Podcast Transcript – Series One SPECIAL EPISODE
REAL TALK WITH BLACK MEN FOUNDERS June 2020
00:00:00] Claudius: [00:00:00] It’s been an exhausting last couple days. As a black man, it’s kind of numbing to have to experience this over and over again
[00:00:06]AK: [00:00:06] just as much of an anomaly for her to hear that I’ve been pulled over 60 times, it was crazy for me to hear that she’s never had interaction with police
[00:00:13]Kahlil: [00:00:13] I’ve always hoped they could be alive to see that change because of everything they went through.
[00:00:17] Bara: [00:00:17] it’s true that this has been happening, but the difference is it’s being filmed.
[00:00:20]AK: [00:00:20] So now they’re listening and I’m talking about even people that are so far right, are having conversations and their eyes are open.
[00:00:26] Claudius: [00:00:26] Also kind of get the sense that there’s a little bit of an awakening happening. I’m hoping that it’s strong and it really kind of leads to some, change,
[00:00:33]Bara: [00:00:33] And it’s this technology that in many ways allows us to sharpen the microscope on this issue of racism
[00:00:38]Kahlil: [00:00:38] What are the things you were afraid of that you don’t want to ask or that we don’t want to talk about?
[00:00:43]AK: [00:00:43] I see entrepreneurship more than just starting a business more as creators,
[00:00:47]Claudius: [00:00:47] we as entrepreneurs, especially tech entrepreneurs have the privilege to be able to have our voices get carried ; that as much as we can do, we definitely need our allies.
[00:00:56]Bara: [00:00:56] and to me, the way I see the whole thing, see it with extreme optimism, [00:01:00] knowing that we’ve been fighting the same fight.
[00:01:02]Dan: [00:01:02] How’s it going Unfound Nation, Dan Kihanya here, your host for Founders Unfound. Thank you so much for listening in. We’ve got a special episode today. We’re changing up our normal format of great stories from founders of African descent. Instead I’ve invited four black men who are entrepreneurs and former guests to have an honest and Frank discussion about the historic recent events that are still unfolding.
[00:01:25]As we record this. This is the first week of June and 2020 is not even halfway done. We’re dealing with a global health pandemic, which is infecting millions and killing hundreds of thousands. We have a decimated us economy and 40 million Americans out of work. This has impacted African Americans, particularly hard.
[00:01:42] We represent a higher percentage of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and certainly more than our appropriate share of both the unemployed and frontline workers. So it’s with this as the backdrop that the killing of George Floyd last week has ignited protests around the country, calling for justice, social [00:02:00] change, and an end to racial inequity, and really an end to the systemic racism that allowed for Mr. Floyd’s tragic and senseless death.
[00:02:07] We want to first express our deepest condolences for Mr. Floyd’s family, friends, and community. We pray for their healing as well as for the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Second. We want to say to everyone, listening, find a way to get involved, learn and listen, speak up and donate, participate.
[00:02:24] This is not an issue or challenge for any one community. This is a problem. All of America must solve. We have some resources in the show notes. If you need a place to start. Our episode is sponsored by valence a great new community for black professionals. We won’t be running any ads in the episode, so be sure to check out the show notes for more info on the special offer Valence has for Founders Unfound listeners.
[00:02:46] Now on with a special episode, stay safe, everyone.
[00:03:00] [00:02:53]So, Hey, Unfound Nation, this is Dan Kihanya here your host for Founders Unfound. As many of us have experienced, this has been a tremendously impactful, sad, and also exhausting week for a lot of us. And to be a black man in America. There’s nobody immune from what’s happening now. And so we decided to change up our regular schedule at our regular programming, just to have a frank conversation.
[00:03:25] So I’ve brought on some of our former podcast guests who are all over the country and even in, just over the border in Vancouver, to talk about their feelings. How they, how they’re viewing things and in a, in real time, how they feel as entrepreneurs, as black men and what we think we can be doing, what we can be calling on others to do, to address police brutality, racial inequality, and the things that have sparked the overwhelming protests that are going on right now.
[00:03:52] So we’ll start off with, having, everybody introduce themselves. So why don’t we start with you, Bara?
[00:03:57] Bara: [00:03:57] Hello everybody. I’m Bara Cola. I’m the founder and CEO of [00:04:00] Carbice Corporation. We keep your electronics from overheating and I’m a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and material science and mechanical engineering based in Atlanta, Georgia.
[00:04:09] AK: [00:04:09] How you doing? My name is, AK or Coach AK I’m out here in Boston business, strategist, speaker, executive coach, and also the founder of. E-LETE Styles
[00:04:19] Kahlil: [00:04:19] Hey everybody.
[00:04:20]Kahlil Ashanti here. I’m an actor and a web developer, founder and CEO of weshowup.io, the digital pay what you want solution for VR ,online, and in person events.
[00:04:30]and I’m in Vancouver, Canada by way of Japan by way of Germany.
[00:04:34] Claudius: [00:04:34] Hey guys, my name is Claudius Mbmemba co-founder and CTO. At Neu, we are a managed marketplace that connects vacation rental hosts. Real estate agents and commercial offices to cleaners we’re based in Seattle, Washington.
