The hidden and explicit symbolism behind my MS tattoo

YAAAAAAAAAAS!! The lil handicapped homie got his MS tattoo and, And, AAAANNNND found a new spot to lay low. In my life, that’s a solid win πŸ˜‰. The artist is Uber talented and his attention to detail was a delight. We went back and forth by text message over the idea for a few days and THEN spent time before he started getting everything just right. I can’t tell you how comforting that was. Look, I got plenty of tats but usually it’s a quick brainstorm drawing and game on. It has taken me a strong two years of thought and research to develop my idea. All that really means is I’m 100% vested in this tattoo and armed with rich symbolism and harmonious acronyms to not only defend it but market this MUTHAFUGGA to the public and… *looking scared* my Momma πŸ˜‰.

The Concept

The concept is based on my background, career and future as an educator. It’s a concept map, one centerpiece surrounded by 5 directly related boxes. Of course, my centerpiece is the rhino rocking an orange MS ribbon. Surrounding him are thought clouds aka word bubbles aka related boxes, GAP, LIFE, SPM, Entrepreneur and Melanin. I’ve always had teaching in my heart. My parents are teachers, elementary levels and college professor, so it’s natural I would flow into the role. I gave it sixteen years before retiring with unknown health issues that would later become MS. I currently operate as a realtor, insurance agent, tutor and writer. In each field, I do my best to teach folks so that in the future, they are equipped with knowledge they can actually use. Yup, I’m teaching clients so my clients will not need me, which can be counterproductive. Almost confused myself writing that! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚

Orange MS Ribbon

This may be the shortest explanation of the tattoo. I have Multiple Sclerosis. The orange MS ribbon is the universal symbol of Multiple Sclerosis. Why orange? I don’t know. It used to be metallic, shiny gray to symbolize all the different symptoms of MS. Now, it’s orange and that’s that.


As a teacher, I started every year with a metaphor between my students and the rhinoceros. The rhino is the only animal at the zoo that can’t be caged. Not lions, not tigers, no bears, unlike alligators, no other animal gets the rhino treatment. This is because the rhino, if caged, will bang its head against the walls until it dies or the walls fall. It won’t eat. It won’t sleep. Its hind legs lack the necessary motor joints for walking in reverse so it moves forward or circles back. It’s thick skin make it a tough opponent for any predator and it’s raw strength is a force of legend. I wanted my students to adopt the rhino for all of these reasons. Now, I do as well. Thick skin to negate the bullshit of others’ opinions. An inability to move in reverse so I’m pushing forward so taking a thought provoking double back. I’m slow as hell but spiritually strong. My horn is my mind/imagination which I use when negativity gets too close. I require pool, shade and an open area to chill. Most importantly, I will live out my life, my way, my terms, my choices or damn it, I’ll die trying.


Another simple explanation, I’m a King, plain and simple. Don’t let the handicaps and struggle fool you, ya boy still reigns supreme over all that he sees even if all he sees don’t know he reigns supreme. πŸ˜› I’m a King because I’m a giver and inspire others. I share affirmations and live with a heart of gratitude. I teach my kids acceptance and tolerance. I mentor young people and always make time for people that need me. Oh, I am a King!


These clouds represent what the rhino, ME 😜, is thinking. In laymen’s terms, it finishes the concept map using the rhino and his thoughts. How do I deal with an incurable disease that is estimated to leave me needing professional help to eat, use RR or breathe? It’s there. How do I stay positive in light of my fate? It’s there. My career? Yup. My entire essence is etched in this tattoo.


This is the first acronym and engraved in the orange MS ribbon. It based on Ghandi’s “Keep your thoughts positive for they become your words. Keep your words positive for they become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive for it becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive for they become your values. Keep your values positive for they become your destiny.”


Gratitude, Attitude and Passion. Why? As I develop and mature into an ultimate being of love, it started with those three words. Everyday that I don’t actively search & share positive shit, sucks. I mean it. MS is wack and I’ve written about GAP several times to offset the depression of it.


Love, Impact, Family & Energy. Yooooo, damn the nonsense. GAP is what I’m sending out. GAP is my vibe or my wavelength. LIFE is what I’m building, living and protecting. If what YOU bring to me doesn’t involve loving self or others, impacting the community, strengthening family or positive energy…. Potna, good chance I can’t eff with you. Like that? Yup, like that. I can’t take too much get money talk, nobody care bout me yapping or any other element of doom and gloom. Bring it to me and I’ll have a bunch of solutions that start with your perspective because I want help. Please don’t believe I’ve fixed my life homie. Alligators reach my surface quite often so I keep things to deal with them. If THAT ain’t helping, I don’t have a lot and I’m admittedly too fragile to leave myself exposed.


I’m Black AF y’all. This is not a condemnation of others or declaration of dominance. I just AM. Been like this since 6th grade when I did a book report on Black Like Me, outstanding material on racism and prejudices based on a colonizer (white dude) pretending to be black and hitchhiking through the South in the 60s. So, I’m Black, I’m proud and I carry it like a pretty smile.


I’ve been fired before. Most of the time, I deserved it because I was BS’ing. Since my diagnosis tho? I’ve been fired from real estate, auto insurance, life insurance, IG, tutoring and substitute teaching. What can I say? It took me awhile to understand and create a plan for my #LifeWithMS. I would get hired, do well, miss time being sick AF and get fired. Every gig since 2016, FIRED. πŸ˜­πŸ€•πŸ€’πŸ˜· My wife encouraged me this year to focus on my health and stay home. “Just start your own shit Babe. I got us and your checks will be our play πŸ’°. With yours, we invest, vacay, celebrate.” JESUS CHRIST! Did y’all read that? That’s movie type of game so I bust my ass building and self-healing to hold up my end. I do alot at home, real estate, apartments, insurance, tutoring, blogging and working on my book. Money ain’t piling up but I can’t compare the feeling of an independent/commission check vs. salary check.


#SPM = Stay Positive Muthafuggas. Come on now, surely you see the theme here?



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