By Scottie Bruxvoort
Chris Chappelle, a senior on the men’s volleyball team at Quincy University has made the most of the life that he was born into. Being a black man from South Central, Los Angeles draped in tattoos inevitably puts off an impression to others.
“My identity differs completely from my outward appearance.” Said Chappelle.
“I understand the stereotype I happen to portray but I just want to be accepted for the person I am on the inside before any prejudice.”
But Chappelle has dealt with issues more serious than profiling. South Central Los Angeles has a crime index of 30. 100 is the safest crime index a city can have. That being said, there are many cities in the United States that are safer to grow up. Numbers mean nothing to Chappelle, who happened to make it out of South Central against all odds. Chappelle’s mother, Jamie Brown, made a direct effort to keep him safe in such a dangerous area.
“I did any and everything to keep him safe.” Said Brown.
“With childhood friends going to jail and getting shot, I sent him to school out of South Central and an after school program so he was not around the bad stuff as much.”
Chappelle had many thoughts go through his head on a daily basis. “Will I make it to see 18? Is there more to life than this? I wonder if I will ever make it up out of here. What am I going to do with my life? I guess I’ll just stay here and do what I can to survive. Nowhere I go is safe.” Said Chappelle.
These questions constantly arose in the mind of Chappelle, while growing up in an area where each day is a fight for survival.
“Growing up in South Central was very unique to say the least.” Said Chappelle.
“A constant set of thoughts dwelled in my mind and in the minds of many others I shared my life experience with.”
So how did Chappelle find his way to Quincy Illinois?
“What brought me to Quincy was an opportunity to not only do better, but be better than the situation I was in previously.” Said Chappelle.
“My previous situation was full of misguided mistakes, repetitive ignorance and broken dreams. In a nutshell, my passion to play volleyball at the next available level helped drive my decision to completion.” Said Chappelle.
Chappelle’s mother, Jamie Brown, is aware of his achievements as well.
“Chris is the only man in my immediate family that will complete college.” Said Brown.
“He said to me the only reason he was going was for volleyball, but to have two degrees, I could not be more proud. I guess I raised him right in a world of so much wrong.”
While many would argue that California sounds much more attractive than the Midwest, Chappelle has a different opinion.
“I have adjusted well to the different lifestyle of living in the Midwest and would actually vote for the lifestyle of the Midwest over Southern California any day.” Said Chappelle.
“The agriculture is beautiful as to where Los Angeles is more architecture. I mean art is art, but life is art and to me there’s more life in the Midwest.”
Chappelle also created his own non-profit organization, which he turned into more of a culture/lifestyle his senior year of high school. Creatively named IllegalDream©, the organization hopes to drive others out of their conditioned mentality of the cliché, average working man, into a more freelance, freestyle, freedom lifestyle.
“IllegalDream© consists of pushing confidence via positivity into the mind of the lost and misguided.” Said Chappelle.
“It is ideal to create a sense of natural bliss about their purpose as they go through each moment in life, regardless of class, ethnicity or past experiences.”
As to where Chappelle sees himself after graduation this spring, the answer was simple.
“I see myself in a completely serene state of mind, across the Atlantic Ocean somewhere, continuing to live my dream, bringing to fruition all of my aspirations.” Said Chappelle.
Regardless of where Chappelle ends up, he without a doubt made it out of an area of despair, against all odds. His mother has a special message that continues to resonate with Chappelle.
“Everything you want in life is in your reach if you keep the faith.” Said Brown.
“Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done, God always has your back.”