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All my life I was told I was a member of the talented tenth.

 

And I believed it.

 

Because it was nurtured in me since before I could even remember, my parents, teachers, parental figures, and community at large that saw in me what I believed in my heart to be true of myself: I would not be a statistic because there was too much work to do and I heard it far too often and took it to heart…

 

To whom much is given, much is expected.

 

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the evolution and demise of black people in one chilling image….

And with this mantra searing through my body like a scarlet letter I could never fathom to remove, I made my way through private schools where there were too few that looked like me. I stood side by side other burgeoning opera singers and performers that looked puzzled that a little black boy with the big voice out-performed them all. They called me out even for no reason at all except that they could FEEL that I thought I was about it.

They wanted to stop me in my tracks before I had even reached the destination.

 

I would not let them.

 

Them – my black brethren that made the bold decision to not be bold.

 

I buried them one by one, including a brother, as I carried on.

 

Them – that told me that no black kid could ever be better than a white one.

 

But I was. I was there. And they couldn’t STAND it.

 

Yes.

 

I knew it, even then. But did it deter me, throw me from the path I’ve known since forever that I would undertake?

 

No.

 

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I remember reading all about Josephine overseas and crying at the life of Dorothy Dandridge. That would not be my life. I wouldn’t allow it.

 

When I researched the 20s, and in particular Josephine Baker, I read between the lines and knew that her life overseas was far more than just roses and cheetahs and bananas. I KNEW there was heartache and pain even overseas, no matter how they tried to whitewash her story. But I knew that I had to test the waters for myself. She had left this earth and did so with grace. There was a baton waiting for me in Paris and I decided to take it upon myself to pick it up.

 

I arrived and my suspicions were confirmed but no one could beat the spirit out of me. No one could manage to unlock the caged lion barreling through my chest that refused to accept the conditions I was told I had to accept. I knew better than that. I deserved better than that. I vowed to turn the tables.

 

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And I did.

 

And I DO.

 

Every book they hurled at me, I re-wrote it. Every law they tried to re-fashion in my presence, I re-tailored. Every carpet they tried to pull out from under me, I still landed on my feet.

 

In couture no less.

 

“How DOES he do it?”, they’d ask in languages they thought I didn’t understand.

 

“Black magic”, I’d turn and say, with a smile on my face as wide as Texas that went ear to ear to let them know they’d never get the best of me.

 

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Honed my skills, I did, as they paid me a mere pittance. But as others that looked like me fell by the wayside, I carried on. My mettle was stronger than that. My steely resolve they never could match. They’d never seen the likes of me and they never would. That was the mistake they made time and time again.

 

The attempts to compare me to others when I…

 

am INCOMPARABLE.

 

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I am exactly the same age now as when Martin was murdered. I am exactly the same age now as when Malcolm X took his last breath. To say it doesn’t resonate within me would be a lie.

 

I live a truth that few would dare to.

 

But if I never make it to 40, everyone I know WILL know that I gave my all FOR all, year in and year out.

 

And I would do it all over again – by any means necessary.

 

Regret is for those with no ambition, no drive.

 

 

heauxONE

Triston

Triston is an American jetset performance artist, writer, event organizer, and activist based in Europe. As a freelance journalist, he has covered both the underground and mainstream aspects of the arts, culture, music, entertainment, travel, fashion and Fashion Week in several cities, including New York, London, Berlin, Istanbul, Sydney, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Tokyo to name a few. He has been published in The Huffington Post, Trespass (London), Adaras Magazine (Miami) as well as featured in publications such as the New York Times, Vogue Italia, Turkish Huriyet and other on-line and print magazines in the U.S. and internationally. He recently released his memoir on life in Europe, ‘Heaux Confessionals’. As a solo performer and with his band $kandal Du$t, he has toured in some of the world’s most renowned clubs, simultaneously maintaining an underground renaissance, blurring the lines of all that is traditional and leaving his indelible, and ultimately unforgettable impression. There is no divide.


Brace yourself.


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