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CultureRoad Podcast - Episode 10: Honoring Women Making History
Episode 1030th March 2023 • CultureRoad • DeEtta Jones & Associates
00:00:00 01:02:35

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Get ready for another inspiring episode of CultureRoad as we welcome a true trailblazer and entrepreneur, Shannon Allen!

In Episode 10 Part 2 of “Honoring Women Making History", Shannon shares her impactful story behind the creation of her amazing restaurant, "grown." But it's not just about business - Shannon also opens up about the importance of being a proud mother, overcoming obstacles in her personal life, and fighting for what's right in her career.

Join us as we continue to honor women making history and learn about the transformative power of our journeys on CultureRoad.

Get ready to be inspired!

Transcripts

Project 15

U1

0:03

All right, we're here. Hey.

U2

0:04

Welcome. Thank you for having me.

U1

0:06

I'm so happy you're here. Thank you.

U2

0:07

I'm so happy to be here. I couldn't wait to get next to you. Oh,

U1

0:10

it's a it's a gift. And the energy just feels good. You you just look so organic and like this. We're meant to be in this space together. Thank you. Also, happy International

U2

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Women's Day. Happy International Women's Day to you, and thank you for the gorgeous flowers. You are welcome. Get a gig flowers this morning.

U1

0:26

Every woman deserves flowers, right? And you know what? Men also deserve flowers. Before we get into it, have you heard this story that most men, the only time they ever receive flowers from another person is at their funeral?

U2

0:39

That's true. So we have to make an intentional choice to surprise the men in our lives with flowers sometimes

U1

0:44

done and done. I do think that would be a surprise, and I think it would be well received. Absolutely.

U2

0:50

Okay. Flowers for everybody.

U1

0:52

r for, I think, I don't know,:

U2

1:08

:

U1

1:18

through different channels. Yes. Like, I remember the very first time I met you. I think it was at your home. You were maybe eight months pregnant. Like, you were very

U2

1:25

pregnant. Yes. And my son is 18 now. Okay. Oh, really? Yes. So that's why I know it's 18. I was very, very pregnant. And so, yeah, he's getting ready to go off to college. And so

U1

1:38

that's the son you were pregnant with. I was at your house.

U2

1:40

It's literally a lifetime ago, right?

U1

1:43

Such a gift. And even then, I was at your home. You were way into your pregnancy. I think your husband was traveling at the time. He was playing a game somewhere. I was there with the person I was dating at the time, who was a good friend of Abras. Yes. You had prepared dinner for us. I think you prepared it for your whole family, but you graciously invited us. It was so generous of you to invite me into that space. And then every time that we've reconnected over the years, it's been through different channels and different relationships, but it's always been filled with love. And I always have been so impressed with your intelligence. Your energy is palpable. It's just been just beautiful every single interaction, and I've been so grateful every single time.

U2

2:26

Every time we reconnect, I'm like, why don't I spend more time with this woman? Why don't I spend more time with this woman? She just, like, brightens up my day. And even just your posts staying connected through social media, I'm always like, wow, I feel smarter right now because I just learned something. So glad we're here together. Me too. Now that we live in the same city. Yes. Done.

U1

2:45

And I am five minutes from you. We're going to see each other, and I'm going to come over one of those days when I see you making all these amazing recipes, I see your post, and I'm like, OOH, what is that? Is that butter?

U2

2:53

What is that?

U1

2:55

I know it's healthy, though, so I

U2

2:56

get butter, but it's still butter. So

U1

2:59

today we are going to talk about all sorts of things. I know that you are the founder of Grown and that you have had an amazing career as a TV personality in music. Your husband is an NBA all Star, and you are the mom of five children. Five

U2

3:16

plus one makes six. We have, like, a bonus son right now. Our son's best friend lives with us, so he's been with us for three years. So one girl and five boys. So literally, we live in a frat house. You're like, how do you define yourself? And I'm like, I'm Shannon Allen, and I am running a frat house. 1s It's the most authentic. That's a great option I have. I mean, literally, that's it. It's just like the testosterone zone, but it's the best part of my life. It's like we do everything loud and with extra cheese. It's just kind of where we're at at this point in life. But you know what's really amazing? It truly is. And you know this being a mom of boys, right? Yes. That I feel so grateful and blessed that part of my destiny in this lifetime is to be a woman and a mother because it's not guaranteed. And so many of us have unique experiences 1s as women. Anyone that defines themselves or identifies as a woman, we all have a unique experience. And. 2s It's a different kind of a journey with lots of ebbs and flows and you're not guaranteed to be a mother in this lifetime. Yeah. Even though every mother's journey is different and how they define themselves as mother and how they get to be a mother. And even in my own house, I just told you I have a bonus son. Right. And so I get to do some mothering for him even though he has an amazing mother. And I'm a bonus mother to our daughter. Even though she's my only girl. She has an amazing biological mother I've been blessed to share tierra with. And she is by far, I mean, my gosh, she's the reason I wanted to be a parent again and again and again and again. So I do feel really just so grateful to God in the universe that these souls are in my life and I had the opportunity to help guide them and I love them up. I love it. And it's so good to start with that gratitude. You're right. I have friends now. I'm 51 and I have friends. Damn, you look good. I'm

U1

5:22

sorry. I'll take it. Thank you. The lighting here is working for me. Lighting is good,

U2

5:27

but I think happy. I

U1

5:28

think happiness. I think sometimes we wear happiness on the outside too. So when we feel really good, I feel like it shows. Right. And so I definitely feel like I'd look happy and I appreciate that. Sure. But there's also people I know who are in their good friends, who are in their early and mid forty s now or approaching 50, who haven't had children, who have been pursuing something else or it hasn't worked out in the way that they've wanted. And now they're really wrestling with that. And so to pause and give gratitude for the opportunity to have this really special experience of motherhood, it's absolutely

U2

6:01

and I had kind of the opposite, right. Like I was a singer. I was in a girl group on Motown Records signed by the late, great Andre Harrell. Rest in peace, Andre. Thank you for making my dream come true. I was an actor. I met my husband Ray, who was, as you mentioned, arguably the greatest three point shooter in NBA history. Hall of Famer, NBA All Star, two time NBA champion. We were really young when we met. I was 21, he was 20. We've been together almost 28 years now. Wow. And he always knew he wanted a big family. He already had this beautiful little girl when we met. She was almost three. And he knew he's the middle child of five. And I don't know if we mentioned, but my mother in law is actually here in the studio with us today. Hello, Ms. Alan. Bring your mother in law to work. I love it. And so they grew up on an Air Force base and they had a huge family. And so he knew, like, I want to have a big family. And I was kind of like, I don't have any interest in having kids. I was the oldest of three girls, and all of the women in my family were single black women. They raised their kids, they paid all the bills, they sent everybody to college. And there weren't a lot of men around. And it was a lot of work and. 1s My mom and dad are still married, but that was really the only marriage. That was really the only, like, visible partnership. And my mom was the breadwinner. She owned and operated a very successful black female owned business, a real estate company. But she had some support where my aunts really were all brilliant, all had small businesses that they owned and worked and they didn't have a partner. And I remember thinking, I I can't do this. How are they doing this? Yep. How are they doing this? And so that was my feeling like, I it's not a guarantee that you're not going to be doing this alone. And I just take my hat off to all of these extraordinary women and some dads that are single dads that have to do it by themselves. And so that was kind of my thing. Like, I'm a career person. Yeah. I have no interest in being a mom.

