Zeke Thomas, son of NBA legend Isiah Thomas, isn’t only a known DJ and producer, he’s also the first male advocate for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Zeke’s assault story has provided a male survivors perspective on the issue and has allowed many other male-identifying survivors to come forward with their stories.
The young influencer uses his platform to speak out on issues regarding equality, LGBTQ issues, mental health awareness, and Black Lives Matter. On April 16th, Thomas teamed up with SUNY for a panel at The Phluid Project in Brooklyn, NYC. The panel involved an open and honest conversation regarding sexual violence, trauma, and the lives of survivors and supporters. I sat down with the artist to learn more about the projects he’s involved with and his journey through music and social justice.
Ariel Zedric: Tell me about your journey to music. How did you become a DJ and producer?
Zeke Thomas: I always loved music. Growing up I was surrounded by music as many of us are. My dad gave me my first set of turntables actually on 9/11 to take my mind off what was going on in the country.
You’ve performed in front of a lot of famous people, do you ever get nervous?
I get nervous every time I have to perform or speak and I believe that’s a good thing. Being nervous means you care.
How has your position as an artist helped you transition into being an activist?
I don’t think there is anything that could properly prepare you for going into activism especially speaking about sensitive and emotional topics like sexual assault. However, I’ve always been in front of a crowd so in that sense I was prepared.
You’re the first male advocate for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Talk a little about what that title and position mean to you?
What it means to me is that I will be the first of many. Many men are coming forward and many more are supporting. We can change this problem if we all do it together.
What incited you to share your story with the world? How has the response helped you?
I wanted to share my story with the world because I wanted to be heard by anyone. The response I didn’t expect but becoming an activist in this space has truly been rewarding.
The #LetsTalkSAAM panel just happened! Tell me about your preparations for the panel. Was it what you had hoped it would be?
The panel was amazing. Teaming up with Suny and getting great panelists like Jerome LaMaar, Blaire Imani, Babyface James, Sarah Larson Levy, and Kate Barnhart. I was hoping to spark a greater conversation. Trauma happens at different levels but we all experience it. I was thrilled to see the people who attended and thanks to Phluid project for hosting.
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If we talk about it we might just heal?! @jeromelamaar @blairimani @lizziebrady_ @sarah_ayako @babyfacejames_ @new_alternatives_nyc I cannot thank you guys enough for your honesty. It was truly an honor to speak openly with all of you. Thank you @thephluidproject for hosting our panel during #saam ? @nycjpeg @jahmiaable
You’ve got the material, can fans be expecting a Ted Talk from you any time soon?
I sure hope so!
Your influence on social media is undeniable, how do you balance what you do and what you show the world? How big of a role does social media play in your life? How do you stop it from being too draining?
I try to share as much positivity as possible. I personally get drained some days but I do my best to show my followers yes I have bad days and you will to but you can still live life in a positive way.
How would you say your personal and/or professional struggles have moulded you thus far?
In life, we don’t always get everything we want or what we need. We have to work for it. In therapy, you work to heal. Nothing is just given to you I didn’t realize that completely but now working at goals is the most gratifying because I’m still here.
Tell me about a moment in your career that has left you extremely proud.
Speaking at Penn State University which was one of the first colleges I spoke at. Knowing that the university with a checkered past with the issue of sexual violence. If I could go there and speak and have an impact I could do anything.
Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
My mother. My mom has always put others first and tried to do her best. She truly is my hero.
If you could tell everyone in the world one thing, and they’d listen, what would you say?
Live every single day.
Featured image credit Noa Grayevsky, courtesy of Zeke Thomas