SURVIVOR. CATALYST. CHANGE MAKER.
'BE THE CHANGE'
Location: Los Angeles
Andrew Cole is a Canadian-born musician and philanthropist from the UK. He is recognized for his anti-abuse awareness multimedia project entitled "#NoJoke" and #NoJokeFilm, the 'We Are the World' for the issue of bullying.
I was always a foreigner. I was always an outcast. I was born in Toronto and grew up in Liverpool so I was the one with the weird accent and weird clothes. My mom was a nurse and my dad was a truck driver. He was also an incredibly abusive and scary man.
I was bullied by kids in school and grew up in a violent neighborhood. All I knew was violence. When a kid told me “I am going to kill you after school”- I believed them. Our habits, behaviors, and fears are molded in our youth. I developed PTSD and now even as an adult in Beverly Hills, I'm still looking over my shoulder. I have a fearful guard that surrounds me almost like a force field. I try to break it down to become the warm, fuzzy child I was before the abuse, but it’s deeply ingrained.
Bullying exists across all occupations and age groups. When I started witnessing the rise of social media, I noticed people posting pictures of perfection. The stakes were raised when cyber bullying arrived on the scene. Cyber bullying is mass humiliation. I was never humiliated on a mass level, but I still suffer from the effects of the micro humiliation I did endure.
Kids are committing suicide at alarming rates. Too many of our young people are suffering in silence. I decided to put my foot down and bring together an army of our heroes, our legends. When I was younger, I would listen to rock stars and athletes more than my parents because they were my role models. I knew that if I could get them together, we could create synergy around a conversation. The topic? Be yourself. Be brave. Embrace your uniqueness without fear. We don’t need to lose any more superheroes due to silence. Let’s start talking.
Food is my choice of education when it comes to learning about a culture. Unlike political regimes that might raze a culture, food is much more resistant to cultural change. We may speak different languages and have different perspectives, but we all need to eat.