Media and News, Stories

NEW. NOW. NEXT, NY: Tyrone Z. McCants, Photographer & Poppa

by Gavy Steele in BLINK NY

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Art can be anything but not all the time can it be full of substance, not all the time can art represent the truth about culture. When looking at artist Zire’s work there is a sense of responsibility and when speaking with him there is a sense of hope. There is depth in his conversation as well as his art, a man who takes pride not only in himself but his family and his work.

2nd Annual Poppa's Day, Family Outing 2011

An artist in the business for 9 years he has come a long way since finding interest in the art of photography in junior high. His other passions include music, structured art, spoken word, and dance. Although he is not an active participant in these areas currently, he has a heartfelt appreciation for different forms of art and all these forms of art are the highlights of his work. His upbringing no doubt had much to do with it, a Harlem born, Bronx bred man or as we call it “the boogie down Bronx” who had an absentee father that he didn’t really see much. He mentions having to grow alone “I had to go through a lot of life lessons on my own, I had to learn to answer many of my own questions, to listen to my instincts” even though he had a stepfather. This allowed him to know the difference between a leader and a follower and stresses the importance of strong individuals and communities. He believes in the power of relationships, the bond between man and woman, the building up of individuals and coming together to build strong communities that facilitate the growth of art. On the subject of strong communities Zire has started a movement called Proud Poppas a community involved movement where he encourages men within those communities to play active roles in the lives of their children; “I’m not about making money, I want to push for change.”

HUDDE - men's career mentor day

When asked about his desire for Proud Poppas and the direction that he sees it going in, he expounds on the roles of men and women and how so much has changed stating “We don’t really know ourselves individually”, indicating men and women do not have a sense of who they are individually especially in the black community. He says “What I want to see is, us having a few annual events, providing information and workshops and resources. It’s all about community development and we in the black HUDDE - men's career mentor daycommunity need to start working with each other”.  We came to an interesting point in our discussion about the power of the dollar within different communities; Referring to the buying power in black communities and how weak it is. It is very rare to find an artist with such knowledge and depth when it comes to the awareness of his surroundings. When asked about someone that gives him inspiration he mentions Melvin Van Peebles a multitalented actor, director, screenwriter, playwright and novelist, he calls him “relentless” in work. Zire studies Mr. Van Peebles because of his desire for the arts and has even made efforts to contact in hopes of coming face to face with him one day. Zire’s appreciation for arts and the world is great, stating that he seeks to travel to Africa and Japan one day. He is looking for men that are motivated and ready to work and has had support from a legend in the rap game, SticMan from the group DeadPrez. He seeks to branch out to different states in hopes of gaining momentum for Proud Poppas.

Zire is a Proud Poppa of five, a seventeen year old son, nine year old daughter, eight year old son, three year old son and one year old daughter with his wife whom he calls beautiful and his greatest support. One can truly feel the love between the two just by him talking about her. The depth of this man is too great to put into just one interview, I somewhat feel there needs to be a part II.
His thoughts on BLINK “I love the layout of the website. I love the fact that you all do these interviews and you keep people connected to the rest of the world. I just really love what you guys are doing. Shout out to lady Carole J to her partner as well and everyone at BLINK Atlanta Magazine. I want to give a shout out to MC Class in California who introduced me to Ms. Carole J. Shout out to everyone peace and love.

Source: Gavy Steele

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About Proud Poppas United

A former Youth Division Aide and Mental Health Therapist with the Office of Children and Family Services turned his reduction-in-force experience into a win-win situation, and many are reaping this harvest. When Tyrone “Zire” McCants, who is also a versatile services photographer and visionary in the Phoenix, AZ, lost his job; he took his youthful interest in photography and his prior knowledge from working in a family-centered position into new ventures. He even figured out a way to coincide his two passions into meaningful opportunities to advance his cause. The layoff he faced freed him up to develop his photography business (Zire Photography & Graphics) and to showcase his skills as a prolific artist. One of those ventures that McCants created was an initiative called Proud Poppas United; which is a community-based group designed to strengthen the bonds between fathers & their children. It aims to encourage a tradition of fatherhood and family, increasing the number of active fathers in our community. When McCants isn’t intellectually cultivating his repertoire of talents, he manages to merge his interest in photography with his desire and passion for fatherhood. Using the Proud Poppas Photo Project, as his flagship initiative, he displays images which celebrate and encourage the pride of being an active father. In many minority and ethnic communities, there is a progressive concern of absentee fathers and the devastating effects of this challenge on our children, our families, and community. He also believes that by displaying these images will help to shed light on and celebrate the gift of fatherhood. He hopes that this movement will also become contagious and bring other men closer to their children and families, and encourage a presence of well-being and development in our children, our families, our communities and our people as a whole. McCants quotes that “My scope is capturing the energy between a father and his children” and that’s what he is creating through his community development initiatives. Through, a first look into the reality concerning “Responsible Fathers” many disturbing statistics and contributing factors related to absent fathers. But, to the credit of McCants, he has been able to overlook the negative stereotypes and prejudices that have perpetuated his community and rise to the occasion. Although, he wears many hats that provide guidance and leadership to the infrastructure of his life’s purpose. To all of the fathers out there with the silent victories of triumph and the principle-centered leadership; who fight depression, financial woes, relationship conflicts, the penal system and the racism of our day; McCants say’s “Thank you” for all that you have been able to get accomplished behind your veil of anonymity. You have just endured the last 13 years of this millennium, and you are still here to tell about it. Although some will say that these last few years have been amazing they are still asleep to the fact that; we (The black community) must work with higher ideals versus dollars and cents. We must look within ourselves and see us as being brave, black, accountable, and reliable. The truth of the matter is that you are embracing fatherhood but at a frequency that may not be understood. I am with you as we will not look at the diluted statistics but at the “transformational leadership” that is displayed by all black fathers and role models everywhere. Don’t give up now as our families are leaning on you in these times of difficulty to represent us to the best of your ability as the “Mighty Men of Valor.” You are the man for the job, and now it’s time to come out of hiding and show the world what real black men look like; and we represent as a tribe of Intellectual builders, teachers, warriors, leaders and Kings. “Fatherhood is not a right; it’s a privilege. Your children are the best part of you. I send my love to this new generation of fathers who have learned from the sins of the past and take a very active role in the lives of our children. ~RAPPER TALIB KWELI, FATHER OF TWO


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