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The Life of a Pioneer

The story of how one black influencer has managed to overcome.

By Robyn Moss Published 3 years ago 9 min read

The year is 1981. On the cold morning of February 23, a future powerhouse was brought into this world. This dynamic and impactful person was created to change the world. His name is Tyanthony Moss.

I am going to start at the very beginning of this man’s life to better explain why he is the most influential black person that I have ever encountered.

Ty, the name he chooses to go by most often, grew up in Harlem, New York and Jersey City, New Jersey. For most of his years in elementary school, he was in the care of his grandmother. He was fortunate to go to good schools and receive a good education. He was gifted with an analytical mind for numbers. He was placed in magnet programs and won several awards in competitions that highlighted his mathematical skills.

Because of his ability to see numbers differently and because his grandmother was a phenomenal songwriter, composer, and teacher of music, Ty was able to develop his talent for playing the drums at an early age. By the time he was 6 years old, he was already playing on stages and on music recordings. He excelled quickly and became a highly skilled and sought-after musician.

Although he was talented as a musician, it was not the direction Ty wanted to take. His passion was business. His mental capacity for numbers and learning fueled his desire to further pursue a future in the glamorous, yet cutthroat, world of business.

High school had been a little challenging for Ty, not because he was struggling academically, but because he was so far advanced in his thinking. He would often feel frustrated with his teachers, as they were with him, because he was not being pushed to reach his full potential. However, when submitting applications for colleges, several schools offered partial or full scholarships because of his extraordinary ability to understand numbers and how they work.

New York University is the school he ultimately chose for his higher learning education because they awarded him a full scholarship in mathematics. He started out in the direction of political science, but instead was enrolled in the Stern Business Program, a division of NYU, and decided to major in International Business with a minor in Marketing and Advertising. Ty is also a third-generation member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Upon graduation at NYU, Ty contemplated his next moves. He decided to take a four-year Master and Development program at East Carolina University in connection with J.Y. Monk School of Real Estate, in Greenville, North Carolina.

Although Ty endured 20 years of education, that schooling would not come close to the “education” and experience he would have to confront in the years to come.

Having been raised in the most populated area of the country, Ty never really saw himself as different or underprivileged because of his race. He had not seen firsthand how discrimination by race, creed, sexuality, age, or gender was a prominent factor in other parts of the country, especially in the southern states.

Having tunnel-vision while completing the program at J.Y.Monk, he focused only on finishing school. He had plans to return to New York and start working with a development firm there and to build up his own business and brand. He was able to start interning with a firm in North Carolina that would help him succeed upon returning to New York.

Although Ty had his entire life planned out, sometimes plans do not always work out the way we want them to.

During his last year at J. Y. Monk, I was fortunate to meet this amazing man. Ty and I met at an exceptionally low point in my life. Even now, I am still baffled he was interested in me. I don’t know what it was about me that literally stopped him in his tracks, but I am glad it did. I was not looking for anyone at that time, so our exceptional connectivity came as a surprise to the both of us. Although we are on complete opposite ends of the color spectrum, somehow we fell in love. Neither of us looked at our love as having a color barrier.

Ty still finished school, but he opted to cut his internship short so he and I could be together. To sum it all up, subconsciously and unaware, Ty chose family over his career. Although it would take many years, tears, heartaches, head-banging, and being unhappy and unsatisfied with where he ended up before he realized that one decision changed his whole life’s trajectory.

He thought he could do both, but eventually things started going in the opposite direction of his career goals and were heading more toward starting a family. Once we were married, we decided it was time for a complete change. We packed up and moved to Denver, Colorado. He thought that with his outstanding educational background, he would have no trouble finding work in his field. Little did he know all his education was not needed there and everywhere he applied, he was told that he was over-qualified for the position.

He became increasingly disheartened. He was able to find work here and there just to be able to pay the bills. I found a steady job to help, too. As the years progressed, Ty never managed to find work that placed him directly into his field. He was forced to take on jobs that required specific certifications or licenses to be had before being hired. He would accomplish each requirement, start working the job, then something unfortunate would happen to the position and would leave him having to look elsewhere for work.

In one instance, the company he had been working for decided to move the company to New York. Ty was offered a position in the sane department if we were to relocate to New York. However, I was seven months pregnant with our first daughter and was considered high risk. So, he did not want to take the chance of hurting either one of us.

Another unfortunate event that caused Ty to be jobless was when the company he had been working for was seized by the SEC. Thank goodness he was not involved in the many criminal actions of his employers, but it still left him unemployed again.

There have been many stories like these, and he could not figure out why things just were not right. After eight years and another daughter later, we decided to go back to North Carolina, but to Charlotte this time to see if there was a better opportunity to help further his career.

Returning to the south married to a white woman and having two bi-racial daughters only increased the inability to fully network and connect with Charlotteans. The main issue he faced in Charlotte is that with all his education, background, and experience, the jobs he was qualified for were positions in real estate or finance. Workers in these fields in the south are predominantly white. Older white, privileged men that get upset when they are upstaged by an intelligent black man.

Ty is one of those people who over-achieve at everything he does. He has a way of out-working anyone, not for praise or accolades, but as in proof to himself that he can. He competes with himself to prove he deserves to be the best. He is not arrogant at all, but he radiates confidence. He can own a room because he is sure of himself and his abilities. He rarely gambles, but when he does, rest assured he will win because any risk he takes is of skill, not chance.

In his current position, he is making a lot of money. Unfortunately, he is the only black man in his office. He must work longer hours by coming in earlier and leaving later to ensure he doesn’t get taken advantage of or have any of his clients stolen from underneath him. He is having to track every penny he earns to get paid the money he is deserved. His co-workers favor other co-workers by giving leads or deals to them first. One could claim it is just the way they are and that they would do that to anyone to get want they want. That is true, but Ty sits at the very bottom of the totem pole.

Even though he is a high performer by nature, he thinks this kind of abuse exudes unnecessary exhaustion. I am only able to give you a small glimpse into the scrutiny, racism, and criticism Ty has had to go through. Seeing how hard he has had to fight is very eye-opening.

These co-workers have asked him to remove his headshot photo from his email. They have asked him not to meet clients in-person as it may make them rethink being a client. He was also told that he was a “smart one” because most black people were ignorant when it comes to finance and numbers.

Even though I am a white woman in America, and I could never really walk a day in his shoes, witnessing the injustice is all I need to be an advocate for equality. I am not racist against my own race, or any other race for that matter, but I feel sorry for the people who do have prejudices against specific types of people.

Discrimination has been a part of this country since it was founded. Everyone in American history has had to fight for something except for most white men. All minority races have had to fight for equality. All women had to fight for liberation. All people that are not heterosexual had to fight for their rights. All religious groups must fight to teach what they believe. All black men have had to fight to be looked at as equal and not as a threat.

Although it is against the law to discriminate, parts of the country still implement these practices in their workplaces, making it hard for people of other genders, creeds, or races to “get ahead” or even just be equal to their peers.

I have said all of this to tell a story of how a person can be beat down so many times and still have the resilience to get right back up and fight for what they want and what they know they deserve. That person is Ty. He has done everything right, but still, he continues to fight. Some have called him a pioneer in the industry that he is in. He would not consider himself as so, but little by little, I believe that he is making it easier for black people to be looked at in a more positive light. He is giving hope to the fact that one day the entire country will be able to accept all people for who they are and not what they look like.


About the Creator

Robyn Moss

Long ago, a little girl loved to write. She loved to explore the depths of her mind and create the impossible. That little girl still sits in the back of my mind waiting to pursue those dreams. I am now 39, a wife, and a mother of three.

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