The Box

My Babies,

Our society likes things to be neat. One way of doing that is through classification — a place for everything and everything in its place. Organization and classification are wonderful tools to keep things separated; it is a terrible tool to use with people. People are not meant to be kept in their place, which is why I have a strong piece of advice:

Stay the Hell out of “the box.”

People are not meant to be tidy. Humans are not meant to be kept in their place. Humans are complex individuals that have wants and needs that could be foreign to the understanding of other fellow humans. Nevertheless, many will want to classify you in order to suit their understanding.

Fuck that.

When people first look at me, they see my exterior — a muscular, black person who frowns when he walks. So, those people will use that information to form their own series of opinions.

“He must be an alpha male.”

“He must listen to gangster rap.”

“He must have played sports.”

Ninety-eight percent of their notions could not be further from the truth. I am a walking contradiction to the status quo. I wear it like a badge of honor.

I am not a stereotypical alpha male, though I do have strong opinions.

I not only listen to rap music, I also love bluegrass and many other genres.

I played sports, and although I am built for football, my first love is soccer.

I could go on.

You will not be able to control the perceptions that people have of who you are. But, you can shock the hell out of them when they find out who you aren’t.

When I start the school year, I stand in front of the class and say, “I don’t know if you noticed, but I am black (the only one). Great, now that the elephant is out of the room, you need to understand that any preconceived notions or stereotypes that you may have are dead wrong — especially if my wife, who teaches in the next room, have made them.” And it is the truth. Throughout the year, they will find out:

  • I love art and I love to create.
  • I am a family man. My daughters have me wrapped around their fingers.
  • I don’t really like football.
  • I am an activist.
  • I am a politician.
  • I collect comic books.
  • I am a sneaker head.
  • I am a blogger.
  • They list can go on and on.

The point is: I am unclassifiable. No matter where people may want to place me, I am not part of any status quo. And therein lies the lesson – stay out of the box.

People will say, “But you a black, how can you vote that way?

The answer: Because you are an individual.

People will say, “But you are a girl (or boy), how can you say that?

The answer: Because you are an individual.

People will say. “But you are from here/there, why would you ever believe that?”

The answer: Because you are an individual.

You are a person who is entitled to your own thoughts and opinions and are not limited to a set box of ideas because of your exterior. A friend of mine always says, “To thine own self be true.” That statement has never been more important than right now. If you have a belief, then stick by it (please, for the love of God, make sure that it is backed by research and empirical evidence).

The beauty of being Young, Gifted and Black is that we have a multitude of talents and interests. No one gets to tell us how we are supposed to live our lives.

By all means, stay the hell out of the box.

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