Let’s begin with what’s most important:
Married to my high school sweetheart. My wife and I have been together for over eighteen years. We have three beautiful little girls. I often tell my wife she should teach a child planning class as each of our girls were planned down to the month. Our oldest was born in the summer. Our middle child was born in the spring. And our last child was born in the fall. It’s a beautiful thing.
I am very proud of what my wife and I accomplished as a family. As a result of not growing up with a proper family structure, my wife and I worked very hard to do just that. I am very proud that all of my children were planned and birthed by the same women I’ve been with since I was in high school. As a man, I am very fortunate to realize that nothing or no one is more important than home. My wife is absolutely amazing! I will not be able to move forward in my career and in business if it were not for her being such an amazing woman to myself and our children. It’s very tough being married to a disabled combat veteran. It’s very difficult being married to a police officer. It’s even more difficult having to be married to an aspiring businessman. My wife has to deal with all three wrapped into one man. God bless her. She is certainly a gift from heaven.
Police & Military
When I was eighteen years old, I joined the United States Air Force National Guard. I then broke my contract after five and a half years and transitioned to an Army Infantry Unit where I served my last two and a half years of service. During my time in the Air Force I served two combat tours in Iraq, along with several other deployments. From Mosul, Baghdad, Kuwait, Manta Ecuador, and many other areas. As a result of having very good mentors and leadership, I received multiple awards for my service and attention to detail. One of which was a nationally won award for Airman of the year. My leadership and I flew to Spokane, Washington to receive the award during a conference. I retired from the US Army as a Sgt with eight years time in service to my country.
I am currently a Lieutenant in the Buffalo Police Department. During my time with the department, I worked in several different units such as: E district, A district, Strike Force Task Force, C District Community Police Officer, Central Booking Lieutenant and currently the 911 Communications Lieutenant. A vast majority of Police Officers stay in the same units until they rank up to LT or Detective. I am very fortunate ;in that, having experience in so many of these units certainly made me extremely knowledgeable with a very unique skill set throughout the police department.
Thank you very much to Sgt Paul Wiencek (the man in the photo all the way to the right). At the age of 18, I was trying to find my way into the professional world. Sgt Wiencek was the first person to guide me and put up with my BS. I remember when we were in South America and the guys were gossiping saying I was involved in certain activities. Sgt Wiencek pulled me aside, told me that I was a good man and that he didn’t have a problem with me at all. One time he yelled at the entire unit for calling his phone directly when was Chief. I remember Sgt Wiencek pulling me aside and telling me, “Darren you know that was not directed towards you, if you need anything you call me whenever you want.” As a result of where I came from and what I was involved in, it took me a very long time to change my mind-frame. During my path as a professional man, his love, kindness and treating me as his equal worked wonders for me. If you’re reading this Sgt I’d like to say, “It’s been a very long time but I’ll have an update for you soon, I am not done just yet sir!”
Lastly, there is a wonderful lady who literally saved my life when I became a police officer. My entire family thanks you. At the time I was a stranger to her. However, she still extended love, trust and kindness to my family and I. You know who you are, I am forever in your debt.
A Very Proud Moment
There are a vast amount of proud moments I’ve had through the years. Obviously one of my proudest moments is seeing my little ones come into this world healthy. I am extremely blessed for that and very sad for others that did not birth healthy children. But one of my absolute proudest moments as a career man was when I took my wife and my oldest daughter to Disney World for the first time. This may sound mediocre to some of you, but you must understand that the vast majority of kids from where I grew up have never been to Disney World. Thankfully my grandmother took my uncle and I one time when we were younger. My wife had never been to Disney. My daughter kept talking about how all of her friends had been to Disney and that she really wanted to go. She was referring to her friends at the private school she was attending at the time. With all that said, my wife and I surprised her for her birthday. She thought that she was going to a water park in Florida. While the driver on the bus made the welcome to Disney announcement, she was literally sleeping. We got off of the bus and asked her if she knew where she was at. She said, “we’re going to the water park right?” One of the staff members in front of the hotel said, “young lady you’re at Disney World!” Oh the joy in her face. I did not only take my wife and little one to Disney for the first time, I purchased a very nice hotel with the meal package and all the extras. We had a really good trip at Disney. I felt very proud to be able to say yes to this and yes to that. All of my moms and dads who did not come from a proper family know exactly what I’m talking about. My wife had never been to Disney as well and let me tell you, she had a ball. I was very proud during that trip. It’s now a tradition. We surprised my middle child on her first trip to Disney and will do the same when our youngest is at a proper age. It’s wonderful.
