December Issue 2021

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Inside

12

17

12

21

23

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Featured Story Kim Folsom: An AutoBiography

In This Issue

5

Words from the Publisher Best of 2021 Awards

17

Chrissybil

8

19

Ty Smith

35

Bethovan

21

Anthony Walker

37

Bad Boyz of Culinary

39

Timothy Parker

23 WHAT’S

Jerome Avery

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Whats Inside

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Inside WHAT’S

27

25

31

33

29

Featured Story

In This Issue

25

Dr.Bryant

41

DJ Prodigee

27

Nasara Gargonnu

43

Ramel Wallace

29

Todd Anderson

45

Gaidi Finnie

31

Tiffany Jefferson

47

Juile Coker

33

Toran Gray


Words From the Publisher The change and evolution of the name and brand! It has been a tremendous year for Black SD Magazine. This publication started in the middle of a global pandemic and during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. As a publication, our goal has always been to amplify the voices of the Black community, to celebrate and spotlight our people, and to support our business and entreprenuers. As a new publication, we were highly encouraged by all of the love and support we received from San Diego. From having San Diego’s own Reggie Bush on the cover of our very first print issue to going monthly with our printed magazine, San Diego has and will always be our #1 supporter. There are amazing Black people whose stories deserve to be told. As we continue to find more and more individuals achieving great things, dreaming big, and inspiring our whole community, Black SD Magazine found that there are more black people all around the nation and world who deserve their story to be shared as well. Because we want to continue to share your stories and inspire our community, Black SD Magazine has decided to evolve. We want to reach more people. We want to tell more stories. We want to continue to provide the positive representation we probably needed and deserved growing up. Because of our drive to share more stories, we are announcing our name change from Black SD Magazine to The Official Black Magazine. This is not a departure from our roots in San Diego; it’s a growth and expansion to not only share more stories with you but to amplify your stories to the rest of the world. Be ready. In 2022, we are sharing stories from LA, Atlanta, New York, Houston, and so many more cities. You will enjoy more stories of black excellence as well as see and hear from people in all fields from business to entertainment. Sincerely, Michael Cox CEO & Publisher The Official Black Magazine

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Words From the Publisher

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CEO & Publisher Chief Operating Officer

Michael Cox Anthony Perry

Executive Assistant

Margaret White

Art & Style Director

Lady Maximo

Head of Digital Lead Graphic Designer

Anthony Casillas Branden Carter

Editorial Department Design Department Adilene Delgado Calvin Brown Cheyenne Simpson Ciara Hendrix CM Lucas Davonne Evans Gloria Peebles James Quinn Katherine Fernandez Lorraine Jones Margaret White Rashawn Raysor Rasheeda Campbell Sabrina Giles Timothy Black Donohoo Victor Sledge

Wade Ramsamooj Billy Martinez Jaylon Kraus Marlo Calderon Mikhaella Walden Nathan Clark Nyłes Møøre Shelbi-Kaye Alves Emma Tideswell Isiah Jones

