R.I.P Prince- Truly a Cultural Icon

Standard

The world lost cultural icon – Prince.    While millions loved his music, let’s not forget about his efforts to address social and economic justice.

This article was taken from CNN.

http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/21/technology/prince-yeswecode/

Prince wasn’t just a renowned artist. He was also an advocate for a more inclusive tech community.

It was this belief that inspired Prince’s friend Van Jones to start YesWeCode, a nonprofit in Oakland, which is at the forefront of a movement to get more young minorities involved in technology.

The YesWeCode initiative, which is part of Jones’ Rebuild the Dream charity, is on a mission to teach 100,000 low-income youths to write code.
The idea grew out of a conversation Jones had with Prince after the 2012 killing of black teen Trayvon Martin.

“Prince said … ‘A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug. A white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius,'” recalled political activist Jones in conversation with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday.

“Let’s teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.”

YesWeCode is one of many organizations working to diversify tech. Their goal is to create economic opportunities for kids of color — and help build a generation of tech talent that companies can tap for years to come.

Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity is no secret. It’s apparent in the staff makeup of some big tech companies.

Take Facebook, for instance. Just 1% of its tech workers are black. It’s only slightly better — 3% — in non-technical roles. In 2014, 2.9% of Facebook’s new hires were black, according to its latest EEO filing. It’s a similar story at many other tech companies.
And the problem is also present in the funding pipeline, which helps determine which entrepreneurs get investments.

According to data culled by Richard Kerby at Venrock, 2% of partners at venture capital firms are black. That affects the kinds of entrepreneurs who get funding. “I don’t look like Zuck,” Matt Joseph, a black entrepreneur who spoke out about the issue, tweeted in March.

For black women, things are particularly bleak. A recent report found that black female founders made up just .2% of all venture capital deals from 2012 to 2014.
For all the grim statistics, there are also success stories.

Take Mamadou Diallo, a 17-year-old young man from Harlem who was recently offered a full ride to Stanford.

Diallo was introduced to coding at age 14 through a weekend coding course. He took it because it promised a free laptop — but it exposed him to a world he’d never seen before.

It’s kids like Diallo that Prince wanted to help. Prince used his widespread appeal to promote YesWeCode and other initiatives. He headlined the ESSENCE Festival in 2014, where YesWeCode was launched with a youth-focused hackathon.

But Jones said Prince didn’t boast about the work he did. He helped support Rebuild the Dream and donated to other organizations like Eau Claire Promise Zone in South Carolina, which helps prepare community kids for college.

“He really believed that young people could change the world,” said Jones, who is a CNN commentator.

Prince was a teen when his career got started, one of the reasons why he was so passionate about helping the younger generation find success.

“He believed in the Black Lives Matter kids so much — and he had a dream for them,” Jones said. “He said, ‘I hope that they become an economic force. I hope that they use their genius to start businesses.'”

 

 

Why I cut off my Locs and the politics of Black Hair

Standard

On Father’s Day, I posted a picture on my Facebook profile of my daughter and myself.   At her daycare, they were having a small father’s day celebration where the toddlers designed a gift for Dad.

Nia Rad

Well this led to my Facebook inbox blowing up.   Not only due to the fact that my daughter is beautiful (yes I am very biased) – but due to the fact that I removed my locs.   All of the sudden, I am getting offers to attend various churches.   The assumption there is that I did this for religious reasons and that I am no longer an ‘evil’ rastaman.

On the other side, there are some who now believe that I am no longer interested in the forward progression of the Black community in Toronto because I cut of my locs.   Or in other words, “I am conforming to White Supremacy”.

The purpose of this blog post is to hopefully eliminate these misunderstandings and to avoid having to respond to every inbox message individually!

The cutting of my locs represents letting go of the past, and moving forward.

The decision to grow my locs was made in 2002.   I was progressing fairly rapidly in my career as an IT Sales Professional.   At the same time, my political and social views were evolving.   I became more aware of issues surrounding diversity and equality.   This came mainly from volunteer sessions with young people across the Greater Toronto Area.

Growing my locs had little to do with a conversion to Rastafarianism.  I am influenced by certain philosophies that are core to Rastafarianism such as the respect for Africa, knowing one’s self and understanding the spirit that connects us all   Locs were also worn by Ancient Egyptians.  In 2002, during a trip to Egypt with Kemet Nu Productions, I saw this first hand when I saw this Pharaoh with locs in the Cairo Museum.