Business & Entrepreneurship
Marketing & Web Design Agency
After conducting a vast amount of research, I was attempting to find my way in business. One thing was for sure, I wanted to build a business with a very high pay out that can allow me to have freedom at the same time. I saw that a large number of police and firefighters owned businesses such as restaurants, real estate, barber shops etc. Some of these people were very well off and were doing extremely well. Consequently, I did not see any multimillionaires. I never met a police officer or firefighter on the job raking in over 20 million dollars of real estate or with chain restaurants all over the globe. This was a big problem for me as my business goal was not to make a little extra, but to build an extremely profitable enterprise. In that, I began to look into the tech industry. I saw college kids with no career or life experience becoming multi billionaires in the matter of a few years. This became very troubling and stressful as I was researching day and night to figure out that formula. The first real business venture I attempted was a unique version of a couples website. I was all in on this idea and conducted a vast amount of professional research. I even wrote a book on the topic as a result. In short, during this entire process, I spent almost thirty thousand dollars. During a meeting, I was told by the city’s top business firm that my idea was very unique and something they had never seen before. Consequently, this same firm stated that if I launch, eharmony will be sure to file litigation as a result of the name. They stated that even though the website is not the same and very different from eharmony, their attorneys will still pursue the company.
As a result of the business name, logo and idea, I was sure to have a multimillion dollar business structure in a matter of months. As a result of what the attorneys stated, I was not going to attempt to pick a fight with eharmony with a very small budget and no serious backing. It would have been downright foolish of me to do so. The attorney stated that they will win even if they are wrong. As I walked to my car something happened to my hand as a result of the bad news. My right hand has had shooting pain ever since. In addition to all of this, I figured out that the web design and marketing companies were overcharging me and not fully completing the work they said they would complete. In short, I began strictly monitoring what these large companies were doing. As a result, I began learning how to do the same thing these companies were doing. In most cases, I was learning how to do it better.
This was a terrible process.
I almost completely gave up my goal of being a businessman. I had put my family in a terrible financial situation. I thought to myself, I can’t be one of those guys. The guys with the crazy ideas that never work all while putting their family in debt. I thought of myself as being very intelligent while making conscious decisions. I was ready to quit as a result.
Having to monitor the other companies’ jump started my path to having a skill set that I never imagined I would have. I began building websites and doing marketing campaigns for friends and acquaintances. I would do this for free as I actually enjoyed a large portion of creating the marketing campaigns.
As a board member of the African American Police Association, I began overseeing communication & marketing of the entire organization. One evening I was at a very large event hosted by the AAPA. All of the Politicians and the who’s who of the city was in attendance at this specific event. They even had legal analyst for CNN & HLN Joey Jackson as the guest speaker. During this event, a financial advisor named Darmell Whitfield walked up to me and stated, “hey are you the guy that does the blog and writes articles for the AAPA?” I quickly answered, yes. In short, we both were in a conversation about web design and marketing. Mr. Whitfield was in need of a website.
After I came home from the event, I told my wife about the conversation I had with Darmell. I had been doing websites on the side for friends and acquaintances. However, as I had an official conversation with Darmell about doing business, I was in so much fear as a result of what happened in my previous business venture. I told my wife that I didn’t even know what to charge him. I then told my wife that it would not cost me any money to whip a professional website together and pick a business name. At this level in my life, I am very serious about being professional and presenting myself correctly. As a result, I quickly built my website, created a business name and had my first real client meeting. Oh my gosh, Darmell and I were at the coffee shop for at least three hours. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I sold a package for $25 per month. I came home happy as hell. I told my wife that all I have to do is close on a few more thousand of these and I’ll be set. It was not a joke, I was dead serious. Needless to say, those packages now start at over $450 per month for my company.
