On May 21, 2015, I tweeted that it was a year ago that I paid a visit to the G98.7fm studios to meet and interview DJ, radio legend, and mentor, Jonathan Shaw. Within seconds of posting that tweet, Jonathan replied saying that he was ready for Part 2. Yassss!
Guess what? In a mere 4 days, Part 2 happened.
The chat between Jonathan and I was a quite different this time around. Unlike the first time, I didn’t get a chance to ask him questions face to face, but we did have two engaging phone conversations over the course of two days.
This time, he had a lot on his mind and I was more than happy to give him a platform to speak. He was interested in talking about issues that concerned him – black images in media, and his work with the Lions Circle (read more about the organization in the interview). We even squeezed in some “hair talk” as he recently cut off his signature locs. No word of a lie, it was a shockingly awesome experience talking about hair with a guy! #Lovedeveryminute
Okay, enough of me, lets hear what he has to say. Keep reading to find out what’s been going on with Jonathan.
Hometown: Malton, Ontario
Astrological Sign: Gemini
Fun Fact: He can do the splits!
Fun Fact 2: Has never tasted funnel cake and plans to try it with his three kids and girlfriend this summer.
Jonathan’s words: “I learned a lot about love from the Rastafarian culture.”
What has been going on since our last chat?
A lot of good things, I started doing voice coaching and getting a lot of gigs as far as voice work goes. I did the voice-over for the Jean Michel Basquiat exhibit for the Art Gallery of Ontario, and I’ve done a lot of character voices for shows and commercials.
So, what’s on your mind? Why did you want a Part 2?
One major thing I want to talk about is that we as black people should control our own narrative. Controlling what is said about us as individuals and what is said in the media.
It is very important and we need to be very vigilant about it. Don’t let anyone else define you, but yourself. The more we put out and control how we look, the more the generation behind us will try to uplift themselves and emulate.
Look at the narrative that came out of the Baltimore riots – the narrative that came out was not necessarily what was really happening in the area.
How can we create our own narrative?
Recording our history is very important. If we don’t do it, then we’re asking other people to record the fact that we were here.
All of the stuff that you’re doing with your blog is vital. It’s vital to the history of our people and to your story.
If opportunity doesn’t arise, create it. Create your own media – podcasts, websites, YouTube channel. These are ways where you can create your own narrative. Instead of being at the back end of it, be at the forefront. We need to own it and control it.
Jonathan was clearly impassioned as he spoke about controlling the images that we put out. That convo led to our talk about The Lions Circle – an organization that promotes positivity and positive images in the black community.
What is the Lions Circle?
It’s an organization where black men can be themselves. They teach men to be real with themselves, to be the men that they were designed to be. Not to hide behind a mask of masculinity or fear that you can’t be vulnerable. Some men are carrying a lot of pain and anguish. Some men come to the Lions Circle looking to talk about life and experiences. It’s how conversations start.
In the Lions Circle, I’m part of the community team. We go out and do work within the community – Cancer Walk, Do it for Dads Walk, and we’ve organized blood drives. We’ve also donated computers, clothes, books and shoes for the Rites Of Passage Experience (ROPE program).
I am also a part of the ambassador’s team so I tell people about the Lions Circle on social media and get people out to the events. This year we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Lions Circle.
Once Jonathan filled me in on his charitable work with the Lions Circle, the conversation turned to his most recent “drastic” haircut.
I see that you cut your dreads. Why did you get rid of them?
I woke up one morning and I saw that my hair was getting a little thin. I was like, “Am I going bald? What’s going on here?”
A female friend of mine was going through a rough patch in her life and faced having to cut off her dreads for medical reasons. She wrote something on social media and asked people to comment. I basically supported her. I thought, if I have to cut off my hair tomorrow, I wouldn’t think twice about it…”you’re not your hair.”
By me saying that and waking up one morning and thinking I might be in the same boat one day…and my son needing his first haircut, I thought it would be symbolic that my son and I cut our hair on the same day.
How’s the transition been?
Being a baldhead doesn’t change me inside. I still love the Rastafarian culture. I loved being a dread for the time.
Did you anticipate the reaction that you received?
I was surprised of how people reacted when I cut my hair. Some asked if I was having a mid-life crisis, going through relationships issues and depression. I’m like, have we even sat down and had a meal? Why is this your business?
What are your thoughts on the Rachel Dolezal controversy?
That whole “saga” sickens my stomach. Our culture and struggle is not something that you take on and off like makeup.
What’s next for you?
If I could put something into the universe, the one thing I would love to do is voice over, voice acting – I would love to do it full time.
I’m sure that will happen! I really enjoyed this discussion with Jonathan. It definitely took on a more chummy tone. I’ve gotten to know him a little bit since the first interview, so it felt great to reconnect. Thanks for talking with me again, Jonathan!
For more info on Jonathan Shaw and the Lions Circle, please click the following links.
Facebook Page: click here