Written By: Vyncent De’Vaughn Eiffel
“Do what you love, in service of people who love what you do.” – ( Steve Farber, NY Times Best Selling Author of The Radical Leap.)
Author / Public Speaker Blake Anthony Lucas, 30, sits on the steps on his Grandmother’s home in Ladera Heights, the North Inglewood neighborhood his family grew up in, last week. ( Cameron Laursel/ The LA Tribune).
No other quote holds more purpose in the life of Blake Lucas these days. In mainstream society, engaging in activities that beg to be misunderstood, is a crime of itself. For his family, his father and many throughout Inglewood’s Century Heights community, he’s become much more than just the “prodigal” son. His progress serves to highlight a rich history of triumph over adversity, amongst members of the Blood gang founded collectively by his father and a group of his childhood comrades.
Within the eyes of prominent community leaders and business owners outside of his natural environment throughout Southern California, He’s looked upon as the “chosen” one. An author, public speaker and critical thinker who’s left the street life behind him, bringing intrinsic value back to the street culture of California, has become his life’s mission.
Presently, Blake’s focus is on his fiancee, their daughter and changing the narrative for people whose lives have been hindered by unresolved trauma. As a Case Manager for an up and coming mental health facility in San Diego, CA, Blake’s goal is to provide both representation and insight amongst Black People in the field of mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Having battled both these things in both his personal life and the lives of some of those closest to him, his experience as far as personal healing and growth has served the goal of allowing his story to become a beacon of hope for a population that is often underserved and underrepresented.
I had the privilege of meeting Brother Lucas during the fall semester of 2016, at Mesa College in San Diego. I was immediately drawn to the sincerity and conviction he spoke with during the daily conversations and debates his questions and comments inspired.
During our day together in Inglewood, speaking to people such as his father, grandmother, close friends and business partners, it became clear that the wealth of experience he draws from is much larger than that of his own. The source of his convictions are rooted in the things he values the most; family, the comfort of those around him, and a school of thought I like to call; Aggressive Intelligence.
Whether he’s seeking insight about a business venture from his father, or drawing from the depths of family that seem safely kept with his grandmother, I’ve grown to understand the driving force of the machine that is Blake Lucas. Every decision he makes is first taken to the community for guidance and counsel, bridging the gap between generation, social class, and Black Excellence.
Author / Public Speaker Blake Anthony Lucas, 30, stands in the parking lot close to his grandmother’s home in Ladera Heights, last week. ( Darrin Morris / The LA Tribune).
Vyncent: At what age did the desire & importance of creative & economic ownership take hold within you?
Blake: I believe I’ve always had a sense of importance attached to creative and economic ownership, but that’s something that has continually developed throughout my life. I grew up around players and politicians, gangsters, entrepreneurs and civil servants. My family has always encouraged and displayed a spirit of innovation and independence.
I didn’t always recognize the value of what I was seeing because I used to put too much emphasis on the differences, but I’m learning that God will do whatever it takes to get our attention. By that I mean, life has continued to present the same lessons to me until I learn them, regardless of what I think about the teacher that’s meant to be my guide.
So, although I’ve always seen and understood the importance of these principles, it hasn’t been until the past few years that I’ve really begun to put them to work in my own life.
I embraced a lifestyle during my youth that caused me to crave instant gratification and materialism. A lot of the values I saw in my family weren’t applied with the same standard, so therefore, I gravitated to embrace only those people who operated in alignment with me. As I grew, I developed relationships with people of the same mentality as me and that’s presented challenges in my adulthood because as my environment and realm of influence grows, my maturity and personal development haven’t always kept pace.
The key to changing that has been in developing relationships with people who operate at a higher level than I do. Opening myself up to criticism has been a challenge, but it’s allowing me the benefit of recognizing value in myself, and therefore becoming a better businessman.
Vyncent: What moment during your youth, do you believe truly led you down the path that you’re now on?
I think a multitude of things led me down the path I’m presently on. Experience has taught me to pay attention to the advice of the people in my life, whether family or friends. I attribute where I’m at in my life more to the people in my life, than the circumstances that have made up my life. During all the pivotal moments in my past, I had a tribe full of people willing to share their life experience with me.
Although ultimately, I believe the trauma of my past consumes the circumstantial responsibility for the person I am today. I don’t want to belittle the significance of any important moment in my life, but oftentimes, in sharing specific events in my life without the proper context, I’ve created an inaccurate definition or perception of myself. To anyone interested in learning more about me, I’d suggest my book; The Urban Intellectual: Poetry for Progress, Volume 1.
Vyncent: In your opinion, with your skill sets & talents why do you believe you’re contemplating taking root within Atlanta, to pursue more inspirational & financial success?
Atlanta reminds me of Wakanda. What I mean by that is, Atlanta is becoming a place where the best of African American culture is forged and found. Aside from the progressive nature and the wealth of opportunities amongst the Black Populous, there’s a homeli-ness about the city that I’ve fallen in love with.
