Growing up in Scarborough, was always something to someone. I liked to read and use big words, so that meant that in my house I was labelled as a white kid; they called me Terry. At school, the teachers would ask me if I was coming out for the basketball team, even though I couldn’t make a jump-shot to save my life. Even before the existential crisis that is high school, I was faced with the challenge of accepting the concept of my own self-image.
Who am I?
I didn’t know if it was wrong to be a black guy, if it was wrong to be a white guy, which one was better. Was it wrong for me to behave in a manner that was associated with the typical mannerisms of Black youth, or should I have adopted those associated with “being white”?
What was better? Everyone seemed to have an opinion about it.
It wasn’t until high school, where I really learned about myself.
Unfortunately, going to school and growing up in an urban area did not seem to quell the ferocity of racial profiling committed by the police. If my friends and I walked in a group without wearing our school uniforms, we were stopped and questioned; on more than one occasion, we fit a description. At school, we were either viewed as rappers or basketball players. I think when the school realized I wasn’t interested in basketball, they changed their approach…. slightly. I auditioned for the glee club in grade 11, and instead of singing with everyone else, I was made out to be the designated rapper. I began to see the boxes they tried to put around me, as a young black male. I could only be one thing or another; a basketball player or a rapper. That is how they viewed me, but I was convinced that this was not the truth. Or at the very least, it was not my truth. I know my own truth: I am a rapper, but I am also a writer, a chef, a FATHER, an entrepreneur, and whatever else I want to be. I realized something else too. I realized that this box they created for me, the one that limits my potential, it only exists in the minds of the ones who created it and the ones who accept it. The box does not exist in my reality.