Photographers Isiah Jones


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ll San Diegans deserve access to quality public spaces. Libraries and parks are essential to creating safe, strong, educated, and thriving communities. But for too long, too many San Diego neighborhoods have not enjoyed the same kind of facilities, programs, or access as others have. Now is the time for San Diego to adequately fund essential services for all and remove access barriers to first-class library service in every San Diego neighborhood. Investment in deteriorating facilities addresses the issue of inequitable access The San Diego Public Library Foundation and San Diego Parks Foundation are joining a diverse and non-partisan group of residents to launch a ballot initiative to improve City of San Diego libraries and parks. The Libraries and Parks For All community initiative willinvest in San Diego’s deteriorating public facilities and remedy long-standing issues andhistorical inequities in educational and recreational opportunities. The Library and Parks Foundations are leading the grassroots effort to put this measure on the November 2022 ballot. Many of San Diego’s libraries and parks are dilapidated, unsafe, and in need of modernization. The Library Master Plan Framework document notes libraries are suffering from a construction backlog of more than $50 million, and the Parks Master Plan details how San Diego parks are in need of more than $200 million in basic repairs. Thousands of San Diego children and adults rely on libraries for free academic programs and internet service. Yet there is not equitable access to technology if you live near an older branch. Libraries go beyond books, and this is our chance to guarantee every San Diegan has access to a world-class library branch. Parcel tax guarantees funding source and includes strong provisions for citizen oversight The citizen-led measure will provide a guaranteed, local funding source for libraries and parks through a modest .02 cents per square foot parcel tax on City of San Diego properties, capped at one acre – meaning the average 5,000 sf property will pay only $100 per year. This measure also includes exclusions for low-income, agricultural, and certain senior and disabled housing properties. The measure is projected to raise between $40 million – $45 million annually, and funding will be restricted to library and park projects outlined in the Parks and Library Master Plans. Community-based oversight is a critical part of the initiative, and language ensures that library and parks budgets are increased and not supplanted by additionalfunds raised through the measure. If passed, this measure will provide a permanent, restricted libraries and parks revenue source protected from the uncertainties of future decisions by elected officials. This ballot measure will ensure state of the art facilities that serve the needs of all our neighborhoods. However, to be successful, it will need broad support from San Diegans who love and rely on their libraries and parks. I invite you to join me and learn more about the initiative by visiting librariesparks4all.com. Sincerely, Patrick Stewart, CEO, Library Foundation December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Patrick Steward

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2021 December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

2021 Awards

08

awards

Best of


Best New Business - Extraodinary Banana Pudding Best African Restaurant - Flavors of East Africa Best Caribbean Restaurant - Rocksteady Jamaican Best Soul Food Restaurant - Surf and Soul Best Nonprofit - Nerds Rule Inc. Best Alcoholic Beverage Business - Chula Vista Brewery Best Alcoholic Beverage Business - Sip Wine & Beer Best Creole/Cajun Restaurant - Louisiana Purchase Best Island Restaurant - Island Spice Best Singer - Terrell Thompson Best Singer - Brisa Best Dancer - Deion Williams Best Actress - Eposi Litombo Best Poet (Writer) - Kendrick Dial

- Revamped Venture

Best Artist (Visual/Graphic Artists)

Best Photographer - Black Queen Photography Best Videographer - Rose Best Photography Studio - Hendo Studios Best Creative Agency - Tunnel Vision Best Place for Breakfast and Brunch

- Breakfast Bitch

Best BBQ - Coop’s West Texas BBQ Best Content Creator - Todd Anderson


Best Blogger - Misha Best Health and Wellness Instructor (Fitness) - Nasara Gargonnu Best Business Consultant - Constance J Best Chef - Kelston Moore Best Vegan Chef - Geannie Best Vegan Business - Rollin Roots Best Clothing Brand - Ugochi Iwuaba Best Retail Jewelry and accessories - Jazzie Naturals Home Decor - Altered Decor Cooking - I am Len’s Kitchen Skincare & Makeup - Dirt don’t Hurt Best Bakery - Maya’s Cookies Best Babershop - Cali Coast Barbershop Best Beauty Salon - Xplicit Hair Studio Best Retail Fashion - Tyler B Free Hair - Auset Price Best Makeup Artist - Marian Hagi Hassan Best Esthetician - Steph J Styles Best Podcast - Bereal and Milk


Best Musician - Abe Majors Best Life Coach - Logan Rena Best Fitness Center - Alex Johnson Sport & Fitness Best Influencer Fashion - Tamara Best Influencer Beauty - Princess Kae Top Model in SD Female - Rajanee Female - Symone Male - Adria Patterson Honorary Awards: Trail Blazer of the Year - Cassandra Schaeg Doing It for The Culture - SD Melanin - High Def Ent

Community Leader - Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe Creating a Space for Entrepreneurs - Shala Waines


December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Kim Folsom

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KIM FOLSOM An AutoBiography

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im Folsom is the founder and CEO of Founders First Capital Partners, Inc, (FFCP) a revenue-based investment and advisory support investment platform. FFCP is the largest private provider of growth funding for service-based businesses and the only black and women-led, revenue-based venture platform with $100M in committed capital.

