Finding Your Voice, Reggie Dance
In 1961, James Baldwin famously stated during an interview, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost all of the time…it’s what’s happening all around and all of the time…” 60 years later, this quote still rings true. 2020 reached the boiling point for many Black Americans that didn’t grow up in the 60’s, as we reaffirmed that Black Lives Matter and it’s now time to get equal treatment — nothing more, nothing less than our fellow white Americans. This past summer, many of us had to look in the mirror and figure out how to balance our personal beliefs with our work environment. Are we treated as fairly as our white colleagues and friends at the office? Do we dare rock the boat in fear of being perceived as the “angry Black man” or “angry Black woman”? This has been a time of finding our voice and determining whether you want to be part of the solution or be complicit with society. Personally, the choice was easy. I want to leverage my experience, relationships and voice to help raise awareness for the internal issues for Black professionals and help Corporate America understand the importance of respecting our dollar. I believe this can be done in an impactful, authentic manner that provides education and understanding to provide a better environment for those that come after me. This is why DKCulture is so important.
Leveling the Social Playing Field, Javid Louis
It’s often said in business: you never get what you deserve and you always get what you negotiate. While true, the assumption here is that the playing field is level, which has not always been the case in influencer marketing. Spending time as a social influencer myself, I was there during the early days of influencer marketing when it was the Wild Wild West — no FTC disclosure and best practices were being made on a case by case basis. Fortunately, as the business has evolved, so has the oversight. However, one area where there continues to be disparity is how influencers of color are being compensated (and/or credited) in comparison to their counterparts. This presents a full circle moment for me, where I can not only pay it forward to the next generation of content creators, I can ensure my clients are on the right side of an important topic that will have a great impact on the reputation of their business.
Intersectionality, Pristina Alford
I am. I am a woman. I am Filipina. I am Japanese. I am Black. Intersectionality is real, and it’s not easy. I often think about my parents, my grandparents and ancestors who endured worse burdens than me. This is where my inspiration and motivation lies. I have been misunderstood, disrespected, underestimated, talked over, muted, silenced and have had ideas stolen from and credited to others . . . on so many occasions. I have second-guessed myself, accepted mistreatment, brushed and laughed off inexcusable circumstances.
Not anymore. Finally, I’m owning my position as a strong multidimensional Black and Asian woman. My voice . . . our voice together — collectively — is our strength. DKCulture is important to me as it is our responsibility to do the work and to help lay the foundation for our clients, ensuring that the correct narratives are told ultimately for the larger cause. However, my mission is larger than this. I want to create a space for emerging Black and brown talent through my professional and personal experiences, expertise and struggles. In this way, I hope to pave the way for those coming behind me, allowing and granting permission to be confident in establishing a strong voice and sense of self in a way that I was not able to early on in my journey.
The Time Is Now, Stephen Elmore
One of the best, most resonant bits of advice I’ve ever gotten was to “listen to young people. Pay attention to what they’re doing, what they’re watching, what they’re saying, how they interact and what they truly care about. It’ll inform you about this world more than you would ever expect.” Little did we know how important this would be as we write this today on the heels of launching DKCulture. I’ve had numerous conversations with my friends, family, mentors, former student-athletes I’ve coached…. Whether Black, Brown, White, Latinx, Asian or hailing from another country, a great deal of them were proud of the stances their counterparts, employers, alma maters and favorite brands took (and continue taking) on matters of racial and social injustice and systemic bias. But others — and far too many — were hurt, disappointed, disenchanted, angry and to the point of despair for how they witnessed the response, or lack thereof, in times where support and clarity were needed most. “There comes a time when silence is betrayal”. People don’t forget where you stood in the face of challenge and controversy; racism or discrimination. I certainly do not. If it directly affected your life, would you?
This is precisely why our next generation should inspire us. They’re shaping the standard for what a more diverse and inclusive America looks like, thinks like — what it ought to be. Representation, action and accountability are no longer bonuses nor overlooked, but prerequisites to gaining our loyalty and respect — and connection. We’re making it known loud and clear. If you’re seeking to truly understand our future leaders, creators, artists, talent, consumers, employees, and change-agents — you MUST champion diversity, equity, anti-racism, and inclusion in all its forms. I’m proud to be part of what’s tabbed the most diverse generation in American history (Millennials + Gen Z), and I’m hopeful that everyone observing today will realize the value of listening, learning and acting, because we won’t wait any longer. The time is now.