I had finally gained enough confidence to get back to business. Shortly after placing my new business on social media, I received a message from a State Trooper I worked with. I had only worked with him a few times while in the Strike Force unit ;therefore, I was unaware of who he was. He was looking for web design services. We quickly met at the coffee shop and after some time, Chad became my second paying customer. Shortly after that, Chad referred a man named Tim. Tim owned several businesses at the time and wanted a marketing package for one of his businesses. I landed Tim as a client at that same coffee shop. Tim eventually enjoyed the level of service and purchased another package for his family business. They are the second largest maple producers in NYS. I then gained a customer in Hawaii, two clients in California, and several clients throughout Western NY. These were not all large contracts ;however, I was finally in business. After gaining enough confidence in my skill set, I changed my business name to McDuffie Marketing LLC. I then began shopping for office space downtown in the main business district of my city. I began with a small office and quickly upgraded to the window office I initially wanted when conducting my first tour. 14th floor with a window view and I still miss the days meeting clients in the coffee shop.
As entrepreneurs we all tend to follow this crazy path. We watch inspirational videos until our eyes and ears cannot take it any more. We research, we plan, and as a result, a vast majority of us end up all over the damn place. All the way to the point of not getting anything done. In having a full family and career, as an entrepreneur, I had to make some extremely serious decisions along the way. I am currently at the point of no return. If I quit, my children may have to be snatched out of their private schools and my wife may have to return to work. My household will be directly impacted. With that said, I had to center my mind and stop being all over the damn place. As entrepreneurs the ideas are great. Trying out different things and finding your way is great. However, we must eventually get serious, pick something and build the damn thing. We must stop being all over the place. We must stop the paralysis by over-analyzing, pick something and get better at it along the way by getting our hands dirty. And boy oh boy, in business there is no way out of getting your hands dirty. Some of our hands have to get dirtier than others, but our hands still get dirty. But what do I mean by this? Some businesses start off with a boat load of funding ;in that, they can start off with office space, a large marketing budget, hiring employees etc. Their hands are less dirty. Some businesses have to boot-strap everything where the owner has to be customer service, accounting, tech support, the research department, janitor and so forth. Not to mention having to fund the business from savings or the job they’re currently working. You could imagine how dirty those hands are. I believe the down and dirtier you get with your company, the better you will know how to treat your employees and your customers. There are a vast amount of owners of startups that simply did not get dirty enough and have no idea how to run their own company. A guy named Gary V would call this, “the process.” He states, “you have to be in love with the process.” Well Gary, I am in love with the process but at this point, burn out was certainly setting in. I often felt as if I was busy getting nowhere. I finally pulled myself together and put myself in the logical “do” phase. In that, I have a marketing agency, record company and music publishing company. Every one of my companies compliments and serves the other ;therefore, to me they are all one company. I must continue to learn from past mistakes and scale these companies. I always say that if it was easy, everyone would be riding in private jets, living in mansions, and driving Lamborghinis. It’s not easy. It’s flat out hard and damn near impossible especially for men and women with full families at home. I will continue moving forward in growing my business and having a good time in doing so. I love what I do in both of my careers. However, I will be a police officer for only a few more years, but I will own my businesses forever. I really appreciate all of the people who showed their support by purchasing services or products. In that, no matter how large my business grows, I will always do everything I can for the people putting food on my table, my clients. Thank you for all you have done for my family.
Business & Entrepreneurship
Record Label & Publishing Company
The vast majority of people are very unaware of my music skill set. Music has actually been my skill set for most of my life. It started off as poetry. When I was in elementary school, I had a notebook I’d carry around with all of my poems. It did not take long for my poetry to turn into melodies for the soul. Not a day goes by where I’m not humming a tune or mumbling words to a song I am creating in my head. When I was going through the process of becoming a police officer, I asked officer Gidney if becoming a police officer would prevent me from recording music. Gidney laughed and said, “no, you’re free to get into that industry if you want.” Only if he knew how serious that question was.
During these years of much needed psychological changes, I admit that I made some major mistakes in my thought process along the way. For example, my main skill set and love was always music. As a result, why did I not pursue the music business after having an established career?
At the time, I simply did not want to become the stereotypical rich black guy from the inner city. I did not want to be the black guy people assumed was successful as a result of only being an entertainer or playing sports. In my mind, I wanted to be a legitimate businessman who has complete ownership and control over a legitimate honorable business. I wanted to follow the path of the greats such as: Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, J. P. Morgan, Robert F. Smith, Robert Johnson and many more.