FFCP is focused on partnering with employer-based, contract revenue generating small businesses ($500K to $5M), to provide them with flexible and non-dilutive funding, expertise and resources to achieve exponential growth in underserved communities. Kim is also the founder of Founders First CDC, a not-for-profit, community development organization and micro-small business accelerator with a mission to help underserved and under-represented small business owners overcome the challenges they face due to lack of access to capital. Prior to Founders First, Ms. Folsom has raised more than $30 million in institutional venture financing, created over 500 premium wage jobs and has founded or served as a key executive for six successful ventures. Ms. Folsom has taught at several prominent universities including most recently at National University. She earned her MBA degree from the University of Pepperdine and a Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems a minor in Economics from San Diego State University.

Who Is Kim Folsom? Built Founders First to lead small businesses to thru times like these…survival, sustainability and the path to growth.

• • 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. • •

Mom, Wife, Diverse +25 Year Serial Entrepreneur, 7 Companies, 3 Exits, Raised $150M VC Thrived thru 4 Recessions 1994 – 1996: Savings & Loan, Real Estate Recession 2000 : Dot.com Recession 2001 : September 11th Terrorist Attack Recession 2008 : Sub-Prime Mortgage Recession 2020: COVID-19 Recession Note: Path Recovery

*Big +$1 billion businesses 6mos to 1 year to recover

*<$5M Small businesses +4 years

*Diverse founder led businesses get smaller or die because failure to transform their business to support the new reality. They don’t have the expertise, resources and cash reserves to support to make the transformation.

Kim 20 Years Ago


A day in the life of Kim Folsom: 1. What time do you typically wake up and start your day? I start my day at 4:30am 2. Do you have any morning rituals that help prepare you for your day? More weekly rituals: Journal Saturday and Sunday. Exercise Saturday, Monday and Wednesday. Monday’s are vegetarian days. 3. As a CEO and a busy person, how important is what you eat in a day? Very important. I am a believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I also set daily goals to drink water. 4. Do you make time for meals (like breakfast and lunch) or is it more about supplementing throughout the day with snacks? Are you a caffeine drinker? I am not a big lunch eater unless I have a lunch appointment. I usual have dinner by 6pm. I am a caffeine FREE tea drinker. 5. As a CEO, what does your typical work day look like? What are some of your tasks and duties? I usually have a couple of investor calls between 6am to 8amPT, as I have most my investors on the east coast. I usually have (2) 1-on-1 meetings with various members of our executive team. I provide coaching or advisory appointments with a couple of our member company CEOs. Evaluate company materials for potential investment. 6. On average, how many meetings do you have daily or weekly? Average of 5 per day 7. How do you prepare for meetings? I strive to have an agenda for most all meetings I attend to maximize to most use of my time. 8. As a CEO, are you ever nervous going into a meeting? No. I usually prepare 9. How much of your day is filled with work? 10 hours 10. Does work come home with you or do you have a work-life balance? I am more of a practice of “work hard, play hard” 11. After a full day of work, how do you like to unwind? Read, exercise, dance or listen to music. Watch family feud or jeopardy. I also enjoy traveling. 12. What are some of your top books you think every entrepreneur should read? I am a big reader or should a say a big book listener. I listen to (2) books per month. 1. Why should White Guys Have all the Fun..The Reginald Lewis Story 2. The One Minute Manager, Spencer Johnson and Ken Blanchard 3. Subscribe, Tien Tzuo 4. New Favorite: “Ascent Your Start-up”, Helen Yu


1973….45 YEARS AGO

My Dad…

• Retired Service 22 Years US Navy • Engineer and Achieved Rank WTO • Highest Enlisted Rank • Launched Navy’s First Diversity and Inclusion Officer Program • Wanted to start business to help organizations the power of D&I © 2017 Licensed Exclusively to LIFT Development Enterprises, Inc. All Reserved

Program Performance to date as of September 2021 Milestones/Major Achievements: Companies Served: 484 Program Cohorts Supported: 39 in 5 regions 71% Increased Revenues within 12 months of graduation Funding Approvals: $26M Total Revenues: $130M Jobs Created: 400+, 52% Avg Salary +$50K SMB Founder Growth Confidence*: 4/5 Net Promoter Score = 9/10 65% of those that increased revenues report they increased revenues by 25% within 6 month completing phase I of Confidential Information program


