"My brother is about to turn 16. He didn't grow up with me; he grew up with his grandmother. There were a lot of issues with my biological mom. She had issues with drugs and stuff, so she lost her parental rights. I grew up with my guardian, whom I call my mom. I found out I had a younger brother when I was around 9.
I had a lot of issues with schooling and the people I was growing up around. I came to a certain point where I realized that I'm blessed. Even though I had all of these issues early, I still was privileged to have the space to grow in a healthy environment and into the man that my mom wanted me to be.
I remember it vividly. I went to see my mom where she was staying at the time. I was pretty much the optimistic child trying to establish a relationship and was the only one who used to go visit. My older sister wouldn't give her the time of day. When I went over, that's where I met my brother.
Since then, I have made it my life’s purpose to be a role model for him to look up to. I know when I was growing up, there was nothing but shame. I want to live my life for him, in a sense, because I want him to take pride in his family.
Doing this work in MSA really pulls on your heartstrings. We are reaching out to young men of color as young men of color, because we know the struggle. It was something I had always been looking for since I was young. You never know the type of people you get connected with and the type of impact that they have on your life.
In certain points in your life, it takes a certain type of person to bring you out of that bad point. It take a certain type of dedication or commitment to bring somebody to reflect on where they have been, and want to go past that. I feel like education is the space where I can most implement positive change within the community.
I took my brother to Black Grad to volunteer. I wanted to put him in an environment where he could see people like us graduating. He was explaining to me the Running Man Challenge. I remember we were laughing. He did the little dance and everything. I was able to see him in his authentic self."