Where were you born and raised?
Born in Kansas City, MO and raised in St. Joseph, MO.
What is your occupation?
What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory is the Christmas season with my parents. We always had such a blast playing Christmas music, decorating the house and eventually opening presents on Christmas morning. The house always smelled so good and was filled with so much joy. The quality time with them where the sole focus was family, you can't beat that.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
To me, Black History Month means a celebration of our culture and heritage that, as I get older and older, I realize has been incorrectly told. While blacks may be portrayed as thugs, criminals, and drug dealers the other 11 months out of the year, this is the one month where we are celebrated for our best instead of condemned for our worst.
What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
The single greatest issue that faces the black community is the lack of wealth. I think back to almost every issue that arose in my parents and my life and it comes down to lack of financial resources. I can say the same for my black friends and their families. When you are poor or lower middle class, you are forced to live a life that is a struggle. I'm not saying you cannot be happy with minimal money, but we live in a very capitalistic society that runs on the dollar. To have very few dollars means pain, loss, lesser than, etc. It defines your socio-economic class and, in turn, how you are treated. Also, it defines what you have access to. All of this leads to how we negatively look at ourselves, it affects what we eat that can lead to health problems, and where we live that can affect our safety. It is a shame that the dollar holds so much power but it's the reality of our country.
When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I've always realized I was black and had a vague understanding of what that meant. However, I didn't all the way grasp the severity of it until we moved to an almost all-white neighborhood when I was in 3rd grade. It was then that I saw, heard, and felt what it truly meant to be black in America.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
My parents are hands down my biggest inspiration to push for change. They literally pulled themselves out of poverty, gang violence, drug addiction, and incarceration to give us a blessed life. If they can do that, then I'm not putting a ceiling on what we can overcome as a black community. I'm inspired by them daily from their story of perseverance and how they live their lives today so humbly and impactful. They are a true inspiration.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
Since coming back to Kansas City in 2015, I immediately dove into helping my local black community. I use my entrepreneurial efforts when I can from speaking to and coaching young black men to doing workshops in schools. To date, I've spoken at dozens of schools in the metro on resiliency, entrepreneurship, leadership, and mindset. In 2017, I also co-founded a nonprofit called Superhero Yoga where we teach trauma-informed yoga and meditation to students at their schools. Our mission is to help them gain focus and clarity so they can perform better in school and to give the students tools to be able to self-regulate, build resiliency, and increase their health through a minimal stress life. We love our work and are honored to teach yoga and breathwork to 800 elementary-aged students from Pre-K to 6th grade every single week.