U1

7:56

Yeah. So what changed you? Was it love? Was it raised really good at negotiating?

U2

8:02

Ray is really good at that's where we'll stop. No. 1s I fell head over heels in love with him and I saw what an incredible dad he was as a young father. And I thought to myself, oh my God. And Tierra was so easy to love. I mean, so easy to love. And we spent so much time together. And kudos to her mom because she really allowed me to develop my own relationship with Tierra and never made me feel like you can't really love my daughter fully. I love that it was never a she's not your mom of a deal. It was like, listen, when I'm not physically present, shannon is the boss.

U1

8:46

That's a beautiful opportunity. It's so young for Tierra, like, for you and for Ray and for Tierra's mom, but also for Tierra to understand that love can be abundant and expansive and come from so many different places.

U2

8:58

What a gift to her and a gift to me because I got an opportunity to learn how to not be selfish and love someone else. And I just thought to myself, wow, if they can all be like this, I'm going to have to go ahead and give this man babies. Once I started, I just didn't stop.

U1

9:19

They're amazing. You have amazing children. So the age range now is

U2

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Tierra 30. She's married, and we're about to be grandparents. 1s Yes. I'm about to be somebody's grandma. Oh,

U1

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my. You have your grandma name picked out already,

U2

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don't. Whatever the baby calls me, I'll figure out and be like, Doodoo. And I'm like, I'll take it. I'll take it. Doodoo says yes, 3s but so Sierra's 30 and married, and she has a really wonderful husband named Travis, who we love, and she has her person, and they're starting family. And then we have the five boys. Ray ray, who's our first born, and then his best friend, Jeremy. Jeremy. We got to throw Jeremy. Jeremy in there. He's awesome. And then Walker, who's 16. Winnie, who's 13. His name's Win. And Wiston. Who's eleven. So one girl and five boys. Oh, my

U1

:

goodness. The fratcher. It's a total frat. 1s I have one, and I'm always like, you can't put the top back on anything. This isn't a cause that I can only imagine with five.

U2

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You know what the crazy thing is like, and you know this from experience, they don't know where anything is. Nothing.

U1

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I'm like, how do you operate? When I'm traveling,

U2

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literally will have something in their hand and be like, mom, I don't understand. Where are the keys? And I'm like you're literally holding

U1

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them. So my favorite quote in the house is, if it was a snake, it would have Bitcha, because everything is, like, right in front of them, and they cannot see it. Go figure. Well, it's not just me. It is good to talk about these things,

U2

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though. It is. But you know what? If that's the worst of it, fine, I'll take it. I'll take it.

U1

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Because there's so much love. There's so

U2

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much love. They're so amazing every single day. I'm so just proud of them and really just. 1s I just love who they are as people. My mother in law was in town for the past couple of days, and of course, she loves being with the boys. And Jeremy and Ray Ray flew to La. To go to rolling loud, right? Normally they travel for AAU basketball, right, because they're both amazing basketball players. And so every once in a while, they travel without Ray and I with their teams or whatever for team camp. And we know they're in a group and they're good, 1s but they went for a concert. And so, like, my mom and my sister are like, wait a minute. What do you mean they're flying to La. To go to a concert, and they're going to be on their own? And how do you feel about this? And are they going to be safe? And of course, there was, like, a fire breather at Rolling Loud, and people caught on fire, but everybody was okay. Thank God that was an after effect. But I just was like, listen, I trust them, and they're such good people, and they love music, and I am a music lover, and Ray is a music lover. And on the weekends, if they don't have games like, Ray Ray and I are in this vintage record store digging through the crate. Oh, I love it. Me too. And we'll go home and he's, like, playing me records and spinning me stuff, and it's just such an incredible thing that we have, and I want to encourage that. I don't want to live in fear. As scary as the world is, I want him to have experiences. And by the way. 1s He's going to make mistakes. Jeremy's going to make mistakes. We made mistakes. I make mistakes every single day. And I think part of the issue that we're dealing with in our society now is that our children, children of color, black kids aren't allowed to make mistakes, and that's a real problem.

U1

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How did you learn how did you grow? How do you develop skill

U2

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microaggression competence I agree. Or a major aggression. Major aggression. It's interesting because over the last, I would say, like, six months, I've really been sitting with my own intention. I'm a very spiritual person, and I focus on particular kind of intentions, and one of them was has been, and continues to be letting go of fear and not living in fear. And the fear I have all sorts of fear about all sorts of things. Right. But the thing that I'm most wanting to let go of is the fear for my son. I'm like, that's me.

U1

:

I have to ingest that fear, but I don't have to give it to him. If I have to deal with it, that has to be me. But I don't want him to grow up in a fear based mentality, because that's going to affect how he sees the world. I want him to be smart. I want him to be mindful. I want him to careful. Absolutely. But I also don't want his natural orientation to be anchored to fear, because that's a really diminishing place to live from. And so I'm always trying to figure out, how do I make sure that my kind of concern for his welfare, his safety? Will other people see him with the loving eyes that I see him with and give him the benefit of the doubt? How do I assure that? And I'm like I can't assure it. What I can do is I can do the very best I can by him. I can give him the tools, I can give him the guidance, but I have to just pray and hope and also give him the space to try and to learn, because those experiences are going to be absolutely necessary for him to try to kind of navigate the rest of his life's journey

