Not knowing my dad was not knowing my masculine self, my blackness, who I was as a person. My mom did her best to support me and my emotional needs. As a child, she enrolled me into therapy. There I was able to act out emotionally. All of my rage, sadness, confusion and abandonment issues were addressed. My therapist created a safe place for me to talk about my father and my feelings surrounding that lack of connection. I also have an uncle I was very close to growing up. He was my surrogate father and filled the masculine role in my life. It was through him that I learned about Buddhism. I was attracted to its teachings of awakening to your true self and self-reliance. From a young age, I learned to be comfortable in my own skin. My mom, who is white, wanted me to have a black upbringing and grow up “black.” I never bought into that because it wasn’t authentic. I grew up with a white mother, a white uncle, and a white older brother. Even though I never viewed myself as being white, I never viewed myself as being black either. I’ve always viewed myself as me, Kesai. I never liked people and society to dictate to me who I’m supposed to be and how to act based on the color of my skin. I’ve seen how painful it could be to try and fit into a mold in order to belong.