Life story motivational talk
My father past away when I was 3 years old and my mother struggled to raise me and my two brothers on her own. I went to 9 different elementary schools and lived in 3 times as many places growing up. Government cheese, food banks, food stamps, eviction notices, homeless shelters, women's shelters, and pawn shops were a regular part of my childhood. We were shopping at thrift stores before it became a part of pop-culture. I went from a poor black kid living in slums to writing books and traveling the world. In this talk I share with people the forces that hold us back, the forces that push us forward, and how poetry saved my life! #iamapoet
My Ninja Turtle "TED" Talk
Michelangelo said “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free. That quote still gives me the chills. I work with youth that are incarcerated in the Juvenile Justice System. Some would look at these kids and only see their tattoos, their gang affiliation and bad attitude; some would even say they have no future and that they’re a waste of time. But if somebody thought those things about me, I most likely wouldn’t have believed things could get better or change. In this talk, I share with youth and youth workers alike, the thoughts and inspirations that helped me help others help themselves. #TurtlePower
N-Bombed: race, politics and social justice
My son just got his driver's license, he's 17 now, the same age Trayvon Martin was when he was murdered. Twice this week someone driving in their car has called me nigger. When I walk into grocery stores or department stores, white people walk down different aisles, pull their kids and purses closer to their bodies, and store clerks stalk me all around the store. At a poetry reading, a husband and wife were shocked that I wrote and spoke so eloquently about wine in my poem. On my Facebook posts, I try to vent and stand in solidarity with my community that is suffering from racism and oppression, I post "#blacklivesmatter" then, a close friend assumes they are standing in solidarity with me replies "#alllivesmatter" and doesn't seem to understand the all out debate it starts. This talk is one of the hardest ones to do, but it's necessary and the discussion that ensues leads to healing, sometimes. If not then at least the elephant in the room is being called out.
My MLK Keynote
Can you love those that hate you? Can you return compassion to those that have torn you, your families and your communities apart? What is compassion other than a lofty idea? Is it more than an out-of-reach utopian picture of divine forgiveness only capable of some that have appeared in our history books and carved into statues? This lecture and poetry reading is about going from believing in humanity, to losing all faith, to getting a glimpse of what King and Ghandi must've touched in their spiritual climb to the mountain top. Things don't get better by accident, they get better by effort. But what does that look like in today's atmosphere?