U2

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and to live an authentic, full life. Absolutely right. And I totally hear you, and I'm right there with you, because I have a lot of fear around my boy's safety in the world, and it can be crippling, and it can be terrifying, and you can get into a position where you're like and I found it. It actually triggered for me when I realized that I was procrastinating on booking a flight. It. You know, normally. I mean, I got his tickets, those came in the FedEx. You know, he already knew what he was gonna be wearing. He got the fresh haircut, you know, Jeremy was getting his hair braided. They were ready to go. And I had made arrangements for the hotel, but I procrastinated on booking the flight until four days before they had to leave town. That's really unlike me. And I just said, you know what? You gotta just do this. Yeah, you gotta do this, because you know how important it is to him and he's going to be okay. And I literally just prayed on it. I just covered him in the blood of Jesus. I called my mom and my aunts and was like, I need you guys to be prayer warriors for me this weekend. Keep Ray Ray and positive thoughts. And then I just let it go. And I just wanted him to have an amazing time. And he did have an amazing time. I love

U1

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it. And then that gives him confidence. It also helps build his competence. Right. And it also gives you both of those things as well. Like, okay, got it. I'm watching him do the thing that I was afraid for him to do, but he did it well. And probably with your singing career, you probably started off being much more adventurous or very adventurous at a very young age too,

U2

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right? So crazy. I was literally just thinking about that, because when I was talking to my mom, who was like, really, really on me, like, I can't believe you're going to let Ray Ray go. And I said, mom. I was 18 years old, living in New York City in the studio during a graveyard session. We would get to the studio to start working at one in the morning with nothing but men. 2s For years. I didn't even have a cell phone to communicate with you. This was prepaid her.

U1

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And she was like, oh. He was like, she didn't

U2

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even know. She didn't even know where I was 90% of the time. And I'm like, why were you so confident that I was gonna be alive? And she was like, well, I had faith in you. And I'm like, exactly. Exactly. And I have faith in him. I love it. And I have faith in Ray and Jeremy to make good decisions. I love it. And they did. Yeah, did. And we survived.

U1

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And you survived. Everybody survived. Thank God. All we say is just thank God. Another

U2

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day. Yes.

U1

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How did you decide to start

U2

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grown? I have been to grown. It's amazing. For events, I've eaten the food there many times. As far as catering, I mean, it's really amazing what you've done. I love this slogan. What is it?

U1

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Real food cook slow for fast people. I was like, this is brilliant. It's absolutely brilliant. It's delicious. Tell me a little bit about how you got to the place where you were, like, of all these other things in your life and all the other pieces of your journey. How did you decide to get into the food industry?

U2

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I mean, I didn't want to, honestly. I mean, I would have to say, like, God did. Right? I was a singer and an actress. And when Ray and I were living in Seattle, when he played for the SuperSonics, I was flying back and forth to La. For auditions or for work. I was in a show called Century City that starred Viola Davis. Oh, yeah. And then I found out I was pregnant with Ray Ray. And I was like, okay, I got to kind of put my acting career on the shelf for a minute, which I was happy to do. And during that time, because I'd always been a worker, I started having this weird feeling of, like, I'm not contributing to the GNP in my household. All the women in my family worked. There was no soft life. Everybody worked. And so it was very difficult for me to kind of come to grips with the fact that I could be kind of like a dependent and to be at home running a house, that that was work. And so I had to do the work internally to really kind of legitimize this new version of me where I would prioritize the the running of the household and the travel schedule and being a full time breastfeeding mom and doing all the meal planning and meal prep and all the things. 1s Massive job, right? It's a massive job. I don't know why I didn't know it was a job, but a massive job with no pay, right? 1s And I had to kind of reckon with that, and I was struggling with it. And my grandmother, who was my favorite person on the planet, she and I had a conversation one day, and she said, just remember this, sweetheart. 1s How you're able to live right now is how we've all prayed that one day one of us would be able to live. 1s And I realized, oh, my God, you know, this black woman is telling me I

U1

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have my ancestors wildest dreams. Dreams that I get to I get to be the person that breastfeds these boys until they're three years old. That gets to make their meals every day, that gets to sort the laundry and be home at the airport waiting for my husband when he gets home from a road trip without having to answer to a supervisor or check into a clock or have someone leaning over me about how productive I was. No woman in the history of my ancestry has ever had this gift. And who am I 1s to not recognize the enormity of that and to not sit in it with gratitude and grace? 1s And so I said to my husband, Ray, you know what, he wasn't my husband at the time. I think we were engaged, or maybe we were married, I don't remember. But I said, you know what, I'm okay with this, and thank you for being such an amazing provider, because this is going to be my job for now. And then I just, you know, I had Tierra, who I was a fulltime bonus mom for. And then I had Ray, ray and then Walker, and then Winnie and Wiston, back to back. I mean, I breastfed for twelve years. Oh my goodness.

U2

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I was like tube boob junction. I was like a walking venting machine. 1s But it was a whole visual going, yeah, but it was such an enormous gift. And the time that I got to have with my boys, 1s this was a luxury. This was a luxury. And so I really got to sit in that. And then we were living in Boston. We got traded to Boston, and our middle child, Walker, was diagnosed with type one diabetes in a very dramatic fashion. We almost lost him. 1s Ray and the Boston Celtics were competing against the late, great Kobe Bryant and the La. Lakers. We were in Los Angeles in 2008 for the finals, and we were kicking butt. I mean, Ray had, I think, game four, I think 24, 24 points in the fourth quarter, eight three pointers. It was like a record. Nobody had ever had that many three pointers in a fourth quarter in a finals game. And it was really interesting because there was 35 of us, my mother in law, my sister in laws, all the kids, the nieces, the nephews, whatever. I think my parents were out there. And between a Monday and a Friday, our middle child, Walker, who was just 17 months old at the time, was all of a sudden lethargic, increasingly thirsty, just really not himself. And then he started peeing through his diaper and walkie was only 17 months old, so he wasn't eating a ton of solid food. He was mostly breastfed with some ancillary stuff. But interestingly enough, he didn't have the word juice in his vocabulary. He was 17 months old. He had about 50 words. Juice wasn't one of them. But between Monday and a Friday, he taught himself how to say juice mommy, because he was so excessively thirsty. So. 1s Ray had this amazing game, which was game four. The day of game five, I woke up in a pool of Walker's urine, and I was like, oh, my gosh, what's going on? And Ray said to me, something's really wrong with Walker. Because I was kind of thinking, like, games, you know, trying to help everybody get to where they needed to go, managing the tickets. Is everybody eating? You know, can we get to the Staple Center on time with all these people? It was a ton of us. There was team buses. And Ray was like, no, Shannon, something is. God bless Ray

U1

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to be able to be focused like that in the midst of all that