[00:04:47] Dan: [00:04:47] Thanks so much, gentlemen.
[00:04:48] And I really appreciate you taking the time. one of the interesting things about, this week in particular has been just the pull and tug. I think that we’re probably all feeling in terms of our own inner [00:05:00] drive and, and motivation to be president, to be leaders. But also that, for some reason, there’s parts of the country that are awakening people that are in our own circles, who are saying, wow, can I talk to you about this?
[00:05:12] Or I’ve never really, really understood this. And so I do appreciate you taking the time. I’m hopeful that the conversation is fruitful for you as well. So why don’t we start off with just. How do you feel today? which is Wednesday, June 3rd, that we’re recording this 2020. How does it feel today to be a black man?
[00:05:32] AK: [00:05:32] AK here in Boston.
[00:05:33] You know, I did a post on this yesterday, a lot of text messages, emails, people that want to have a conversation. As you’re talking about for me for a while, it was, this situation is a little bit like a day job, whereas we’ve been here before, but it sounds people are waking up and, you know, when it was happening beforehand, when individuals, you know, [00:06:00] black man was killed by the same individuals that are supposed to protect and serve.
[00:06:04] People would always find an excuse, is he resisting was something happening, but in this time would actually saw what was going on. I think it opened up their eyes to realize that we’ve been talking about this for awhile. So now they’re listening and I’m talking about even people that are so far right, are having conversations and their eyes are open.
[00:06:20] So I would say it’s actually feels good or better because people are not understanding our point of view.
[00:06:26] Dan: [00:06:26] Yeah, I totally agree with that. I think it’s been somewhat validating, right? I mean, I think for all of us, well, I can speak for myself. Right. You know, you operate in several universes and it’s can be exhausting, right.
[00:06:41] To have to go back and forth. And in some ways, shields, others who are not experiencing this directly, you know, as if to say maybe if they don’t feel that pain, they can appreciate it, which is, as I thought about it kind of a weird, you know, sort of ironic thinking, why am I shielding people from this [00:07:00] when it’s, it’s their stark reality of it and the visceralness of it.
[00:07:04] That really affects them and can make them appreciate it more
[00:07:10] Claudius: [00:07:10] and just echo some of the sentiments. I mean, it’s definitely been an I’m sure people could echo this as well. It’s been an exhausting last couple days, weeks. I think a lot of people question and, and have been really, really questioning the protests and riots.
[00:07:25] And I want to give some context to all this. I think people are quickly forgetting that we have been in a worldwide lockdown for the last three months on top of that black men still have to face racism and all that kind of stuff. And so that’s where I feel like, Oh, that’s where all this is boiling from a lot of depends up rage from the lockdown and then coming into these senseless killings.
[00:07:46] Quite frankly, it’s been very, just, yeah. As a black man, it’s kind of numbing to have to experience this over and over again, as AK mentioned, it stays up. We’ve been here before. It’s not new, but every time it happens, you ha you, you it’s weird because as [00:08:00] humans, we kind of operate in this small. So we have multiple emotions going on at the same time.
[00:08:04] you want to be mad, you want to speak out, but you also are just numb to all, all of it. That’s been happening. So it’s like constant. Yeah. There’s this constant state of hormones and it’s exhausting. Quite frankly, I’ve been. Like I’ve been sleeping more than I used to in the past is because I’m just so tired all the time, mentally exhausted, physically tired.
[00:08:21] And again, all of that on top of being an entrepreneur. so it is, it’s definitely just really trying times and to case point, I think, I don’t know what it is about 2020, but just a lot has been happening. Also kind of get the sense that there’s a little bit of an awakening happening. I’m hoping that it’s strong and it really kind of leads to some, some change, but only time will tell where it takes us.
[00:08:42] I’m hoping that America could kind of come to realize the disparities, the racial, the racial inequality, the injustice that has really caused this angst quite frankly. And we can all come to kind of reflect on that and make things better going forward.
[00:08:57]Kahlil: [00:08:57] I echo that sentiment. I don’t, I don’t really have anything new [00:09:00] to add to the conversation with that question, listening to those older than me, lost both of my grandmothers in the last two years.
[00:09:06] And I just remember them prior to this with them saying, we’ve been here before baby, you know, that’s just a man. I just, you know, I’ve always hoped they could see and be alive to see that change because of everything they went through. So we could sit here and have this conversation. I just wanted to witness to what my brother was talking about.
[00:09:25] Bara: [00:09:25] So, so this is Bara and I’ll offer a different take. Cause I agree with everything these guys just said, and I’ve had very similar emotions being a scientist and material scientists to kind of look at things from a technology standpoint. And to me, the way I see the whole thing, see it with extreme optimism, knowing that we’ve been fighting the same fight.
[00:09:45] For hundreds of years, but if we take a moment, we step back and we look from early settler times to the peak of slavery, the advancement of newspaper and mail delivery system [00:10:00] to spread news faster was an aid to the eventual overthrow of the slavery system. If you fast forward to the time of the civil rights television in the ability to broadcast.