Ideas and Experiences that shaped my future 1

2

3

4

5

My Dad, retired Navy veteran, also leader of navy DEI project, always told Me that “I could do ANY thing” My Mom encouraged me to work harder than anyone around, give back and read the bible daily. Growing up I struggled…Diagnosed with ADD I had to develop alternative strategies for focus, organization skills and test taking to do well, like Gymnastics My first exposure to business was: 5th grade working in school cafeteria, and I got free lunches. My parents let me save my lunch money and I became financer of my sibling's extravagant lifestyle… Started my first business while being a mom to my 2 year old son, working fulltime, attending graduate school during the dot.com area… Raised $20M Series A. Grow global tech company, sold to NASDAQ company © 2017 Licensed Exclusively to LIFT Development Enterprises, Inc. All Reserved

Helping underserved founders grow mid-market businesses and expand premium jobs

405+

Small Businesses Helped

$21M+ Funding in Businesses

300+

Premium Wage Jobs

60%

Companies Increased Revenues


Chrissybil Boulin

Thanks for taking the time to tell us your story! Can you give us a quick introduction? Sure! My name is Chrissybil Boulin and I’m the owner of Jumpstart Tutoring Center. We provide one on one and group tutoring services to students throughout the state of Florida. Jumpstart was founded in late 2018 and I started the company with literally $500, no prior business experience and no cofounder. No business experience and no co-founder? That’s pretty unique. What was the inspiration to start the company? I have degrees in political science and development economics, but all throughout my life, education has always been something that has influenced me in really big ways. In fact, my first time tutoring when I was just 12 years old. See, I never really got a traditional job like working at a supermarket or a restaurant. I spent most of my free time tutoring peers. I remember the first time that one of my friends’ parents called me and I was so confused wondering why they’d be calling! They told me that my friend had been struggling in school and that after speaking with the teacher, it was recommended that she reach out to me for tutoring. And so that’s kind of how my journey began at that time. I’d never really put a label on it, calling myself a teacher or educator, but I just knew that I loved seeing my friends build their confidence and I loved being a part of that journey to facilitate. Super interesting! So many businesses are inspired by discovering we have a talent or gift others recognize and it sounds like that was certainly true in your case. Let’s chat about a different subject: Covid. How was your business impacted by the pandemic? Covid was really hard for us. We started in late 2018 so we didn’t even have a full year and a half under our belt before Covid hit. As a small business we didn’t have a lot of savings. I actually only had a one page website, and 66 followers on Instagram. To make matters worse, I did all of my marketing face to face, you know meeting people, going to schools and libraries, holding workshops for parents, that kind of thing. And naturally, once Covid hit, that was completely unacceptable, because the schools were closed, and so we really struggled to stay afloat. That sounds rough. What did you do to keep going? The first thing we did was build up our branding kit. Then we started to build out our website and increase our following on social media. Next came building out our team to focus on digital marketing and SEO. From there we hired a grant writer and that really is what saved us. With their help we were able to win $40,000 worth of grants from companies like Facebook and Springs and Scissors and The United Way of Broward County.

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

ChrissyBil

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So there are definitely a lot of opportunities out there, but without really building a team and just being so focused on staying afloat, we wouldn’t have made it. But thank goodness we did!

That’s outstanding. What kind of advice would you have for the next up and coming entrepreneur out there, that may be looking to grow their business?

A great example of resilience and creative problem solving. What did those experiences teach you?

Grit is number one. I mean there are so many ups and downs.