U2

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happening. I mean, he's been playing basketball since he was probably nine or ten years old. He'd never been to the big dance. This is the moment he trained for his entire life, and he still had the focus with all of that. I mean, the Celtics and the Lakers hadn't even played against each other in the Finals for years. This was like an absolutely 1s just a real rivalry. A real rivalry. 2s And he had the awareness to say, if you wake up tomorrow morning and he doesn't look like himself, you got to promise me you're going to take him in. 1s And Ray actually saved Walker's life, because the next morning when I woke up, as I said, I was in a pool of Walker's urine. He had completely soaked through his diaper, which was so unusual because he wasn't a big eater or drinker. And I remember putting him in the bathtub, and he just looked like a wet noodle. And I called down to the concierge in the hotel, and I asked them, do you have a physician on stuff? And the concierge said, we have someone we can call, but we don't have anyone on staff. So I spoke with the doctor. I don't even know this person's name. And the doctor said, it sounds like a flu or maybe a baby virus. Could even be food poisoning. But if I were you, I would take him into the nearest hospital, because anything I could examine him for in a hotel room, we're not going to be able to identify, like, a blood test. Well, and I said, okay, so what am I asking for when I get in there? And he said, I don't know. That's just the thing. They can rule out anything really scary with the blood test. Do not leave without a blood test. And I said, okay. Those words. Thank

U1

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God. Yeah. I wouldn't have known to ask for a blood

U2

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test, not in a million years. Yeah. So we go to the hospital, we're there for 20 minutes. I'm begging people to give this boy a blood test. He's fine. He needs pedialite. He's dehydrated. He probably has a virus. You're good. You should head out. And I'm like, you know what? I'm not going to ask anymore. I'm demanding. I'm actually not leaving here without a blood test. 2s And 20 minutes later, this doctor walks in, white as a ghost,

U1

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tears. And he's like, I'm so sorry. She she said,

U2

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I'm so sorry. I almost missed this. Your blood sugar is supposed to be between 70 and 120. Walker's blood sugar is 639. He has type one diabetes, and he's entered a phase of diabetes called ketoacidosis, which means his blood sugar is poisoning him to death. And if he doesn't get insulin immediately, you're going to lose him. Oh, my goodness. And that was the moment that everything changed, literally. I mean, it was like a rug had been pulled out from underneath me. I was free falling through space. I had nothing to grab onto but prayer. And my Auntie Sherry was sitting next to me. My Godmother. Oh, God. And she just looked at me, and her face was like shit, basically. And I looked at the doctor and said, I don't know anything about type one diabetes, but give him the insulin, because I'm not leaving here without my baby. And I picked up the phone and I called Ray. Ray was on his way to the game. He had game five. This was the game. He was supposed to win a championship. But I knew I had to tell him I could not protect him from his own life. Yeah. Because as important as the games are,

U1

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I cannot protect you from your own. As

U2

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important as the games are? Right? Yeah. The championships, the hall of Fame, all of it. You actually have five children, and you are responsible for nothing else in life except those five children that you brought into this world. And I called him and I said, all right, 1s I've got bad news. And he said, okay. And I said, Walker has type one diabetes. Your blood sugar is supposed to be between 70 and 120. They're saying it's 639. They're going to try to give him insulin. If he doesn't get enough insulin, we're going to lose him. I'm not claiming anything. I don't care what this lady tells me. I'm not leaving here without him. Jesus Christ has the answer. 2s That rain sovereign for me. So what have you got for me? And he said, thank God. And I said, thank God. And he said, thank God. And I said, what do you mean? He said, can we fix it? And I said, I think so. He said, will we be able to bring him home? And I said, I think so. And he said, thank God. We don't have to bury him. That's all I care about. 2s So he went to an NBA game. I cannot believe

U1

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five oh, my goodness. I can't even believe the emotional state that he must have been in, that you were in, that your whole family is in at this point, okay? So I know that while then he's alive and well, walker is alive and well. He's 16. Thank god. Thank God. 1s But Ray said to me his next sentence was, what do you want me to do? I'm in a cab on the way to the staples center. What do you want me to do? And he said, do you need me? And I said, go play your game, and then get your ass here, because today I actually do need you. And if you watch the game, if you go back in time or anyone goes back in time, because they talk about the game sometime that series, you will see Ray in the locker room looking like. 2s Looking like he is physically not there, and he was physically at the game, but he is emotionally not present. And if you watch the end of the game, we ended up losing that game. He is running off the court, taking his clothes off, stripping down to nothing on the court. And it was obviously a trauma response. He did what he had to do, and he is such a humble, private person, you never even see him take his shirt off in public. He was down to his underwear on the basketball court, running off, and next thing I know, he was walking into the hospital room. 1s This is a very long answer to a short question, but Walker is my why, and he is why I was set on this path to learn about diabetes. Type one diabetes, which he has, and by proxy, type two diabetes, which most Americans have, one out of three Americans have. And as you know, before COVID diabetes really was the pandemic of our time. 1s And I became an activist and an advocate for raising money, for research, for a cure. I sat on the international Board of directors for the JDRF for years and the Jocelyn Diabetes Center, and was raising a ton of money. And during that process, what I realized was 1s people are actively looking for the cure. But in addition to that. 1s Insulin is the number one sold pharmaceutical on the planet. Yep. Okay.

U2

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Yep. So there's a lot at play here. And I realized that something else needed to be done. And I was on my way to Whole Foods one night to buy groceries, and Walker had an extremely low blood sugar in his car seat. And I realized in that moment, I needed food from a drive through window. And everything coming out of a drive through window was a foodlike substance. Yep. Except that goes from freezer to a fry later. And what I really wanted for my baby, who was already insulin dependent, was, like, gluten free panko and crusted chicken tender. That sounds amazing. Or like a bowl of chicken tortilla soup. And I couldn't get that. And a donut wasn't going to cut it, and a taco with 98 degrees, 98 ingredients wasn't going to cut it. And I realized in that moment that somebody needed to have big enough balls to reinvent fast food. So that's what I did. Love it. And that was the moment that grown was born.

U1

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Oh, my God. I can't take it. Long answer

U2

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to a short question.

U1

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It's a beautiful why. It's a beautiful why. 2s I'm so grateful because grown has just prospered. It's doing incredibly well.

