Blog 2017-03-11T13:36:23+00:00

I AM MY LIFE Spotlight Articles

Baltimore Reflection_08.2017

If you drive slowly through the Southeast region of Baltimore, you’ll see an area lacking in any kind of structures that claim this part of the city as a place for youth. I’m here in Baltimore working with a team of diverse educators to align resources, networks and ideas to start a Nonprofit that (hopefully) will change the landscape here [...]

Symbol of Black Excellence: the durag

The significance of black hair carries a story not typically featured in mainstream media. Check out this article from GQ an the value of the durag among men of color. Click here to read the whole story.

Research: What are Narrative Methodologies?

Here is a bit of research to help conceptualize the power of narrative methodologies (personal storytelling), intersectionality, and education: Abstract: "This paper examines narrative methodologies as one approach to exploring issues of gender, education and social justice and, particularly, insights into “undoing gender”. It furthermore examines the possibilities of exploring gender and its multiple intersections in a range of global and [...]

Performing Statistics

Performing Statistics connects incarcerated teens with an incredible group of artists, designers, educators, and Virginia’s leading policy advocates to transform the juvenile justice system. Visit the resource here.

Brain Pickings

The core ethos behind Brain Pickings is that creativity is a combinatorial force: it’s our ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, insight, information, inspiration, and all the fragments populating our minds — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary [...]

Stanford Storytelling Project

The Stanford Storytelling Project is an arts program at Stanford University that explores how we live in and through stories and, even more importantly, how to deepen our lives through our own storytelling. Their mission is to promote the transformative nature of traditional and modern oral storytelling, from Lakota tales to Radiolab, and empower students to create and perform their own stories. The [...]

Using Story to Drive Change

 This speech is from the 2015 ESPYS awards, where Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. This speech reigns true with I AM MY LIFE because it is an example of how one can use their story (and their platform) to foster needed change, education, and acceptance. Caitlyn expresses personal vulnerability to inspire a more compassionate community that respects [...]

Being black can be more fun than being gay

The ‘minority of a minority’ experience: Blacks in Japan A previous colleague of mine, upon viewing the Japan project HERE, identified parallels in a recent piece published on Japan Times entitled, ‘Being black can be more fun then being gay’. It features the personal experiences of two black, gay, international men living in Japan, who call themselves a “minority of [...]

How STORIES Drive CHANGE

Great social movements often have one thing in common: they are created by people with the courage to talk openly about their lives and experiences. YES! This is the foundation for I AM MY LIFE. We believe in the power of story to produce not just healing for YOU: Storyteller, but to change the minds, hearts, and existing stereotypes (barriers) [...]

USE YOUR DIFFERENCE Feature Article

Check out Chaz's piece from UYD Media, an inspiring and innovate collective for folks who are using their difference to impact their communities. Differences ARE okay! Tell us a little bit about yourself, background and your passions. My passions, like me, are all over the place. I love to cook (I'm definitely a foodie), dance, and enjoy engaging with different ways [...]

Pilot Program: A Wild Success

#IAMMYLIFE_RVA In April, I AM MY LIFE held its first MOVE event in collaboration and mentorship with University of Richmond, ART 180, and The People's Library of Richmond Public Library-Main. We count this pilot workshop a wild success! We can't wait to work with other organizations to create something powerful. During our first workshop, Richmond area students were invited to [...]

Bounce Back: Cape Town, South Africa

When a child is in prison for an extreme crime, it is likely that he was influenced or even forced [by gang initiation] to commit such an offense. Bounce Back Community Development does not discriminate against youth who face these early setbacks. Despite the crimes committed, the organization understands the need for these young men to receive mentorship, structure, and [...]

Zip Zap Circus School: Cape Town, South Africa

During my time in Cape Town, I connected with an old colleague who is now at Zip Zap Circus School, which is [temporally] housed in giant white tent complex in the arts district of downtown Cape Town, South Africa. Innovative is an understatement to describe this one-of-a-kind school of Circus Arts, inspiring and empowering youth from all walks of life, teaching [...]

Move Through Your Life Story

Check out the promo video for the event! Click here to learn more and register!

Tim Cook Gives His Truth

Should we care whether Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is gay or straight? In his latest article on Splice Today, Chaz reminds us that Tim Cook's platform has the power to help those who are struggling with their self-identity.  Chaz writes: "Cook, in his response to the media highlighting his sexuality (something most of us already knew), has done exactly what more celebrities [...]

