I’m honored to share the video below of a brilliant man who is also my cousin.
Mr. Harold Wallace III is my paternal third cousin, who I knew when he was a baby and small child. We lost touch as he grew into young adulthood and manhood, but thankfully a few years ago we reconnected on Facebook.
Harold spoke at the TEDx that was held on March 27, 2018 at Pittsburgh State University (PSU) in Kansas. The theme was “Diversity in Our World“. The title of Harold’s speech is “The Everyday Struggle: Switching Codes For Survival“.
Harold shared a few nuggets of information that I already knew, like the cities where he grew up in California, that he was an intelligent child, and that he earned his MBA and is a staff member at PSU. But the bulk of what he shared about himself I did not know and apparently neither did his mother (for he apologized in the beginning for what he was now sharing publicly).
My eyes welled up with tears to hear him recall childhood memories of violence that he witnessed and experienced firsthand on the streets in L.A. County. I had no clue of the survival techniques he had to utilize to not become a negative statistic.
How in the world did he thrive in an environment created to destroy?
The only reasoning that I can come up with as to why Harold survived and thrived when so many didn’t and don’t is because:
1) God’s angels kept their hands on him and he did not resist their guidance and redirection, and
2) His family’s love and support, and
3) His love of education and learning kept his mind and heart focused on bigger and greater, and
4) Harold mastered the art and science of code-switching (which he explains in this TEDx Talk).
This recipe doesn’t always work for all people, but it clearly worked for Harold.
What Harold defines as “code-switching” is what I grew up mastering (and helped raise my sister to understand) as “mask switching“. I’ve been doing it for almost 40 years now. It’s become my way of life. Harold shared an example of another master code-switcher, former US President Barack Obama.
To hear brief examples of how Harold has had to code-switch and especially now as an adult, I teared up again. It takes a great deal of effort and energy, but he does it every single day in his attempt to bring and maintain “harmony” in every environment he enters. Please watch the video to learn more.
Something else that Harold shared that I never knew and never thought to ask him, was why he pursued a career at a university. Harold is the Assistant Director of Student Diversity Programs at PSU. To hear his reason and passion for what he does and why, I smiled brightly—because it’s similar to why I pursued and am now a college professor. You have to hear Harold tell his story in this TEDx.
I love Harold’s solution to our diversity needs and issues in the US, especially, as it relates to our current cultural climate. It’s brilliant. It’s simple, well…to a willing participant. Any person who wants to be valued and respected should try out Harold’s approach and see how it helps to change how you see and treat yourself and others.
Please watch this awesome video of Harold. I’m not just saying it’s awesome because it’s my cousin speaking. I’m saying it’s awesome because the message shared is powerful, moving, compelling, engaging, and encouraging. There is a takeaway from his message, there’s a call to action without the firm ask; there’s an indirect challenge to see if we all have it in us and are willing to L.I.E.
What’s L.I.E.? You have to watch the video to find out! After you watch it, please share this with others and feel free to comment below this post. Thank you.