U2

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This is our year to scale. 1s How I'm putting that all in God's

U1

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hands. Yes. The manifestation begins right now. Well, hopefully, we all are, like, throwing our prayers in for that and contributing happily. 2s How is it that you've gotten through, like, the last four years in particular with COVID with the racial equity movement, all of that? How is it, as an entrepreneur and somebody who's actually been trying to navigate so many things, closing down, so many shifts in the work place, so many expectations kind of changing, how have you navigated that? It's

U2

:

been hard. I mean, I always say, like, with a messy bun, jesus Christ, and lots of coffee, because 1s I don't know how to do it. Other than that, 2s it's just been so difficult, and I've had to really rely on prayer and my family. I mean, my mom, I'm almost 50 years old, but during COVID when I would get in a pinch and I didn't know how I was going to make payroll, I would call my mom, this 70 year old black woman who's been in business and her own right for 50 years old, like, Mom, I need your help. Mommy, I need your help. And she's like, I got you. Until they put me in the ground, you're my responsibility. I'd love it. Imagine that. That's a

U1

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great response. That's a great mom, right? Yeah.

U2

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And so I think, obviously, like most businesses in our area, we were really lucky that we already had a drive through, which is the thing everyone tried to convince me against. Right. Like, why can't you just make a great fast casual restaurant? Why does it have to be an organic certified facility, and why do you have to have a drive through? And I'm like, well, I've got six kids. If I'm on a call and I need to get food, I'm not able to get out of the car. At the time, I had four car seats.

U1

:

Why are people discouraging you from getting having a drive through? It's more expensive. It's more what?

U2

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I think there's not a lot of real estate with existing drive throughs, or at least there weren't when I came up with the idea. In 2008, traditional fast food fast food ran supreme, so there wasn't a lot of real estate like that. And I think the other thing that people were thinking of is if it's an organic certified facility and you're using real food, single ingredient foods, how are you going to be able to prepare those as quickly as 1s something that someone's throwing in a microwave? Well, it's about prep.

U1

:

Yeah. Well, but also, people's expectations shift. I know when I go to a coffee line, I'll sit sometimes 15 minutes and wait for a cup of coffee when my expectation growing up was that I made it at home. Right. Coffee out on the run for four or $5 didn't exist. I think our expectations shift over time, and so what you're doing is kind of creating a path to a new cultural experience that I think people are willing to grow into. And obviously you were right. You had that vision.

U2

:

And I think also people's there's a stigma associated with the words fast food, but that's why I use it, because the problem is not the experience. I mean, it's not like people don't need things quick, we need them quicker. But the issue is the quality of the ingredients and 2s the opportunity of what's being provided is what's falling short. Yes. So if you can meet people's level of expectation by providing exceptional quality single ingredient foods, nutrientdense meals, organic certification made by people that absolutely love food and that eat there every day, that have an employee meal off the menu and are being paid fairly, a real living wage offered in paid vacations, people that are treated with dignity, 1s then the experience changes. Yeah, 1s it's a quality thing. I don't think the words fast food are dirty words. Right. But what's been offered in the past, 1s our desires and our tastes have changed. So we need to meet that level of expectation. I agree. It I love it that you're like, we're going to take these words and we're going to change the narrative around them and we're going to make them kind of evolve with where it is that we need and want to be. It's interesting to think about this. I told you I think of so much about kind of systems and equity, diversity and inclusion and how it is that we can truly have impact at the systems level. None of this like, bandaid stuff right here and there, but instead at the systems level, where is it that we can inter being in ways that can truly have. 2s Amazing impact on the kind of quality of the human condition and the condition that of climate and Earth justice. And I think food is the common denominator. There are a lot of other systems, education and health care, but I think food is probably the most primary. And so for you to say, I really want to jump into that space in order to really create change and kind of get on the other side of well being rather than trying to fix with kind of pharmaceuticals. And drugs, things that we continuously break through food and other practices. Really thinking proactively about how do we invest in who we want to be in a way that's really holistic. But it's interesting because there's so many patterns that people have, right? There's so many patterns that require

U1

:

people either interrogating and or breaking or changing in order for us to get to be able to just at a personal level, let alone at other sorts of legislative and other sorts of levels. So it's interesting that you chose this ridiculously complicated industry.

U2

:

No. Punk bitch. 2s Fast food has been done one way for a very long time for a reason. Yeah, right. But I'm really proud

U1

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of it. I'm very proud of you.

U2

:

I'm really proud of it. And I believe that everybody deserves access to a grown. I know it should be affordable and accessible to every family, and I see it in my own life still. We're a basketball family. So when we're traveling to AAU games outside of Miami and we're in other states, I am like, what do I get these kids? What do I get them? There is nothing available for them out of a drive through window. Even if you strip away the organic certification, you cannot get a fresh pressed green juice out of any drive through other than grown in America. You cannot get a piece of blackened grilled salmon with Brussels sprouts and sweet mashed potatoes out of any other drive through in America. Like, we did that. We did that. And we need to be able to do more of it to make everybody have access to it. And I think, as you mentioned, there is this real divide. 2s And it's food racism. Yeah. There is a and classism. There's a real divide for who has access to the best stuff. And the scary thing is, we were the growers. Yep. You know, my mom's parents had a strawberry farm. Her her grandparents on the Cape. They're Cape VerdeOn on the cape in Massachusetts. And they grew everything. They grew kale. They do turnips. They do, you know, sweet potatoes. They grew strawberries. They had goats and goat milk, and they provided all of that for their community. Acres and acres and acres of land of farmland. And my mother in law's family members grew up farming.

U1

:

Right. So did I. Yeah. My family. Yeah.

U2

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And so we were the purveyors of food. We were the growers of food. And we have now been put on the outside of having access to the best quality stuff. Our communities for the large majority are food deserts. And so there needs to be a lot of I'm really blessed and fortunate that one of my really good friends is a woman named Ashle Walker, and she is an organization in Miami who you really should interview. Oh, I love called Health in the Hood, and she's brilliant, and she runs community gardens here in Miami, and she employs families from the community to work the gardens. And then everyone gets to come in and have bountiful fruits and vegetables that they grow as their harvest for free in their communities like Liberty City and Opalaca. It's really incredible work, like, reestablishing our relationship with food and understanding the value of food. I feel like in the black community, I grew up eating ridiculously bad food, and it was because it was cheap. It was cheap food, like, substance. Everything was food. Like, everything was a cheese. Like, nothing. We were on the WIC program. Like, we would go in, and if we would get good quality food, we literally would be told by the cashier, you can't buy that with your food stamps. Right? That's intentional.

