All Eyes On Me

When I started the Utah Black Chamber, I didn't fully understand the path that lied ahead for me. I planned on contributing to the social, well economic good, of the Black community. I wanted to prove to myself (and others) that I can be successful at growing a nonprofit organization. What I didn't expect, as the chamber grew, I grew; in maturity, personal and professional development, and as a leader. A leader in the diverse community and the community overall. It has been a fun and exhilarating road. As someone who is naturally an introvert, I have been stretching and being outside my comfort zone nearly every single day. 

Sometimes I wonder where would I be if I just kept to myself and kept going the path I planned; growing in a company and focused on taking care of me. After work, the rest of my day was free to do whatever. Hang out on the weekends with friends. Go to church on Sunday, and then repeat the process over and over again. 

However, I felt called. Called to change the perspective. During this process, I learned to understand is if I wanted to be treated and included as equal, I had to learn that I represent more than just myself. As a person of color, especially in a state that is not recognized as a diverse community, it's important to recognize that there are more eyes watching than you realize. Especially, if you have influence. It's not just your family, friends, co-workers, boss, and people at church, but it also those who see you on the street, in a social environment, and anywhere and everywhere there are eyes. These eyes are evaluating you, critiquing you, and judging you. Whatever you do, you don't get the privilege of just representing you. Whether they consciously do or not, they see you as a representation of your entire community. The African Proverb says, "It takes a village to raise a child." You are now a representation of how well that village raised you. 

Whether you like it or not, if you are a person of a diverse background, the noise you make is louder than the noise of the majority. It's evident in the news we watch and read. Recently, actor Jussie Smollett, who is black and gay, was indicted on charges of falsifying a hate crime. He allegedly plotted his own attack. Apparently, this was out of frustration of not being compensated as he felt he should for is role in Empire. . . . . . 

This was a selfish move. Actors have a huge spotlight. Black actors have even a larger spotlight. But Jussie is a Black gay actor. So the spotlight is massive. I understand if you are frustrated with your career. Many of us have been there. However, as a person of influence, he has to consider the consequences of the actions he decides to take. In the days of social media, what you say and do can be seen and heard almost immediately, and spread across the globe if you are of influence like Jussie Smollett. This is how stereotypes, perceptions, and judgements are developed. The worst part is the plot he used to gain attention; a hate crime. It is already difficult to know and feel that our country is still full of racism and hate crimes are still going on. Now, for those who are feel like they are being treated disproportionately, do they feel their trust is compromised with law enforcement now than before? It's already tough for victims of a hate crime. Now, will it be harder to prove that you were actually attacked?

Yes, celebrities and athletes have a lot bigger spotlight. However, that does not mean you don't have one on you. Your actions can affect your own community, and as you grow in influence, your impact can be much greater, positively or negatively. As a matter of fact, if you want increase your influence, just simply be aware of who you represent and take responsibility for your actions. You'll notice what you say, do, and even how you move. I have been humbled and humiliated, but I have also been elevated and motivated. It can be a blessing and a curse. You just have to decide. Do you want to bless your community or curse your community?

With the racial climate we have right now, it's more critical than I've seen in my lifetime we need more people of color to recognize who they represent. Just simply be aware of who they can influence and be the example of what we all can become. With all eyes on us, let's show them what we are capable of and how we can change the world.

Public Enemy #1 Because He's the Best?

I know. It hurt even typing it. I'm a die-hard Steelers fan, so I hated seeing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots tie the Pittsburgh Steelers with their sixth Super Bowl title. For the last two years, I was rooting hard for their Super Bowl opponent. Actually, for the last five years, I rooted hard for their opponent. There was only one time in the last five years the Patriots didn't make the Super Bowl, and that was in 2015 when Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos defeated them in the AFC Championship game.

However, being a Steelers fan isn't the only reason I wanted them to lose. It's because they are always winning! Same for the Golden State Warriors, and LeBron James (Although, he may not make it this year); they keep winning and have become mainstays in the Championship games. Can't we get a new team (or come on, Steelers! Get it together!) to win the championship?

Here's what hurts the most. We really shouldn't be cheering for these teams to lose. We should be cheering for other teams to win. If we were in the NFL or NBA, we would see a different perspective. We would find that all teams are looking at the Patriots and the Warriors, and are working to figure out how to become them. How do we step up our game to be at the level of the Patriots?

Then look from the Patriots perspective. They enjoy winning. Who doesn't? They never want it to end, and they know everyone is after them. So they are working to become even better the next year, so they can remain at the top.

In business, we are always striving to be at the top. We can hate the fact others are and we're not, or they are always at the top and we feel like we are never going to get a chance. However, what are we doing to raise our game? Get recognized? Rams coach Sean McVay constantly spoke with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, and in two years of being a head coach, made it to the Super Bowl. Coach Belichick was more than willing to chat with Coach McVay. Not only because he's a great coach and mentor; many of his assistant coaches went on to become head coaches, but also because one of the main functions of growth is mentoring others.

It's easy to be a hater. It's hard to face the music and realize they are at the top and we're not, because we don't have the talent, the skills, resources, or abilities. . . . yet. But guess what? We can make excuses or make our destiny, but we can't do both. We can acquire what's needed to be at the top. Instead of looking at them and hating them, study them. Learn what they are doing. Ask if they can become your mentor. Most leaders at the top are at the top, because they have learned to serve others well. Put them on our vision board or with your goals to set them as your aim. So you're not hating them, your motivated by them. Shoot, you want to have haters like them! Why not? That means you've made it. HATERS is an acronym for:







So you want to have as many of those as possible. The New England Patriots have nearly a whole country of football fans that hate them. But they have been to the Super Bowl 10 times and have now won six of them. So do you think they care who hates them? Of course not. The level of haters is a result of your level of success. Don't hate, congratulate, appreciate, and be motivated, so you yourself can one day be at the top!