Off top, there’s my grade 10 English teacher, Mrs. Kieth.
She could take that kid with scattered thoughts and make the little fucker focus.
She really knew her way around some words used them brilliantly.
From the foster care system, my little step brother, Jahkor Jackson.
Changing his diapers and taking care of him from his first birthday helped motivate to get in on some ‘boots on the ground’ activism.
The Big Homey. T-Boy the D-Boy. An ex-blood from the town.
He had that energy and enthusiasm that made 19 year old me want to get up and active. He always let us work at his crib. He’d even just let us kick it there.
And now that I’m older, I can see that he was cool with us being indoors at his place when we weren’t busy because it’s better than running around the streets. Especially in the Summer.
An old romantic interest from when we were 14. Candace Ashford.
We weren’t using the same language back in early 1998, but she was the first person to tell me first hand about experiencing street harassment.
And very young.
Before her age was even in the double digits, she lived in a world where a black girl body was sexualized before she was done playing with dolls n’ shit.
That was a big push in the direction my gender politics went.
A local rapper from Tacoma. His group, Black Caesar was signed to Tommy Boy records, but the label folded before their album could come out.
He tripped me out because I was heavy in the battle circuit and was writing my own shit.
But I couldn’t front.
THIS GUY WAS BETTER THAN ME.
And that really made me step my shit up and never slack on the mic.
In 1988 a brand new Elementary school opened. Camas Prarie Elementary.
The location was on 176th street in Spanaway, Wash’ State.
This was low population, white area.
The type of place where Sarah Palin fans happen.
But this black dude with his bangin’ ass jerry curl was the principal of that school.
I think that was good for the few black kids enrolled at that time for it to be normal for a black person to be in a leadership position.
Erika Alexander ( I know… a celebrity)
She played Maxine in a television program titled, “Living Single”.
Her character was so damn cool and the way she played her was fantastic and lit a fire up under my feet.
Maxine was sharp, energetic, a lawyer, stylish and when it came to a quick war of words, she was a machine gun shit talker.
Her braids were super dope and hell yes, there was that dark skin solidarity.
Katey Johnson (name changed because I can’t talk too much about the corporation online)
She’s an independent business person.
When I met her she was climbing the corporate ladder and now that she’s moved on, nobody can fill her shoes, but when it comes to race and gender politics in the work place, I think… “What would Katey do”.
So far I’ve pushed 3 black women into middle management and got them transferred to work places with less assholes.
When a new position opens up, I make sure that the black folks know about it because that information usually isn’t shared beyond the old boys club.
He’s a part of a larger neighborhood culture, where we protect the most vulnerable in our community.
This is across the range of age and the gender spectrum.
He was one of the first people I heard talking this and saw doing this.
The first time he got arrested in 1997, it was because he was protecting one of the little homies from some dude who recently came around the area and was trying to act like a bully.
In 2001, some dirty old crips that lost to me in a rap battle tried to jump me on 23rd and M Street.
G-Bo and couple of the homies came up out the woodwork and “shut that whole thing down”.
I carry that loose and relatively unclear code of conduct into my adult and how approach society as a whole.
So there you go.
9 Black people who inspired me.