#IAMMYLIFE Returns Home @University of Richmond

From the moment I met Ted Lewis, I was excited! He is University of Richmond’s first full-time LGBTQ Coordinator in the Common Ground office. It’s amazing to be a part of the progress that Ted’s position has created. The University of Richmond booked me as one of its featured speakers to celebrate the “UR Comes Out” program as part of [...]

IAMMYLIFE for Parents @ Richmond Autism Nonprofit

RAIN Reflection By: Chaz Richmond Autism Integration Network was my last stop on the mini IAMMYLIFE speaker tour last week and it was just as warm and filled with family love as my last visit to this spotlight nonprofit . Last year, I volunteered to support the Governor’s campaign with a child advocacy group. Our mission was to educate lower-income and [...]

#IAMMYLIFE @ Virginia State University

Reflection From Chaz Virginia State students were incredibly welcoming! From the moment I arrived on campus two young women of the Rainbow Soul program, their campus based LGBTQ student group with faculty advisors, were there to welcome me and give a quick campus tour and talk briefly about university life at VSU.During our walk through campus we immediately began to [...]

Chaz Joins Laverne Cox

IAMMYLIFE is joining University of Richmond once again for an unforgettable talk by Chaz in Celebration of LGBTQ Campus Life. Chaz is a graduate of the University of Richmond and is a featured speaker on the universities' office of the Common Ground speaker series, which is also featuring  Laverne Cox as a keynote speaker this year.  This is BIG! Chaz will [...]

Chaz Speaks @ Change The World RVA

 Media Release Change the World RVA youth were an eye opening-inspirational group to share an IAMMYLIFE program with! It was an honor to be invited to facilitate a movement activity with these young women during their annual pre-college summer retreat at Richmond Hill. These young ladies are working towards freely expressing their stories and were hungry for the tools to [...]

Controversial Piece by Chaz

A Privileged Black Man's View on the World A controversial piece that I feel compelled to produce from my personal interactions. This comes from the numerous conversations with peers, course work, and my core beliefs on how to build everlasting relationships. I want to share this with both the SpliceToday and IAMMYLIFE audience to hopefully encourage you to think about [...]

Featured Contributor: Megan Wilson

Megan tells her story of how she's driven by an I AM MY LIFE confidence in her everyday endeavors. Don't Judge [Even] A Blond. I am a fun, blond twenty-something who loves fancy appetizers, the perfect pair of five-inch heels, and gourmet coffee. I do yoga and take trendy barre classes. I have a degree from one of the most [...]

Reflections from Stirring the Melting Pot

  Check out my piece on SpliceToday talking about the complexities of being Jamaican-American, gay hatred, and the local patty shop.  I have a bittersweet love for my Jamaican heritage because I struggle with how exactly to embrace it and feel accepted  in a not so accepting society. I wanted to do a piece on these feelings for a long [...]

Featured Contributor: Ely Hurtado

  My dear friend and colleague in writing, Ely, shares her deep emotions on parting with Japan in an extremely creative-raw-IAMMYLIFE fashion. As she reflects on the hardships, gains, and intense cultural concepts that one observes from living abroad in such a foreign place, I can’t help but identify and feel bittersweet about my own break-up with the country. At [...]

Tell Your Story! Chaz speaks at ROSMY

We all have a story to tell. Because of our sexuality (LGBTQ) and our differences, our story will include some form of struggle. So many campaigns say over and over “you are not alone”. I think as you grow up you truly need to reflect on what that means and how it changes as you overcome whatever it is that [...]

I’m Over Being Okay

Whenever I meet people and they ask, “What did you study?” and I reply Criminal Justice, Dance, and now Japanese, I always get one of two looks: (a) immediate intrigue or (b) a peculiar grin (they realize this guy is odd)!  But anyone who’s pursued their true passion knows well enough that at one time or another, your life, dreams, [...]

The Making of a MAN

The idea of manhood runs through my mind constantly. I consider myself an extreme form of the term - colorful, flamboyant, and unconventionally “manly”, but still a man in all aspects. Of course! The challenge, however, is when I apply the term to myself I don’t know how to differentiate between being a “man” and being an independent, strong, and [...]

