Growing up in the 80’s was tough for author, public speaker, and Mississippi's own, Jay Barnett. He's seen a lot of racism, dealt with the divorce of his parents, and later on in life, his dream of becoming an NFL player was cut short. His experiences even brought him to a point where he considered taking his own life. He felt that because he could no longer play football, he was useless to society.
When Jay was 27 years old, a thought came to him. He had the realization that he could help somebody. With everything that he had gone through, rather than giving up on himself, he chose to use his experiences to help others become the best versions of themselves. There are so many young people that are forced to deal with a lot and have absolutely no one to talk to, relate to, and they're just lost. He created "TheMEProject", a youth mentoring program for boys and girls.
“All I had was my story. I didn't have a bunch of pump me up lines. I never forget how I felt when I was a teenager, what I wanted, and what I needed when my father left when I was 12 years old. That keeps me connected to them, making my message more relevant for them. Who you become as an adult has a lot to do with what took place in your adolescent years. I take them back through my journey as a teenager because I want to help change their trajectory through sharing my story.” - King Jay Barnett
We all know that nothing is guaranteed in life and adversity is something that we all will have to face at some point down the line. I believe that we are not defined by adversity, especially if it is completely out of our control. When you are young age, all you want is to be heard, you just want someone to try to understand what you're going through.
I asked Jay, from what he has already seen and heard, what he thinks is the biggest issue that today's youth is dealing with. He replied, “They're in an identity crisis man, and that’s keeping it as simple as possible. Nobody knows who they are. You have to look at the system that they’re influenced by. You have to look at the social system which impacts your individual system."
He's a king. The "King" in his name is very important. King Jay Barnett really emphasizes the words "King" and "Queen" so the kids that he speaks to can understand how great they truly are. He recently released a book, "Letters to a Young Queen", which is dedicated to helping young girls get through the problems that life throws at them. Whether it is a missing father, bullying, feeling like an outcast, or feeling helpless in any situation. "Letters to a Young Queen" consists of stories from women of all different backgrounds. The book is meant to comfort, uplift, and empower.
"It's important for kids to have something to identify themselves through. If you think about it, if you don't have anything to identify yourself by, you're going to attach labels that society gives you. If you don't have a positive label to attach to you, you're going to be defined by something that you really don't want. For me being called a king, means that I am the ruler of my kingdom. My kingdom is my mind, body, and soul." - King Jay Barnett
Knowing yourself is the greatest feeling in the world. We are all here for a reason. King Jay Barnett grew up thinking that he was supposed to be in the NFL, but there was another plan for him. Today, he continues to speak all over the country, he uses his voice to deliver a message that will inspire and save lives.
You can find King Jay Barnett on Instagram and Twitter: @kingjaybarnett
I'm De La True, Peace.