U1

:

Very intentional. So we'd be sent back to get the least expensive thing on the shelf that had ingredients that were unnamedable and 1s sitting there forever. If it doesn't expire ever. Right? That's a problem. And then ingesting that for the entirety of our life. And then we wonder why our mortality rates are high, why our type two diabetes rates are high, why our obesity rates are high, why our

U2

:

mental health the number one killer of black women. And it's like, well, what are we consuming? What are we consuming on every level?

U1

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On every level? Not just food. Not just food, but it starts with food. Absolutely starts with food. And people ask me sometimes, like, how do you get your kids to eat healthy food? How do you get your kids to eat broccoli? How do you get your kids to eat salad? And I haven't always been successful. One of my kids doesn't love vegetables, 1s but still eats vegetables, but doesn't love love. But I always say, start them young. Get them in the kitchen with you. Yeah. There's a point of pride when you're a part of the preparation process. And I have one of my sons Win, if I start cooking without him, he's mad at me. He's like, mom, why'd you start without me? I love it. Why'd you start

U2

:

without me? He's like a little chef. He wants to be in there with me, and. 1s You know, I think we can say the same thing about gardening. We can say the same thing about getting our hands dirty and learning about soil health and 1s why having access to real food matters.

U1

:

It does. And we have to I agree with you. It's so socioeconomic in so many ways. We have to make it affordable. We have to make it

U2

:

accessible. And another thing I think we can do from a systems level, because you were talking about systems, we work with the public school board here in Miami quite a bit because my husband builds computer labs through his foundation, and he donates them to public middle schools. I think he's done six so far here, maybe seven so far in Miami. I think all of them in Hartford, Connecticut, a bunch of them in Boston. And so we work with the foundation for Miami Public Schools, and they do a really good job of trying to incorporate real food for kids. Nice. And there have been so many studies about how, especially during the Pandemic, we were really tore off the Band Aid at the Ugliness of how many children are food insecure? And that was so evident during the Pandemic. Kids didn't have access to WiFi. They didn't have computers. They didn't have an ability to communicate with their teachers. They weren't able to get to their counselors, and they didn't have free breakfast and lunch. They didn't have

U1

:

food. Yeah, they just didn't have food. And some kids were like, we have to just to eat. Yes.

U2

:

Yeah. And so they had a lot in Miami. There were a lot of drop offs set up where restaurants like ours, but many, many restaurants were able to come in and provide healthy breakfasts and lunches every single day for kids that were able to get to school, whether that meant walking with a friend or whatever. 1s Miami was really on it. And they also were gifting families $200 publix cards every week so that their parents could get groceries from a real grocery store, not just like a bodega. Yeah, exactly. So they really impressed me. And I'm sure there was a lot of horror stories, but there were also a lot of really good stories that came out of the school system and Carbala when he was still in power. I love trying to really help fill the gaps, stand in the gaps.

U1

:

We have to. And the service I love the whole trajectory of your story has been kind of, how can I serve and be grateful? All of it has sound like there's such a strong kind of service through thread, right. Whether it's your children or your family or recognizing and being grateful for ancestors and also then churning what was a tragic moment into an opportunity to be of service to an issue that's even larger than your family. It's absolutely amazing and beautiful.

U2

:

Okay. Yeah.

U1

:

Before we got started, you mentioned that there was an interesting equity diversity and inclusion issue. That or something that's recently happening. I'm dying to dive in.

U2

:

I want to hear your thoughts on this. So 1s there's this interesting thing that's happening now with the misuse of the word woke. Oh. 1s Right. Can we just pause about how obnoxious this is? It's obnoxious. It's so frustrating and obnoxious on so many levels. You know, something that, you know, set out to be so intentional and to really acknowledge people that were awake and aware of what was going on around them and trying and trying 1s to make space for everyone so that everyone feels well, to sit at the table has now been, I mean, vilified absolutely. And contorted and twisted and perverted in a way that means something bad about wanting to hold space for people and used in so many incorrect ways that it's embarrassing. So I'm dealing with this issue in my job, so I don't want to speak too much about it because it's an ongoing legal battle. It's

U1

:

legal. OOH, juicy.

U2

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But we're going to talk about it anyway.

U1

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Okay?

U2

:

Oh, gosh. So I have a team member that worked with me, and one of the things I will say about the restaurant business is it is very unusual to have team members that have been with you for a very long time. Okay. We talked a little bit about culture and ethos earlier and about what it is to be in a leadership position and how you keep people in inspired. I think we talked about that before we got on camera. But that's a really big deal to me because by nature, I'm not a great leader. 1s I love people, and I treat every situation like a family.

U1

:

That's interesting. It's interesting you say that, because even though I talk about leadership and I'm really good at coaching leaders, for me to actually do the work every day, day in and out yeah. Day in and day out of leading in an organization is actually the hardest part of my world. Yeah, it's hard. Yeah. It's

U2

:

hard for me to be a manager of people because I don't want to be managed, and I'm not a rules follower. So for me, I love giving people autonomy to just make mistakes. Try it. If it doesn't work, whatever. You got this. I'm a detailed person, and I like things to be carried out, but I'm not like my way or the highway. I'm like, hey, if you can think of a smarter way to do this, go for it. Let's do that. Great ideas come from anywhere. It's not like some period with me at the top, like, oh, I'm the only person. I'm the grown woman. No. Yeah,

U1

:

right, exactly. Yeah. Great ideas all the time come from people at every position in the company. Agreed. So that being said, I'm not a great manager of people, but in my leadership role as the CEO of this business, I have, in a lot of ways, modeled the organization of the restaurant group as a family. And treating people with dignity is really important to me. I want to treat people the way that I want to be treated, and I want to be seen and heard, and I want them to know that they're seen and heard. And so something that's really unusual about our business that is very antithetical to a traditional fast food experience is that we have a 66% retention rate. Fantastic

U2

:

fast food. Typically, every single position turns over at least three times every year. So if you have a general manager, you're going to have three general managers in a year. If you have a front of the house staff member that greets customers, you'll probably see three to six of those. And that's

U1

:

exhausting. Just constantly filling.

