Where were you born and raised?
Kansas City, Missouri.
What is your occupation?
Owner of a Leadership Development Company
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Riding my bike to my grandmother's house.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month, like many symbolic recognitions, represents an opportunity to reflect more deeply on the contribution of Black people to America. This month reminds me that I need to be more diligent about weaving stories of America's Black citizens into all aspects of my own life.
What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
The most important issue facing the Black community is that the nation is not holistically focused on the most important issue facing the white community - that racism is damaging their quality of life, too.
When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I don't recall when I didn't realize I was Black. Growing up in a neighborhood with various cultures, I was aware of my racial identity earlier in life. This experience causes me to focus less on the individual act of kindness shown (or not) by people and focus more broadly on the institutional and systemic challenges that reinforce whether or nor people feel like they need to be kind. As an example, kindness has nothing to do with why the boulevards and curbs are not maintained in predominantly Black areas of the city or why there are PayDay loan facilities in these areas. Kind people need to insist on equal access to municipal resources. That's what my upbringing taught me. My lived experience has nothing to do with where the city plants flowers. I just knew that I wanted flowers, too.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
Legacy - I aspire to leave this world with at least one fewer race-related challenge.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
I provide awareness training through my social media platforms for free. I also conduct public events for little to no charge to help more people understand that there are three dimensions to improving race relations. First we must tackle internal prejudiced thinking. Second we have to make it uncomfortable, if not illegal, for people to practice discrimination. And finally, the norms, practices, and laws must be equitable in criminal justice, health care, banking and lending, utility, insurance, etc. It is all three. Too often people (Black and otherwise) think that these challenges are lifestyle issues only. They are not.