You know, looking back, all of those challenges really inspired us to take our next step, which is the big pivot into ED tech. We want to expand our offering because we understand that not all students can afford private tutoring but there is still a need for customization and access to it and so that’s really why we’re moving forward in that direction. Makes a lot of sense! Now I know you were recently recognized by Forbes, being named to their 30 under 30 list in the area of education. Was that recognition meaningful to you? Yes! The most meaningful recognition of my life so far actually. I remember just being in college and looking at the Forbes list and just looking at the people, particularly who were in the education category and thinking about you know how cool it’d be one day to be there. It’s an incredible honor to represent my family, to represent the Haitian American community, and to represent all of our partners, students and tutors. It’s amazing and that’s definitely an incredible milestone for us, especially now as we’re looking to fill out our $1.3 million seed round. By doing that, we’ll be able to launch our product and really capture market share. So it’s an incredible honor. What about other milestones Jumpstart has been able to achieve? What else are you especially proud that you’ve been able to accomplish? Though entrepreneurship is filled with ups and downs, Jumpstart has had a lot of great milestones. For starters, I’m proud that we’ve worked with over 2,500 students and are helping students save hundreds of thousands of dollars off of college tuition costs just this year alone.Additionally, I’m proud that we’ve built a network of partners including libraries, schools and NGOs and we have the highest increases on the SAT in our area which is 180 points - double that of our competitors. We’re really allowing kids not only to do well on a test, but empowering them to have access to college without having pile on debt. We serve students in grades pre-K through 12 so I’m hearing success stories from elementary school and middle school branches as well. It’s just been incredible to see this dream come true, and to hear about all of the lives of students were positively impacting. I would say that it’s always been my goal to find a way to do good in the world, while also doing good for myself and it just feels really great to see that happen.

This time last year we were just grateful that clients were starting to come back and so to be here really is an honor, but you have to be prepared for that. You have to be prepared for the fact that entrepreneurship is going to have ups and downs. You have to have grit and tenacity, but ultimately doing something that you are passionate about is what’s going to make it worthwhile. It’s what’s going to inspire you to keep going when you do have to have those 75 hour work weeks, and you do have to have those late nights. And you have to sacrifice time on other things that you love so find something that you’re truly passionate about. Especially if you’re a young entrepreneur, find something that is a natural talent for you and look at ways that you can use that talent to solve a problem that people have, better than anything that’s on the market. And so I’d say believe in yourself. I literally started off with 500 bucks. Where there’s a will there’s a way and with the Internet, you can get freelancers, you can do so much. You can learn so much for free. Keep learning. I’m reading eight books this month and I think that it’s necessary because I just want to make sure that I’m leading my company and everyone that depends on us in the right direction So keep learning, have grit, find something you’re passionate about and dream big.


Ty Smith is building safe work environments with CommSafe AI


B

orn and raised in East St. Louis, Illinois, Ty Smith describes his beginnings as humble. At 18 years old, Ty joined the Navy with the idea of just getting out of his hometown and finding something positive to do in life. “I discovered the Navy SEALs by way of a wacky movie with Charlie Sheen back in the day. And that bug bit me and it just stayed with me. So when I graduated high school in 1996, I didn’t have anything else other than the clothes on my back and a dream in my back pocket.” Ty describes his time with the Navy and the Navy SEALs as an “absolute dream.” While in the Navy, he was stationed in Italy. He found himself falling in love with the language and culture of Italy and Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy. While he was living a dream in Italy, the dream was to be a Navy SEAL. “I started SEAL training right after the terror attack of 911 and ended up spending the next pretty much 15 years going back and forth between the United States and the Middle East.” While Ty says “there is nothing glamorous about war,” he does appreciate the amazing leadership and direction the Navy has offered him. Under this great leadership, Ty found himself completing a bachelor’s degree from Ashford University and an MBA from the University of Southern California Marshall Business School. “I finished grad school like the Friday before I retired from the Navy.” After retiring from the Navy, Ty was all set up to start a career with the FBI. His plans were to learn what he could and then start his own personnel recovery company and help families reconnect with their loved ones that were taken from them— a cause that Ty describes as near and dear to his heart. But his life took a different turn when the Inland Regional Center shooting happened in San Bernardino on December 2 2015. So many people that Ty knew from the medical community reached out and asked him to come talk to them about protecting themselves in similar situations. “They all sounded alike, ‘Ty, we’re scared. These places aren’t providing us with any training. We don’t think there are any programs or policies in place to protect us.’” And Ty went and helped these people learn how to protect themselves in case of serious emergencies. “Eventually, I could hear my entrepreneurship professor in the back of my mind saying, “hey, the market is telling you what it needs from someone with your very unique skill set right now.” Ty went to research the problem around the active shooter and found that the root issue is workplace conflict and violence. “That’s a much larger problem… In the United States alone, half a trillion dollars, the companies are losing in loss expenses and revenue.” Ty ended up turning down the position at the FBI to start his own tech enabled security consultancy business.