Vyncent: Many around the globe have been dealing with the trauma of unexpected death within their family trees of a specific nature. How did you elevate yourself out of the painful mental realization that your biological younger brother murdered your mother during the historical year of 2020?
The details and circumstances that brought about my mother’s untimely death left me devastated and lost. On June 29th, 2020 I lost two of my best friends. The confusion, anger and sadness I felt in those first few months was oftentimes unbearable.
The most important tools I had in combatting the mental and emotional turmoil I experienced after my mother’s murder were my therapists. My family and friends provided support, but their support was a lot more useful once I began speaking with people specifically trained in dealing with the level of trauma I’ve endured. As I’ve focused on improving myself, I’ve seen the added benefit of the lives of the people closest to me begin to improve also, including my youngest brother.
I didn’t know that I could experience a loss that would knock me back into such a state of vulnerability and bring me face to face with the unresolved pain of my past. The work I’ve done in the realm of therapeutic and personal development have brought me to some uncomfortable realizations about myself, but those uncomfortable facts of my life have provided me with the opportunity for both healing and correction.
Vyncent: What do you feel people can learn, from the level of forgiveness & understanding that you hold within your spirit for your brother, over a year later?
Blake: I forgave my brother when the burden of unforgiveness was too heavy. Forgiveness doesn’t change the situation or excuse my brother for what he did, but it does provide me with the freedom to let God be God. Death is only a burden to the living, meaning that dead people don’t feel the pain of the loved ones they’ve left behind. If my mother isn’t in pain as a result of this, why should I be? And if I’m in pain as a result of a lack of forgiveness, shouldn’t I forgive my brother for Me? My happiness is more important than my attachment to pain or desire for retribution.
I never thought I’d take such a position on my mother’s murder, especially considering the intimacy of the circumstances. I’ve had to find a way to redefine my understanding of forgiveness. And to anyone struggling with the concept of forgiveness, I’d challenge you to do the same.
Vyncent: Impact Investing, is the new wave within the world of entrepreneurship. How can you see yourself impacting particular communities with your future wealth you & your business partners are accruing today?
Blake: My goal is to add value and opportunities to the people and places that provided that for me. I represent a family and a community that’s close knit, and aside from being an example to those people, I hope the opportunities I create for myself will provide the means for others to elevate themselves. I wouldn’t be alive nor in the position I’m in today without the people who’ve been willing to take a risk on who I had the potential to become.
Vyncent: How can Afropeneurs such as yourself with strong interests in personal investing do so in a manner today that won’t have ourselves breaking the bank?
Blake: Start small. That’s what I’m learning. And we have to be patient. Popular culture does everything to beat those two concepts out of us, but patience and humility are two fundamental principles of success.
Coming from a background where a lack of equitable opportunities often led people to various creative, albeit what society often deems as illegal, methods of financial prosperity, these concepts aren’t always clearly defined or emphasized. I’m still developing the discipline and skill set it takes to be successful at long-term investing.
That leads to the question; how do we get more Afropeneurs such as myself, individuals who represent gang culture, those formerly incarcerated, the “disadvantaged youth” of our communities to a place where we value ourselves enough to invest in ourselves? Oftentimes, we want to focus on the people that get it, but the people who don’t get it are equally important. I didn’t get it until I saw brothers and sisters breaking these concepts down in a language that I could understand. Once we can attach the significance of investing with the culmination of our dreams, then I think we can better look at what it actually means to “break the bank.”
Vyncent: Several companies within the NYSE, found their initial seed capital through the enslavement & indentured servitude of ethnic people within this country. Knowing this now, do you have any disdain to invest within the stock market going forward ?
While I don’t believe there’s any business without its flaws, I do believe there are a lot of publicly traded companies built on integrity and innovation. I think a narrative that associates the stock market with slavery can unintentionally be harmful to the ancestors of those enslaved people, potentially dissuading us from participating in one of the greatest generators of generational wealth. As a Black Man, I believe there’s value in the knowledge that certain companies have benefited from the past and present enslavement of Black People, institutions that are still thriving and trading on the stock market today. I also believe there’s value in highlighting the fact that there’s a multitude of Black Owned organizations worth investing in.
Vyncent: In regards to what we’ve discussed today, what do you want individuals to know about new creative opportunities that can socially impact and economically advance our readers in a positive manner?
Blake: We live in a time where the truth of “life is what you make it” can be seen more clearly than ever. It’s up to us to create the opportunities, progress and community we hope for. Every human being with the breath of life presently in their lungs has the ability and the authority to create our own ideal of peace and prosperity.
The only barriers to creativity are those we place on ourselves. The internet and technology are making it so that people who come from diverse backgrounds can assume meaningful and impactful lives, without the unnecessary hurdle of corporate approval. Every day, we’re watching the face of wealth in this country transform to better represent the cultural diversity of America.
Support Blake’s Upcoming Initiatives Buy Purchasing his First Book, The Urban Intellectual : Poetry For Progress Vol. 1, At Amazon.