He graduated from Columbia College with honors, went on to teach there as a professor in television and radio and has now produced an incredible documentary that chronicles the camaraderie of the international black biker community. “It’s just me being a people person,” BJay explains of the 80 or so riders he knows from the area and corrals on a regular basis via Facebook for social gatherings and long out-of-town rides. “Chicago is so vast. That’s why I like riding here,” he says. “We might start on the south side and end up in Kankakee. There’s no tension,” he adds. “It’s just pro unity and pro riding.”
Sportbikes are still popular among black riders, but BJay says that more than half a decade ago, the younger sportbike generation began converting to choppers and Harleys. “Not just the run-of-the mill Harley, either,” he adds. “I’m talking about customized from front to back and top to bottom. Then the women started converting, as well, and customizing their bikes like the men. BJay challenges any woman to watch his documentary and not swell with pride for the ladies who refuse to ride on the back. “It gives other females goose bumps,” he says.
BJay’s riding crew is a head-turner as a whole, but each individual bike tells a story, as well. For BJay, the Road King, bought from M N M Cycle in Mokena, Illinois, is about continuity. He laughs at his television and film terminology reference but talks with pride about the hand-drawn tribal design, silver leaf, and pinstriping that embellish all features of the bike from the stretched tank and bags to the rims. The design, created by M-N-K Custom Works, is even hand-stitched into the metallic purple on his custom gator saddle. BJay rattles off each customization with pure satisfaction. “Those ghost lights in the back, at night, you’re like, ‘Damn!’”
BJay’s mention of continuity seems to apply beyond his bike’s aesthetics—a metaphor for life, perhaps. “I like to go all out,” he says. B