CULVER — As of Sunday, July 5, Joseph Asad Lee has walked over 79,000 steps to advocate for social justice; his ideals in line with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. In addition to having conversations to raise awareness, he calls for people to register to vote, cast their vote, and to get involved with their local government to effect positive change. 

Asad Lee graduated from Culver Military Academy in 2003. He currently resides in St. Joseph County with plans to return to his home town of Culver within the next few years. 

Asad Lee was raised by loving, adoptive parents. “The reason I chose to come to Culver and why I am demonstrating here has a lot to do with what I have seen on social media. And how the people I grew up with, and people I rode the bus with, and people I played pee wee football with and Pop Warner Sports with - react to - and the messages that they are spreading and reposting are just not in line with what I thought the values we were all raised to believe.” 

Asad Lee emphasized that his parents loved him and that he loved them, but that his upbringing made it difficult for him to fully embrace his identity as a black man. “My own blackness was educated and legislated out of me from an early age. It is difficult to talk about as my adopted parents have passed on and I do not wish to tarnish their legacy. They were good people who wanted the best for me. For them that meant that I ought to assimilate fully and completely.”

Asad Lee read John McWhorter and Thomas Sowell from an early age. “Black conservatives were elevated in a way that made me believe they were the ideal or preferable iteration of blackness. I studied non-regional diction. I was not allowed to grow out my hair or listen to rap music. My parents weren’t racist, but they led me to believe that I should distance myself from mainstream black culture to ensure I would have the chance to succeed. Even my name was changed when I was adopted. My given name is Asad.”

Asad Lee stated, “Individuals must be able to carry these difficult discussions in to every aspect of their lives. At home, at work, at play, with friends and family but also anyone who will listen. We can no longer stand on the sidelines of our lives, it is time to take a stand and confront racism in all its forms and at all times.”

Make sure to pick up the entire article in the Wednesday, July 8 edition of The Pilot News.

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