When America gets stronger families, we will have a stronger nation.

It’s something that I learned on a 22-hour ride with my own family from Ypsilanti, Michigan to Houston, Texas.

I’m Jaylen Boone and this is my Crystal Stair.

I come from an extremely diverse background.  My mother is black with Creole roots and my father is Native-American, Italian and Black.  There’s never a stagnant moment in our house, such a mélange of cultures, ideologies, world views, all beautifully bound together by the sanctity of marriage.

When you don’t have many friends, you begin to realize just how important family is your life. In four years of high school I transferred high school 3 times: twice in Michigan and once in Texas.  I never got the chance to develop the relationships I wanted. In a world of constant shifting, family became the most constant thing in my life; that rock to always fall back on, family became my warmth, and my home became a safe space where everything was going to be alright.

Which brings me to my 22-hour car ride with my family from Michigan to Houston.  First of all, I have to write a book about this journey because too much stuff happened!  But I will say, during this journey we lived in motels with 2 beds and 1 bathroom and no kitchen.  We were forced to look at one another, talk to one another, be in each other’s’ presence 24/7. I Learned that this is what family means, this enduring feeling of togetherness.  When we look at families today, they are eating and interacting less with one another than in the past.  Young people are more susceptible to suffer from unchecked and unnoticeable suicide and depression, and there is this palpable division in the home environment. 

When I talk about success, I define it as being in a place in your life where you are happy and fulfilled.  And for me, I achieved this sense of fulfillment when I started my non-profit, Sustainable Youth in Action.  My aim was to Empower Young Minds to solve issues in their communities.  The biggest impact I wanted to have is being able to tell students “you can”.  I remind them that every revolution started with a radical idea, so why shouldn’t that idea come from you?  Too often we easily release the power of our potential and we give up too much on our own people.  Specifically, as black men, there are two options…do you leave when the going gets tough or do you stay…I’ve seen too much of the latter.  I’m inspired by the men who have and continue to stay and endure hardship just so I can and so many other young black men can afford to have the opportunities we have today.

My call to action to you?  Evaluate your own life and see if what they’re doing is worth the time and effort.  Is what you’re doing really what you desire to do, or just a past time? I challenge you to take risks, be bold, and grab hold of your story because someone out there needs to see it and hear it.