Celebrating Blackness: Walter
Happy Black History Month! During February -- and literally every month on the calendar -- we're all about celebrating Black and African American leaders and empowering the next gen of badasses.
We caught up with NYC instructor Walter to learn how he celebrates Blackness, how he self-cares, and what about Black History continues to inspire him.
As a kid, how did you identify with being Black and how has it evolved with time?
As a young black boy growing up in the South, I didn’t really see many positive narratives of my image and because of that I never realized my potential power. I didn't celebrate being Black, because I was never taught how to.
As I've gotten older, I have acknowledged my worth, and therefore, I now own my power. I acknowledge the strength, spirituality, and creativity embodied by my father, brothers, and ancestors, as qualities to be celebrated in strong African American men.
How do you personally combat against negative stereotypes?
Stereotypes are fabricated ideas that can further negative perceptions around the world. People need to experience other groups of people in real life in order to challenge what they watch on television or read online. Turn off the tv, put down the phone, and live. Its necessary.
In crazy times, how do you practice self-care?
Spirituality is very important to me. It all starts with taking care of yourself first - whether that means meditating, praying, going to church, etc. While you can't always control what's going on outside in the world, you can always come back to yourself to refresh, recharge, and reset.
How do you think others can engage with Black culture in a way that is respectful?
Interacting with ANY culture should always reflect a level of respect and appreciation. Picking and choosing pieces of Black culture for your benefit is a way to further perpetuate the unfair narratives and treatment of minority people. Racism wont end until White people admit to their issues with things they are ignorant toward.
Be respectful, less judgmental, more mature, and more adult in their interactions with people of color, and things may start to change. Please stop saying “I don’t see color!” to people of color. It doesn’t make any sense!
Fashion is a huge part of your life. How do you express your Blackness in your personal style?
I love the Harlem Renaissance era so I'm inspired by the menswear of that time - tailored suits, Fedora style hats, dress shoes, etc. I also love the contemporary urban clothing brands, too so you'll often see me mix and match the different eras of fashion. For example, I could rock a fedora hat with Adidas track pants as a connection to the past and present!
Also, my Mom always said, “You can tell a man by his shoes," so I always make sure mine are clean!
Love Walter? YUP.
Celebrate with him in class ASAP.