Having Pride in Your Own Path


Age: 25

Education: Associates in Health Science

Occupation: Bartender / Personal Trainer / Entrepreneur


My name is Jean-Paul. I am the eldest son of two on my mother’s side and the middle child on my father’s side. I have the best brothers and parents a young man could be blessed with. Born and raised in the eclectic, historic, forever growing city of Washington DC. Capital of our nation. 25 years old with endless possibilities to be reached in my lifetime.

In the process of coming into your own, you face the undeniable struggle of finding your way. You are handed some form of family and habitat at birth. You immediately begin to process information from all your experiences. I am sure that you can agree that your own experiences are unique only to you. Even if you have an   identical sibling, you are your own person. You have come to be who you are and how you think based on what you have learned and interpreted in your life. Naturally, you are predestined to fall in line with the people similar to you and have come before you. However, the future you choose will be the future of your own creation. You directly influence the situations and trials you come to face. We are all dealt our own hand in life, its up to you to take those cards and go for the win.

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 12.20.25 AMEveryone has a dream; A vision of pure bliss. As far as I am aware of, we all daydream about that perfect moment when you eventually become the individual you always envisioned on those morning commutes. Sometimes those thoughts are repetitive, and then other days they are different. The underlining theme of these broad fantasies of the future is that you are more likely than not, happy as fuck. The goals that drive me, that engulf my thoughts and control my morals are derived from me wanting be happy.

I want to be remembered for helping to make a difference to the people closest me; have financial stability and the scheduling freedom to enjoy all that I am passionate about. What are the goals that drive you? You see, I am the ruler of my own reality, as you are the ruler of your own reality.  The way I plan to live my life, might not be how you want to live yours. Just allow all things in your life to synchronize, seamlessly. It took a long time, but I eventually found that synchronicity after having dealt with my own trials.

We as young black men have a huge weight of expectations on our shoulders from birth. No matter what comes your way, just adapt and flow. Follow whatever it is that’s true to you. Go experience all that captures your gaze and imagination. As long as you are doing what makes you happy, or doing what’s necessary to achieve happiness, fuck everyone else’s opinion of what their view of great is. Become great in your eyes and the eyes of the people that mean most to you. That pride is the source of your drive. Doubt will only corrupt you. You want something, get the fuck up, and get it.

Life As A Black Male


Age: 22
Occupation: Field Coordinator
Education: Studied Government and Politics at the University of Maryland- College Park
Hometown: Hempstead, NY

Life as a Black male in America is honestly the most confusing experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love being Black. I love my heritage, I love my history, and I love the strength that it gives me. You would think there wouldn’t be much confusion there with all of that. But for me, the confusion really comes from so many external factors. Some argue that a true love of oneself is all they need to be successful. However, the outside forces that work against black males in America can be so strong, it’s frightening at times.

A clear example of this is the treatment of the black male in society, through the media, social institutions, and law enforcement. To our communities, Black Males are an important pillar of what makes them thrive. We are encouraged to make our contribution to our communities through hard work, leadership, and passing down lessons learned to the next generation of young black men. The issue here is that there are so many things that are stacked against us from doing that.

It is hard for us to obtain a good education because schools, especially in inner city communities, are ill equipped. It is hard for some black men to obtain the finances need to pursue higher education. In entertainment and the media, I find that black men are portrayed in very one-dimensional capacities. I also feel that many of the historical profiles of black men, such as the Sambo and the Brute, have been reformed and modernized to fit changes in society. Our entertainment, music, films, and television, has not progressed to the point where black males can escape the stereotypes that are often put upon them through these mediums.

on thee micOur struggles with law enforcement are well documented. Black males are egregiously over policed and incarcerated at rates higher than any other race. Black males are given longer sentences for lesser crimes. Even one encounter with the justice system can ruin a black man’s life chances. Police Departments across America, on multiple occasions, have used over-excessive force on black males. Some have which have resulted in loss of black male life.

These problems are not anything new. These are issues that our parents, grandparents, and beyond them have had to deal with growing up in this country. I said before that being a black male is this country is a very confusing experience. We are pulled in two very different directions in life. Black males spend most of their lives either working to assimilate themselves into American culture, to remove the fear that others have of us. Or, we spend it rebelling against the nation which has left subject to this mistreatment, often resorting to violence and lives of crime in order to succeed, because legitimate means do prove to be as fruitful. I often contemplate what I should do, especially in times like these.

I am even more confused by the fact that even though we black males do try and abide by society’s rules, we are often met with opposition with trying to do the right thing. We are simultaneously spurred to do right and do wrong based on our external environments. I pray that one day it gets better for us. I pray that one day my skin color will no longer be a threat some. I pray that I will be able to complete daily mundane tasks, such as going to the store or traveling to visit family, without being in fear of my life. I pray that one day, the mere presence of law enforcement will no longer be something that I fear or dread. I pray for the day where we will no longer have to deal with another Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Oscar Grant, and any other black life that were taken from us way too soon.

While I still remained confused about where we should go from here, I do know that we as black males must band together and remain extremely persistent as our forefathers have been. It may be the only way to obtain the results that we require.


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How To Be Happy

You guys notice those 10-Step “How-To” Articles? The ones that give different tips or ways to improve something; ranging from hair to relationships. I came across one the other day that advised its readers on how to be happy. And as much as I find these types of articles interesting, I feel they are somewhat misleading…They say things like: Smile, Be Compassionate, Travel, etc.

But what if I just don’t feel like smiling? I’m tired, on my way home from a long, stressful day at work and the only thing I want to do is swan dive into my bed…there would probably be nothing more annoying at that point than someone telling me to smile. Being compassionate is a great quality to have, but what’s the line between compassion and doing more for others than for yourself? Which can be more detrimental than beneficial after a certain point and with a certain type of person. Traveling, which I’m sure is on the top of everyone’s bucket list, but what if we simply can’t afford to go anywhere? What then??

What irks me about these articles is they act like such a monumental accomplishment in life, like being happy, can be achieved in some certain amount of steps. Everyone has an opinion on what works, but that is based on their own perspective and life experience, which can be completely different from your own. The definition for happiness and how to get there means something different to everyone. For me, finding happiness has been a journey that is ongoing. I can say that I am in an exponentially better place than I have in the past, but I can’t say I’m where I want to be yet. The biggest things I’ve learned is that happiness is not a constant state. There are some days where you’ll feel like dancing, and other day’s you’ll feel like crying and there is nothing wrong with that. As long as you recognize the good and bad in life, and appreciate the high’s and acknowledge the lows, I feel like you’re on the right track. Anyone who says they’re happy 100% of the time, is probably not being completely honest with themselves.

I’ve also learned that your surroundings affect your attitude which affects how happy you can be. If you have people in your life that are always negative: they’re not supportive, they always doubt you, they’re always talking about something or someone; whether they’re a significant other or a best friend or your boss, that person is not healthy for you. Those How-To articles don’t mention the time and effort it takes to make necessary changes and commit to them which is hard for many of us who are a part of this generation that is so accustomed to quick fixes and instantaneous solutions. But the most important thing I’ve realized is that there is no quick fix to happiness. It’s not like a light switch that you can turn on. Toxic energies are contagious, and when someone is down, they bring you down to their level whether you want to be there or not. But if you keep pushing and trying to seek what makes you happy, you’ll get there.