No. 18: Tyree on Trusting the Process and Being Black in Los Angeles





Trust the process has become my slogan, my ideology, my way of thinking and my way of being over the last two years since I graduated from Temple University with my master’s degree in African-American studies. I was working in residence life and one of my supervisors asked me, ‘What are you planning on doing since you’re getting your degree?’

I was like well I want to work at Huffington Post. I want to pursue journalism. I want to get on. I want to be like Marc Lamont Hill. And then she was like, ‘Are they responding to your e-mails?’ And they weren’t. And she was like, ‘Well Tyree, though these jobs may not be working out you might be not be getting a response…trust the process.’ And I tucked that into my back pocket.

#HC100Q, Tyree

And then I remember there was this compulsion for me to go back to Los Angeles from Philly. Cause I was going to get my doctorate. I was going to be Dr. Boyd-Pates. But something told me to come back home to Los Angeles to help my grandmother and sure enough, I did and I couldn’t find a job. A black man with two degrees well-educated and couldn’t find a nine-to-five so I worked at the YMCA making $9.25 part-time and ‘I was like what the hell is going on?’

And I started writing “Trust the Process” on my Instagram and Twitter to remind myself there is a process that you’re going through. And now I’m on the other side of that process and the process is being trusted. And I’m a professor of Africana Studies at Dominguez Hills. I’m a contributor to HuffPost Black Voices. And I’m an entrepreneur with Black Book LA. Trust the process.

It took two years. I’m right at the two-year mark. I came home to Los Angeles in 2014. It’s now August 2016. When I came home I knew I wanted to write. I was typing away on my MacBook. Putting out articles, putting out posts [and] connecting with dope writers. And while I was doing so, they were starting to get traction. And one of the posts I did actually went viral because Marc Lamont Hill shared it on his Facebook page. And soon as he shared it HuffPost Black Voices knocked on my door and said ‘Would you be interested in contributing?’ And I was like ‘Trust the process.’

#HC100Q, Tyree

On the state of being a black man in Los Angeles

What is it like to be a black man in Los Angeles? One can’t separate his blackness from his manhood in this city. This is the backyard of the Rodney King Riots of ‘92. I was young but I do remember and being that young and seeing the portrayals of Watts and Compton and Inglewood and South Central by news outlets. And seeing that it was black men and women who were stealing and taking and looting — it gave you a very negative portrayal of yourself.

But there was also a very limited conversation around justice and why my people were turning up out here. And ever since then — ’92-2016 — I am someone that never forgets what it means to be black here. Because everyone I walk pass sees my blackness before they see my humanity as if those two things aren’t the same.

I look at them as inextricably linked but I can’t necessarily say the police do. It’s hard being a black man in Los Angeles because you find yourself up against a lot of odds that you didn’t stack. You also find yourself trying to assert your agency as a black man due to poor circumstances and then also trying to hip your homie and homegirls to what blackness really means and the role they play in your life.

#HC100Q, Tyree

Because we live in Tinseltown. Welcome to Hollywood. This is the city where everyone wants to get on. Everyone wants to be famous. Everyone wants to see their name in lights. Everyone wants to be famous at every cost and even at the expense of shelving their blackness to get to a certain room and ascend to a certain height.

But being a black man for me — coming back from Philly and getting cultured and getting nurtured on the East Coast — I have a new lease on life, a new lease on my blackness and everywhere I go I’m clearly unapologetically black. And I want to share the love of my heritage and my history with everyone I can come across.

On facing racism while growing up…

I actually didn’t grow up around black people. I grew up in Hollywood at the bottom of Griffith Park around mostly Armenians, Africans, Asians, Latinos and no Black-Americans. So when I was younger, I remember going to school and she/he told me, ‘Tyree why do you drink so much chocolate milk?’ I was like, ‘Cause I like it.’ He was like, ‘Does it make you more dark?’

And hearing those kinds of things. I used to brush it to the side but I realized that was racism. And that was a microaggression. That was prejudice in my face on a daily basis, but because I didn’t necessarily see myself as a black kid, I just saw myself as a darker version of them, I didn’t take it personally.

But now as a black man, I’ve realized those things have made me into the man that I am today. I own them but I also don’t tolerate them and I will not tolerate that with the children that I bring into this world one day.

How Tyree’s using his gifts to give back…

I wish to help the community in ways that it wants to be helped. Not doing for, but doing with. Currently, I’m a professor of Africana studies in Carson, in another area that has pockets of impoverishment.

And most of my class is black and brown and I’m able to engage and discuss with them their history in the ways they can begin to situate themselves at the center of their story. I look at myself as an activist. Before I used to look at myself as an educator.

And I think it’s ironic that today actually commemorates the second anniversary of Michael Brown’s death and we’re meeting because that was the day that my life was changed. And I wanted to dedicate myself to the development, the growth, and the breath of the black experience and do that on a daily basis.

And get paid for it which is really criminal because I be writing about blackness, I be teaching about blackness, and I get to talk to more people about blackness. It’s real fly and I feel privileged to do so.

#HC100Q, Tyree

Black men’s role in supporting black women…

The first person that said “Black Lives Matter” wasn’t a black man. It was a black woman. Black women have been chanting Black Lives Matter since the beginning. But most importantly right now, contemporarily, I think that black men would be remiss to ignore the plight of black women who actually protect us from most of the harm that we really could and have incurred toward us.

And I think black men have to ask themselves who else would protect you if it wasn’t for a black woman because you can’t protect you like a black woman can. But you can protect a black woman like a black man can.

And my charge to black men is to stop digesting white supremacy. Stop digesting European standards of beauty. Stop digesting these nominal characteristics of blackness and projecting your frustration, your hurt onto your counterpart and instead ask them, ‘How they feel?’ Ask them, ‘Where they are right now?’ Ask them, ‘How they would like to be described?’

And I think by just having a basic conversation we will go miles and miles forward then we’ll go behind. And so my charge to black men is to appreciate black women because if you think black lives matter [now], trust me, she believes your life already mattered before that.


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