My name is Micah. What I have come to realize is that quite frequently, we define ourselves just as much by what we are not, as by what we affirm ourselves to be. We define ourselves through contrast.

It has occurred to me that my life has basically been one gigantic refutation. A refutation of all those who would see my spirit quenched; who would see me conform to what is expected of me in terms of my dress, my style, my habits, my speech, my mentality, my principles or lack thereof, my dance, my tribe allegiances and memberships, in essence, a refutation of everything and everyone I experienced as having attempted to make of me something I would not be. I am a fiercely passionate, outspoken, black male, in a world and society that tends to view black males in specific lights, colored with particular assumptions.

Perhaps I am a born contrarian, I do not know. What I do know is that somewhere along the line, I realized that without all of those experiences, where I felt as if social norms, and cliques and external expectancies were seriously massed with the sole purpose of dictating my life, I would not be the person I have chosen to become. I select these words carefully. I have chosen to become the person I am today. I wanted so badly to be accepted, and known, sought after and desired. It is precisely because I recognized the power in striving to be as completely myself as possible, that I was able to overcome the almost unbearable yearning to be like others.

There are countless people, young, old and in between, who have never been taught that it is alright to question, that it is alright not to fit inside whatever boxes are the norm. Discouraged from ‘rocking the boat’, or ‘sticking out’, some of these would-be stars are confined with a kind of social straight-jacket without realizing it. Some have no idea that they are not questioning. From relationship dynamics and gender roles, to clothing choices and even what sports to play, some never think to question what’s put in front of them. But, one of the things I find most interesting about situations like this is that almost inevitably, there will be those individuals, who are ‘different’. The artists, the quirky ones, the ‘weirdos’, the freaks—these are but a few of those who will, oft-times, without conscious volition, end up walking off the paved road onto untraveled territory, thereby forging a new path for others to follow. Frequently, a guide or beacon is all that is needed. Something or someone to let them know it is possible.

One never knows when he or she could be that beacon, that single spark which ignites a blaze of possibility in someone’s soul. I think it is incredibly important to recognize that no matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, you are having an impact on someone. Both children and parents, emulate parents, friends, role models, and celebrities. People are impacted by the way others walk, by their bearing, and carriage, by their speech, their principles, their diet, music they align themselves with, everything. There are literally very few places where you are not impacting someone on some level. As a fashion designer, I simply choose to do it consciously. In other words, I recognize that what I choose to wear, and how I choose to wear it can potentially have a direct impact on the propagation, and/or repudiation of, societal norms, preconceptions, stereotypes, etc., as well as potentially inspiring someone to break the confines of a box that was ill-fitting to begin with, and explore the area beyond it. Armed with this knowledge, it is my self-appointed job to go forth as an example of alternatives beyond or outside of the parameters that have been prescribed for me through the media, prejudice, tradition, and other external pressures.

I purposefully design and wear clothing that screams my difference, proclaiming my allegiance to the twin muses of Individuality and Self-Expression. I derive a profound pleasure from turning the preconceptions of others on their heads. This brings me joy. But the truth is if everyone wore evocative, strange, post-apocalyptic clothing, I’d probably be the one opting to wear a three-piece suit. There is a strange freedom in being an ambassador to people who do not know your homeland exists until you show it to them—and then you get to show them their citizenship within it. Therefore, when I leave the house, from what I’m wearing to the way I carry myself and the energy I walk with, I am consciously demonstrating through example, that there are options unseen just waiting to be discovered or created. Whether I inspire gibes and heckling or admiration, I am inspiring something. I am embodying change and difference embraced. I am a manifestation of alternative ways of being, and through the very joy with which I comport myself and the manner in which I choose to interact with others, I am being a walking example of individuality celebrated. I am exhorting those with the burning in their breasts to leap off the cliffs and risk the possible censure of their immediate peers in the pursuit of finding their own personal voices.

We define ourselves through contrast, and alignment. Like will attract like. It is up to us to encourage and exhort our youth and peers to not only accept, but to honestly embrace the things that make of us individuals. One of the most beautiful things you will ever see is a human being blazing with their own internal light, at peace with who they are and what they stand for. I celebrate the fact that there are so many different lights, and so many opportunities to witness them coming into their power, particularly when the light we witness awakening, is our own.

Micah [BlackLight] Lee

This one runs amok amongst the garden valleys of Ashland, through the streets of Brooklyn, New York, and the alleyways of my own mind. After countless unintentional spurnings of the Muse, I have finally completed the steps necessary for my collective Muse to move into my chest as twin volcanoes, [beside the one already extant called my M e t a b o l i s m]. As a result, I am now fully inspired every second of every day and several million nanos between those. My enthusiasm is infectious, my laugh is flippin loud and heartfelt, my art comes from primal places that cast reverse shadows.

I am a reflection, a Dark Lightworker, an angel. I’m a hybrid human/creature/alien thing; writer, singer/mc, artist/illustrator, empowerment coach, art-maker fashion designer guy; a freelance mindblower with freek leanings and a tendency to jump over things and climb onto things and crawl under things. I am reconciled to the little boy inside me that never wants to be hurt again. I am reconciled to the warrior animal inside me that wants to cause hurt for all the times it’s been hurt, or seen hurt. I am a complete puzzle with unattached pieces. I am a lacuna-filler, and an Inspiration Engine. I am a song, living as a poem clothed in flesh brown and labeled Badass. I am a fierce, compassionate, willful, open, sometimes selfish, giving, caring, deeply feeling, channel. I am in love, and of love, and through love I. work. majik. There are many vessels for the expression of the ineffable. Of these, I am one.

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