Featured Contributor: Alicia Hinds

Alicia is a deep-spirted groovy gal in my circle of friends, who I spent extensive time with in Japan! She's an energetic, humorous, and a hispter-artsy lady with some sassy intelligence. She has a lot to say about the world and embodies the IAMMYLIFE approach because she lives life as an explorer, wandering through the world soul-searching and creatively reflecting [...]

Featured Contributor: Kiara Lee

  This is a guest piece by my dear friend and sista’ in service, Kiara. She lives the IAMMYLIFE mission through embracing the skin she’s in and educating folks on a particularly special issue…one that we all can learn about. Please have read what Ms. Kiara’s words and share your thoughts below! IAMMYLIFE to Me: Kiara Lee My name is Kiara [...]

Tell Your Story For YOU, For THEM

Chaz and Mrs. Judy Shepard Before I told my story I was selfish, easily disconnected from others, and often confrontational. I argued the most with the ones who cared about me because I needed them to prove they were my friends, that they weren’t using me for me something. My heart was confused by the pain I was experiencing, [...]

Flight Risk

What a flight! Back in the USA for just short of a month, and I find my emotional curve going back up to, well… stable. Yes, I was a wreck when I arrived. A complete mess, honey! Cried about 7 hours of the 14-hour flight. Couldn’t keep it together... it's just a blur of movies, sleep, and multiple Delta meals. [...]

Preparing for the Reality

During a presentation, I was recently asked, “what have you done to always prepare yourself for the challenges of living and working abroad?” I have had so many talks about this either from people back home asking me how is living abroad and/or Japanese friends asking, what’s the hardest part about living in Japan (a topic that any foreigner living [...]

Watch IAMMYLIFE topics discussed on Local Television

Local Richmond VA Television show features Kevin Grayson, former University of Richmond football star and Chaz Barracks, founder of IAmMyLife.org and UR Bonner-Scholar alum. We talk about their experiences as gay men in the black community. Watch and share your comments.

Dance and Diversity Presentation

A few points from an IAMMYLIFE presentation for the World Culture Seminar (WSC) group in Mito, Japan: Learning to take a peace of each culture with you to the next country, community, or environment. Using academics [ex. language study] to enhance  passion and apply a different perspective to your current ones. Learning to be inclusive, accepting of differences, but also [...]

Part Two: Coming Out; Risk the Fall to Know How It Feels to Fly

For some perspective on my point: since embracing my sexuality (in more ways then before), I continue to have encounters with “closet friends” and can’t help but get a laugh out of it. Because if you can’t laugh, what can you do with such awkwardness? Story time: the other day I was at the onsen (Japanese bathhouse/cheap spa baths and [...]

Coming Out; Risk the Fall to Know How It Feels to Fly

When it comes to dating I look at finding love like this: every man is gay until proven straight. I don’t know if it’s my legal mind, but this is my practice. I go off of my attractions first, and the way he embraces that. My friends tell me I am crazy, but as we all know a man [or [...]

What it means to live out I Am My Life…for me and hopefully for you.

The other day, someone asked me what I think this “I am my life” mission of mine is all about, what it is focused on. There is no one answer to that question, as my life and the journey I take continue to evolve. Every day I learn ways to incorporate all aspects of my life into my current endeavors, [...]

Inspirational Dance in Japan

On Saturday February 16, 2013, I performed with my local dance partner here in Japan in an engaging duet and modern-style dance for a large community program in Mito, Japan. The event was the Annual Ibaraki Speech Contest for Foreign Residents living in this prefecture.  Our dance performance served as “inspirational entertainment” for the contestants as well as the audience [...]

Who is Modern Family?

Since I started watching Modern Family, I’ve gained what I like to call “Modern buddies,” in the sense that it has become one of the things that I have in common with those friends who, on the surface, I seem to have very little in common with. This is because, to me, Modern Family has something to unite nearly everyone. [...]

Chaz Speaks at Friends School of Baltimore

   

For Colored Boys

Chaz along with other minority writers tell their stories of coming out, coming of age, and coming home in an anthology that shines light to the many adversities we’ve overcome. We now use our own stories to strengthen those living through similar circumstance. "For Colored Boys" was recently awarded a Stonewall Book Award by the American Library Association! You can read a profile of [...]

Welcome to I Am My Life

I Am My Life is a project developed Chaz Barracks that celebrates being unique and embracing who you are!