[00:10:12] What was happening in the South to not only other parts of America, but to the world was a technological revolution. We effectively utilized to set ourselves just a bit freer. And now you fast forward to today. And it’s amazing because you hear people say that, and it’s true that this has been happening, but the difference is it’s being filmed.
[00:10:33] You would not be able to film that if everybody didn’t have a phone in their pocket that had a camera. They could shoot movies. And it’s this technology that in many ways allows us to sharpen the microscope on this issue of racism and what I, you know, what I’m optimistic about. What I think about it is that I think of the opportunity because we have been some of the greatest utilizers of technology to advance our freedom.
[00:10:55] And I see over the next hundred years of potential for us to be the ones who [00:11:00] created. We’ll make the materials inside the next, the next sensor. The next thing that will help people’s understand this issue. Even more people talk a lot about big data and, you know, one of the things that I was going to bring up that would be part of my suggested actions is that when we turn big data in AI onto this problem of racism in American society, we look at where companies put their manufacturing facilities.
[00:11:26] Where investments from corporate and government entities are made and not made. And we put that information out in front of people. Change is going to happen even more. So I’m optimistic. I’m tired because everybody is wanting to talk about it. And I want to be a part of that, but I’m energized. From what I see and what I know is the connection between our progress as a whole country and the technological advancements we made.
[00:11:50] Dan: [00:11:50] Great point Bara.
[00:11:51] And maybe just expounding upon that a little bit, if we all wear the hat, so to speak of being entrepreneurs, how do you [00:12:00] view your role in all of this? As an entrepreneur, as a black man, who is an entrepreneur, is there something different or additional, or is there a benefit or an additional challenge?
[00:12:12] Really being an entrepreneur?
[00:12:14] Kahlil: [00:12:14] I was just going to say it almost feels like an honor to be a symbol of empowerment for people who maybe grew up like we did or did not see that it’s possible. I feel like learning to code for my personal journey made me feel like some of the technological advances Bara was talking about, I understand them and understand how to harness them.
[00:12:34] And so all of the things that we already know about the lack of venture funding for people like us in all the different mountains we have to climb. I do see a life as an entrepreneur, that there are a lot. There’s there’s a lot of blue sky for us when we empower ourselves to, to understand and to build and to take agency over our future, as much as we can give them a certain,
[00:12:57] AK: [00:12:57] yeah.
[00:12:58] I may also touch on that. This, if [00:13:00] you were to talk to me on December 31st, 2019. As I’m making my, you know, my, my new year’s resolutions, I would say where we are right now is almost like a Twilight zone. You have COVID, you have protests, you have, you know, COVID it and goes into a bigger situation. So even thinking about what’s going on right now, we’re still dealing with COVID situation where all of a sudden, we all have to become more digitalized in the work.
[00:13:27] You know, some of the work that I was doing, I was actually doing some work with Google on my way. International speaking tour in two days before I was actually on the plane, my whole schedule was canceled. What ended up happening? I think, as an entrepreneur, what was the benefit? I see entrepreneurship more than just starting a business more as creators, meaning we don’t need to be told to create a problem.
[00:13:50] We know how to put the people, the action steps in place. Well, how that helped? I think business wise is the ability to pivot they that online. The second part is [00:14:00] how I use it as you know, entrepreneurship is how can we use our skill sets? To solve a current problem right now, it’s people are now aware and they’re looking for some guidance and I’m lucky that some of the work I do is speaking.
[00:14:12] You know, my goal is how can I share the voice? How can I share the voice of others? Because people are asking questions there, I’m getting text messages on the big and like, how can I help? That’s how the conversation. So how can I use my voice or for other people’s voices that you’re doing right now, Dan, to actually give people perspective because people are listening to this right before this call, I had a conversation with someone and she was talking about what’s your experience with police officers?
[00:14:36] I’ve probably been pulled over, over like 60 times. Of those 60 20 of them were kind of in some hostile or straight up hands on hips. And I asked her look, so how was it when you got pulled over? She’s like, I’ve never been pulled over and I’m just as much of an anomaly for her to hear that I’ve been pulled over 60 times.
[00:14:56] It was crazy for me to hear that she’s never had interaction with [00:15:00] police and it just showed me about how people that live and work in the same environment. And I think that’s what the, now I’m getting,
[00:15:09]Dan: [00:15:09] That’s a great point. AK, I, do see that the entrepreneurial skillset gifts, personality, attributes, whatever you want to call it is very solution oriented and all of what we do, all of us, we look at the world, we say, there’s a problem.
[00:15:26] There’s a challenge. There’s a, there’s a need that’s unmet. And we deploy that. And it’s sort of an economic project called a startup, which is how do we find a solution that fits that need and fits it better than it’s ever been fit. And in creating that value, build a business. But I do think those skills, that mentality can be aimed at social solutions, political solutions that are needed as well.
[00:15:51] And so I’m personally feeling a lot of obligation to try and turn my experience, my expertise into a [00:16:00] machine that can help, not just be an example and do well and thrive in my business, but how can I actually put those skills to work?
[00:16:09] Claudius: [00:16:09] Totally. I called out I was gonna build on what AKA had mentioned here.