Instead, I grew my locs in hopes of enabling personal growth.  My locs were a test for me.  A test of my resolve, my strength and my ability to overcome challenges.  I also noticed that my locs became a source of inspiration for many people, in particular young black men who never saw any Black Male in a Professional position, much less a Black Male with locs.

2009 - Beating the Odds Conference Waterloo

2009 – Beating the Odds Conference Waterloo

The other large test was going to be aimed at Corporate Canada.  With all of the talk surrounding diversity and equality, my locs would help determine if all of this talk was hype or reality.   How would Senior Leaders in Corporate Canada deal with a professional black male with locs?   Overall, I found that most Senior Executives had no problem with my locs at all.   They were focused on the value that I would deliver for their organization.

It was middle managers and peers who seemed to have a larger problem with my locs.   As I was told once by a middle manager, “…. you scare a lot of middle managers because when you are in front of an Executive you deliver your message much more effectively than most of us… which means you are a threat.”   

Turns out they were right about my ability to deliver a message.   With my locs, I was interviewed on Canada’s Business News Network-BNN, TVO – The Agenda, CBC NewsWorld, 1010 CFRB and ran a political blog with the Toronto Star for the 2011 Provincial Election.

Overseas, I had wonderful professional experiences with clients based out of Malaysia, Thailand, China, Mongolia, Indonesia, Botswana, South Africa  and Nigeria.

Delivering a workshop in Malaysia

Delivering a workshop in Malaysia

Unfortunately, my most disappointing professional experiences were with leaders in Jamaica or within Caribbean populations here in Canada. Too many Senior leaders in Jamaica had the negative stereotype of locs cemented in their minds. Turns out that in retrospect, that many Jamaicans out of Jamaica have this problem, locs or not.   But that is another topic for another time.

There came a point 2 years ago where the thought of removing my locs starting to enter my mind.   I recalled a conversation with the first stylist, Ruth years before this point.  We were talking about why R&B artist India Arie cut her locs off.   While the patrons at Ruth’s style studio – Strictly Roots, were clearly upset, Ruth stated the following:

“You need to understand why someone cuts off their locs.  The removal of your locs is a serious matter.   The decision normally surrounds a life changing event(s) and/or a deeply personal spiritual matter.   It is a matter of personal, spiritual and mental resurrection.  So don’t  judge why someone grows or cuts off their locs. “

Here was the premier natural hair stylist in Toronto standing up for India Arie in this case.   Where most stylist would have ranted like we did, Ruth did not.   My future stylist,  Glen would repeat Ruth’s thoughts many times.   I would like to thank them both for their friendship and for playing key roles in my growth!

Ruth and Glen – the only individuals allowed to touch my locs!

While facing some very serious challenges and life changing events, I seriously considered cutting my locs off.   However, more challenges of an urgent variety continued to mount.   There was actually no opportunity to prepare myself mentally to go ahead and remove years of history that were represented in my locs.

However, after overcoming these challenges with the help of family, friends and other good hearted people – I finally found the spiritual/mental space.   I made the decision to remove my locs on June 6, 2015.  The number 6 and 13 have played significant roles in my life. Thus the date of June 6th seemed appropriate.

So no, I am not looking to change my faith nor am I now a tool for White Supremacy.

The cutting of my locs represents letting go of the past, and moving forward.  It represents a fresh new start, and an appreciation for the ups and downs of life.  Life will have more tests and challenges and I am ready for them.

On to the next chapter of this journey called life.

Blog Post by Radcliffe Dockery

How many Donald Sterling’s are destroying the lives of Blacks in North America?

Standard

Excuse me, as I am sure there are a million blog posts about this topic.  But I figured I would add my two cents.

When TMZ.com released the Donald Sterling audio this past weekend, many were shocked to hear such blatant racism come from an accomplished business/sports personality.  Perhaps even more shocking to many, was the fact that he displayed racism towards the very same group (Blacks/African Americans) who just happen to represent the majority of his team, and league.

Note, this is not the first time Sterling has had ‘race’ problems.   Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports highlights this in a recent article

Obama speaks on Sterling remarks

Obama speaks on Sterling remarks

However for many of us who are Black, this is neither shocking or surprising.   Instead, what Sterling has done is underline what many of us feel – That no matter our skill & education level, many in power view us Blacks as inferior being who shouldn’t think, talk or action unless we have permission from our ‘masters’.

This mindset is often found online when the topic surrounds race or ethnicity right here in Canada.   When Blacks speak up on an array of issues, many will speak to us as if we have no right to have an opinion.  The common line of “Freedom of Speech” in invoked, however it is only freedom of speech when THEY have an opinion, not us.

