Diasporic Realness is a Guest Writer’s Month dedicated to US telling our stories!
Growing up how I did, and where I did, it is easy to say that there was a lack of positive male role models. Not so much in work ethic, because my Father breathed that, not so much in chivalry, because my Grandfather demonstrated that, and not so much spiritually because my mentor walked that. I mean being educationally and financially comfortable.
I come from humble beginnings. Both of my parents came to the United States with a 6th grade education, my father came here at 16 and my mother at 21. They didn’t care what a job paid; it was more so the stability that made them feel secure. My Mother made $2.75 an hour, and my father started at $4.88 an hour. Obviously, this meant nothing to me when I didn’t know the value of things. I wanted the fresh Jordan’s, the new Nike jersey’s. I wanted to be branded by name brands, that’s what defined you growing up.
I started working at the age of 12 at my uncle’s restaurant, asking for minimum wage, finding out some people made less than that. I’d raised enough over the summer to get the $125 sneakers I wanted so bad! Looking back, people were feeding their families, paying their rent, paying bills and so on with wages less than that. My parents were trying to embody the message of what it takes to get what you want. I’ve never stopped working; I’ve worked in everything from landscaping, to a bus boy, to customer service, to anything and everything that kept me employed. There is always work to be done, money to be made, and people to meet.
My parents have always stressed the importance of an education, to my father’s said he’d rather me work my said he’d rather me work my mind, than my body. My father comes come every day with muddy boots, muddy jeans, a wet button down, and sweaty cap to still do more work around the house. My mother has cleaned people’s homes, to get home to hers and do the exact same thing. When does it stop?
I always wondered when it would be enough, we are fed the American Dream, but I never saw it for myself, at least not in the way that I envisioned it. My parents are grateful for the life they are living, for the house they’ve built, for the automobiles they’ve purchased, and for the education we’ve been able to receive. Yet I’ve still found myself asking for more. Why don’t more people that LOOK LIKE ME sit in a high position in corporate America? Why don’t they take pride in suiting up? Why don’t they take pride and appreciating love? Why aren’t they more curious to what lies beyond our own neighborhoods?
That’s what I hope to embody when I write now a days, that’s what I hope to breathe, portray, and demonstrate. I don’t want to preach something I’ve never practiced. I want to show that it’s okay to be from the hood and be well dressed, it’s okay to come from a low income community and admit you do some of your shopping at the goodwill, I want it to be okay to admit that you’re curious, ask questions, read books, and surround yourself around people that have those same inspirations.
Not everyone we grew up around will have the same mindset, and that’s perfectly fine. Do NOT use that as a crutch, it doesn’t make you a sell out to branch out, it makes you a sell out when you forget where you came from and why you started doing what you did. Brown looks good in any colored suit, build up a collection, and find reasons to wear it, don’t wait for one! I am not perfect, I’ve worn some questionable things, and I’ve made some choices I could have thought through better, but I’ve learned, and I’m still learning. I’m learning love, I’m learning life, I’m learning we all have a story, I’m learning to listen, I’m learning on an everyday basis, and I want to continue to do that. Chivalry is well alive in our community, and so are educated Latinos, weare the future examples, and we’ve got to make ourselves available and noticeable.
The Chivalrous Economist
ROWKAY has been writing poetry since the age of 14, which then converted to the performing and recording of his work at the age of 16. Years following, he devoted himself to teaching the art of Spoken Word in his community through the non-profit organization of Big Thought as a Teaching Artist. His 4th & 5th grader classes were the first Elementary to perform at DaVerse Lounge, that is strictly a Middle School and High School student Open Mic Show hosted twice a year. His 6th, 7th, and 8th grader classes were one of eight schools that performed for a crowd of 700+ at The House of Blues in Dallas for a Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial program in 2013. ROWKAY continues to write and share his thoughts through both his pieces and social media networks such as SoundCloud, YouTube, and Twitter.