustles, as he also ran a juke joint, was a "shade tree" mechanic and as a carpenter by trade he taught us how to build and remodel furniture and houses. Now that he is retired, he still hasn't slowed down, he continues his carpentry work in our town. He has provided work for people who may not be able to find it other places and has taught the carpentry trade to many young men and women in our family and around South Carolina. He is a wealth of knowledge, always has a story, is outspoken, and a fighter. He and his friends are some of the best men you will ever meet but don't want to cross. He instilled in us to never look down on a person unless you're bending down to help them up but don't let people take advantage of you. Friendly hands can become fighting hands real quick.
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?
Strive to live your life as a good person; you'll make mistakes but own up to them. Travel and surround yourself with people from all walks of life. Realize that as a black man in America there are many obstacles in your way, but always try to find a way around or through them. Never give so much of yourself to others that you don't have anything left for you. Do not let others take advantage of you, speak your mind and fight for what is yours. This is the advice I follow and much more.