Rolling Out

Oklahoma DJ Big City gives fathers and mentors 3 tips

The longtime DJ remains passionate about teaching

Big City is doing it with a purpose that is larger than him. The DJ, whose real name is Benjamin Augustine, started the Mae Foundation in 2019. The organization is primarily focused on mentorship. He used his experience radio and deejaying to help teach the next generation about about graphics, running a studio and playing music professionally.

As a part of the program, his mentees get paid gigs and learn about business. Recently, the Tulsa, Oklahoma DJ had his mentees spinning at Covanta, Goodr and Munson Steed’s grocery pop-up giveaway to members of the community. Steed signed copies of his books and gave them away for free, while Covanta partnered with Goodr to be able to provide a week’s worth of groceries for the residents. Covanta also supported Big City’s Black business by hiring him for the event.

Big City spoke to rolling out about the foundation and offered advice for mentors and fathers.

Oklahoma DJ Big City gives fathers and mentors 3 tips
Tulsa, Oklahoma DJ Big City poses for a picture with a few of his children and mentees. (Photo credit: Rashad Milligan for rolling out)

What is the backstory to establishing Mae Foundation?

I made it official in 2019, but I’ve been teaching since 2011. I would go to St. Thomas apartments on 61st. I will go to apartments on West and North and go through a program called The Zone. I just pulled up with a speaker, made sandwiches and connected with the kids. I found out their lives are more than, “I wake up and go to school.” Some kids have real-life problems they have to deal with. I had a student who I still deal with now who was cussing in class. I’m like, “Hey, man. You know you can talk better than this.” He said, I got problems, I said, “What problems?” He said, “Well, I have two kids,” and he couldn’t see his children because he needed to go to alcohol anonymous. He couldn’t do that because he was on marijuana. My reaction to that was just like, “Yo, you have real life problems. Let’s talk like, not [as] adults, but we have to talk like whatever you are, because you’re not an adult.” I was able to talk to him with that level of respect and that was almost four or five years ago. He’s grown now and he’s a positive member of society … so I teach everything. Th periodic table, how to cross the street, what do you do if you find drugs outside? … How do you call [in the case of] an emergency?  That confused me and I’m grown. I got shot and I had to dial 911 after that and I was like, “You know what? Kids need to know all of this stuff.”

What are three tips you can give Black fathers?

Don’t take stuff personally. You were grown before your kids were born, so you remember more stuff than they do …

Another thing, they’ve only been alive as long as their age, so do not expect grown up things out of a child …

Be on watch. Be a father, man, don’t let anybody take that away from you. To the fathers who are inactive who are trying to get back, you can do it. Don’t let people show you an example of a great father and you feel bad. Look at being that because the minute you decide to be better, you are.

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