The problem becomes larger however if those behind the keyboards are also the same individuals sitting in the Executive Offices of various places of employment.  As we posted in a previous blog – a job is how many of us regardless or race/gender, provide for our families.   If the people who control your employment have the same attitude of a Donald Sterling or many of these “keyboard haters”, then we start to see racism transform from not only a social issue but an economic one.

At least we know where Sterling stands on this issue as it relates to Blacks.  The deeper concerns are as follows:

  • Why did the NBA wait for this event to happen when Sterling has a history of demonstrating this behaviour?  Why has the NBA protected him for so long?
  • For every Sterling, how many more people in power have this view towards Blacks?
  • How many qualified Blacks are overlooked for promotions, new opportunities and business ventures due to racism?
  • If multimillionaire NBA players who bring in millions for the league and sponsours can be looked upon in this manner, how are everyday, hard working blacks viewed?

From Sterling’s comments, to the racist backlash against President Obama – an increasing amount of blacks at all socioeconomic levels are seeing their worst fears confirmed.   The fear is that even if we are contributing to society; are we still viewed as modern day slaves?

Some will argue that Affirmation Action/Employment equity is making a difference.  However, even TIME Magazine in a recent article mentions that it is not Blacks reaping the benefits of Affirmation Action.

There are millions of people who adore the NBA and its players.   Basketball is a beautiful sport and has helped transform many lives.   Many of those millions are Blacks who work hard and contribute to our society.   Are they getting a fair shake at work?  Are their kids getting fair shake at school?

Maybe we don’t feel the need to speak about this issue because after all, we are “multicultural”.   But as a Black Man born and raised in Canada, I don’t see multiculturalism in the hall of power.  Or even in our media nearly enough.

I would rather deal with someone who is honest about not liking me than with someone who poses with pictures of Elton Brand yet makes disgusting comments like this to this girlfriend about Blacks.  I just wonder, how many Donald Sterling’s are out there and how many lives of good hard working Black People are they destroying?

 

Blog by Radcliffe Dockery

 

 

 

 

Are Canadian firms afraid of BRICS, MINT?

Standard

Forbes has spoken about itThe Agenda has spoken about.   M.I.N.T is the next hot thing in global business.  Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey are considered to be nations full of great opportunity while having particular risk factors.

The question we have to ask ourselves in Canada is, are we afraid of emerging, non traditional markets?   One of the guest on The Agenda seems to imply that Canadian businesses should only invest in nations where Canada has agreements with.  There is some validity in this opinion.   Every organization has to protect its interest and try its best to reduce risk.

However, we do need more Canadian firms to take on emerging markets, even in places that we wouldn’t consider.   Canada has an array of expertise in natural resources, construction, logistics/shipping, agriculture, finance/banking, information technology and mining that could be used to expand revenue growth.

In turn, the knowledge transfer that Canadian firms can bring to an array of markets could great help bridge the digital divide and assist with many Social Responsibility issues.

It is time for many Canadian firms to look at M.I.N.T, BRICS and others as growth markets.  Of course, we will need our investors and banks to also open up to the reality that the best opportunities out there, may not be in your traditional comfort zone!

 

 

Blog by Radcliffe Dockery

State of Black Canadians – Facts vs. Fiction!

Image

The Black Community in Canada is vibrant and growing!    In 2013, a group of some of the best black minds in Canada came together to put gather statistics about Black Canada.   One of the most interesting statistics destroys the stereotypes that Blacks are “dependent” on Government.   Below are some highlights from the report.

T1888571_513005795481101_2089841211_nTaken from the Report Titled, “Toward a Vision for the Black Community”

Chinese students love luxury cars, What about students in N. America?

Standard
(Photo: Clayton Cotterell | Bloomberg Businessweek)

(Photo: Clayton Cotterell | Bloomberg Businessweek)

Interesting article posted by Yahoo Business surrounding Chinese students and Luxury cars!  Where is North America there is concern about young people buying cars, we are seeing the opposite in China where luxury brands such as Audi, Mercedes Benz,BMW surge.

China’s economic growth over the past 10 years has certainly contributed to this.   This leaves us with some challenges in North America:

A)  How do we ensure auto sector demand among young people with such high rates of Youth Unemployment?

B)  How do we justify continued government backed loans, grants in a sector that is facing a generation that is not interested in cars?

C)  What can jurisdictions in North America do to attract more investment from luxury auto brands?

Quick Primer about what the auto sector means to the Province of Ontario, http://www.investinontario.com/en/Pages/OS_automotive.aspx