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Ty Smith

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Ty hit the ground running and had the opportunity to work with a diverse array of companies. While working with these companies, Ty found that they all shared the same problems around physical security and that was humans. The root of these problems were identified as toxic communications. “If you keep working backwards from these situations, how did those bad actors start? Starts with toxic communications, the toxic communication evolves into toxic intent and then on toxic behavior.” While Vigilance Risk Solutions had a very successful run, Ty knew that the business would have to adapt to the shifting business models with the oncoming pandemic in 2020. “We knew it was going to destroy our business model by the time January rolled around.” Vigilance Risk Solutions would not survive the shift to remote work. But remote work would not eliminate the security threats that Vigilance Risk Solutions were preventing. “A lot of this toxic communication, that typically happens in the workplace, is going to move to the virtual environment. Those water cooler conversations are going to move to Slack.” With the bright foresight, Vigilance Risk Solutions was able to successfully rebrand and evolve into CommSafe AI. Instead of providing consulting services, they now sell an AI communications safety analysis software that integrates with internal communications services that a company uses. This AI software works to identify toxic communication in order to disrupt future threats to a company and its people. Whether as a Navy Seal, Vigilance Risk Solutions, or CommSafe AI, it’s obvious that Ty Smith truly wants to not only protect people but offer them the tools to protect themselves.



by Margaret White

S

an Diego Native Anthony Walker has worked as an educator and with youth football camps before becoming a licensed life insurance agent. He says that once he started selling life insurance, he realized the life insurance companies behaved similarly to banks when it came to growing our money. Education has always been important to San Diego native Anthony Walker. He has previously worked as an educator and with youth football camps. And while now he is a licensed life insurance agent, educating others is still an important mission to him. Anthony founded Finance Fridays to educate the black community. “Finance Friday is essentially a quest to help the community understand business entrepreneurship and investing,” he said. The lessons that Anthony shares are wisdom that his parents passed down to him. “I have an opportunity to highlight what my parents taught me and help me survive and thrive in different ways,” he said. He also says that he has a lot to thank for social media, not only for giving him the platform but also for being receptive to his lessons and message. When I asked Anthony about why the black community seems to lack financial literacy, he pointed back to our history. “The reason we lack financial, financial literacy is because we lack finances. And the reason we like finances is because of the way that we’ve been shut out of society in a lot of different ways,” he explained. But it is time for us to reinvest into ourselves and our communities. “What the black community lacks really is investment. I feel like if there was strategic investment and strategic financial investment, then I think that we could, then I really think we could grow.” Anthony believes that the black community would benefit most from communal wealth. “We need to organize and turn business into industry.” He advocates for the black community to start investing in each other and to start buying assets together. You might have seen his clothing line that has the Finance Fridays principles printed on them like “own your masters.” When I asked Anthony what inspired him to come up with the clothing line, his answer surprised me: “For almost everything you can think of, there is a paywall between information and people. I don’t want to do the same thing.” That’s what makes Anthony, Finance Fridays, and his mission truly honorable. His lessons are accessible and free to all. But for those who want to support him, you can buy a cute T-Shirt with a message you believe in. As for future projects with Anthony and Finance Fridays, Anthony shared that he will be releasing a children’s book about building wealth in the black community. He didn’t want to share too many details but you can expect the release on Dec 26.

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Anthony Walker

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Communication and Trust: A Guide-Runners Arsenal Written by: DaVonne Evans

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ave you ever had a story told to you in such vivid detail that although set clear across the globe, you felt like you were personally there? Stories where the storyteller’s charismatic words, descriptions, and anecdotes grab you so hard that you are transformed to a place you’ve never been, yet you find yourself excited to be in the midst of the action? That is how Jerome Avery’s recounting of his work with paralympic athletes hit me. Jerome Avery is currently one of a few full-time guide runners and callers working in the United States. A stand-out athlete in his own right, Avery has created a lane in the sports world and is working to make it wider. Avery recently spent some time with Black SD Magazine, and in addition to making me feel like I was part of the hushed audience listening as he called out commands to a blind athlete, Avery challenged my thinking, not only about athletes, but also about the power of communication and trust.

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Jerome Avery

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First, we’ve seen the viral video of you tied to another runner. Explain to us what a guide runner does?

