By Gary A. Johnson, Founder & Publisher – Black Men In America.com
Bruce George is the Co-Founder of the award winning “Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam.” He’s also a writer, poet and activist. When it comes to people, there are “smart” people, and then there are “very smart” people. Bruce George is among the “very smart,” group of people. In fact, I would say that Bruce George may be one of the smartest people I have ever met. Why? Because he knows where all the “smart” people are!
The “smart” people are all a part of his movement. This is just one aspect of his genius. Speaking of genius, Bruce George’s movement is “Genius Is Common.” Most of us have heard the old saying, “Common sense is not that common.” Well, in the mind of Bruce George, “Genius Is Common.” Let that sink in for a moment. Still not sure what this really means? That’s OK. By the time you finished reading this exclusive interview with Bruce George, not only will you understand, what I’m trying to convey, you will have a sense of your genius.
As a result of my genius, I’ve re-invented myself about a dozen times and have learned a lot about life by way of mentors and experiences. One of my key learnings is that many of us have been “culturally conditioned” that we are not “smart” and that we will never be “smart.” Who defines smart? When you let other people or institutions define you, you will NEVER win at this game called life.
Bruce George and his genius are shattering hundreds of years of misinformation and lies of this self-defeating virus that’s been allowed to mutate in her minds to the point generations of people have accepted that this is how are life is supposed to be.
When you live and work in negative and unbalanced environments and things go unchallenged, over time they seem normal. Think about it. As a result, generations of “good” people have willingly passed on “bad” or negative information to their offspring. And when you are a child and your mother, father or grandparent tells you something, you tend to accept it, until you know better. These are well meaning people “who don’t know, what they don’t know.” And that collective damage cannot be accurately quantified. Remember this: “Every institutionalized system has a need to replicate itself.”
In comes Bruce George. Was he the first person to recognize that this cycle was damaging and in need of fixing? No! But he was the first person to conceive and organize an international campaign and movement to change the culture and ultimately the narrative about who is “smart” with “Genius Is Common.”
So, let us talk to the man himself. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bruce George.
BMIA.com: Hey Bruce, welcome to Black Men In America.com.
Bruce George: Thank you for having me.
BMIA.com: Bruce, I’m excited to talk to you. I don’t even know where to start. Let me start by asking a few basic questions and then gradually ramp up by asking you to share a little bit about your background. Where were you born and raised, and did that environment shape how you looked at life? If so, how?
BMIA.com: Where were you born and raised, and did that environment shape how you looked at life? If so, how?
Bruce George: I was born and raised in New York City, and my childhood was around the time that white flight was taking place across the city, and it was a time of the birth of Hip Hop, so it was during a time of struggle. Abandoned buildings were our playhouses, and gangs were running rampant. The environment shaped my life by having me take on a defensive posture towards others that looked like me, and those that did not. Living in struggle robs a child of his/her youth, and makes you grow up faster than you were supposed to grow.
BMIA.com: What was your earliest or most vivid recollection of being or feeling different?
Bruce George: I knew I was different because as a child I was very precocious, and always thought very deeply than most around me. I was a seer and had a sixth sense of people and things in life. People were always uncomfortable around me, as if I were able to see through them.
BMIA.com: OK, tell me. How did you conceive and develop “Genius Is Common?”
Bruce George: The Genius is Common Movement came about as a result of me going around the country and asking the youth “When you here the word Genius what image comes to mind?” and they would always say “Einstein or a light bulb” and that troubled me, so I wrote the quote “Notwithstanding Einstein Genius is Common.” That quote turned into the slogan “Genius is Common” which turned into a movement – The Genius is Common Movement.
BMIA.com: Describe the opportunity that “Genius Is Common” presents in a way that an 8-year old could understand it.
Bruce George: The Genius is Common Movement is a YouTube video based movement where people from ages as young as five years old, where they are expressing to the world what their Genius is via their gifts; things are good at and do well. The Genius is Common Movement shifts the way the youth and adults feel about themselves in relationship to the word Genius. Children are taught to explore what they like to do, and then give them the understanding that that is their Genius; that’s their calling.
BMIA.com: Is there a risk associated with your movement?
Bruce George: There’s no risk whatsoever of a person being in the Genius is Common Movement. The movement is about empowering people, and unifying people under the umbrella of inclusivity. The movement is revolutionary in the sense of paradigm shifting the way a person thinks about him/herself in a way that gives them a sense of self-determination and esteem.
BMIA.com: Let’s go back 25 years. How would your friends describe you back then?
Bruce George: My friends and associates back then and now I feel view me as an educator, philosopher, activist, entrepreneur etc … I feel they think of me as a principled person who has a relationship with God.
BMIA.com: Let’s fast forward 25 years. Describe “Genius Is Common?”
Bruce George: Genius Is Common levels the playing field of all beings in the sense of them coming to the understanding that we are all Geniuses, and are all ordained to be and do something in life to contribute to the world at large. I am a firm believer that our work is our ministry.
BMIA.com: How do you define success?
Bruce George: I believe that success is a journey and not a destination like Ben Sweetland once quoted. “Success is not so much of a place that you end up at since you can always better your best.”
BMIA.com: What’s the best thing about being Bruce George?
Bruce George: The best thing about me is that I’m a child of God and a lover of God.
BMIA.com: How does Genius Is Common connect to your values?
Bruce George: The slogan Genius Is Common connects me to the God in me, which in turn shapes my moral compass in a way that is edifying to myself and others.
BMIA.com: Who are some of the people who influenced you?
Bruce George: My Mother was a great influence since she was the only one that raised me to be the person that I’m today. I have always been influenced by great intellectuals and people that were about social activism.
BMIA.com: What is your genius?
Bruce George: I have many Geniuses. One Genius that I have is the ability to influence others; teach others; motivate others.
BMIA.com: What are you most proud of?
Bruce George: I’m proud of the fact that I have been blessed to have created two legacies in being the Founder of the Genius is Common Movement, and Co-Founder of Def Poetry Jam on HBO.
BMIA.com: What’s your response to people who believe that they don’t have “a genius?”
Bruce George: We as a people have been socially engineered to think little of ourselves. I would say to them to look deep into themselves and explore the gifts that were bestowed upon them by their God. When they find that gift, they will find their Genius. That Genius seed just needs watering.
BMIA.com: What would you do differently if you had a chance?
Bruce George: If I could go back in time knowing what I know now, I would have had a better relationship with God and my family.
BMIA.com: What have you learned about yourself as a result of this movement?
Bruce George: I have learned that people can be transformed to embrace the Genius in them very quickly. They just need to be informed in a way that they can relate to the message.
BMIA.com: Is there anything else you would like to share with me?
Bruce George: Thanks for the interview Brother Gary, and I want to thank your readers for reading the interview. I would implore your audience to visit the Genius is Common Movement’s website: www.geniusiscommon.com so they cab get patched into what the movement has to offer them.
BMIA.com: Is there any question I should I have asked you, but did not?
Bruce George: You could have asked me about my role in being the Co-Founder of Def Poetry Jam on HBO, but that conversation is for another time. Thanks for your support. Genius Is Common.