Where were you born and raised?
St. Louis, MO.
What is your occupation?
CyberSecurity Engineer and Entrepreneur.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Watching my dad playing pickup games with his friends either at the baseball diamond or a basketball court at a local church. Knowing what I know now, it blows my mind how he was able to hide the struggle from me and make life so enjoyable despite the mental abuse he may have experienced everyday.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month means celebrating and spotlighting the resiliency and tenacity of blacks to come from absolutely nothing, to contributing in major ways to the very life all American's see and experience today.
What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
I believe the most important issues blacks face today are being misunderstood and misguided. While, Black in America, the majority bond together to endure the struggle of being black in America. Yet this unity comes back to bite us because although we bond to alleviate the pain and bring attention to the situation, we still demand to be seen and treated as individuals that follow our own path and make our own decisions. We should not be mirrored against all other individuals of similar physical characteristic that have been misguided or have blatantly chosen not to follow the path of righteousness. There must be judgment by content of character, not by color of skin.
When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I've always known I was Black in America, that's just how my father raised my brother's and me. He wanted us to know we were strong, smart, and capable of anything we wanted to accomplish. Unfortunately, under Trump's leadership, I felt the need to recite those principles more often. In my opinion, I felt his "Make America Great Again" slogan was strongly connected to racist times in America. I've asked myself the question if anyone could go back in history to be the same person but of a different race, who would go back to live in anytime other than today? The Phrase "Great Again" felt to me like it was celebrating a time where Whites were more empowered, and minorities, specifically Blacks, were weaker. Although unrealistic or unlikely to happen, it made me realize with all the support he was given, I could very well find myself in a terrible position of history repeating itself.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
My biggest inspiration of change is to maintain continued forward progress. Among many things he said, MLK summed it best with: "America freed the slaves in 1863, through the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, but gave the slaves no land, and nothing in reality. And as a matter of fact, to get started on. And so emancipation for the Negro was really freedom to hunger. It was freedom to the winds and rains of Heaven. It was freedom without food to eat or land to cultivate and therefore was freedom and famine at the same time. And when white Americans tell the Negro to “lift himself by his own bootstraps”, they don’t oh, they don’t look over the legacy of slavery and segregation. I believe we ought to do all we can and seek to lift ourselves by our own boot straps, but it’s a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. And many Negroes by the thousands and millions have been left bootless as a result of all of these years of Oppression and as a result of a society that deliberately made his color a stigma and something worthless and degrading" This statement brings to light the struggle and path that Black American's have gone through to get where we all are as American's today. We are proud of the impact we've had and the success we've made. As a culture we came from absolutely nothing to a point where we now positively enhance, impact and influence the world through any and all means.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
I put my efforts in supporting the black community by creating ways to help all individuals of the community to connect with others that share one interest or concern but differ on other dimensions such as race. I believe the major reason Blacks are misunderstood and misguided today is because there's a major communication disconnect between Blacks and other races. The very people we find it difficult to, yet should, converse with to establish a connection, communication and eventually take action may not understand us or our life's struggle to relate; while the very people we can easily talk to could very well interject their oppressed experiences to create misconception, lack of support, and render any possibility seeing or making change. Cross cultural communication is needed and it should happen naturally, unorganized, off camera in way where two or more people feel a natural connection to each other and their life journey. As the founder of the Pet Tech startup "PawConX" I believe dogs, being naturally socialable pets, are the key to these natural connections and conversations. A massive influx of dog adoptions is happening right now across the cultural board. The number of dog adoptions for Blacks, Asians and Latins have increased dramatically and are well aligned to number of White dog parents. Every dog parent has two common interests: (1) Love for dogs and (2) the need to socialize them with other people and dogs. Where else better than your favorite local dog park, or similar dog-friendly community, to express these interests and create meaningful conversation with likeminded community peers. One dog park connection can kickstart the hyper local connectivity needed to feel heard, supported and loved; which is what we are doing with PawConX. Many dog parents can't or forget to introduce themselves, so we created an app that introduces nearby dog parents to help them meet, connect and play.