Naturally, every parent wants what’s best for their kid(s). That is human nature. Not brought up in the best area of Charleston, SC, both my Mom and Dad made sure that everything they did not have was provided for my sister, brother and me. Being Black in America, there’s always that stigma that we’re only good for jumping, running, throwing, etc. But at a young age, my two siblings and I were taught by both parents that we are more than what we as Black people were conditioned to be in this society.

Growing up, my two siblings and I went to private schools, which were predominately white. Why go to a school that is mostly white you ask? Again, it goes back to my parents wanting the best for their kids, and it starts with education.

A Dad who is in the military and a Mom who was very familiar with the education system, both agreed to give us the best avenue to succeed in life, the classroom. One of the most memorable things was what my mom would say to us before school: She would pray, but also give us certain proverbs to think about as we walked the halls where we were constantly looked down upon, not only from our white peers, but also our teachers. The proverb:

“You are the heads not the tails, you are above and not beneath, you are a leader not a follower”

is still implemented in my daily life, especially with the amount of racism we endured both growing up, and even in today’s America.

My family and I would have discussions every so often discussing the history of Black people and the suffering slaves endured during that time. Since it wasn’t being taught in our classroom, our parents educated us at home every chance there was an opportunity. Shaun Sr, my Dad, repeatedly told us:

“An educated Black male/female in this country is often feared.”

Why? In a society where there is already a preconceived notion that Black people aren’t good enough or smart enough to walk the same path as white people.

“You can strip the identity and soul of a Black person, but what you can’t take away is the mind.”

These words still resonate from my Dad, because he taught us that no matter what you in do in this life, education comes first and everything else is secondary.

Both my parents are huge influences in my life because of everything they taught my siblings and me. They are still teaching these life lessons daily, even at an older age, because in this America, with the heavy racism still circulating, it is prevalent that we, as Black people, are abiding by being, “the heads not the tails, above not beneath and acting as leaders not followers.” Educating our minds at every chance, whether that is reading or just discussing historical topics within the Black culture.