[00:16:13] So your question around what we as entrepreneurs can do and how we can leverage our platforms to impact the situation this time. And recently written a blog post around how all of us have voices and the gist of it was more or less that some voices are more amplified than others. We as entrepreneurs, especially tech entrepreneurs have the privilege to be able to have our voices get carried , carried in these ecosystems that we operate in that are primarily white. And so what I’m doing, and I know what I’m doing in my, in my small bubble is just leveraging my voice to educate those around me. About more around the situation. Again, a lot of people are wanting to listen. Now I think this is definitely the time to really not be silent, but actually be the out there, be speaking and helping [00:17:00] others come to an understanding or at least.
[00:17:02] Come to, to be empathetic to the situation and, and what has caused all of this. Again, we’re very fortunate as entrepreneurs to be able to have the ears of our ecosystem, those in the ecosystem, whether it’s those in venture capital or other fellow entrepreneurs, to be able to then leverage that. But I think what my blog posts and what kind of I was getting tuning into, and that was more around that as much as we can do, we definitely need our allies.
[00:17:27] Those who are we’ll have more of a pop from the media, largely the white males. In these ecosystems who have a larger platform whose voices carry even more to be able to speak on our behalf and carry our message forward so that others can see it as well. Because Richard Sherman had recently put out a, a statement stating that he was very happy to see other white football players carrying the flag as well, because for some people.
[00:17:50] Coming from a black athlete. It doesn’t resonate as much as it coming from someone of their, of their race. And so it’s the same here, and I’m glad to see that others , are, are really [00:18:00] stopping the silence and getting in the field and getting in the game and being proactive and really speaking.
[00:18:05] Kahlil: [00:18:05] I agree that, you know, we building and using our voice, what, however, that voice needs to come out is absolutely what needs to happen. If I may wanted to ask my brothers, you know, all of us on the podcast, when it comes to that voice, when people approach you asking how they can use their voice, have, have any of you encountered that?
[00:18:23] And what was your, what was your approach? That’s something that’s been asked of me that I wasn’t quite sure how to handle. I just wanted to see if I could gain some wisdom from all of you.
[00:18:31] Bara: [00:18:31] You know, one of the biggest lessons I learned as an entrepreneur is in process of getting tenure at Georgia Tech.
[00:18:38] Can we start off as a faculty member? A lot of times people say, Hey, don’t do all this outreach stuff, focus on your research and get tenure, and then help people after that and have good reasons for saying that. But one of the things that I’ve found. Which ended up being kind of opposite of the common advice is that if I found ways to weave social activism and [00:19:00] consciousness into the fabric of what I do, fundamentally my research in a way where it’s now stretching me.
[00:19:06] But it’s a mutual learning experience. Not only was I able to do it efficiently, cause it was. Holistically part of my life, I became excellent and I won awards and I did everything and I exceeded. So when I built Carbice, one of the things I thought about upfront was, I mean, we sell materials, we sell something that looks like black, dirty aluminum foil, and it goes into your computer and nobody ever sees it.
[00:19:26] I mean, there’s no social justice mission that you really naturally were. Thank you. Wrap around that. But I think what entrepreneurs are. We have control over and that’s kind of what fuels us. A lot of times, we want to go out and execute building culture. At carbide. We really were intentional about focusing on values and things that we felt drove good business, but also drove us to be good citizens.
[00:19:48] And I think in thinking about it that way, I felt very well prepared for this situation. And that if I decided to pin an article like I did yesterday, that it fits seamlessly into the culture that I was building in my [00:20:00] company. So that’s kind of the advice that I tell people in general is that if you want to have a voice, find a way to make it authentic and to use your experiences, to speak through the things that are passionate for you and what you are interested in.
[00:20:13] Claudius: [00:20:13] Plus one to that. And I actually was something I wanted to call out earlier because I’m glad you brought it up. It’s definitely one of those situations where I think a lot of people. Wholly assuming Dan, you alluded to this as well and mentioning that you’ve written your blog post on this topic eight times now, and still haven’t found the courage to push that out the way you want it.
[00:20:30] A lot of people assume that black people have the answer in this situation or for that, that the situation isn’t as uncertain for us too. But all those points allude to the fact that both Dan’s comments and . The fact that we to face the same problem in the sense that it is a touchy subject. No one knows what exactly is right to say.
[00:20:52] And we’re all trying to figure that out. But my advice has always been one speak to Bara’s point, speak on your experiences and no one can ever discount your [00:21:00] experiences. So that’s, that’s the one thing you go on your experiences and trust your gut in terms of speaking to speaking to that, as long as you’re doing those two things.
[00:21:07] Whatever statement you’re making, you can know it’s factually accurate. You can know that no one can call you out on it. No one can try to undercut your statement. No one can try to take that away from you. so I had a friend recently reached out to me, who’s a business owner in Seattle who recently had their place almost ransacked, et cetera.
[00:21:24] And we were just discussing that. And I brought up the same fact that like, Hey, I I’m, he was discussing not knowing how to, how to more or less what to say. He felt, he felt kind of hamstrung. And I was like, well, I’m in the same place. it’s not any different on this side. I have to also be conscious about what I’m saying.