One night I saw an old friend of mine helping his father move furniture into his office building. I hadn’t seen Fred in years. As a result, I was unaware that his dad, Freddy Shy, was moving his office to the same floor where my office was located. When I first saw Freddy Shy he said, “man, I’ve been trying to talk to you this whole year.” Freddy Shy is the owner of NuMuzik Consulting. He is an accomplished music manager with over 20 years of industry experience. Freddy Shy and I began to have many conversations about business and marketing. These conversations quickly turned into conversations about the music industry. In short, once Freddy learned that I had this love and skill set for music, he flat out told me that I was stupid for not starting my own label and getting into the music business. We had months of conversation regarding the industry. As a result, I quickly realized that my marketing skill set, along with my writing and producing skill set can be extremely competitive and extremely profitable. I finally began the process of building a record label and becoming the only music publishing company in my area.
Please understand that I really did not want to start another business, let alone two new businesses. After having very deep conversations with Freddy Shy, I went into my hole and conducted massive research. Needless to say, I was very wrong regarding my thoughts on being in the entertainment business. How can I be the stereotype when the vast majority of the owners of record labels with the highest net worths do not look like me? Warner Music Group is owned by a Ukrainian born American businessman named Len Blavatnik. His net worth is over 33 Billion dollars. His track record is very impressive as he received the very rare honor of Knighthood and sits on multiple boards including Hardvard and Oxford University. Sir Lucian Grainge is the CEO of Universal Music Group, and Rob Stringer is the CEO of Sony Music. These are the top record companies in the world. Gosh, I was very wrong in my thought process.
It’s crazy how the universe works. If I did not develop that way of thinking, I would not have a marketing and web design skill set. If I did not own my own marketing agency, it would cost me tens of thousands to get this record label off of the ground and more tens of thousands to pay a marketing agency to properly promote my recording artist. I am very thankful for pops. Little does he know how much his kindness and guidance means to me. I lost my father and do not have any proper males experienced enough to tell me anything useful regarding business at this point in my life. I’ve surpassed all of the males around me in both the mind, family structure, career and business. Consequently, pops was essential and very relevant in my mindset in starting my record company. His insight was extremely valuable and I’m very grateful. All I must do now is be sure to get some coin in his pockets.
Lastly, I must mention my artist and brother Drip Sanchez (Kenny Allen). This would be a very lengthy read if I wrote down all the details of how Drip Sanchez and I started as brothers all the way into building a business. A piece of our story is written down in his album memoir. Jay Z said something of this nature during an interview. “With hard work and practice you can create a better artist, but you cannot create a superstar.” During this process Drip has taught me so much not only about this business but about myself. He is fearless. When he walks into a room, the room lights up and the attention is on him. I often tell Kenny that I feel as if I am riding around listening to Drake before anyone was aware who Drake was. When 40 was riding around telling everyone that a guy from Toronto named Aubrey is going to be the biggest name in the industry. This is how I feel about Drip. Drip Sanchez is simply a superstar. It’s like a cheat code having him as a brother and an artist. The entire world will eventually witness what I already know.
Growing Up On The East Side of Buffalo
This may be a bit of a roller coaster ride.
I grew up on Jefferson Ave on the East side of Buffalo NY. For legal reasons, there are certain very important people and names I have to unfortunately leave out. I am the oldest of several siblings. I lived in a very tough gang infested neighborhood as the vast majority of inner city neighborhoods were back in the 90’s. However, I was fortunate to have come from a decent household. Not perfect but decent. My household was definitely much better than the majority of the friends I grew up with. At this time, my neighborhood was loud and vibrant. Every day in the summer someone was playing music outside of their windows. I used to love that. The neighbors would leave their doors open during the day and everyone was like a big family at that time. At one point the neighborhood was very fun and filled with great memories as a young kid. Unfortunately, the year of 1999 was the turning point. This was the summer my friends and I graduated elementary school. It was a crazy summer. Everyone was making the transition from being kids to teenagers. Gang life started to become a culture among the vast majority of my friends. A vast amount of my friends were either stashing or carrying guns. Things started to change that summer.
At just fifteen years old, I worked full time at the corner store at Jefferson and East Ferry. I was paid cash under the table every week. My dad allowed me to work there from Monday through Saturday as long as I completed my homework while I was there. I would get out of track practice, take a shower and head right to work. During the weekdays I’d normally be there from about 5pm -10pm. On the weekends I’d normally be there past 1am. The owner had to drop me off at home when I worked those hours. It was crazy working there. So many things went on in that store. I won’t dare mention most of what we were doing out of respect for Toby and his community. With that said, Toby and Mohammed made sure I was taken care of. Mohammed had an AK behind the counter and Toby had a shotgun in the back for me. In an emergency, Mohammed would motion for me to go to the back as we had a one way window. Mohammed would lock people in the store and I would go to the back and grab the shotgun looking through the window just in case something happened. I was only fifteen years old and a sophomore in high school, but gosh it was fun as all hell. The neighborhood knew the owner as Joe. We called him Toby. He took good care of me and treated me like a son.
