Homecoming: Will Minor

Will Minor, a graduate of Stow-Munroe Falls High School.

For this month’s installment of Homecoming, SC4C is pleased to feature Will Minor, SMFHS Class of 2005. Each Homecoming is an interview with a Stow alumni of color. We learn about what they’re up to, what they’re proud of, and how they experienced the Stow-Munroe Falls school district as a BIPOC student.

Interested in being featured? Reach out:

Where’s your current home base?  What do you love about where you live?

I currently live in Santa Rosa, California. I love the North Bay, a lot of countryside scenery to drive through, the beach is close, wine country is close, San Francisco and Oakland are about an hour away. The weather is usually pretty nice all year round and there’s so many places to have a good bite to eat. 

What’s something you’re proud of that happened after high school?

I’m probably most proud of my military service. I had a lot of fun being in the military and learned a lot about myself. It really helped propel me to do even better things later on. Getting my real estate license is right there up there, because I was able to find something that I can be extremely passionate about when it comes to helping people reach their own goals and dreams, whether that be selling them something or helping other agents grow their business.

What’s your fondest memory of high school?

Oddly enough, it was actually just walking into the high school for the first time and realizing how massive it was compared to the schools I had attended in Akron. It felt like, at the time, those kind of high schools you see on television shows. I remember going home to tell my mom about the fact that they had TWO basketball gyms, and how nice the floor looked. It was a huge step up from Akron Public Schools and what I had grown accustomed to, being from that part of town. 

Can you share some of the most important lessons you’ve learned since graduating?

I think one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life since high school is to always be unapologetically true to who you are. It was interesting to me, coming from Akron to Stow as a kid, and realizing that ‘black’ was now something I was ‘supposed’ to be instead of just being considered a regular person. What I learned from that experience—and many since then—is that being who I am internally is the most important thing. That is the only way you can achieve any level of true happiness or success in life: doing things that make you truly happy. 

What do you like to do for fun?

I’m definitely a big gamer, particularly sports games and Call of Duty. I’m a big fan of the UFC so I’m usually trying to catch as many fights as I can. Other than that, I’m hoping that once things start to open back up, I can get back to hanging out on the beach with my friends and my guitar.

What’s your favorite…

Food? Tough one here, but I’ll go with sushi. 

Drink? Sweet tea. 

Artist? Two-way tie between Michael Jackson and Kanye West. 

Local restaurant or bar? Oh, there’s a couple places but one of my favorites near me is a pho restaurant named Simmer. Great food.

Can you share thoughts on the demonstrations for racial justice of summer 2020?

I thought they were long overdue. We had been watching racial tension bubble for years in this new day and age, when everything can be captured at a moment’s notice and be sent directly to news feeds all over the world. In a 24/7 media-driven world, we were bound to see voices speak out against something that has really been a black eye on this country for quite some time.

Racial tension in America has been the topic of discussion pretty much since about late 2008, but with recent events and advancements in the way we can display our discontent to the world on both sides, it was bound to come to a head at some point.

What do you wish someone had told you in high school, especially as a student of color?

I alluded to it in an earlier question, but really the idea that somehow I needed to qualify my ‘blackness’ with any and every stereotype you could find. Coming from Akron, I didn’t know how to respond to being asked questions about, “Why do black people always [insert activity here]?”. So when you hear those things as a kid, it can make you start to believe, “Well if he thinks all black people do this, and I don’t do this, am I not black? What does being black mean to him? Or to me?”

And it doesn’t help when you come to school and mostly all you do is hang out with the black kids, and talk to only the black kids. I never really felt included in the overall high school experience. It always felt like us small group of black kids were an extension. It was like we were welcomed guests. Come on in…but don’t touch anything. So I wish, somebody would have just said…it’s okay to just be yourself.

What do you wish your classmates had known about your experience as a student of color?  Your teachers?

I wish they all knew just how foreign it made me feel to be there sometimes. Being from Akron put me at a social disadvantage I don’t think I understood or could prepare for. Some of the black kids I knew at school had attended grade school and junior high in Stow, so there was a sense of familiarity there with them, but that wasn’t the case for me, and I don’t think people understood the kind of misconceptions that created about me.

What are your thoughts on how Stow can best address racism in its schools?

By addressing it. One of the more alarming things I remember about my experience at Stow High is that none of the teachers ever looked like me in 4 years. There was not much in terms of black studies, black history, or any kind of representation other than the students I knew who attended the school.

A friend of mine, Shawn Blackwell, took his own life with all the bullying he suffered for not being the kind of black person the folks at Stow High were comfortable with. My sister attended the same high school and not much had changed when she got there and we’re 9 years apart.

What I understand is that you can’t change who lives in Stow and who attends Stow High, but what you can do on your part is to first, acknowledge the problem, start a conversation with those who can make help you make a difference, and then address the problem by making strides in the right direction.

Are you a Stow alumni of color who would like to share your story? Get in touch!