[00:21:40]and it’s not like I have all the answers. So you coming to me, we had a great discussion. I love the discourse, but I was hoping that letting them know like, Hey, I’m in the same place. It’s not like I have the answers. I can’t give you all those answers. All I can do is speak on my experiences and tell you how I’ve experienced it and what.
[00:21:54] I think you should do, but that’s, again, my experience. So if any, hopefully that was kind of helpful, but [00:22:00] that’s something I definitely wanted to touch on the fact that people think black people have all the answers around this topic. It’s not true. We’re also dealing with the same, same issues in terms of knowing how to, how to best approach it.
[00:22:11] Dan: [00:22:11] Yeah. And just the people on this call, you can see, I mean, you know, there’s not one answer, right? And there’s not one stage of, insight or preparation or contemplation that we’ve all done. And so it is a hard thing. And when people come to me, you know, I’ve tried to be open , and, as you said, Claudius, it’s about sort of sharing my experiences, not trying to generalize for anybody, and also being very aware that I have.
[00:22:37] Several sets of things that are privilege-enabling for me, that other black men and certainly other black entrepreneurs don’t have and being conscious of that and being able to explain that I, that I appreciate those privileges, but I also wear them as a responsibility to try and help and to try and bring others along.
[00:22:58]and Bara talked about [00:23:00] values. I mean, I think that’s, you, you got to go back to what your values are and use that as the sort of foundation and, you know, I also agree that being authentic , is really what, what is key? And I know for me, I’m turning a point. Like I think I said earlier, it’s like, I’ve felt like I’ve been isolating some of my non-black friends.
[00:23:22] From what, what life is like. And I think I’m going to let down that, that veneer, because that’s not serving them, it doesn’t serve the people who have the harsh realities that I don’t have to deal with all the time who have to deal with it every single day, every minute of it day, as soon as they walk outside of their house.
[00:23:38] So. Great. Great question, Kahlil. Thanks so much for, for asking that.
[00:23:42] AK: [00:23:42] Yeah, I want to go out. You’re just saying in two ways, one of them is I’m lucky. I’m a former professional athlete, traveled around the world. There are a lot of different things. But when I walk outside, I don’t have that credential around neck.
[00:23:54] People still see me the same. And it’s actually, shouldn’t matter if I have those or not. And what they don’t realize, [00:24:00] especially when they’re talking about some of these celebrities or athletes that are speaking up about what they’re doing is similarly what people are coming to us about assets of what should you do?
[00:24:09] Give us some questions. So the same thing that there were some individuals have, the popcorn was successful. Why are they, why are they adding their 2 cents to this? It’s similar, what you’re seeing right now, you don’t realize that people right next to you. And as you said, I haven’t been sharing it. I don’t get that.
[00:24:24] You don’t realize that people really right next to you that are working the same place. Living in the same city might have different experiences. And as we look at even potentially moving forward, thinking about even. The video that we saw, the officer who we sometimes always look at it as produce police brutality.
[00:24:41] What we don’t see is around that, around that place. So there are two other people that are holding his body, and I see that in some ways as a system. So it’s not only just the person that’s prim to me on the back of the neck, but sometimes it’s these systems that we a part of. There’s some things that people can do is this may change the way that we now begin to hire, or the [00:25:00] companies who begin to fund when you realize you understand the story.
[00:25:03] So we can all do something. People can do something that’s not just about police brutality. It’s the system that we can now address and people in their jobs, people in their positions of power that may have overlooked somebody because of. You know, their backgrounds may have a second look and realize that they can do something each and every day.
[00:25:21] Dan: [00:25:21] That’s a great point, AK ,great point. So maybe let’s dovetail that into the conversation of now and we’ve already alluded to it. Certainly we’ve already brought it up. I think we’re all chomping at the bit to sort of speak, but what, what do we do? What is the action? What is the recommendations that we have for ourselves and for others like us to move the needle here?
[00:25:42] And to move the ball forward, whatever metaphor or analogy you want to use so that we’re not talking about this in 2021 or in 2022 or in 2023, what is it we can do?
[00:25:53] Bara: [00:25:53] You know, I, I grew up right down the street from trailer park and the projects you get those interesting [00:26:00] demographics. But what I know about the police is that they.
[00:26:04] Go into the trailer park and they may beat up the white people there. And then they go down and shoot people in the black part. But now they’re one of those is a good outcome. But then you go to these neighborhoods, like the one I live in right now in Atlanta and in park where people have money and the police are sitting there holding the door for you.
[00:26:19] So, I mean, I think it’s just the community. The economics of the community is such an important thing to focus on. And I felt like that one we’re completely blind to the reality. Of how the economics of the counties across this country are set up and support it, which means there’s no accountability structure for corporations in the government for the choices that they’re making that drives that disparity.
[00:26:45] And I think as a first step, we need to just be aware of that and figure out a way to create visibility. Just like the cell phone camera creates visibility of the police officer, putting his neck neon on George Floyd’s neck. And killing [00:27:00] him. We need to create visibility of the systemic racism and the economic injustice that has lingered in society for some time.
[00:27:08] Claudius: [00:27:08] Would echo all of that.