As a grown man it’s still very tough for me to be in my old neighborhood. Even though I have many good memories, it gives me instant anxiety and makes me feel uneasy.
I used to think I had a good experience growing up until I became a man raising a family of my own. For a very long time I resented my father for allowing his son to live in a place like that. The first time I was shot at was across the street from my house while playing football with my friends. I had to be either 12 or 13 years old as I was still in elementary school. The most disturbing part of this was that we all thought it was funny. We ran to my friend Dontae’s backyard and continued to stay outside as if nothing happened. As a proper man with a family of my own, that is sickening. If my 12 year old daughter gets shot at, she should be terrified, running home crying and scared to go outside. This is how messed up and conditioned we were at this early age. I did two tours in Iraq and some soldiers would fold when they were shot at in an up-armored Humvee with guns, equipment, and a full squad with professional training. That reaction is actually normal. We were children, and getting shot at while playing football in the field did not phase us. That is not normal. That is not something to be proud of. That is sickening.
Not to make this a pity party because I cannot stand when adults do that, but I lost the best friend I’ve ever had while growing up in this place as well. Rayshawn Mcbride was his name. I believe he was 16 years old at the time. I remember my auntie Paulatte calling me screaming and crying on the phone. She kept saying, “Darren don’t do nothing, promise me you won’t do nothing.” I kept asking her what was wrong, but first she made me promise her that I would not do anything. She then told me, “Shawn dead, he’s dead Darren, they killed him.” Before that call, I had heard a bunch of gunshots near the field by my house. It was weird because my stomach dropped like I was on a roller coaster. I thought nothing of it. After my auntie told me Shawn was dead, I did not believe it one bit. Yes, Rayshawn was selling crack cocaine at the time but literally would not hurt a fly in regards to doing anything violent. How do I know this? One day, Rayshawn broke up a fight. As a result of him getting in the middle of it, Rayshawn was scared. He came to my house, told me what happened and asked me what he should do. Because of who this guy was, I told Rayshawn that he knew what he had to do. He said he did not think that it was necessary and that everything would boil over, as all he did was break up the fight. Shawn and I got into a serious argument that day, as I was very adamant about going after this guy first. As I stated, he would not hurt a fly. After I got off the phone, I walked around the corner to go see Rayshawn at his house so I could talk to him about my crazy auntie. As I walked down Lyfe street, I saw police lights and half the neighborhood standing outside. J****r was walking towards me. I kept asking her what happened. She had her arms folded and kept shaking her head telling me no, over and over again. I started to walk up to the scene and stopped as I did not want to believe it. My best friend was shot in the head.
That changed me after that. I became extremely aggressive towards anyone who remotely threatened me. There was no such thing as a fight or a disagreement after my best friend died for breaking up a fight. And as usual, it was not intended for Shawn. I will not say his name, but the guy who was actually fighting that day was with him. He was shot as well, and of course he lived. We were all teenagers and no more than 16 years old at the time.
I said this may be a roller coaster ride. Believe it or not, I am actually keeping this short.
One of the most dangerous and terrifying situations happened to me while I was working at the corner store. My recording artist Drip Sanchez actually raps about this situation in a song called, “used to be me.” I was going to pick up my fish dinner down the street. There used to be a grimy corner store at Woodlawn and Jefferson St. As I walked up to the store, I saw a bunch of guys talking. They stopped talking and posted up as I walked closer to the store. I did not want to walk right past them, and I damn sure wasn’t turning around. So, I walked into the corner store. As I purchased a piece of candy there were more guys standing inside the store. One of the guys came from outside and told the other guys to come out of the store. I’m thinking to myself, oh my god it’s like eight dudes out there about to jump me. I had no idea who they were. I did not recognize them, and had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that these guys are about to do something to me. It’s about eight of them and they all looked way older than I was. Was I going to make it worse by showing weakness and staying in the store? Absolutely not! That probably would have made things worse as they would have just jumped me in the store or worse. At least I could try and run to safety if I was outside.
