In a few hours, Hip-Hop Chess Federation will open its first community education center. When we started this org none of us had any idea what would happen. I remember getting my kids in the car before our first event. My wife said “Do you think anybody is going to this thing?” I looked at her with the realest eyes and said “I have absolutely no idea.” When we got to the MLK Library in San Jose, it was quiet at first. But then so many people came we got kicked out for being too loud. I loved it. I told Dave ‘Davey D-Oakland’ Cook as we were leaving how happy I was . I thought it was cool that a chess club got kicked out of a library.
From that point everything is a blur of high highs and really low lows. I remember meeting RZA because of King Tech. I took my first book to one of his talks at the Commonwealth Club in SF. He was denying all interviews but I had an autographed copy of my book sent to him through one of the guards. He invited my wife and I to his dressing room. I remember how respectufl he was to my wife. It was just the three of us. There was only fruit and spring water in his room I told him I did jiu jitsu. We talked about Ta Mo and Kung Fu. I told him about how I saw the fusion working between chess, Hip-Hop and martial arts. He went out and murdered with his talk that night and he and I have stayed in tune ever since.
A few months later, I gotta call from Josh Waitzkin. We vibed well. Then for our next event I connected him and RZA with DJ Qbert, Kevvy Kev and some others at the Omega Boys Club. Thats when I met Rugged Monk of the Black Knights. He and I became friends immediately. Casual and Monk got into over a game, it was hella tense. Josh chilled everybody out. Soon after I connect to Rakaa from Dilated Peoples who introduces me to Ralek Gracie and things look strong. Alan Marques, Denny Prokopos, Scott Nelson and a mountain of support from the BJJ and MMA community start to kick in.
From there we had the Chess Kings Invitational, NY Times coverage, Game companies sponsorships, massive momentum, I leave a gig to help set up WuChess.com, the economy collapses, few people understand what HHCF doed, org almost collapses, super brokeness starts to kick in. I take a job as a security guard to watch out for my family. It gives me access to at risk kids so I stay with it. The org treads water as I try to manage a real nonprofit, support wanes, I start to write and make youtube videos about my ideas but I’m only getting support from a few folks. I’m juggling 2 and 3 jobs just to survive and it is not working. I write a small book on jiu jitsu then smash my MCL and walk like a pirate for a long time. Depression swings in and out like a grandfather clock.
There were dark times, false alliances, people trying to straight up steal my ideas and work. Some offer support, others watching me drowning like its a spectator sport. Health issues for me, for my family at times….I sprint through airports to land in cities and I have NO MONEY on me. In pursuit of actualizing the ability to actually help others. It’s really boarderline insanity pushing me at times. Doing it for the love, because at times that is really all there is.
But I don’t stop, in 2012 I’m on the cover of Chess Life and Eric Arnold is helping me understand the importance of what we are doing better than I can see at the time. Mike Relm, PFM, David Frazee and a lot of other people make it possible for HHCF to thrive. Jennifer Shahade introduces me to Susan Barrett and next thing I know I’m consulting the World Chess Hall of Fame. Ed Solis and others in San Jose really have my back. A lot of people who had my back in more ways than I can name made today happen. None of you will ever be forgotten. You know who you are. I know who you are. This year a new book drops…..New exhibits. Complete methodologies. Folks like Kevin Hwa, Duncan Wannamaker, Joey Amanchukwu, Vince Bayyan, Arash Daneshzadeh Clyde Smith, Thembisa and Tmor, Alex Daniel Bishop Desmond Tutu, Tomie Lenear Jr Paul Moran Ulysses Gomez Imam Zaid Shakir, Tahir Anwar, Mika’el Saraceno, Amir Abdul-Shakur, Jean Hoffman, Quadir Lateef, Jasiri, Ronnie Lee, Zulu Nation, James Peterson, Joes Schloss, Brian Coleman, Dawn Elissa, Nicole Hodges- Persely, Blayne, Kristen and JP, Ruth Haring, Daaim Shabazz, Dr. Peter Goldman, Ali Asadullah Eddie Goldman, Billy Ray, Leo Jones, Gene Ching, Elaine Moskowitz, G and Bev, 3 KINGS….Crayone, Bas One, Kenny and Don, Billy Jam, Jake Paine, Dan Charnas, Cheo Hodari Coker.. DJ Rob Flow Ryron, Rener and Ralek…Kurt, Nick…..Jupiter Jiu Jitsu……and a LOT of other people really helped me in dark times for me financially, mentally, physically, spiritually. But here we are. I cannot name you all right now, but my heart knows you and you know my heart. Today it opens. It’s really small…..I’m OK with that…. Tomorrow we take it farther. I’m not going to cry right now. But it means a lot to me. And NONE of this would be possible without my wife. If you know anything, you know she makes this shit happen for real. Now lets go bring some peace to the planet.