The Ever-Inspiring Dr. King

MLK Quote 2014

Yes, I may be guilty of playing the race card more than most folks I know, but don’t let that fool you. I couldn’t be more proud of my African-American heritage, a fact that is cause for pause and reflection on days like this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Above is one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King. It’s one that not only helps inspire me to remain motivated, but to maintain perspective on life’s greater purposes as well. Enjoy the day, everyone.

My Dad, Will Smith and Me

Dad Fam Pool

Writing Saturday’s post about the strange cast of characters that I’m proud to call my family served as another reminder of what a fantastic job my parents did raising us Burri over the years. My various life experiences, and perhaps most notably teaching for two years, have made me see how significant and positive a role having an involved father in one’s life can be in who he or she becomes later in life.

When you’re a 20-something like me, you generally start trying to define yourself, often without any awareness or acknowledgement of the whole process. As I approach the big 3-0, I’ve done a bit more reflecting on the person I’ve become and have increasingly come to the see the truth behind the many comments on how similar I am to my dad.

While I don’t profess to share his penchant for napping or (lack of) organization skills, there are many traits that the two of us undoubtedly share. To name a few, we both have a love of the guitar, good music, peanut butter, road trips and technology. More importantly, however, I like to think that I’ve become the compassionate, cultured, inquisitive, driven, fiercely loyal, fun loving, overly sarcastic and accepting person I am today because of him.

I’m proud to say that I see so much of myself in my dad (and Mama Burrus, of course). While there are entirely too many things to list for which I’ll be forever grateful to my parents, one of the most striking at this moment is that they always made sure my siblings and I appreciated and embraced our African-American heritage, and that we never tolerate any form of prejudice because of it. I can safely say that I’m not only the man I’ve become because of my parents, but the Black man I am because of them as well.

Anyone who knows my dad is also keenly aware of his kind heart, ever-chill demeanor and the prudence he exercises in his choice of words and their timing in a given situation. With that said, I recently saw a quote from (the fake Twitter account of) Will Smith that reminded me very much of my dad (and indeed myself) that I wanted to end on here.

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 11.09.37 PM

And as on Mother’s Day, since the fam and I couldn’t physically reunite for the holiday, we met up on Google Hangout – a pic for your viewing pleasure…

Fathers Day Hang Out

Do It For Christina!

Christina

Those who know me know I’m not one to get emotional or to ask for money (okay, well at least not often, Mom and Dad), but I’m going to do a little of both here.

Before I ask you to donate, though, let me first ask if you recall your response when people ask you about your role models growing up. Our first response is typically a parent or adult relative or sometimes a sports star or other celebrity.

But how often was one of your greatest role models another peer? This was the case for me with my cousin Christina (pictured above – weren’t we precious?), who has long suffered from cystic fibrosis. I have vivid memories of her having to cart around an oxygen tank in middle school and of her experiencing serious shortness of breath during our trips to the mall.

I think back to the hospital visits, and to the night in college when I learned that a match was found and Christina would soon be undergoing a double lung transplant. I remember my mom calling the match a Christmas miracle, which of course it was. Nevertheless, I was used to miracles bringing joy and not precipitating apprehension. Thankfully Christina made it through the surgery and ensuing several months of recovery – almost literally living in a bubble cut off from most family members and friends – as well as anyone could have hoped.

Through it all, Christina has been both a trooper and a fighter. I’ve never met someone who’s been through so much yet remained so implacably positive; more so than anyone else I’ve ever known. She’s always appeared undaunted by her condition; unfazed by her outward differences. I mean, she was a cheerleader and basketball player growing up – to hell with the oxygen tank!

Christina embodies every bit of what a role model should be. And I’m proud to say she continues to impact the lives of others and to live her own life to the fullest as a pharmacist, wife and proud wiener dog owner. Oh, and as one helluva cousin and friend.

I’ve learned many lessons from her, including courage, perseverance, living each and every day to the fullest and always doing your best not to complain because you can always have it worse. Another equally important lesson I’ve learned is the need to fight for those people who have so greatly impacted our lives.

This is why I’m writing this post and why I’ll again be volunteering at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides Walk next Saturday, May 18. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a fan of asking for money, but I’m going to do so here.

Please support Team Do It For Christina! with whatever amount you’re willing and able to give. Seriously, every extra dollar helps to find a cure.

If I meet my goal of $300, which I set in honor of Christina turning 30 this past year, I plan to finally take the plunge and sign up for a half marathon – the Patrick Henry Half Marathon here outside of Richmond in August. Meeting my goal, then, would not only help me cross another item off my bucket list, but to raise money to help give kids with CF more years to complete their own bucket lists as well.

You can find my team page here and learn more about CF here. Thank you in advance if you choose to donate. Thanks also for taking the time to read today’s post.

To Be a Coed Again


The third generation of Burri (fourth if you count my cousin Christina) at Mizzou officially began this week when my parents moved my youngest sister, Mary, to campus. It seems like just yesterday the fam was moving my overly-anxious ass to Columbia. 10 years later (damn!), I recently found myself talking with Mare for a good while; her exuding such excitement about all the opportunities soon to come her way. I mean, I’m pretty impressed that one of her initial goals is to get involved with the Women’s Center.

During our convo, I found myself using such clichés as “Be yourself.” and “College is the best four years of your life”, the latter ringing so true that I extended my academic experience to eight years. Moreover, both not only aptly describe one’s college years,  but also go so veritably hand in hand when it comes to the overall college experience. I’m glad my middle (i.e. white) sister, Elizabeth, and I can look back on our own experiences and offer such sage advice to Mare.

Oh, to be a coed again. My best friend, Jules, and I were discussing this the other day and we both decided that we’d relive–as opposed to redo–the college experience again in a heartbeat. I’ll most definitely be living through Mare’s next four-plus (I mean, she is a Burrus, after all) years at what I, as a self-professed colleges geek, can definitively say is one of the most amazing schools in the country.

I also can’t go without sharing the priceless sign below that Mare came across during her first day on campus. Welcome to Mizzou, right?!? For clarification’s sake, it doesn’t have anything to do with race but instead refers to the architecture of Mizzou’s two sides of campus: White Campus and Red Campus.

I’m not sure who gave this sign the go-ahead, but perhaps a little more prudence could have been exercised here. Nevertheless, it was definitely good for a laugh!