U2

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Constantly filling. And it also is very expensive. Turnover is very, very expensive for businesses, not to mention morale. But we don't have that issue. I mean, our original dishwasher that started with us in 2015 is still at Grown. Hey, Anton Jones. Yeah. Hey, Anton. And so we've been really, really fortunate to have these amazing souls. Believe in the mission of Grown and to want to see it through. Yeah. And so one of my team members who's been there for a while, 1s exhibited some different kind of behavior that I hadn't seen before, and this was a valued member of the team, one of the highest paid members of the team. Lots of responsibility, very, very good at their job, and had been with us since the beginning. 2s And 2s during, I would say, the fall of this year, 1s used racist language at the job, 3s used a racial epicut and loud enough so that everybody could hear. And we were in the middle of a massive catering for a professional sports team, and it was a high stress day. We were feeding 250 people. It was a massive catered banquet. There were 30 people on staff, and the words were undeniably racist and incredibly hurtful to everybody in the building. 1s We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind. Ageism, racism, sexism, anybody that would speak about who someone loves or who they pray to or how they identify. It's just not acceptable. A grown and I do have the entrepreneurial gene, and I come from entrepreneurs, but this is bigger than that. This is just about being a human being. My grandfather was the commissioner of minority small business for the state of Connecticut. What frank to this day, the set aside programs that he built in the 60s are still there for black owned businesses. Being an entrepreneur is something that was going to happen for me, but. Dealing with racism for all of us in sexism as women and now ageism, as we're getting older, is always something that we're dealing with. But not under my roof. Yeah. Yeah, right.

U1

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This is totally unusual. This person has never done this before.

U2

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You know, there had been some grumblings in the past that, you know, things had been maybe spoken under their breath or, you know, kind of thrown away, but this was absolutely spoken in a manner that everybody in the restaurant just stopped.

U1

:

What happened? Like, when everybody heard this,

U2

:

it was just like, did you hear it? I wasn't there yet. I was already on my way to the venue for the catering event. So the team member that it was thrown to and meant to hurt and meant to humiliate called me and said, I've got to have a conversation with you about this. And I said, I'm going to see you in ten minutes and we'll talk. And so we stepped aside and we had a conversation about what was said. And then I spoke to the other people that were there in earshot to hear it. And I told the gentleman that it was spoken to, you can leave this with me. And the next day, I let the person go, the person who spoke these words. And 2s this was intentional. This was meant to hurt, this was meant to shame. And it was so awful, I won't even repeat it because I wouldn't want it repeated. And so the next day, I called this person myself with our director of operations on the phone and just said, today's your last day, or yesterday was your last day, and I want you to know why. And I went through all the things about our zero tolerance policy for racism and I said, this doesn't take away from the work that you've done here because you've done great work here. This doesn't take away from the kind of employee you are or the contribution that you've made, but this will not be tolerated here and you're welcome to come get your next check. Whether than that, you're not welcome to be on the premises for any reason. And 1s here's the mic drop. Yeah.

U1

:

I'm like, well, everything sounds

U2

:

exactly like does it sound like it was handled

U1

:

appropriately? It was perfectly textbook. This person filed a complaint against me with the EEOC that I'm a racist. 3s It for? What did you

U2

:

do that was racist? Exactly. Yeah. Reverse discrimination. Oh, reverse discrimination. Because I'm woke.

U1

:

Oh, this is where the woke. 2s You're accused of being woke. You're you're guilty of

U2

:

being woke. I'm guilty of you

U1

:

allegedly you're allegedly woke. We don't want to get ourselves into legal trouble. Really?

U2

:

Not only am I allegedly woke, only

U1

:

in the state of Florida can you be allegedly woke and have it be like, man pursued

U2

:

legally, and then the cherry on top of

U1

:

this. Sorry, I shouldn't laugh. This is a real thing.

U2

:

It's a real thing that I'm dealing with. But it is laughable, and sometimes you have to laugh so you don't cry.

U1

:

Right? Because this is ridiculous, and I'm so

U2

:

sorry that's your thank you. And that's how I'm treating it. Like, it's absolutely ridiculous. But you still have to fight it. Yeah. You still have to fight it because you cannot allow for this. And part of this and again, I'm going to disclose this because we're talking, and I think it's really important because of what's going on in the world. Part of the complaint is that. 1s I'm the face of the restaurant that's offensive in nature to this person. Okay.

U1

:

Okay. I'm not sure why yeah. That

U2

:

sounded that's offensive in nature to this person that I'm the face of the concept. And the other thing that's offensive is that I'm proud to be a black female owned business. 2s Okay. And so 1s what I think is so interesting about that is because I have tons of different friends. My family looks like a rainbow. My dad is white. My mom is black. 1s My dad's mom is Jewish. 1s We have 1s whatever you think you've seen

U1

:

it. Yeah. This is a rainbow.

U2

:

It's a rainbow of everything, not just of complexions or languages being spoke or who you love or where you pray. I was baptized Catholic. My sister was baptized Baptist. My baby sister was baptized congregationalist. I mean, in a family of three girls, they just kept making different choices. Yeah, exactly. So there's a lot there, and it doesn't mean that I'm not incapable of having a feeling about something. Right. We all have biases. That's a fact. We all do have biases. S but I have so many friends that are so proud to be a second generation immigrant yes. Or a female owned business right. Or being trilingual. 2s And I feel like I don't think we should feel. 2s Bad? No. About being proud? No. Of who we are. When is it ever okay? When is it ever okay to be mad at someone that they're proud of who they are?

U1

:

No, it's interesting of I'm

U2

:

thinking of Muhammad

U1

:

Ali saying, I ain't anti white, I'm just pro black. Right. And it's kind of like that where it's, like, right for me to stand in or for you to stand in. Your true, I am a black woman entrepreneur, and all of the amazingness that that embodies and also all of the challenges and complexity is absolutely 1s not just acceptable. It should be cherished and honored. But I do understand that there are people who are like, well, I'm not allowed to say that I'm proud X, Y, or Z and not feeling like I have the ability to say that in this world. It's just ridiculous that we have to continuously explain to people what it's been like to be marginalized for the entirety of this thing that we call the United States of America. And then the challenges as you started this conversation about all of the ancestors who have sacrificed so much,

U2

:

built this country for you

U1

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to be where you are right now and for you to honor them and be able to embody all of that freaking effort over generations and be able to stand in that moment and have somebody throw a dart at it.

U2

:

Awful. And you can insult and humiliate and try to shame everybody in here, and then you mad about it. Yeah. I saw something this morning, actually, that Morehouse is being sued right now 1s by a gentleman, a white gentleman who. 2s Was upset because he was feeling like he had his I think he has a graduate degree from Morehouse, and I don't want to tell the wrong story. You could easily Google this, but it's one of these, like, anti woke lawsuits suing for $2 million. 1s For some reason I just looked at, it was like, this is ridiculous. I have no idea. But it reminded me there was a woman that was speaking about it, and she was saying, 1s the thing that people don't understand and you can speak to this because this is your work the thing that people don't understand in America is that numbers don't make you a minority, okay? Because black, brown people, the AAPI community, when you put us all together, we're actually the majority of the population on the globe, okay? But it's not about the numbers. It's about the systems that were put in place to make you a minority. Right.

