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Finding Support

Navigating Racial Barriers

Over the course of my lifetime, I have frequently been thrusted into environments that lacked any significant diversity. As a person of color that attended a predominately white institution for the majority of their life, I often felt like an outsider that was trapped in a never ending search for identity and acceptance.  

As a child, I remember believing that I would never be fully be accepted by the white community and would forever be labeled a token. My lack of identity took a mental a toll on me, and often left me wondering who was behind the crooked smile that I put on each morning. However, in recent years I have grown more comfortable in my skin, which has increased my confidence and lessened my desire to conform to social expectations of my surroundings. I have discovered the power of my voice and the importance of showing the world all of my capabilities.       

Furthermore, when making my college selection I chose Drake University because of The Crew Scholars Program. This minority led program at Drake University provides students of color with a network of support, leadership opportunities, and an outlet to share experiences. The program identifies and values leaders within the community, while pushing minority students to step out of their comfort zone and explore all that Drake University has to offer.

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Uplifting Communities

Importance of Serving Others

My christian faith has made the person I am today. For as long as I can remember, I have been active within a variety of ministries, that have provided me the opportunity to serve others and give back to my community.   

In high school I held a prominent leadership role with my school’s gospel choir for several years. As a leader within the choir, I sang solos during performances as well as promoted our choir during my school’s club fair. The choir was inclusive of students, faculty, and alumni.

During the school year, we performed at assisted living homes and hospitals too uplift and inspire the elderly and sick. Every Martin Luther King Jr. Day our choir sings at Upton Baptist Church for the homeless as they are given hot meals, blankets, and toiletries. Singing with the choir has gave me the opportunity to incorporate my love of singing with my desire to aid those in need. I am grateful to have been apart of a club that prides itself on promoting inclusion and impacting the lives of others.

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Education

Overcoming Barriers

Over the course of my life, there have been many social factors that have contributed to my development as a person and overall perception of success. The most prominent of these factors being my family structure, education, and religion. Each of these social constructs have greatly impacted my life, as I have tirelessly worked to overcome the social barriers that are intended to derail individuals that share similar backgrounds to my own.

My education has been an essential aspect of my life as my parents have made many financial sacrifices to pay for me to attend a private institution that is predicated on preparing students for college and beyond. My parents frequently expressed to me the importance of education as they saw it as an essential investment in my future.

By attending The Latin School of Chicago, I was given the opportunity to explore my many interests in an academically stimulating environment filled with advanced resources and supportive instructors. Furthermore, this experience has opened many doors for me as I have obtained many skills and established many significant relationships that have greatly impacted my life.

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Diversity in Media

Multiethnic Group of People Holding Letter Media

Understanding the Struggle

Being an African American male, it is hard to find content creators in the industry that can relate to my story. African American talent is criminally underutilized and under appreciated throughout the world of media. Too often the individuals behind the camera and the story telling process share similar backgrounds, which in turn limits content diversity. Consumers are tired of seeing the same stories and messages being recycled and rebranded by major corporation.

In the future, movie studios and advertisement agencies should look to open their doors to a more diverse pallet of creators that will offer new and refreshing content to their respective industries. Individuals by the likes of Jordan Peele and more recently Melina Matsoukas, the director of the critically acclaimed film Queen and Slim, are the latest examples of innovative creators that went above and beyond the industry standard.