Growing up, Jamar “J Haleem” Washington was exposed to seven of the eight members of his household being hooked on drugs.
“They knew they couldn’t tell me to go get a job because they didn’t have jobs.”
He struggled to make ends meet and engaged in white-collar crimes to put himself through college. A felony conviction amplified the disparities in judicial system in the sense that it was a low-level drug selling offense. However, his going to college kept him out of prison.
“Being a student actually kept me from going away to prison multiple times.”
It also kept him from securing the corporate job his college degree qualified him for. J Haleem’s option was to start his own businesses.
“I’ve been through the eviction notices, repossessed cars, and all that. But I was like, I won’t stop. So I used the hashtag #IWontStarve and put it out on social media…it was my way of doing the middle finger, at first. It ended up being a blessing because other people took it differently and gravitated to it positively.”
His non-profit organization was born out of the hashtag. I Won’t Starve Academy provides education and training for entrepreneurs and career development focused on creating successful intrapreneurs.