The Story of M.I.A

The Fellowship Freestyle

I couldn't start the story of my life without mentioning my parents.  They have been and continue to be the heaviest influences in my life.  They meet  in 1970 and in 1974 had my brother, in 1977 they had me.  Forty years late they are still happy and married.

I grew up in a home that geared my perspective on viewing the world from a primarily African outlook. The way I dressed, spoke, wore my hair and thought pattern was a source of controversy when I stepped outside the door. One, among the many hair styles I wore, caused ohhs and ahhhs and from the beginning, turned me into an instant teacher as soon as I could speak. I enjoyed explaining to people the origins of the my clothes and hair styles. It was this diversion from the "norm" that started me on my journey into leadership.

My Aunt, who  was mentally challenged taught me how to be kind, patient, tolerant and accepting even in the face of adversity.  I didn't realize how unique my family was in the respect that during my Grandmother's generation, it was very common for children born with disabilities to be  institutionalized.  For my grandmother to not institutionalize my Aunt set up the seed of the idea that everyone has purpose and everyone has worth.  It is up to us to see that worth and if you are not able to see it, then it is important to seek it out because it enriches the human experience in ways that are  immeasurable.

As I mentioned in class my mother was a member of the  Black Panther Party (Indiana chapter) during the early 70's.  For all of the imagery that is presented of Eldridge Cleaver, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seal, my mother was more along the vain of Fred Hampton and Angela Davis whose main agenda was social change through political and social direct involvement; that was passed down to me.

Even though civic minded thought and behavior was drilled into me as a young child, I did not see where it was applicable to me or the people I dealt with or could potentially encounter until I was 8 years-old. In 1985 I went to the Miller Brewery Tour with my mother and a friend. The tour was to begin with a movie and we all had to sit in a conference room before the beginning of the tour. My mother, friend and I went to sit down first in the row of seats.  I noticed a few seconds later a commotion at the end of the row where we were sitting. A older woman in her 40's made it very clear she was not sitting in the same row as us. The tour guide, who was in her 20's, asked us if we would feel more comfortable leaving. My mother said, "no," and for the entire movie we sat in a row completely empty accept for us. After the tour, my mother told me to always remember the incident, and know that it is up to everyone to always stand up for the right thing even if it's something as simple as sitting down and staying seated.

What also fostered the leadership bug in me is the great leaders of the past and how they were able to impact how we think today.  Just to name a few of the books and great thinkers, activists, and philosophers that I was made to learn about and now as an adult seek out, James Cameron (A night of Terror), Franz Fanon (Reality of a Nation), W.E.B Dubois ( concept of the Talented Tenth, The Souls of Black Folks), Ida B. Wells, Kebra Nagast(Glory of the Kings), Maya Angelou, The Interesting Narratives of Olaudah Equiano these mandatory readings in our house during the summer were the foundation that helped to cultivate the direction of my leadership endeavors and style.

I strongly believe that the human experiences is about bridging gaps and savoring and celebrating the differences. To enhance the human condition. I got on the to doing that by organizing the first Black History Month programs in high school  which just didn't happen before I came along . I saw the need on a bigger scale then the small scale impact I had on an individual level when I answerered questions of other students. I found it helpful in heading off the targeted questions I would get in history class when the teacher was at a loss and would just turn to me and ask (lol).

I mentor at Harambee Community school and Martin Luther King elementary school. Influencing the next generation will yield the highest return and the biggest impact on our future. Since I don't have any children this is great practice. I am also apart of the BOLD outreach program at my job that helps to try to teach people in the community how to manage their finances. All of these things along with a lot of others have lead me to the Community Leadership and Development major.

My personal philosophy:

The whole point of leadership is to help people get along and create a condition for which we all can respect, love, and take care of on another.

A fun fact about me that all of you will eventually find out, I LOVE music! In the words of LL Cool J

" My radio believe me I like it loud. I'm the man with the box that can rock the crowd. Boogie down the street on that hard core beat as the volume vibrates the concrete. I'm sorry if you can't understand but I need a radio inside my hand don't mean to offend all the citizens as I rock my volume way past ten." (My Radio)


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