Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Heroes


I wanted to write a post about people or characters that have inspired and influenced me and the way I live and see my life (was that sentence too long?)

My list of heroes goes in no particular order of rank or importance.
And no, Im not going to name a bunch of heroes with super powers that live in a fictional comic book world.

All of my heroes are ordinary people with extraordinary abilities to overcome adversarial circumstances.

(This post may get really boring, but I just felt the need to tell you this today...lol)

The first person on the list is Bruce Wayne (not Christian Bale...lol). Everyone knows I love Batman.
If no one really knows who Bruce Wayne as a character is, then allow me to break it down for you.
Bruce Wayne was a child born into a wealthy family, his parents were murdered at a young age before his eyes during the Great Depression (but set during an alternate world of course). Unlike other super heroes, he had no super powers. He dedicated his life to fighting for justice and peace...to rid the world of a pain that he once suffered.
He belongs to a team called the Justice League (dont worry this is all relevant) which is a team full of immortals/ super beings/ metahumans (whatever, I read alotta comics), but what amazes me is he still just a regular human being under that black suit. He is a merely a man vulnerable to pain and death, and still standing beside great super beings. Although he lacks what the others may have, he doesnt let it stop him in his pursuit of making a difference. He has his own skill set (which I wont get into), and he compensates in his own way. Although he may be inferior in some aspects, it doesnt deter him from being great or fighting beside them. A regular human being could be seen as an equal.
He belongs to the Gotham City, a dark and gloomy city filled with crime, hostility and corrupt police and city officials, but it doesnt deter him from wanting to make a difference and change the way things are.
He sacrifices his own identity and personal life for the well being of everyone. He assumes an alternate identity (Batman) and isolates himself (Bruce Wayne) from relationships of all sorts to protect them from dangers of retribution. Inside he dies as person but only for the people of Gotham to live on. A selfless being. People hate him and misunderstand his intentions and actions, calling him a vigilante.
But regarless he still fights for them...even though they hate him.

If you believe in it, fight for it...and thats who Bruce Wayne is to me.

And yes, please go watch Batman Begins and the Dark Knight...you'll understand it a bit better...Id tell you to the read comics...but sure...lol
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The second person on this list is another Bruce...Bruce Lee.
I realized awhile ago that not many people know anything about Bruce Lee except that he's a martial arts superstar...
What a shame.
But understandable. (Please go watch Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story...I highly recommend it.)

Let me give you a quick bio, Bruce Lee was an American citizen born in 1940. He moved to Hong Kong and returned to San Francisco in his later teenage years. He attended a few colleges where he studied philosophy, drama and psychology.
As we all know, there was a lot of racism at the time in the States and of course, Bruce Lee was no exception to it.
Like I brought up in earlier posts, imagine the hardships and discrimination you must have put up with being a foreigner in a brand new country.
Needless to say Bruce Lee went through a lot of racism and had to defend himself through several fights.
The amazing thing about Bruce Lee is, he never let the hate get to him. When asked what his background was, he would say American, but no one ever excepted that. Im sure we all hear this one..."You're an American citizen, but you're not an American."
He started to teach Kung Fu to non-Asians, even opening a school, which was probably the only one in the world that taught Kung Fu to the blacks and whites. The Chinese community hated him for it and made him fight for permission to continue teaching. The Chinese community objected to teaching whites and blacks because they felt they were the enemies, that they were the oppressors. "Why teach our secrets to the enemies?"
But Bruce Lee felt that ignorance would always exist if the Chinese people would not open up and show the world their culture. Ignorance exists when you dont know, but you know, you can be enlightened. Understanding is key. Bruce Lee fought for his right (literally), he won, but was hit from behind after the match was over leaving him paralyzed for months.

He married a white woman, and of course her mother objected and so did Bruce's father, but they loved eachother and fought for their belief that love bares no color and no borders...

Why Bruce Lee is so important to me is that he broke down a lot of racial barriers and changed a lot of views about Asians and our culture. He eroded the lines and opened up to people of all skin colors and cultures, allowing himself to be vulnerable and allowing a new perspective to enter his mind. Hate comes from individuals, not from everyone that is similar. Just because one person hurt you, doesnt mean everyone else thats like them is like them. Just because one white or black person treated you ill, doesnt mean they all will.

