Thursday, September 27, 2012

Everyday Heroes: M'Bwende Anderson and Carlos Blanco

Not only is it one of my supremely rare double blog days, but for the first time, I am giving my Everyday Hero recognition to two individuals: M'Bwende Anderson and Carlos Blanco.

From time to time, I recognize individuals that walk the walk and go way above and beyond in surprising and powerful ways. Both of these individuals, recently, as I have been working through some challenges have shown up to provide love, care, and support that was unlooked for, unasked for but so very much needed.

M'Bwende Anderson

To begin with, I have known M'Bwende Anderson for a very, very long time. I first met M'Bwende when I was a queer youth organizer in the late '90s. At the time, M'bwende was a staff member of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, which for roughly 15 years was the national voice for LGBTQ youth in Washington, DC. I loved M'Bwende from the gate. Their personality, charm, and caring spirit was evident in everything that they did. For the first year or so of our acquaintance, I only saw M'Bwende sporadically at Creating Change or at NYAC's Youth Summit, but then, for a brief time, I joined the board of NYAC as it was struggling to go through a process of confronting the structural racism that existed within the organization and the movement. It was a hard process made harder by an executive director that was truly struggling to confront his own white privilege in so many ways.

I didn't last very long on that board.

But over the years, M'Bwende and I have come into contact now and again, and though I don't know them deeply, there has always been a love there that I am so happy is reciprocated. I think that they are one of the most loving people that I have met. And this Summer I benefited from that love and support directly, and I know so many others that also have been lifted up by that fierce of whom is another love of mine, Jaime Grant, M'Bwende's partner. That coupling makes me moist now and again. But I digress.

Carlos Blanco

I met Carlos about a year and a half ago when I walked into the office of QEJ as a part time contractor. Carlos was this fierce ghettois Columbia student with a helluvalot of swagger and a heart as big as ummm his...ummm...feet. (His feet are huge).  From the gate, I recognized the power of this human being. He was gentle, fierce, sassy, committed, radical, and had a hunger to learn that I haven't seen in anyone for a very long time. He was ok with being wrong and because of it rarely found himself having to remove those size 14s from his mouth....while some of us (ahem me...) are constantly chewing on some size 11s.

If Carlos loves you, he lives that love. It is humbling. It is beautiful, and it is a way of being and living that belies his 22 odd years that he has been walking around this planet. Carlos is living proof that a mentor does not need to be someone that is older than you. A mentor is someone that has something that you want in your life and can show you, by living, how to acquire it. Carlos is one of those people in my life. And I am blessed that I get to watch and see just how fiercely he is going to change this world for the better.

Thank you to you both for all the love that you have given. I hope to repay it with abundance one day. You are my Everyday Heroes.

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