U1

:

As far as access, as far as to resources, to food, economic yeah.

U2

:

To the health care system, to loans, to being able to get married, to being able to love who you love, to being able to have access to reproductive rights excuse me, or gender affirming care. 1s Those systems that are put in place and locked in place by officials and legislative branches that were designed to keep you out aren't about a numbers game.

U1

:

No, because it's always the very small minority from a numbers point of view, globally speaking, and in specific geographies that are making those decisions, and they wield disproportionate amounts of power. And that's the tricky part about what's happening, I think, in the United States, but in so many parts of the world right now, is that we have such concentrated wealth, such concentrated resources, and allocations of power, and the gap between the haves and the have nots is continuing to grow at such exacerbated rates that it's making it 2s we have to be kind of persistent and kind of dogged, and we have to have people like you and like me and like Monique Idlit, who was here on another episode, talking about at the systems level. Absolutely. At the systems level, where is it that we can intervene in order to try to have some actual impact that's going to allow for the kinds of changes that are going to be social, legal in practice and expected, but we can't just. 1s I also am really happy that you're not giving up, that you're not like you know what? I'm just going to say forget it. I just want to wash my hands a bit and walk away. Because one of the other burdens that's unfortunately part of I think a lot of our journey once we choose to get in the arena like you've done, is to have to fight. Sometimes

U2

:

we always have to fight. To have to stay the every day is a battle.

U1

:

Every day is a battle. But to have to fight something, that's ridiculous. When I used to be the director of a human rights office for a city government, I had the early part of my career literally delegated or designated to people coming to me, complaints with complaints of discrimination. So this person, this employee would have come to me to do the investigation, and then I would have had to mediate it, and I would have had to make the decision. I have really clear perspective about this is ridiculous. It's a ridiculous claim, but it's still going to cost you time, effort, emotional, 1s your legal bills, your ethos in your company, you probably have your other employees trying to figure out

U2

:

it

U1

:

was retaliatory. It's awful. But the opportunity that you have is to then bring the conversation back to your organization and say, okay,

U2

:

that was the really beautiful part. Yeah. And I think 2s the reaction to the action from the team perspective is now the team is so bound.

U1

:

Yeah. I bet that they're just

U2

:

like, I have the tiger. They're feeling so empowered. People feel seen and heard that they matter, that the humiliation didn't stick, that. 1s Something evil or cruel didn't win. Yep. And and, you know, when I was talking to my husband about it later, I said, listen, we have a daughter and five sons and 1s a couple of our boys work already out in the world, you know, teaching basketball, coaching, working at facilities, whatever. And they're making a living on their own already for their own money, but they may or may not have a job where they work for someone in life. And this cannot fly. Absolutely. Because if this was one of my boys, and I have to look at this young man, this gentleman that works with me as if he were my brother, my father, my uncle, my son 2s in this moment, and how would I expect someone in a position of power to operate for my sons?

U1

:

I can't believe you started this story by saying you're not a great people leader. That's not my takeaway. That's

U2

:

not my takeaway. Maybe I need to do a shift,

U1

:

the major shift. I would actually say that this is the most beautiful example of what leadership is and can be and should be now in 2023 and going forward, and this is what people want and expect. So you just sharing this story and helping people kind of feel seen and understood in today's work world. And to give example to other entrepreneurs and other CEOs and other people managers about what it means to really show up and what it means to double down on our organizational values and our personal values is such a

U2

:

gift. I love it. How can we say that we have a safe space for people to work if their very presence can be challenged, their very identity can be challenged? I'd love it. I'm thankful. 1s I'll keep you post

U1

:

on how it goes. If you need a character referenced, have the EEOC people call me. I'll give them all happily. Yeah, if you need it.

U2

:

I can't

U1

:

imagine it will. Wow. Okay, so listen, I want to do a quick couple of questions to wrap us up. Okay, you ready? Wrap it. So this one's going to be quick. I think you're going to do well on this one. Okay. I didn't tell you in advance, but I think with your music background

U2

:

is it like a one word answer? No,

U1

:

not a one word answer. Sorry. What is the current soundtrack of your life? Right now? Yes,

U2

:

right now. I've been listening to Rihanna's lift me up on repeat.

U1

:

A good one. Oh, again, my that one is so good. Yeah, I mean, just that, like, song is everything. Yeah, I mean, it's just everything. That song is, like, incredible. Tim's, incredible songwriter. Rihanna, amazing performance. Just phenomenal done. I love

U2

:

it. If

U1

:

you could give words of wisdom to your younger self, what would it

U2

:

be? 3s To my younger self,

U1

:

say 16. Yeah, just way back. Well, not that

U2

:

far back. 4s Man, I'm so proud of her. Good answer. I am. That's a good answer. I wouldn't change anything. Good answer. I was a risk taker then, and I'm a risk taker now. I didn't give a fuck what anybody thought about me then. I don't give a fuck what anybody thinks about me now. If it's Jesus Christ, fine. Anybody else can take second place, I love it. I love it. Special love. Shout out recognition to a special woman in your life on this International. I'm going to shout out my mother in

U1

:

law. Hello. Allen Hobson. Yes. Because she raised a real man. Okay. And we always say women may we love them, may we be them. May we raise them. May we also raise men that are feminist. Amazing. She raised a man that is a feminist. And he rides for me every single day. And I could not have dreamt of, prayed for, designed myself a more extraordinary man to love me and my kids than this woman's son. Thank you

U2

:

to you and also to my mom, because I can never leave my mom. Jacqueline and Silva Williams, who's my angel on this earth. Oh, I love it. My mother's name is Jacqueline, too. What? And I have all sisters. I'm the oldest of all sisters. We have so much. How many

U1

:

girls? Four. Wow.

U2

:

But I love it. I absolutely love every moment of this conversation. Thank you for having me.

U1

:

So honored. Thank you to Demetrius for pulling me in. Thank you, Demetrius. That was actually I was like, oh, I don't know. She's probably so busy, I'll just make the call. But it's such a gift in my mind. I had these stories like, no, of course I'm too busy, but for you to say yes.

U2

:

Thank you. Thank you. I just really appreciate it. Thank you for asking me. I'm so

U1

:

happy. All right, my friend. All right. Much love to you. Happy International Women's Day.

U2

:

You as well.