Like any ordinary person, he was vulnerable to criticisms and hate...he was in a constant battle to identify himself and his family and find a place of belonging. His constant battle with his identity, his ability to be accepted within Chinese and American society and racism almost costed him his sanity and family...he died at the age of 33, at the height of his career. His death still remains controversial as no one really knows why he died.

Without Bruce Lee, the world would be a different place for me and many other people. He was the Asian ambassador...you can kind of call him the Asian Rosa Parks, or a Martin Luther King Jr...or anyone else that stood for their people and a dream that one day things will be different.
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Of course, I have to say Kanye West.
I know of course a lot of you guys are gonna object and be like..."wtf? That wining asshole?"
And Ill say "Yes, that wining asshole."
Why Kanye is my hero is because he doesnt give a fuck. He'll say what he wants without filter, acts, dresses and makes music the way he wants. Hes not afraid to be different.
He's just being himself.
Even if you dont like it, he doesnt care.
It is so important to be true to yourself.
You cant listen to what all the haters say and let them dictate conformity or a universal image or define what a role model should look like.
If you wanna be emo and make an album full of love songs on auto-tune, then fuckin do it!
If you wanna wear a pink polo do it!
If you wanna show up with shutter shades on, do it.
He may be arrogant...but the way I see it, he's just being himself. As long as he's not putting anyone else down to lift himself up, its watever. It aint hurting nobody.
To me he represents purity of creativity and art in all aspects.
Dare to be different.
They will either love you or hate you.
But the most important thing, is for you to love you.
At the end of the day, you're all you got.
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Bryan Espirtu is my hero for a different reason.
I dont want to get too complicated with his description because Ive talked about him many times before and it gets kinda repetitive to the readers.
Simply put, he's my hero for overcoming his troubles, obstacles and problems and doing a complete 180, and becoming a continuously progressing artist of various mediums and for returning to his roots to help the people who helped him by becoming a mentor, a teacher, a guidance counselor and a friend to many. To me, he is a great example of not everything starts out great, but with time, patience and effort, good things can happen, although they may be in small doses, they do come. Do not take anything for granted.
He reminds us all to never forget where we came from and to be real and true to ourselves. To stand up for what you believe in and that conformity is not necessary. Humbleness is crucial. Insight and consideration, loyalty and respect, trust and honor...
To not be afraid of people's judgements or to voice to your own.
Vulnerability is not weakness.
No money is worth your artistic integrity.
You can do what you love in your life. Be where you want and leave where you dont.

No boost, Ive said this before, but Bryan is a living legend.
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Gavin Sheppard aka leader of the "Make It Happen Gang", is not only a hero to me, but a hero to very very very very very many people, not only in Toronto (including Bryan), but across the globe.
Consider yourself blessed if you have ever met Gavin, and even luckier if you've even squeezed more than a 30 second speech from him. Gavin is instant inspiration, without a doubt.

Mark Ecko watches just released a new campaign which features Gavin as the cities global ambassador. I wrote a short break down of who Gav is and realized, Mark Ecko wrote it so much better so here's the blurb.

Marc Ecko Enterprises will launch a global initiative titled “WE ARE UNLIMITED” showcasing the limitless potential of those making a difference worldwide. Marc Ecko Watches Canada will release a viral 30-second commercial highlighting the unique story of a charismatic, young Canadian affecting positive social and global change: Gavin Sheppard.

I AM UNLIMITED: The Gavin Sheppard story”. Gavin Sheppard is the co-founder and catalyst for “The Remix Project”, a youth program that acts as an arts and cultural incubator in Toronto, Canada, North America’s cultural capital. Young people aspiring to start careers in the urban arts sector drive the program by developing personal six month plans for success. The 26-year-old mogul-in-the-making has been involved in community development and the cultural industries professionally since the age of 17 helping communities to grow to their full potential. A member of City of Toronto Mayor Miller’s community safety secretariat, Gavin is a strong advocate for young people. His brainchild, “The Remix Project”, has gone global with new initiatives and partnerships in South Africa, Brazil, and Colombia. He has also been invited to speak at institutions such as Harvard University on how to use hip-hop as a tool for community development and growth, and has collaborated on consulting projects with the United Nations’ Habitat Program.


This should describe Gavin a lot better than I can.
And I assure you, there is no boost in that blurb about him.

