-Grew up in Rogers Park, Chicago.
-From African-American and Irish parents.
-Currently employed by Mikkey Halsted and Javin Foreman as an intern in promotion, marketing, and website development.
-Education: Northside Prep High School, Yale University
“All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was” – Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison.
I grew up with some of the world’s smartest people. My family was a loyal, brilliant cast, and our dinner conversations were like seeing Cornell West at the Apollo theatre. Everyone dived into the soul food, hollering, cooing, and laughing about a philosophical treatise, or about the Bulls/Pacers game. As the youngest, I was a minor part at first, thought not a stand-in. Unequipped for the intellectual battlefield, I listened.
By fifth grade, I had been suspended five times. Frustrated and behind my gifted brother and sister I was intent to prove myself the smartest person in any room they weren't in. The problem was teachers’ kind of live and dies by that designation.
One day after class, I was jabbing at my PE teacher about a bogus hand ball. Meanwhile, my friend Obi wanted to play basketball. Before I could conclude my argument, with an insult, he tugged me from the shirt collar out of the doorway. He beckoned me, and I didn’t turn back around. The teacher grunted towards me as I left. No doubt, he felt robbed of the stage to rebuttal or punish.
On the court, Obi beat me twelve to ten that day, but my mind was elsewhere. Damn, I thought, what I do and say matters, but that doesn’t mean I can’t say what I want. Although, I’ll have to phrase it the right way. And occasionally have a friend take me out of it.
It wasn’t until later in my life that this idea congealed into an attitude, a mission. It seemed to happen after reading Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. In the beginning of Ellison’s story, the narrator listens to the advice: “plays the game, but always by your own rules”. He never follows the montra, however, allowing himself to become a cog in the many different organizations. Mislead and mistreated, at the end of the story he leaves “the game” entirely. He buries himself underneath an apartment building, siphoning 1600 light bulbs worth of electricity. He is content to meditate outside of the establishment, robbing it of its light, its truth.
Sixteen when I finished, I felt blessed. I pictured myself a great orator, like the narrator capable of rousing the masses, and also like him sparingly willing. Unlike him, however, I had both time to infiltrate society, and knowledge to not let the reverse occur. I, too, covet the light of society, but I dislike holes and basements. Like a moth or bee, I want to climb my city’s skyscrapers until I stand above, not looking for what's below me but smiling at the moon. Spitting what I feel and hoping she digs it. Unlike the bugs, once I'm there, I foresee no need to descend.