Feb. 2, 2017 – “It’s a RAP”
When I think of the word rapper, I guess I go to a place that is a stereotype in my mind. I think of a big African American guy with gold chains, gold grills on his teeth, pants hanging down, and mumbling a series of rhymes I don’t understand and certainly don’t really connect to…OR…I think of a skinny white guy with an oversize baseball cap on backwards, a few diamond studs in his ears, pants hanging down, and mumbling a series of rhymes I don’t understand and certainly don’t really connect to.
Today was a first for me! I met a RAPPER and he completely did not fit my stereotype!! He challenged me to rethink what I always thought I knew about rappers. Actually, truth be told, I never met a rapper, but I had already had a preconceived notion of who they are and what they look like.
This rapper visited my school, St. Augustine Academy in Bridgeport, to talk about his journey, his passions, and his goal of feeding the hungry right here in Fairfield County, CT. He made it very clear that 1 in every 200 children in Fairfield County do not know when their next meal will be or where it will come from. He has made it his business to do something about this very real issue for so many local children. This man grew up in Norwalk, graduated from Brien McMahon High School, graduated from Southern CT State University, went on to UNH for his masters and is a bank manager by day and a rapper by night. I have never been a bank manager or a rapper, but I did grow up in Norwalk, graduated from Brien McMahon High School and graduated from SCSU!! We had more in common than it would first appear to an untrained (or a stereotyping) eye!
FNX (the rapper) also known as Ken Shuyler (the bank manager), was featured in an article in the Norwalk Hour in November 2016. He was releasing his new album for free in hopes that the people who listened to it would donate on GOFUNDME so that he could feed four families over the holidays in lower Fairfield County. He had faith in his listeners and his listeners obviously had faith in him…..he ended up with enough money to feed thirteen families!! One of my teachers, Cindy, read the article the same day as I did. We talked about it, she contacted him, and we chatted with him on the phone. Long story short…he visited the whole school in a large group and then in small groups for half the day!
What a wonderful day it was! What a great role model for the students! He was his true self, dressed in a white shirt and black pants and jacket. No fancy gold draped around his neck. No strut in his walk or attitude oozing from his pores. All of the “stereotypical images” I had in my head were forced to leave. This man was a gentleman who spoke of God’s grace, the path he has walked, his hopes and dreams and his desire to provide for others in any way he can. He spoke to the students about being with like-minded people who help them rise to a higher level and not be brought down by the negative influences that often surround each of us. The students held onto every interaction he had with each of them.
What a treat it was to spend my day with a rapper, FNX. A basic and good human being who is originally from Norwalk, who will be married this summer to his fiancee, and who will continue to move up in the ranks with the bank he works for every day Monday through Friday. And yet, he is the same FNX, the rapper by night, who will continue to inspire the hundreds of people who hear his lyrics and hold on to a dream that has been placed in their hearts.
I am not sure if I will ever spend 4 hours straight with another rapper, but I sure am happy my path has crossed with this one. He truly helped me to rethink what I thought I knew!
Thank you, FNX, for being the gift that you are AND for visiting us at St. Augustine Academy!