All I had was a pen in my pocket. I made sure the cap was off. I held it as tight as I could as I walked out of that damn store. I figured I could stab one of them if they tried to snuff me, and that would give me enough time to break away and run back to the corner store I worked in. The only thing in my mind was to make sure I got to the store if they tried to jump me. I was scared out of my mind and tried not to show it. I walked out of the store, and they were all posted up quietly not saying anything. Therefore, I continued to walk to get my fish dinner. Till this day, I cannot figure out why in all hell I did not turn the other way and head back to the store I worked at. Once I crossed the street at Woodlawn, they all followed me. The one guy said, “come here we gotta talk to you.” I said, talk to me about what? All of a sudden the chase started. I ran down the street into the fish store. Mind you, this was very late at night and no one was out at this time. I was completely alone. When I ran into the fish shop, things changed. There were three guys in my face, one of which I recognized very well. I told them who I was and where I was from. When I said that, literally all of the other guys walked to the back of the store and put their heads down. There were a vast amount of words exchanged. The main guy I knew had his hand on his waist, holding his gun, and kept talking s**t to me. I s**t you not, all of a sudden the cashier pulled his gun out on all of us. He said, “all you little n***s get out of my store and take this outside.” I told that man I wasn’t going anywhere, they are going to kill me if I go outside. As he had his weapon pointed, he told me to stay. He then made them all go outside. One of the guys in the back walked past me and said, “my bad D.” I used the restaurant’s phone to call my grandad to pick me up. I did not call my dad because I knew that he would not take me with him to look for them. My grandad came quickly and had his gun in his lap as I knew he would. I put my seat back, rolled the window down and said they were over there. We drove around for about an hour looking for them and none of them were outside. I assumed that someone had told the three musketeers that I was from there, so they chose not to be outside as they knew what was coming. Needless to say, that corner store was empty and safe for a very long time as we had people looking for them every day. Many people in the neighborhood made it known that people were looking for them. It was a very smart tactic to keep me safe while I was out and about as well. The corner store eventually burned down some years later and is no longer at the corner of Woodlawn and Jefferson St.
I can keep on going with things such as this as these situations became a normal thing in the neighborhood for me at that point in my life. This is why I get anxiety when I am in that area. Most people were unaware that I was involved and that I grew up like this. At an early age I learned how to use the lesser minded people around me to do what I needed them to do. As a result of this, I had also learned at a very young age how to hide and play the part. It was a shame. I thought I was the man and even tried to justify my actions as I became older. But I now realize I was a disgrace. At the age of 13 or 16 yes, you are certainly a product of your environment. Consequently, at the adult age of 19 and 20, there is no excuse.
One night I was walking to my office and a group of homeless drunk guys were near the water. One of the guys called my name. It was a guy we called Red. I knew Red very well and got pissed when I saw him on the streets. He was doing a good job trying to change his life the last time I had seen him. He was a volunteer for one of our community organizations and helped me during several community events when I was a community police officer. We also knew each other from the same neighborhood when we were younger. I noticed one of the other guys standing with him. It was one of the 3 musketeers that was in my face that night. He was one of the guys standing next to the guy with his hand on his gun wanting to kill me. There he was, standing outside my office building by the water as I had my computer bag in my hand and my suit and tie on. He looked at me and said, “yo I know him too, that’s Duff.” Red then said, “that’s my man too bro, he’s a good one.” He then looked at me right in my eyes and said, he was proud of me and glad that I’m doing well. No matter what happened between us in the past, I felt terrible that my brothers were out there like that.
Right now my baby brother is currently serving a very long jail sentence. I pretty much helped raise that boy the best I could. But then again, it’s not a brother’s job to raise their parents’ kids. My other little brother was locked up for almost 15 years and my uncle is fighting a case right now. His girlfriend just delivered a beautiful little girl this month. I love my uncle so much.
Our neighborhood, this low dishonorable lifestyle and street culture literally ripped us apart and really messed us up. If it doesn’t kill you, it messes you up mentally. In jail, dead or even worse; homeless & drunk outside my office building. People look at me as if I made it out. Consequently, I look at other people at Disney World with their fathers, little brothers and uncles, laughing, smiling and having a great time. Mine are in jail and for the ones who are out, they are usually not the same. But we keep moving forward. Maybe things will change once we are much older. As for our father, he died in his early 40’s. That’s another story.
