Hey everyone, my name is Sam White and welcome to the site! I want to give you a snapshot of some of the experiences and influences that have helped forge who I am today and provided me support and guidance over the years. We all benefit from those around us and what we live through, good and bad, so here’s a little bit about me and how I got here.
I grew up in a New Jersey suburb near Elizabeth, which is about 45 minutes from New York City, with my Mom, Dad, and younger sister. When I was 6, I started Taekwondo because I wanted to be a Power Ranger, and I mean the best Power Ranger. Taekwondo quickly turned into a lifelong passion. I spent a lot of time training, competing, and eventually teaching as I had fallen in love with the training and culture of Taekwondo. Even since then, I have immersed myself in Korean culture with the help of my Taekwondo mentors, who have shared with me the food, language, and customs of Korea.
My other passion growing up was music. I began playing the cello in 3rd grade and never looked back. Fortunate to have a phenomenal teacher and the opportunity to play in a great youth orchestra, I came to appreciate the thrill of simply making music, let alone performance, and recognized how easy it is to underestimate the talent of those around you. To quote the great Fats Waller, through Bill Withers, “Music’s real, the rest is seeming.” Regardless, like a lot of people, I’m always looking for new music. I remember listening to everything I could find when I was younger – from classical to the Commodores to Blue Oyster Cult to the blues and everything in between.
As an undergrad at Villanova University (just outside Philadelphia), my experience there ran the spectrum from very unpleasant (the issues on campus with respect to race, gender, and sexuality were very problematic) to amazing. I studied for degrees in Math and Humanities, and, like many, I really came into myself in college and was lucky to be surrounded by the best of friends. Through my best friends, I ended up connecting with the brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi in Philly. I crossed into the Delta Eta Chapter in Spring 2014 and served as Polemarch for the academic year 2014-2015.
Though Villanova’s social justice issues left me at times profoundly frustrated and even angry, the small community of people committed to a better campus culture was strong. I was raised believing in social justice, even though we may not have called it that. From exposure to James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Richard Pryor, I wasn’t unfamiliar with issues of race and gender. My dad wouldn’t shut up, and my mom’s commitment to justice for everyone “in the system” was exhausting sometimes, but all of it made me want to make change. However, during my time at Villanova, I was able to broaden my understanding & work on “dialog-ing” about these issues on and off campus. Whether it was in an academic setting or a kickback at a friend’s apartment, the conversations around these issues were hugely important.
College was where I was able to intellectually explore and navigate how I wanted advance social justice. Whether it was in class, off campus, or through the incredible summer I spent working for U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), I did my best to learn from the opportunities I had. Under Senator Booker and his incredible staff, I was able to see the practical side of public policy initiatives I was passionate about. It was transformative, particularly as an intern, to contribute substantively the Senator’s work on criminal justice reform & governmental reform. Change doesn’t happen by some miraculous process; it’s a matter of hard work by many caring people.
Since graduating in December of 2014, I’ve had the opportunity to pursue my passions and share them with you through my social media platforms. It’s been an honor to work on social justice projects with amazing folks like scholar Marc Lamont Hill, activists DeRay McKesson & Netta Elzie, commentator Zerlina Maxwell, and fellow Nupe, Martese Johnson.
The importance of allyship, listening, learning, & intellectual exploration cannot be stressed enough. We simply don’t have to accept things as they are. We can all figure out a way to help, and we all certainly benefit from diversity and inclusion.
I want to make this place a forum for the exchange of ideas – ideas to effect change in our lives. That includes social justice, fashion, music – everything happening around me and in my head. I’m about connecting people with ideas, and I want you to be a part of it. Join me.
Photo Credit: Araba Ankuma (@arabaankuma)