Young Paris on Self-Love and Melanin
By Jessica Sutherland
Milandou Badila, famously known as Young Paris, is a musician, creative director and a growing social influencer based in Brooklyn New York. He recently he founded a company called MELANIN, which aims to uplift people of color.
As an African living in America, Young Paris is a firm believer in connecting back to one’s roots. He seeks to educate Black Americans about their history and biological chemistry which he believes will promote self-love.
Young Paris is responsible for the popular hashtag series on Instagram #MelaninMonday which allows people of color to interactively embrace their different shades unified through a common denominator, melanin.
Q: What was the inspiration behind this hashtag and did you anticipate the heavy response it’s been receiving?
A: The more I understood the concept of melanin, the more I felt the need to share it with the world. It felt like an accountability, something I had to do. I had already established a following through my music so I chose to use my platform to educate people. We have hashtags such as #WomanCrushWednesday, #ThrowBackThursday, #FlashBackFriday, and while those are fun, they’re of no real substance. People spend more time on social media than anything these days, so why not make it a learning experience? I knew people would be receptive to it because everyone is attracted to beauty and that’s what the hashtag is dedicated to— melinated beauty from all walks of life.
Q: For those who may not be familiar, please describe what melanin is and what makes it so important
A: Everyone should be educated on the importance of melanin. It’s a neurochemical substance that is dark in its nature and it’s found everywhere. From space and throughout our planets, including earth. It’s found on land and in water, plants and animals. It’s in our cells and it’s what gives our hair and skin color. It’s the key to life – from the core to the surface of our bodies. The darker you are, the more melanin you have. Melanin absorbs and reflects harmful ultraviolent radiation that can kill cells in your skin and cause skin cancer. Certain skin types are more likely to burn but the more melanin you have, the more protected you are. People of color don’t burn so easily.
Q: How are you using the concept of melanin to empower people of color?
A: By teaching them about themselves —- who they are, and what they’re made of. People of color aren’t aware of their divinity and that melanin is what makes us divine. I want my people to wake up and realize the greatness they come from. We have been given so many reasons to hate ourselves that we have to search for reasons to love ourselves and I found one…we’ve been kissed by the sun.
Q: How do you feel about the current representation of African Americans in Mainstream media?
A: African Americans have always struggled with how they have been portrayed throughout history. With biased reporting and the over-representation of blacks as criminals, it became a norm, and black became the face of crime. Yes, it is understood that crime makes for an exciting story, but crime doesn’t have a color… and the way a story is told often depends on the skin color of its subject. Mainstream media rarely serves the African American community in a positive light, which is why I took it upon myself to help change that perception.
Q: While doing background research, I learned that you have a website in the works. Can you elaborate more on what to expect from this site and when?
A: Yes. MELANIN.com is coming soon. If all goes as planned it should be launching this fall. It’s a website for people of color. I can’t say too much right now but I will say this site will fill a well-needed gap. When people visit this site, they’ll be able to get their daily fix of news and entertainment, but they’ll also gain knowledge and inspiration. Over time this accumulation of information will leave our readers feeling empowered. They’ll be fed with nutrients but they’ll enjoy it as much as they enjoy the junk.
Q: Besides the website, is there anything else we can look forward to regarding Young Paris?
A: Right now the main focus is building my company and firmly establishing the MELANIN brand. I’ve built everything so far with very little help and I’ve been blessed to have come this far but recently I was funded by the Unapologetic Foundation, which is allowing me to branch out even further. There’s a MELANIN clothing line in the works, and I’m working on a few visual projects as well. Also, I just signed a record deal and I’m releasing my new album May 30th. I can’t give too much away but I’m working really hard for my people. I want them to raise their standards on all levels by educating themselves, eating healthier, and working harder. All of this is possible once they’re able to recognize their true greatness.
Young Paris currently has over 250,000 fans on Facebook. His recognition for being the founder of the popular hashtag series earned him verification checks on his social media accounts, which he says opened many doors for him such as sponsorships, and partnerships with other influential figures on the same mission.
His music blends traditional African and contemporary sounds together that creates an Afro-electric, hip-hop style genre. It’s different, but it’s being being well received globally. He discusses political issues in lyrics, and encourages the unification of African Americans.
Currently, a wave of self-love is flourishing throughout the African American community in New York and Young Paris is given much of the credit. Young Paris currently lives in Brooklyn where the largest concentration of the black population in New York resides, over 900,000. He says this works to his advantage because his strongest fan base comes from Brooklyn, and the black population in New York City is the largest of any city in the United States with more than 3.5 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2014 estimate.
So far #MelaninMonday gained over 100,000 hashtags in less than two years, and the numbers are rising steadily. Young Paris hopes to create a new perception of African Americans from other races, but more importantly from African Americans themselves.
“We’ve had many years of education and yet no one taught us to love ourselves,” he says.