Our Past Doesn’t Define Our Future: Kintay Johnson at TEDxYouth@HumboldtBay

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I just wanted to say before I get started I am inspired by the young faces in this room I look amongst this crowd and I see future lawyers doctors entrepreneurs problem solvers leaders the next president of the United States honestly no laughing matter because you’re gonna as you’ve already know people have already been talking to you about you’re tapping into your imagination and being inspired just know that whatever your goals are your dreams is whatever your challenge is where you come from that doesn’t dictate who you’re going to be tomorrow or your future and that’s what my talk is about so when I first opened my email and I read that this was an audition I thought to myself here we go again a few who just won’t listen you see my whole life has been an audition the color of my skin immediately puts me on stage because I’m from a place where white on black and black on white and black on black evoke rage they turn our neighborhoods into a cage and call you inward to your face when I was eight my mom and the only man I know his dad split and went separate ways broke and on welfare we moved into a place where on the first day three boys welcomed me by throwing me into a wall and spitting in my face at my new school my African name made everyday again as the kid showed no shame yelling what’s your name boy enacted scenes from the movie roots as I walked the hallways enraged at 9y playing on my neighbor’s front porch I watched her get shot through her front door I dropped my snake eyes and backed up against the wall and hit the floor as he turned and looked at me barrel in hand with the as he left the front porch and rode away in the sedan I had never seen anyone get shot before I told him all I’d seen nothing less nothing more if I could talk to my younger self I tell them you did all you could there’s nothing left continue to dream and dust those classics off the shelf those choose your own adventure books or something else soak in that pain it’ll help you stay true to yourself it’s not your fault son they vein to the death and you’re 10 your hard work determination with opportunity will help your dreams manifest the letdowns will be many the adults who stand with you whew let it go those challenges will mold you love hard but don’t be so cavalier live life without fear and even though some may try to smear with their actions and words if you don’t stand against affections your voice will remain unheard the places you will go the spaces you will see your education will open those doors and help turn you into the man you dream to be as educators we have to look beyond the surface because every life we touch has purpose serve with compassion strive to be competent communicate with honesty because honestly it will show our youth you are committed and even though you’re not from it the community will embrace you teaching you a deeper meaning of culture without mentors like this this first generation college student would have been sucked into the bits his dreams of becoming a director a Miss feeling like a failure but instead I got this college of the Redwoods yo PS changed my life and now when I lay my head down night I’m proud of the man that I’ve become and even though the war is not one it’s fun being the beacon touching the lives of students one by one creating connections and the words of Rita Pearson every student deserves a champion to help steer them to their greatness if we want our future generations to be successful we can no longer fake this because today every student is potentially at risk from the ones who get straight A’s from the ones who elf bomb the essays they can all fade away like a star in the sky seem far away because regardless of the cocoon they can all emerge to emerge to be butterflies it’s no longer just about crossing T’s and dotting eyes because together as a society we have the power to change lives thank you you

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