I distinctly remember sitting at my desk to write 2020’s ‘last article of the year’ with all the optimism of naivety and full of the ‘bring on 2021’ spirit.
I cannot believe a year later here we are, still full throttle amid a pandemic. One that is threatening to carry on for a long time, one that near killed my son and that has changed and shaped our lives forever. If anything, it has put life, as we knew it, into perspective and made us roll with the punches. I don’t sweat the small stuff; I live in the moment and try not to plan to far in advance.
But what it has also clearly done is made the world realise we are far from perfect, particularly when it comes to equity and fairness for a Global Majority, in both their professional and personal lives.
Having said that, 2021 did bring lots of positivity and action in terms of having the right conversations, with the right people on how to bring about change to destabilise the existing negative hierarchy. My anti-racism consultancy ‘Amp Up Your Voice’ is all about empowering change makers to be part of the racial equality change through collaboration. And I’m actively positive that it has helped to shift the dial in the corporate world.
Amp Up Your Voice is about empowering change makers to be part of the racial equality change through collaboration.
I also found a lot of power and joy in collaborating with fellow leaders who also work in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion space. For instance, I featured in the Black British Network’s ‘Portrait of Black Britain’ exhibition – please feel free to check it out as it is a growing project and Cephas Williams the curator, is almost unstoppable right now in his ambition to demonstrate authentic representation of Black people -Which is exactly what the world needs to see and believe right now.
Cephas mission and passion is like mine and it is essentially to drive economic growth for Black and Ethnically diverse people, as we all know that societally, everything is underpinned by representation, money, and opportunity.
Black and ethnically diverse people are strong, powerful, intelligent, smart, savvy, wise, leaders, CEO’s, entrepreneurial and so much more. And given capacity to be our full potential it’s estimated the UK economy would increase by 24 billion or 1.3% GDP per year. That’s a lot of power. What it does require is systemic barriers to be removed and those with power and influence giving up some of it to make way for diverse & marginalised people – this is the call to action for 2022 that I will be pioneering!
On an aside to the actual tangible exhibition itself, what amazed me was the ‘power of connectivity’ by being part of it.
We were invited to a private launch. And I’m so happy I took my 9-year-old to see himself authentically represented – and not in the Oxbridge, look at this amazing Black person, kind of way – which exacerbates the exceptionally high standards that Black people are continually held to. But for both of us being in a room full of incredible Black and Ethnically diverse people who are smashing life professionally and personally – successful people stepping into their power & owning their truth was the epitome of Black joy, love, inspiration, storytelling & sharing and so much more, it felt like the safest space we’ve been in, in a long time.
Just talking and listening to others was inspirational. We met other people photographed for the exhibition. For instance, Jay Miller aka CRAZE 24, who is a rapper and a self-published author of children’s books.
We talked at the event, he gave my son a copy of his new book ‘I am’, which he absolutely loves, and I connected him with Cabbi Charles the self-published author that I interviewed for Millennial Femme last month. I asked Jay to send me his BIO and it is off the scale in terms of achievement. He is a Rapper, Writer and Actor from New cross south London that is currently signed to Phoenix International Music. And has worked with, amongst others, Pharrell William’s, T Pain, Nas, The Game and Ghostface Killer and is still in the height of his musical career.
He was also awarded the 2020 – CHANGE MAKER AWARD by The Big Issue as one of the UK’s top thinkers, creators, and agitators to watch in 2020. https://www.bigissue.com/news/activism/top-100-changemakers-2020-campaigners/ Craze 24 also released his album entitled ‘Dying to Live’ featuring D Double E, Stylo G, P Money, Kyla & many more.
And his passion project now has expanded to writing. In the 2020 Covid 19 Lockdown he wrote and illustrated his first children’s book, ‘When I Grow Up’, dedicated to his sons, and it is a best seller on Amazon right now. Craze then writes, illustrate & releases a collection of children’s books designed to teach young people about diversity, race, equality, social injustice, and manifestation. His drive, passion, skill, and creativity are off the chart. He is one to watch.
Also, at the event & featured in the exhibition is Arron Maddix, a Professional Chef that has a background working in Michelin kitchens, and who in 2019 won the Rising Star in Hospitality award 2019. Arron and I met about a year ago on a Zoom round table organised by the Black British Network. He is a Black man who is making waves in his industry. I was impressed by his drive combined with humility – the key ingredients to being a likeable successful leader.
The Voice newspaper interviewed him back in 2019 to talk about his goal to bring Jamaican fine dining to UK restaurants. And in 2021 he continues an upward trajectory and has launched Moi Moi sauce – Moi Moi sauces are a unique fusion of sticky and sweet Korean BBQ and the spicy Jamaican pepper sauce.
Sounds delicious right and it’s the ambition for me, in Arron own words ‘we intend to become a leading artisan condiment challenger in the world. We aim to become the 11th BBQ State, and we openly challenge Texas to a dual in the crown’. That, there is aspirational and I’m backing him all the way.
If there were more words left for this blog, I could talk about so many more people from that night, but what is clear is that, although we are still in pandemic hell, its apparent that our resilience, passion, professionalism, and voices are not stopping anytime soon. Through hard work and perseverance, systemic barriers to success are being well and truly smashed down, making way for a new dawn.
Sky’s the limit! And again, I’m optimistically ready for 2022 👏🏽 🚀🚀🚀