GROWING UP: I was born in Chicago and grew up in Jamestown, NY. I have a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Pittsburg.
CURRENT GIG: I am living life as fully as I can and enjoying it. The most important thing to me is being loving and being a good husband and father. Being healthy is also really important to me. I am a mentor, coach and motivational speaker. I am also an author, my book is, “How to Choose Happiness Most of the Time, 30 Ways in 30 Days”. I am also an Insurance Agent and am building my own agency.
EXPERIENCES WITH RACE: I have had many experiences with racism, but this situation had the biggest affect on me. I was in high school and I was on the track team. I attended a mostly white school. There were 11 black people in the entire school. I was with friends and we were all going to a track meet in a car together. Coming back from the track meet, I was sitting behind the driver. There were four of us in the car. I was looking out the window, quiet, just taking in the scenery. The driver says in conversation, “and my grandfather hates those niggers.” The guy next to me didn’t seem to react. Only one friend spoke up to say “Dude! Chappale is in the car” NOT, “Dude, don’t say that”. The driver starts apologizing and saying he didn’t mean it. He explained that it was his grandfather, not him. But I explained that he said it like it was a normal part of his conversation. Our friendship changed after that because I didn’t realize my friends saw me as a nigger. It really hurt me. I didn’t trust a lot of my friends moving forward. I wasn’t sure if they saw me as a real friend or a nigger.
Being black in America, there are things that I have done to overcome that judgement. I can relate to all these stories that men talk about, but I have done the work to move past it and be secure in who I am. I want to raise my young son so he is confident in who he is when he grows up. The racism affects me only in the sense that I am aware of how I want to raise my son.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I am an open book. I am very outgoing and boisterous, but can be very peaceful on the inside. I meditate and have practiced yoga for 30 yrs. People wouldn’t think I am a very private and simple person.
Photographed by Renee McMahon