Paul Okoye, the ninth contributor to 2017’s Tales from the 2.9, speaks often about something that’s the cornerstone of why I do the things I do—
Before we had our boys, I feel my views were very different.
Maybe most noticeable in 2011-2013 where Twitter became a huge part of my life, I never worried about the story my content would tell decades down the road—the focus was always on what it would do for me right now, letting short-term thinking cloud what was possible if I was willing to put in the work.
Years later, I think my sons changed me for the better. I now have a brand I’d love to grow with them, always thinking about what things could look like a year from now. 5 years from now. 10. It’s no longer about simply retelling the facts—I want the work I put out to mean something, and it’s all because I care more about what I leave behind for someone else than I do about myself.
Paul’s answers echo much of this, so much so that it’s his driving force.
The founder of MeBookz, personalised children’s books that do a better job than any of having a character designed to look like your child, he’s using his skills, time and resources to change the world in his own way.
And if not the world, then at the very least the lives of every person he gets to meet in this life.
Check out more of Paul’s story below!
What does being Black Canadian mean to you?
It means waking up every morning, with a clear understanding that as much as I am a representative of Canada, I’m also an ambassador for the black race. I have increasingly accepted the idea that our fate, as a race, is collectively tied. Being black means accepting that whether I like it or not, the actions of others have created stereotypes of the black race; stereotypes that I’ll have to either live up to or disprove. A realisation that even before people meet me, they’ve created a profile for me, one that aligns with their idea of who a “Black man” is.
Yes, it is tiring. But I also see it as a huge opportunity. That my life, however simple, will add to our collective stereotypes. That the way I choose to live my life today will influence others’ stereotypes of the black race… the same stereotypes that my kids will one day inherit. This drives me.