Twenty Someone: Malik Washington

Name: Malik Washington 
Hometown: Houston, PA
Age: 26
Occupation: Advocate
1. Describe your job in three words: Challenging. Necessary. Fulfilling.
2. If I said describe your job without the three word limitation, what would you have said?  I would have gone into a mundane description about what I typically do. That’s what I thought you wanted without reading thoroughly. I think that’s telling. Does that mean when people ask what you do, they generally don’t care? Precisely. My least favorite part of what I do is explaining what I do so that others can pretend to care for the sake of money. Some really do care, but often that’s how it manifests.
3. Who or what are you advocating for? People whose voices are less likely to be heard – mostly around issues of youth, education, and violence. Why don’t you think people care about that? Good question. We’re still very much so an “until it happens to you” society. If I could place a bow around it, I’d say I hope to demonstrate and convey compassion. I don’t need to live it. That shouldn’t be how we work.
4. Do you think that’s what is happening in Ferguson? Those who care vs. those who don’t? At a strictly human level, yes, but there is an array of layers that disallow folks from even getting to that point, namely, racism and white supremacy. Were you surprised by the verdict? Not at all. Anybody that is, is likely feigning shock. I think we hold out hope to be proven wrong. One of the few times we really, really want to be wrong.
5. You recently worked with young male athletes to educate them on domestic violence. What did you tell them and how did they respond? We spend a lot of time with them. We’re inching near year three with the same group of young men, which begins with a six-week curriculum and continues with a form of mentoring. The most important thing we tell them in that program is to challenge their views of masculinity.
They all respond differently. We have students who immediately embrace the curriculum, some who challenge (often in good ways), and others who seem indifferent. I’m mostly pleased with students who pick it up and run with it. Again, those students are most likely the ones who have experienced domestic violence in some way or generally feel themselves to be already outside of endorsed ideas of manhood, so they leave feeling empowered.
6. If you raise girls you will teach them________ If you raise boys you will teach them______. will teach my boys and girls the same thing. The variance in the way we raise our boys and girls is half of the problem, especially when it comes to sex. Taking a stab at what that one thing would be? Love yourself first.
7. You can spend the day with one person, living or dead, who is it? Whew! Jahaan, of course. Good answer. Family and girlfriend excluded? Family excluded? That makes it really tough. I have a deep urge to get with family that’ve joined the ancestors, both those I’ve met and never met. Other than that, brother Malcolm, I suppose? I take it that his energy was radically different than what many would believe. I want to feel that.
8. What is your personal motto or philosophy on life? Love and never stop. Fearlessly. Relentlessly.  
9. Tomorrow is thanksgiving. What are you thankful for? I preface this with “I don’t fuck with Thanksgiving.” Nonetheless, I am always thankful for the family and friends that have been placed in my life.  Why don’t you “fuck with Thanksgiving?” Moral objections to the history of Thanksgiving aside, I’m just not a fan of holidays. I can’t think of one that I particularly care for or look forward to.
10. In ten years you will be…I’m never good with this one, but I suppose I will have reached a point where I can have a lot of work, and a lot of family, and I’ll be taking care of both.


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