It's been over 10 years since I graduated from the University of Windsor with a Communications degree in 2007, and the likelihood of me returning to Windsor was well, very unlikely. See, Windsor Alumni do not have that school spirit that brings us back 5,10, or 20 years later because quite frankly, there is no reason to. Let me explain...
By the time you are 4 years removed from school, all of your friends you left behind have all graduated and returned to their respective homes. Plus, your're probably neck deep in OSAP loans, making strides in your career or even building a family. The last thing on your mind is a 4 hour journey to your old school to relive the glory days with a bunch of students that are now much younger than you. After 10 years have passed, I found myself back in the CAW Student Centre on the U of Windsor campus which felt like a total time warp. I was tripping the phuck out to say the least!.
My first flashback was a music video for a close friend who was an aspiring rapper by the name of Owen Sparks, famous on campus for his loud speakers and dorm room parties on the 4th floor of Laurier Hall.
The pic below ended up being on the back of the album which we took right outside the CAW :). See back then, the style was wearing clothes at least 3x your size and if your Fitted Cap, Wave Cap, Shirt, Jeans and Shoes weren't all matching in some way, then you were failing at life lol. Check out my style (second from the right) and shoutout to Blue Ice Gear, one of the first fashion brands with early beginnings in Windsor started by my good friend Ice (who is in the background throwing signs up lol):
So why go back after so long? Well, what drew me back was the active Instagram page (something we didn't have in 2003) of the Caribbean and African Organization of Students, of which I was a founding member and the President from 2005-2007. I've been following them for a couples years and was very impressed with their activities. They are continuing to execute the same events we started 10 years ago such as the 411 Forum, Bring Your Flag party, and the Diverse Expressions Fashion and Talent Showcase. From what I could see, it looked like they were doing it bigger and better than we did.
So, I reached out to congratulate them, encourage them, and tell them that they are carrying on an legacy that goes back even further than what we started in 2006. See, before us there was Caricom, a group that had a similar goal: providing an outlet for Afro-Caribbean students on a predominantly White campus. They created cultural programs and events that catered to those diverse group of students. Before them was Carissa which go all the way back to the 90s and founded the ever popular Windsor Sports Weekend. There is a lot of history here and it is great to see it continue after so long. One of the current members said her mother was part of Carissa, which tripped me the phuck out again. It is crazy because I didn't realize the legacy was literally being passed down from generation to generation. That is the power of a group like this, which can bring people together in different ways year after year and without these groups, many Black students would feel even more isolated and invisible on campus.
Myself and Vanessa holding down the CAOS booth in 2007.
Anyways, the conversation on Instagram late last year lead to an invite to Diverse Expressions, a talent and fashion showcase that, you guessed it, I helped plan during my years at Windsor. No lie, I hesitated on the invite because I'm thinking to myself "what the hell is my old ass going to do out in Windsor?". After a few weeks of thinking and taking too long to decide like I usually do, I realized that if I am going to do something different with my brand, I have to take some risks, even if that risk makes me feel very very old. So I agreed and boy was it a great decision!
The amount of flashbacks that occurred every 1.2 seconds as soon as the 401 West ended and transformed into Huron Church road was crazy. Seeing all the new campus developments made me feel a) jealous that we didn't have it during my time and b) impressed with all the updates they made over the years. For example, Sunset Ave was a street that separated 2 lectures halls while I was in school (Odette and Chrysler Buildings). Now, these mofos converted it into a walkway, installed new lighting and built "learning pods". So what... we weren't smart enough for some damn learning pods? Anyways, the shit looks damn good and not the same cracked down concrete we had to cross every day. See for yourself, they even renamed it Turtle Island Walk (tf?)
After tripping out for about 2 hours straight, I checked in with the new and improved CAOS team who were running through their final rehearsals. Hannah, the Co-Cultural Director helped me organize all my chaos and get the all apparel ready for the models. So, I left my precious goods in her able hands and after a long day of driving, crashed on my friends couch. Shoutouts to to my long time friend from university Salem. We appreciate you hosting us and if ya'll are out in Windsor and need your hair did, check out my homey HairbySalem.
The following day (Saturday) it was SHOWTIME! Shortly after 3pm, the Ambassador Auditorium filled up with spectators and the show was set to begin. Rochelle Clark, a well known Vlogger from Toronto kept the crowd engaged and introduced each act. Poets, singers, rappers, and dancers filled the stage with incredible performances. Some were thought-provoking and others just straight entertaining. To see young people pursuing their passions and pushing passed their fear to perform in front of a large crowd was truly inspiring. Also, the crowd really did not let up with non stop cheering, in-seat dancing, clapping, snapping and supporting every single performance and fashion segment. The energy and vibe made me feel just as young as they were for a moment.
Popular brands like Pushers Collective and Cash Feelings showcased their awesome streetwear collections. Not to mention, Full Circle Vintage put the crowd in an absolutely frenzy with their Dolemite and House Party 2 style arrangements. They even had a Caribana scene in the show which was LIT! Overall, the show just had the perfect mix of youth, culture, fashion, music, and dance that made it so enjoyable to be part of. Check out some of the highlights below:
Rochelle Clark getting the crowd pumped up
STAND - Step Team killing it
Nathan had every one's fingers snapping with his powerful poem
Full Circle Vintage with the throwback Mink
Pushers Collective repping that Streetwear life
A little African fashion
We come out to PLAY MAS!!
But nothing made me feel as good as seeing and hearing the crowd cheer as models came down the runway rocking Clutch Life 85 gear.
I had the whole arsenal, TDOT Collection, Worldwide Tees, Clutch Signature Hoodies, Clutch Original Crewnecks, and the new Bulletproof Soul tees for Black History Month. I also debuted brand new Jogging Suits that will be available Feb 14 for pre-order. The models did such an amazing job and I was super proud to be part of the show. The response from the students after the show was incredible and our booth was busy with sales and inquiries.
I would like to give a Super Clutch Shoutout to Hannah from CAOS who took charge of coordinating with me despite all my craziness. Also, Ashly, Latavia, Tee the President and the entire C.A.O.S team for putting on a well organized event. It truly made me proud to see them continue the legacy that was started so long ago and it truly felt like a passing of the torch.
Also, couldn't have survived with weekend without my friend Jessica who made the journey from Toronto and helped me coordinate my entire weekend. Follow her account, Spell It Out For Me, for daily tips on personal development, encouragement and self love.
And a very big special shoutouts to my old CAOS /Caricom Team who in many ways, helped me become a leader and gave me the confidence to do the things I am doing today. Much respect to all members new and old.
Male CAOS execs Justin, myself and Andrew, holding it down back when mans had hair lol
CAOS Team at our Switch Formal Party 2007 (Vanessa, Erika, Tasia, Melissa, Sophia, Justice, Andrew, Lynn, and myself)
Thank you for reading. PLEASE LIKE, SHARE, COMMENT and most of all STAY CLUTCH!! King Clutch signing off!