By James Harper
Special to the NNPA from the Florida Courier
ORLANDO, Fla. – For years during the 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. time slot, Michael Baisden’s syndicated radio talk show was the program to listen to for many Blacks around the country. His show came to a halt last March but that hasn’t stopped him from reaching out and making a difference.
“People know my brand, my reputation, they know my work,” Baisden recently said in an interview with the Florida Courier. “I am a person that doesn’t dwell on the past.”
Baisden squelched the rumor that he walked away from the negotiating table on his radio show because the company wouldn’t agree to his terms.
“It didn’t work out. You have to move on. The lesson is don’t put yourself in a position where someone can fire you. The lesson has been learned. It’s time to start working on the next chapter,” Baisden remarked.
That next chapter, eight months later, is working to get back on the radio again, a television pilot and scripts for movies based on novels he has written.
Another project dear to Baisden at this time is his new non-fiction book, Raise Your Hands If You Have Issues: If You Didn’t Raise Your Hand You’re Lying and That’s An Issue! It was released as an ebook on Oct. 22 and the hardcover book will be in stores Nov. 19.
Along with those projects, Baisden is mentoring young Black boys.
Baisden moved to Orlando in June and has made a two-year commitment to mentor a classroom of 28 boys at Evans High School. Baisden meets with the students every Tuesday at the school and says he is committed to do so until they graduate. At that time, he will help raise money to pay their college tuition.
Baisden launched the “One Dream One Team” mentoring initiative in a nationwide effort to help recruit mentors for the 12,000 Black boys on the Big Brothers Big Sisters waiting lists.
‘City chose me’
He chose Orlando as his new home after visiting the city last year for a mentoring summit.
“I said, Wow! There are thousands of men up at 10 o’clock in the morning for the sole purpose of talking about being responsible as mentors and fatherhood,” he said coming to the conclusion Orlando is where he needed to be, “where my passion is. The city chose me.”
Baisden said he was initially asked to speak to the boys at Evans High School for a one-time guest appearance.
“After the class was over, I said we cannot have impact on these kids after one day. I want to really make a difference – don’t want to just toot horn and be quiet,” he continued.
Baisden said he not only talks to the kids but brings others into the classroom from a wish list of people the youth said they wanted to meet, including a homicide detective from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
“We got to start pulling together for these kids. We talk a good game. We are not stepping up enough for the brothers. The people who are least mentoring Black boys are Black men,” he said. “We are losing them. It doesn’t take a lot of money. … We all don’t have a silver spoon in our mouths. There are men who have been abused, have a story to tell.
There are men who have been locked up who have a story to tell. Men who walked away from their kids have a story to tell. The guy who started a small business has a story to tell,” Baisden elaborated.
Baisden said it is time to teach children how to think and not what to think.
“That’s why we are being taken advantage of by other cultures. They come in and make money off of us, be it through religion, that’s a game if it’s not the right kind of pastor,” he said, adding that Black people also are being taken advantage of economically and politically.
Baisden said the turning point in his life began when he started reading books, turning off the TV and stopped playing games with women.
Investing in others
Baisden, who was in the Air Force for a short while, also went to college.
“I would have completed it had my business not necessitated me leaving college. I tell my young men I will pay your way to college, but if you invent the next Apple computer, I’ll invest in that and you can leave school and make that money. But until you master that, your butt is going to finish school,” he remarked.
Baisden said his latest book, Raise Your Hands If You Have Issues, was written because he also has issues.
“I’m not standing on the stage and looking down on people. I have been a father who did not take care of his child. Been a man who cheated on women. I’ve been the guy afraid to step out on faith and living my dream. I understand decisions people make,” Baisden related.
Issues he face today include trying to make a difference and problems with people who are “dream killers.”
He said, “I have issues with negative people. I’ve got issues [with people] who think you have to be in a relationship. There is a chapter called ‘Being single is not a disease.’ We are not born married, in a relationship. Being in a relationship is not mandatory for happiness,” he said.
Baisden said too many girls and women are out there compromising their principals – not setting boundaries and ending up in abusive relationships.
Originally, Baisden said the name of his book was to be called Whatever Works.
“Experience life for yourself and find out what works for you. I’m not disagreeing with your objective; it may not be mine,” he said.
Philosophy on success
Baisden said he wrote the book to engage people in conversation.
“I don’t want to tell people what to do. I give you my perspective and give you the perspective of people I’ve encountered all of my life. Don’t take anybody’s word as absolute,” he declared.
“There are closed minds because we live in a box. We don’t get outside of our communities. We don’t read books that take us outside of our country. We are easily manipulated when people tell us they got the answer,” he said.
Baisden said the only person that was in his way of being successful was himself. And his advice to others who may have thought like him is to open their minds.
“You have more control than you think. A lot of people are afraid to make the right choices. Afraid to be alone. You’ve got to be okay with upsetting people. People want to be approved by everybody. You have to be willing to make people hate you. People are going to hate you when you are successful. Name me a successful person that is not hated on.”