This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we published "BLKBND," on the Rise of the Urban Creative, framed by the self-crafted BLK male identity, and the BND of historical brotherhood. See the full editorial here.
Then we asked each BLKBND share a piece of himself.
ACTOR, CLOTHING DESIGNER
Who are you?
I’m a Nigerian born actor, artist, and designer who migrated to the states as a child: first New York then Minnesota. As the youngest of 7, we never had much, but my folks bootstrapped and instilled in us values of discipline and gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity afforded us to make a better life in America; discipline of hard work in honor of those less fortunate in Nigeria that would make the most if given the same opportunity.
What words do you live by?
"Turn things you've always wanted to do into things you've done." — TS Elliot
Describe yourself, today, in 3 words.
Adventurous, Growing, Focused.
Describe the man you aspire to be, 3 words.
Inspirational, Innovative, Fearless.
What do you fear?
What are you proud of?
The daily strides I’m making to mobilize, expand, and elevate.
What are you searching for?
How will you find it?
Remaining a curious student of learning, taking risks, consistently exposing myself to new people, ideas and more Yoga. I have tight hips.
Who do you want to become? What do you want to accomplish?
An agent of social change and a vessel to leave this world in a better state than I entered it. Life cannot be lived solely for our own gain, unaware and unaffected by those around us. I believe we were put here to love one another and that love is tangibly demonstrated through servitude: consciously utilizing the talents, circumstances, and gifts we’ve been given to better those less fortunate than us. No matter how desolate our circumstances may seem, there is someone who has it far worse. I want to be an advocate for those people.
What have you created in yourself, for yourself, and of yourself, to put forth in pursuit of your creative goals?
In myself: a promise: act accordingly in order to never wonder what if. For myself: a daily practice of affirmation and meditation to block out the noise and listen to my own creative voice. Of myself: Everything. No sacrifice is too great.
What's a pivotal moment or opportunity—whether existential or circumstantial—that's brought you to where you are today, as a man and a creative?
The passing of my good friend 3 years ago abruptly, painfully and violently made me aware of my own mortality. I am thankful however that from that tragedy and awareness came a new boldness to live purposefully, doing what I love until my number is called.
As a BLK male, how have you crafted the persona that you present to the world?
I don’t know that I’ve crafted a persona as much as my experiences have shaped it. Family upbringing, heartache, social economic challenges, cultural influences, and race relations have all summed up to who I am and how I perceive and live.
Speak to your style philosophy. What does it mean to you?
I’ve rested on simplicity. I live in black. Life is complex enough.
The BLKBND is an agent of life. What code of behavior and knowledge does he/do you use to navigate the world as an agent of the black male identity?
Adapt or perish. It goes for all men but the black male in particular. We cannot successfully navigate this life as black men unwilling to adapt.
BLKBND also signifies a brotherhood, the bond between men who understand where they come from, and the mindful positioning of self to create success for themselves. How does that come into play in your life? What signifies success to you?
A BLKBND to me does the work and does it honorably knowing he must be excellent to excel but that he cannot do it alone. Its important to individually build ourselves and forge paths to greatness, but we cannot be so consumed with our own success that we abandon, neglect, or ignore one another. We have to make an investment in the brotherhood and rally to one another’s aid in times of need. Unity amongst black men is not simply a virtuous notion, our survival depends on it.
Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. That’s not me, I jacked it from Earl Nightingale who has a piece on YouTube that everyone needs to hear, called ‘The Strangest Secret. “ Listen to it, no less than 100 times. Then listen to it again.