It would not be right if I did not give a special thanks to some of the positive people I had in my early years. My next door neighbors, Mrs. Martha, Mrs. Maurry, Mrs. Freda and so on. Mrs Freda is the reason why I always wanted to play the piano. She would allow me to walk right in her house to play her piano. Also the teachers and staff at school #53. I had some of the best times in my life while at that school. A vast majority of our teachers either lived in the neighborhood or were active in our neighborhood. I remember Mrs. Mims used to leave the door open to her house when she lived on Woodlawn. We would just walk in Mrs. Mims house and grab something to drink. I left my notebook at school one day. Mrs. Mims knocked on my door, cursed me out and asked to speak to my mom. She told me to be more responsible. I remember when my assistant principal Mrs. Ortiz contacted me during the summer. School was way out of session, but she still contacted me to help her at her church. We were gone for half the day and she took me for ice cream. The assistant principal cared about me so much, she picked me up in the summer and took me for ice cream. How bout that for making a kid from the east side of Buffalo feel special. There are so many names I can mention. Maybe I will place them all in a book one day. With that said, it would not be right if I did not mention Mr. Ledge. He would tell me to walk proud with my head up. Every time my head was down or standing slouched, he would tell me to keep my head up and stand up proud. One day I told him sorry for something. He looked at me dead in my face and said, “boy don’t you ever say you’re sorry, you are not sorry, say I apologize because you are not a sorry man.” During that time, the teachers and the staff at school #53 helped mold many of our lives for the better. Keena became a Corrections officer. Felicia has her Doctorate degree and is living in Las Vegas running a school. C****d works for the FBI. Natasha is an RN. Latina is an RN. B****n works for the federal government as well. Justin is now a Buffalo Police officer. I can keep going, but we were very fortunate to have the staff at school #53. I cannot wait to be able to donate to my old school. I cannot thank them enough for everything they did for us in that crazy ass neighborhood. Lastly, regarding the names and careers I mentioned above. It doesn’t matter where you came from or what you’ve been through. There are no excuses! Get it done!
All in All
What is The End Game?
Now that I see a speck of light at the end of the tunnel, I am very excited to one day be in a position to build up my community. When I say build up, I’m not talking about small community centers and more mom and pop programs. It is essential that I continue a path in attempting to build a large enough enterprise to create high paying jobs in my community. People demonize the word gentrification. Yes, if people from a different place come into a community with a goal of not being fair and equal then yes, that’s where gentrification is destructive. However, what about building enough income and infrastructure to gentrify your own communities? It’s very obvious that in order for a community or a rust belt city to grow, you need jobs. Not just low paying jobs, but high paying jobs to keep that specific economy booming. What brings those high paying jobs? The government? No. Big industry brings those jobs. And again, the major issue is when a big industry is not fair to the residents of that specific city and/or neighborhood. But what if an industry is fair and honorable? What if a giant industry trains and hires thousands of people in your neighborhood with really good pay? What will happen? I’ll tell you what will happen. People from my neighborhood will begin owning nicer homes, going out to nicer restaurants, taking vacations, buying the good tickets to the football games, buying nice cars, sending their kids to that new private school and so forth. Most importantly, the crime rate will dramatically fall and our neighborhoods will be a safer place to live as a result of the economic growth. Oh you don’t believe me? Go to a high end black suburb in Atlanta and tell me the last time there was someone shot every week during the summer. I’ll wait.
What is my end game in business?
To grow a large enough industry and build major infrastructure. The following is my current state of mind. Is your school system terrible? Ok, grow a major industry and build your own schools. Privatize it while you’re at it. Does your neighborhood have a poverty issue? Ok, grow a major industry, train and hire thousands of them so they are no longer on the streets. There is a lot of talking but no one wants to sacrifice their life and social structure to build a massive industry so real change can occur in our neighborhoods. Sean Carter stated, “what’s better than one billionaire, two.” This is very serious and literally the only action that will dramatically change our communities. Once my wife, children and grandchildren are set for life, I need massive growth and infrastructure so that I can directly help thousands of people. Not helping people by giving things away for free, but helping as a result of creating honorable high paying jobs. This is the only way we can dramatically decrease poverty and crime in our neighborhoods in a massive way. This is my end game.