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The Rise. The Shine. featuring Caziah Franklin


"We're all striving to be representation. We're all striving to make a more inclusive outdoor space. I think when you lose that missional aspect of it, it's really easy to see the strength of the flame when you're not paying attention to the coals. We all have the same goals -because of that, I shouldn't look at my flame to compare the two. If anything, how can we add to each other's fires?" - Caziah Franklin

Written and Photographed by Tommy Corey

Female Fitness Instructor Wearing Vuori Black Jogger Sweatpants

Caziah Franklin, the youngest of four, was raised in Arlington, Texas, and found his true self and identity in Fort Worth during middle school. Growing up with parents who were not particularly adventurous, Caziah's outdoor exposure took a unique turn when he became the only camper of color in an East Texas camp, fostering a deep connection between performance and acceptance. Despite the challenges, this experience fueled his passion for outdoor spaces, which later blossomed during his time in Tennessee for college.  

It was the disruptions of 2020, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, that prompted Caziah to delve into the historical context of the outdoors, uncovering the systemic barriers that once excluded black and brown people.  

Inspired by his grandfather's encouragement and rugged outdoor lifestyle, Caziah now advocates for diversity in outdoor spaces, seeking to create inclusive communities and reshape narratives surrounding outdoor engagement. His journey, rooted in personal experiences and historical understanding, drives him to educate, foster relationships, and break down barriers that hinder marginalized communities from enjoying the great outdoors.  

Girl Climbing Rock
Guy climbing rock

Navigating predominantly white spaces during his education, Caziah reflects on the challenges of being one of the few black students in a private school with a class size of 86. Rather than viewing this as a deterrent, Caziah sees it as a blessing that allows him the space to explore and define his identity. The experience of code-switching, adapting to different cultural expectations, was a reality for him, leading to moments of feeling too black for some and too white for others. Despite this, Caziah has embraced a confident middle ground, refusing to compromise his race, culture, or interests.  

Despite being the only sibling with musical abilities, Caziah Franklin's journey in music was a self-driven pursuit rather than a forced endeavor by his parents. His father, Kirk, remains a prominent figure in the music industry today. Music has been a constant thread in Caziah's life, actively participating in various musical initiatives, groups, and sessions in the city. However, Caziah emphasizes the importance of finding a healthy balance between his gifted abilities, passions and calling, recognizing that they aren't always synonymous.  

There was a period in Caziah's life when he intentionally distanced himself from music due to the challenges of comparison. Despite his father's unwavering support and constructive feedback, Caziah struggled with vulnerability during transformative seasons. His parents' hands-off approach allowed him to discover the intersection of his love for the outdoors and music. Putting down music for a while and immersing himself in nature profoundly impacted his musical expression. The mountains, in particular, played a pivotal role, influencing new sounds and facets of his life that seamlessly integrated into his music. This unique fusion of the outdoors and music became a source of identity, creating a distinct sound that resonates with others and reflects his authentic journey. 

Girl Climbing Rock
Guy climbing rock

 Caziah grapples with a newfound reluctance to share this deeply personal aspect of himself, contemplating the balance between preserving the sacred and sharing his art with the world. Recognizing the transformative power of art, he reflects on a moment when a stranger expressed how much his music mattered, highlighting the profound impact that creativity can have on others. As Caziah continues to refine his sound and integrate music with his love for the outdoors, he discovers a symbiotic relationship between the two, where each enriches the other, allowing for constant innovation and self-expression. 

In his unwavering commitment to fostering inclusivity in the outdoors, Caziah's evolving perspective embraces the idea of partnership and community, seeking a paradigm shift where everyone is valued as an integral part of the outdoor narrative. In his quest for a more equitable and inclusive outdoor space, Caziah encourages a holistic approach, recognizing that actual change begins with genuine connection and understanding. 

Female Fitness Instructor Wearing Vuori Black Jogger Sweatpants

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