Brandon Loran Maxwell describes himself as “not your average political nerd.”
A former member of “one of the nation’s largest and most notorious Hispanic gangs,” Maxwell explained to TheBlaze how he is using his “turbulent gang and drug-ridden background” to reach inner city youth with the unique message of how the free market has revolutionized the world — and is the key to their future.
“The goal is to empower inner city youth by teaching them free market economics through industries they love and relate to,” he said.
Having written on the topic in publications from New York City to Los Angeles, Maxwell recently delivered a lecture titled “Hip Hop and Adam Smith” to a group of at-risk youth in Kansas City. Members of the audience all voluntarily came before 9:00 a.m. on their spring break to hear him speak.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind that each of you in this room is capable of something extraordinary…moving mountains, realizing your dreams, enriching those around you — your friends, your family, your community,” he told them. “Don’t let the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and odds of life detour you from what you know and I know is inside of you…We live in a country that allows us to do that, but sometimes you have to be creative.”
Having discovered his passion for the free market and limited government at Brigham Young University, where he was accepted on scholarship, Maxwell has spent the past several years tirelessly sharing the message that he credits for helping transform his own life.
“Many kids will listen to me because they know I can relate and am not an outsider,” he said. “My [background] has incidentally provided me with a unique credibility that allows me to reach a number of demographics that most politicos or scholars could never reach.”
His outreach has been so successful, he said, that his “limited government and free-market columns now appear coupled alongside one of California’s largest independent hip hop publications and are distributed to roughly two dozen 7-Eleven’s throughout the greater Los Angeles area, including Inglewood, Long Beach, and Compton.”
When asked how he would change the U.S. education system to more effectively reach the inner city, Maxwell responded:
It’s okay to be competitive… Schools right now tend to have a very coddling way of teaching kids, so when they get out into the real world, they’re not always prepared for it…Which is ironic because kids can grow up in a hard area of the city, but then they have this idea that they get from school they’re owed, or that life’s rough…
They’ve already overcome all these challenges in the streets, so there’s no reason they can’t be successful in the business world, which is equally as cutthroat at times. They should be able to even be more successful, so they shouldn’t buy into the fact that [they've] never overcome these types of challenges. It’s the exact same thing…I don’t understand why the schools don’t take what [they've already learned] and show them how to redirect that energy as opposed to just telling them they’re victims, because then they buy into it.
Here’s video of Maxwell’s entire Kansas City “Hip Hop and Adam Smith” speech:
But just because Maxwell is a free market devotee doesn’t mean he wholly aligns himself with either political party.
“The truth is that conservatives and libertarians have a problem with reaching out to the third class — everyone always talks about the middle class — sometimes we have to implement change from the ground up. We have to go in there and educate them,” he told TheBlaze. “What we need to do as a team as both the left and the right [is] to figure out a play and move the ball forward.”
But despite the challenges Maxwell is incredibly optimistic, having seen seen how receptive inner city communities across the country have been to his efforts.
“I only see growth from this point forward,” he told TheBlaze.
This post has been updated.