[00:27:10] And just like to build on that. Well, one Dan I mentioned, yeah, we don’t have a definite answer. One thing that I’ve been doing in this time is really just reading up, learning, educating myself more on, obviously I’ve been sharing things to just people in my network are educating themselves on the black experience, racism, et cetera.
[00:27:28] But I’ve been reading up on politics and the money that’s going behind it. We, this could be a whole different conversation. But one thing I do want to call out is, is that racism and photography are kind of intertwined. There’s an Abbott. You mentioned around kind of the district thing in how, how certain areas are.
[00:27:46] Funded, et cetera, that all comes from politicians all comes from the top. sadly, a lot of our politicians are being bought out by corporations and entities and billionaires who have the funds to be able to launder that money and hide it in a [00:28:00] sense. So I agree that the transparency has gotta be first and foremost.
[00:28:03]and I think that comes from the lawmakers. We need to elect leaders who create laws that provide the people with transparency as to who is doing what who’s funding, what et cetera, so that we can all kind of see. The audit trail of how these decisions are made. There’s, there’s certain laws that we all look at, like, how did this get passed?
[00:28:20] Like, why did this, like, why did this even make it through? And we don’t realize that there’s a lot of money coming through pushing behind why it’s good. Why is she get passed? And so I think that there definitely needs to be a lot of transparency at that level. And then also just. A lot of accountability from our elected leaders, quite frankly, a lot of them are jumping out at the role to quote unquote, lead the people only to get onto sellout and take money from others.
[00:28:43] And then since you throw away their conscious and their morality in helping the greater good. And that’s why I fight so hard to like, know what to do because. It’s a huge, this, this is a big system. We were fighting against a huge system, and there’s a lot of points that need to be changed for things to really change.
[00:29:00] [00:29:00] But I’m just hopeful that people are educating themselves. In reading things. One book I recommend is called Dark Money by Jane Mayer. definitely recommend reading that book. Educates you on kind of the political system and how things are being bought out, how people are being bought out politicians, et cetera.
[00:29:15] And those are the guys creating the laws that are essentially keeping racism and systemic racism in place. And I think that’s where it needs to start. That’s where the TZ start from. Unfortunately, I don’t know how we’re going to be able to do that other than people becoming more aware of it.
[00:29:26] Kahlil: [00:29:26] Yeah.
[00:29:27] That’s actually a really good approach, man, because I was, as you mentioned that I remember my time in the us air force, I was sort of mentored by. An older brother from Rocky mountain, North Carolina. And he made sure that I read a book called The Miseducation of the Negro originally published by Dr. Woodson in 1933. And that, I guess for me, if I think about what I can do, I have three boys who are mixed race and it’s going to be easier for them to grow up in Vancouver than it is in Seattle or Chicago. So. [00:30:00] Maybe sort of, you know, for me, I guess my answer, what can we do is, you know, for me, is to make sure that I’m up on some of the things you were talking about, whether it be the political system, how things move, but also making sure that those around me are educated and that they are exposed to this and that they understand that they, you know, your kids can only understand so much until they experience it.
[00:30:19] But just to make sure that they’re not shielded from it. I find myself, I wouldn’t say getting in arguments with other parents, but I do believe that there are a lot of parents out there who think their kids are too young to learn about these kinds of issues. And I feel like that’s very, we’re only going to be around for so long and the next generation is going to have to carry this torch.
[00:30:38] And if they’re growing up being sheltered because their parents don’t think they’re old enough to talk about it, we just come in and end up right back here in 2032. So I do feel like that education. For me in education for my kids is something that, I, I need to make more of a priority,
[00:30:53] Dan: [00:30:53] great point. I think for me, I look at it as you know, I kind of look at it as different [00:31:00] trajectories.
[00:31:00] One is the personal level. So I talked about like how I’m going to try to be more open and authentic with the people inside my circle, I guess. Because of the, like Claudius said, because of , the ecosystems we plug into, there are many people who don’t have any sense of this at all. And probably look at me differently than George Floyd.
[00:31:18] And I need them to understand that I can be George Floyd. And just like AK said, when I walk out the door, my resume’s not taped to my back. My character is not on display as some coat that I can wear or we say, Oh, well, he’s good. He’s fine. Right. my skin is my skin and so, so helping them understand that.
[00:31:34] But I also think there is this ability for us to look into the deeper sense of transparency and accountability with politicians. I looked up the other day. For instance, just in New York police pension fund has $44 billion in it. And that covers, I think something like 80,000 active and retired police officers.
[00:31:56] And as a businessman, I know that fund [00:32:00] is right now in Fidelity and Goldman and BlackRock and all these fund managers, they’re making fees. And if, there was a call for accountability, for instance, that those funds could only be custodial for police pensions that have a certain amount of covenants around misconduct.
[00:32:21] And you know, Kahlil you were in the military. There’s a very clear line of discharge. You’re honorable you’re dishonorable. And if you’re a dishonorable, you get nothing and you, you can’t be in the military again. right now police officers can, fade away and show up at another, another County and other city without any repair to their propensity to bad behavior.