Remix is currently in the 3rd year of operation and a good portion of the Toronto entertainment industry (party promoters to graphic designers, rappers, singers, producers, photographers and clothing entrepreneurs) were graduates of the Remix Project. 40, Drake's sound engineer was the Media Program Course Director, Bryan Espirtu of the Legends League was the former course director of the Creative Arts Program, T-RexXx is the current course Director of the business arts program, Rich Kidd the producer of Drake's "The Last Hope" and "Comeback Season" was a student, Future (Drake's DJ) was a student, DJ Wristpect was a student, Addy was a student, Fresh was a student, Spexx was a student, Karla aka HustleGRL who runs the ATF/ Drake fan site is a student, I was a student (and now am the Creative Arts Youth Leader)...and there are many other's...but I figured these are the only one's most of you guys would know. All of these people may not be where they are today, if Gavin never lit the first match.
Im gonna be showcasing a lot of the other talent in the building soon enough tho so stay posted. Toronto is fire.

I just want to end off this post with a very important conversation that Gavin and I had this evening before I left Remix...

I said to Gav...

"Hey Gav, when the semester ends, obviously so does my role as a youth leader. Is there anything else that you would suggest that I could look into to work at? I dont want to leave this realm of work."

(paraphrased)
"Well as a young leader, I would hope that you would approach me and say something like 'Hey Gav, the creative program is really great because it teaches graphic design, journalism and photography, but the course directors are usually strong graphic artists. I think it would benefit the program if we maybe started a photography program and at least run a pilot term to see how it goes. Maybe instead of teaching 10 students, I can teach 5. I can create a 6 month curriculum and what not.' "

"Really? Thats actually possible? As a youth leader here, I feel like my role implies a lot of responsibility, but I feel that the weight behind it isnt there. I want to be able to contribute more and make a bigger difference with my role."

(paraphrased)
"Of course thats possible. If you want to do this Will, Im behind you 200%. You tell me what you want to accomplish with the program, you give me a plan and a curriculum and Ill talk to the Art Council of Ontario and help you write grants. We can get equipment in here, set up studio space and you can teach the kids. We can make this happen."

Of course that made my fuckin day. I better get my photography skills up to par if this is gonna happen.

Ive been in school for 5 years wanting to be a teacher, but now I dont want to leave Remix...ever. lol I want to be able to continue inspiring and helping youth, but its about which method I feel is most effective not just for the youth, but for me too. Where is my strong point? How do I want to contribute? Which realm will maximize my capacity to create change in young minds? Kids are obligated to be in school, but the kids at remix are there voluntarily...its a different dynamic.

Gavin's existence is a living testament to show us all that change is possible, brighter days lie ahead, good souls do exist, love is real, hope lives on, tmr will come, the sun will shine and that we can sleep in peace. No homo, but Gavin's that dude.

This is no boost watsoever.

Next time you see Gav in the streets whether in Toronto, or in China, make sure to shake his hand.

PS. I just spoke to my friend Heinz and he said something I didnt really cross my mind

Heinz: You look up to a fictional person who may not be a real person but stands for things u believe in yourself. You believe in a legend that may not be here but also stood for things you wish to project in your own life. Your heroes from fictional, dead, living icon, to people who are friends of yours that are helping you see out all the things you wish to become.

Thanks dude, I couldnt have said it better myself.
In a way, I want to be a hero of sorts.
But the sort of hero who wasnt built perfect. A hero who is still human, vulnerable to pain and emotional breakdowns, death and defeat. A hero who will go through hell if thats what it takes to get to heaven. A hero that everyone once hated, who comes to be loved by the end. A hero who struggles for triumph.


To my heroes who push for change and betterment fearlessly and selflessly, in hopes of victory in world full of defeat, I salute all of you.

4 comments:

narrylikes said...

kanye, yup! have to agree with you on that one, he doesn't give a shit. people can't stand it and that's probably why they hate him. i love him and i love the part you wrote about him. might have to ctrl+c and ctrl+v that part and save it somewhere ;)

bryan. i heard about the legends league over a year ago on myspace. i started reading and listening. i have so much respect for bryan and he is definitely on my "heroes" list, because of his story and where he is today. anything is possible.

thanks for clearing things up and saying that it's NOT christian bale! funny.

Chilly Willy said...

oh narry, you always leave such great comments, I love it...

Dont ask me why Im still awake. lol

be. • TheLegendsLeague • said...

tanks brew. and tanks nah tah lee.

much luv young bruv.

Global Gav said...

the respect is mirrored.

so, muchly to you bro.

now get that outline for the photography program done!!!

;)

peas,
g.