A Perspective From Inside the Homes of Black America

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  • by Stefon Towler

Black History Month is a multifaceted tradition commemorating our past while indulging in self-love and positive affirmations for our present. It generates the energy that motivates us to put one foot in front of the other, moving forward despite the powers that push against us.  

It’s a celebration! (in my best Dave Chappelle voice) 

And in that respect, I hope you can join me in celebrating the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to uncover insights that shed light on the Black Experience! As a research and innovation consultant here at SEEK, I’ve had the opportunity to work on quite a few projects exploring topics like, What does it mean to be Black in America?, How do we understand the way Black people handle their finances? And, How do we interact with technology and the people that use them, when the tech never considered our lived experience to begin with?

I won’t share the insights uncovered in that work, out of respect for our clients and, of course, signed NDAs. However, after 60+ hours interviewing family members in their homes, over a months time sifting through digital content and trends and then ideating on how to best serve my community, I’ve come to these two conclusions:

Black / African American people are Unicorns personified

  • Each person in the Black / African American community has no choice but to be a variety of things at once. Take for example the 27 year old techie and toastmaster regional director. He pursues his passions but is also determined to spend time teaching his younger siblings and parents ways to invest in real estate. We love and protect one another while hustling as best we can to empower ourselves and those around us. It’s a necessity in order to survive and succeed in the world today.
  • In doing so, Black / African American people have become a unique mix of resilience and talent that has blossomed into a cultural renaissance—molding itself into this outward expression of by any means necessary a la Malcolm X. 

We are working against our society’s narrative and it’s fueling our fullest potential

  • We care about society's perception of us. It influences our actions, forces us to code-switch and generally hinders authenticity. 
  • In actuality, female owned African American businesses are growing at rate of 50%—while the national average declined by 3%—yet the pressure to conform to societal norms still lingers. It speaks to the level of uncertainty we experience and external validation we desire, at times. This uncertainty is rooted in the traumatic effects of our past and as we begin to dismantle the impact of these effects, our success becomes less and less contingent on the need for validation outside of ourselves or our community. 

My advice/thoughts to all Black / African American Unicorns: when those inevitable rough patches rear their head, talk to a therapist, talk to like minded individuals, be authentically YOU. At SEEK we are all about empathy—deep, hit you in the gut empathy—and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped interviews to give the person sitting across from me a hug or taken a break to shed a tear or 10. Not because it’s sad but because I feel the tension they’re struggling to overcome. Know that what you’re feeling, you’re not feeling it alone and that feeling stretches generations, forward and back— but it doesn’t have to. You can, and you are changing the narrative. 

The Law of Threes says I should give you one more but these are the two themes that have truly stuck with me. Happy Black History Month! Know that you are worthy, you can do anything, and never be afraid to ask for help. When I’m not writing for SEEK I’m typically leading teams through innovation and brand strategy, orating at public speaking engagements and investing in real estate. If there is anything I can do to help or you just want to chat feel free to reach out via LinkedIn.