[00:32:45] Right. And so I think, I think there’s a lot of accountability to transparency that we have to start demanding, you know, for me, I think. And, and we all brought this up. It can’t just be us and people that look like us. And I think that’s why you [00:33:00] see people’s rage taking on the extreme measures. Cause you know, you scream enough when nobody listens, you start hitting and throwing and, breaking things, which I don’t advocate.
[00:33:10] I’m not a violent person and I don’t, but I can totally understand how that gets frustrating.
[00:33:16] AK: [00:33:16] I’ll touch on that as well, because I just got off the phone, the person I was talking to, she was talking about how she feels a sense of shame a little bit. And I think the shame is because when we’ve been talking about something for so long, and then all of a sudden we can real, it doesn’t mean the ones that the conversation beforehand didn’t happen.
[00:33:33] It means that she’s now aware of that. Like, Oh my goodness. All those other times you were talking about this. I just didn’t pay attention to it and where we are right now. It is. If they don’t see something, they don’t understand that when we bring up issues, they’re not going to be on board. But I feel like right now as are now no longer just passive buyers and onlookers are now a part of it.
[00:33:52] And now they’re waiting, like give us some orders, give us some direction. And you know, one of the things I think is really good is social media with technological advances. But I [00:34:00] also see that there’s a little bit of some negative or some challenges with it, right? Within, within the civil rights movement, they had television, but there could be one individual, one small group that says, this is what we want to do.
[00:34:10] And this is what we don’t want to do. This aligns with our vision. This doesn’t align well. When you have social media, where everybody has a voice, it’s not, there’s so many different directions that can go. So if we were to say what we want everybody to do. We want everybody to go to the polls or we want everybody to come on this door mandatory for police officers to close out the case.
[00:34:28] So I think people are on board. They’re aware they’re awakened. I think he just thinking about, okay, well now where do I use this energy? After the protest? Where do I do? What can I do on a daily basis? Cause I’m ready to do something. And the only thing I can do is, well, I have a friend that is a black.
[00:34:43] Normally I can help him out trying to find something to do career direction.
[00:34:48] Bara: [00:34:48] I want to add on to the AK cause you are a true entrepreneur. What I feel like you did as you identified a business. One way is so that your problems with social media, just like you identify, but I think that’s [00:35:00] the next company somebody needs to start.
[00:35:03] Maybe they have already started it
[00:35:05] Dan: [00:35:05] Are you listening Unfound Nation? This is your call. We’ve all got businesses already. So this is an opportunity for somebody. This is good. This is great. So I know everybody’s busy, so I just want to, end, with maybe just, people’s final thoughts and, you know, I would just frame it as if you’re sitting across the table from somebody who says they want to be helpful.
[00:35:26] They want to understand what, what would you say? how would you make them feel like you want them to help and that you can give them sort of that call to action.
[00:35:37] Claudius: [00:35:37] I’ll jump in here first. I guess I would just start by thanking them for taking the courage to reach out again. We know it’s not easy.
[00:35:45]This is not comfortable times. It’s very uncomfortable and people having that courage to go do the hard thing, which is not sit silently and kind of just all go, but actually take a step and reach out to someone affected or a community and say, Hey, I’m, I’m here. I’m committed to [00:36:00] change.
[00:36:00] How can I help? That’s the first thing. And that’s a hard thing. And we understand that taking that first step. And so I would just start by thanking them. And then secondly, I would start by sharing them resources in which they can educate themselves on the perspective of black males, black people in America.
[00:36:14] There’s tons of books, documentaries, movies, anything you want. There’s some, there’s something out there for you to go educate yourself on just the experience of being black. And we can’t have change without education, people who aren’t able to see other experiences and empathize with them. We’ll never be able to, yeah, we’ll never be able to empathize with it.
[00:36:31] And so I think it starts there. That would be my, that would be my approach in my discourse. And then obviously follow up with them just to make sure that we can have a discussion, keep the door open. Whatever they’re learning. If they have any questions, they can come back and ask me and I can provide my expressive and my experience on it.
[00:36:46] Kahlil: [00:36:46] Yeah. I w I would say something similar even to a Claudius who’s talking about is in the follow up, because how many times did we have initial conversations? It almost becomes that sort of classic, Hey, you know what, man, we need to get together and then you never get together. So when they do approach you that, [00:37:00] that thanks in that gratitude, but then making sure that we have other conversations about this.
[00:37:04] And one of the things I wanted to throw out there is maybe the unpopular opinion of embracing the difficult parts of conversation. What are the things you were afraid of that you don’t want to ask or that we don’t want to talk about or that you think might be out of bounds? Because it’s an era unreconciled parts of our stories that we find those opportunities.
[00:37:22] And that’s usually where most of the growth is. And, you know, I, I’m a big, big proponent of growth and discomfort. Go hand in hand and look at the growing pains our country is going through. I feel like, you know, being able to build that trust with people who do approach us and letting them know that they’re safe and that they’re their witness to can lead to those followup conversations, which will hopefully go a little bit deeper and create a little bit more understanding.
[00:37:49] Bara: [00:37:49] I’ll add onto that, that I would really challenge them to embrace that difficulty as well. Because what I would say is that. When you, when you respond to [00:38:00] the trending nature of posting things on social media, and then immediately wanting to make donations to charities that you feel like are fighting this battle, and you do that without understanding the issue, we’ll do that without having a deep appreciation for the root cause.
