I attended two colleges for undergrad. I graduated from one. Sure. But, the other? Let’s just say, there were very few of “me” there (if you follow). Anywho – while there, I befriended Christopher Carr – today’s interviewee. He advocated for the marginalized then, and that continues still. Let’s hear about it in his Black Perspective.
Introducing: Christopher Carr
SSD: Jumping right in, tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.
CC: At the heart, I’m still a Black boy from Kansas City. I remember growing up off 67th and Prospect, navigating which streets belong to the Crips and the Bloods during the height of Kansas City gang activity. I was always a bit nerdy, but made up for that by being funny.
That love of learning and humor has been my rock ever since. It helped me get accepted into private schools, which laid the trajectory for me to attend College. As a first-generation college student, no one told me how to navigate the waters. But again, a love of learning and laughter got me through.
I even use it to get in my work – as so many people don’t understand the value or imperative for diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. So I find ways to relate – often through humor to make the connection and then lead people to their own self-awareness.
My work is about helping folks unlearn the untruths. We have told ourselves so many stereotypes and [bits of] false information for so long – that we don’t know our way back to the truth. I’m a guide; a facilitator who is here to get folks through to understanding.
My Mom and Dad say I was born with it. I consider it my superpower – the ability to make people feel at ease and find themselves willing to engage. I’m very lucky.
SSD: We spoke about this a bit in our emails, but I think it’s a solid note to start the interview off on…
How do you want Black People to view and approach Education?
CC: I want folks to hear education as a cultural tool of triumph. We need that development in college. That growth. It’s central to our being.
Our history is built out of education. Brown VS. Board of Education, Ruby Bridges, Little Rock Nine, Divine Nine, HBCU’s (Historically Black College and University), etc. Education was founded in Africa. With the Per-Ankh and the Library of Alexandria, the University of Sankoré (founded by Mansa Musa) in Mali, and the Axumite Colleges of Ethiopia.
SSD: What do you hope to accomplish as you continue using your superpower to pursue what you’re doing?
CC: Honestly? I hope to work myself out of a job one day. I hope we get to a place where we learn to see people as different and that doesn’t have a value judgment on it. I can be Black, from the inner city, and from a working poor family – but that doesn’t make me less than anyone else.
It means my story may be different, and my journey may be different — but that difference matters!
It matters to who I am! It matters to the people whose circumstance is like mine. It matters because I matter.
And no one story should define the American story. It’s all of us that make up this mosaic.
SSD: What’s a tip that you’d give someone who sees you, is inspired, and wants to follow in your footsteps?
CC: There is a quote from a movie that said be prepared for “a whole lot of ugly coming from a never-ending parade of stupid.” I think that’s true in some regards. This work is tough. Every day I talk to someone who struggles to see what is clear as day to me about injustice. But every day, I also see a breakthrough with someone who finds an opportunity to be better.
Doing diversity work, you have to recognize that at the heart of it, we are justice officers and advocates for our own well-being. So, take the time to do the work – but take equal time to love on yourself and love on those who love on you.