[00:38:18] You may miss the Mark. And if you missed the Mark, you’re already going to feel good about yourself that you did something you’re going to move on potentially. So I would ask people to get uncomfortable with that and say, let’s not get caught up in the moment where we just want to send a hundred thousand or whatever to a charity.
[00:38:33] We want to post something and move on. Let’s go read a book. Let’s go more research and try to really ask yourself the hard question.
[00:38:42] What is
[00:38:44] this problem? And you may not get to it, but at least spend some time struggling with that. And then take an action.
[00:38:51]AK: [00:38:51] I find this question a little tough, because I think the storytelling and sharing stories, these need to happen both ways, you know, you know, for example, I use [00:39:00] as an example of I’m 6’3″, 220 pounds.
[00:39:02] I’m a big guy. And you know what I go into to get to my car at night. I don’t worry about being sexually assaulted. Maybe the reason why I bring that up is because their lifestyle or maybe their experiences. Have never actually, they would never understand it because they’ve never experienced it. They wouldn’t know what it feels like to be pulled over several times.
[00:39:25] And they shouldn’t. I mean, that shouldn’t be like the Howard’s talking about for me, it’s really important that it’s not always about like a privilege. It’s like, this is a basic human rights and basic human. Like we should be able to go to our car. So we should be able to apply for a job because he had a certain type of man thrown into the waist.
[00:39:41] You know, we need to set this line as a, this is what. All humans should be able to do no matter how you look like. And our goal should also be an understanding them and understanding each other. Cause I feel like it comes only once side listening in all the ones I talk in. It’s all going to go so far. I think it’s for us to understand one another and then [00:40:00] find solutions together.
[00:40:01] Both sides need to have conversation understands the point of view. You know, some, I think some, some families do that. Don’t look like this. They grew up in environments that weren’t, and they’ve been racist, but sort of just grew up on a different side of the street where they never had to go on the opposite side.
[00:40:14] So my fault in one sentence, I guess I’ll say is what I will do is say, this is just the start. It’s not trying to just find a solution. Your eyes have now been open. Now you can start listening when situations do arise or you see a report come out and it said this guy was resisting. I’m going to question that just a little bit.
[00:40:32] So I think it’s about how do we shoot the eyes open and not go back into that house of our blinded look because more things will happen. It’s not just today. More things will happen. How can we get them on board and understanding, like we question that six years. There’s something that’s not right here.
[00:40:46] And now they’re on our side, long term to match us.
[00:40:49] Dan: [00:40:49] No, that was great. That was great. Wow. These are great suggestions. And I put you on the spot and what I hear is this idea of the two way street, I think definitely. you know, I would love to [00:41:00] start the hashtag I practice civil discourse.
[00:41:02] Now I know that rage has its place, but, but this, how much of us talking past each other? And, you know, as the old saying goes, right, God gave us two years of one mouth. Then that’s the proportion of our listening to talking. But I do think there’s also this option or this opportunity to challenge people around.
[00:41:21] Are you learning? Are you educating yourself? Right. and that I think goes both ways. There’s sort of all kinds of resources to research. And I think also the connecting, right? I think hopefully if that person sitting across from me that we have at least a level of intimacy in our relationship for them to ask candid questions.
[00:41:38] And I would say if you don’t have more people like that in your network, not tomorrow because. You know, that’s not the appropriate time during the middle of this, but at some point, make it intentional, right. Those acquaintances, you know, pursue them as potential people who could be deep relationships.
[00:41:55] And so like AK is saying the stories that you can [00:42:00] hear. And feel from somebody who is your friend, who is somebody you’re close with will resonate just as much as what you see in social media, on the news. And sometimes more. And I also think that this idea of investing in acting is going to need to be the follow on, right.
[00:42:17] It can’t just be okay now I’m educating myself and, Oh, that’s too bad. Right. It’s gotta be okay. This is an American problem. It’s not a black community problem. It’s not a problem for black men. We are the manifestations of it, but this is an American problem. We are all Americans. And if any Americans are suffering from injustice or inequality or have to ask.
[00:42:42] For or demand rights that are already sort of given to us the day we’re born or the day where we become citizens. That’s a problem for America.
[00:42:51]Claudius: [00:42:51] thanks for hosting this and really putting this call out there.
[00:42:54]Dan: [00:42:54] I appreciate everybody’s perspective has been awesome. Alright. Stay safe, everybody.
[00:42:59]We’d like to [00:43:00] thank our guests, Kahlil, Ashanti, Bara Cola, AK Ikwuakor, and Claudius Mbemba as well as our sponsor Valence. Subscribe, wherever you listen to podcasts or simply go to foundersunfound.com/listento that’s. Listen, T-O .And follow us on Twitter and Instagram @foundersunfound.
[00:43:19] This podcast was produced by Dan Kihanya, social media and other promotion by Omama Marzuq. Our music was composed by James Grant and Bruce Zimmerman.
[00:43:27] I am Dan Kihanya and you’ve been listening to Founders Unfound.
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