There must be a huge level of trust between you and the athlete. What was your training for this job?

I do exactly what the title implies, I guide runners who happen to be blind or have some other impairment. I motivate and encourage as well as let them know where we are in the journey to cross the finish line.

My relationships with the athletes are based on pure communication and trust. I had no formal education on training athletes or the disabled, I read books and did my own research. Aside from that, my parents played a very vital role in how I communicate with others. Everything they taught my siblings and I was about listening without judgment and that helped me tremendously. I was blessed to have a great relationship with the first visually impaired athlete that I worked with but I understand that every athlete won’t be a good fit for me and vice-versa.

How did you become a guide-runner? I have been an athlete most of my life. I was MVP all four of my high school years and ranked in my home state of California. I trained for the Olympics in 2000 and 2004 and didn’t make the team. However, the opportunity to train with a paralympic athlete arose and I ended up going to Athens as a caller for a blind athlete who went on to win a silver medal.

Is there a difference between a caller and a guide-runner? A caller is very similar to a guide-runner. As a sighted person, I am on the sidelines giving instructions to the athlete. I tell them where they are, how far they are from their jumping or throwing space and so forth. When I am calling, the crowd of 5080 thousand fans, normally cheering loudly, are totally quiet so that the athlete can hear and follow my commands. The athlete is relying on me 100% and one wrong move because they cannot hear or mishear me can cause life-threatening injuries.

Listening to you speak, I hear therapist, counselor, teacher - you can do just about anything. Tell us what is next for Jerome Avery? I love what I am doing and I am working to build my brand. It will always include motivating and encouraging others. One of my goals involves going to schools for the disabled across the country to work with and train disabled athletes.

Jerome Avery can be found on Instagram @_jeromeavery_ Twitter @Mr_Jerome_Avery Email: jeromeavery@gmail.com



by Margaret White

F

our percent of the professionals in the mental health industry identify as black. It’s an incredibly low number in a field that relies on trust and vulnerability. It also seems to reflect on the stigma that surrounds mental health in the black community. However, there are those within the field who are bridging that gap and breaking down that stigma. Dr. Cheyenne Bryant, psychology expert and life coach says this stigma is slowly going away. She finds herself having more and more black men patients. However, she thinks that black women are holding themselves back from seeking help with their mental health. “Black women are still trying to hold the world on their backs and on their shoulders and saying I could do this and I’m not weak so I don’t need help,” Dr. Bryant said. As the founder of the Dr. Bryant Institute and the Dr. Bryant Foundation, Dr. Bryant believes that the mental health field needs more black representation. “When I’m in session with my clients who happen to be black and male, and they throw out a curse word or they say the n-word from time to time, that’s not alarming to me. I want them to be who they are. They have to be completely open and vulnerable and have the intimacy see into them so that we can work through things,” Dr. Bryant shares. Cultural competency is vital in creating the spaces that allow patients to be vulnerable. Dr. Bryant has had black patients who have seen a non-black therapist and felt misunderstood. “They felt like the therapist was more interested in hearing the trauma they experienced because it was such a surprise to the therapist,” said Dr. Bryant. But as someone who grew up in the inner-city, Dr. Bryant has faced similar traumas and can reach an understanding with her patients. “I always use my accolades and use my success as a tool to say that trauma, the teen pregnancy or whatever you experienced, let’s process it. Let’s leave it where it is at that address at that space, and let’s go become everything you want to become. Because it’s not just reserved for me.” Dr. Bryants encourages you to start investing in yourself. “Regardless of your race or culture, start to love yourself more and be proactive,” she shares. She reminds us all to make self care a priority and implement the tools we have to maintain healthy relationships. Ultimately, Dr. Bryant wants to help others become their best self.

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Dr.Bryant

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get moving with Nassara Gargonnu’s social media tags: https://www.instagram.com/ nasara_gargonnu/ https://www.facebook.com/ CoachNasaraGargonnu

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Nassara Garonnu

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Written by: James Quinn

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Nasara Gargonnu

hile the 2020 pandemic has kept us all dormant in our cozy beds and not moving, PE teacher Nassara Gargonnu made sure that his students were moving in his online class. “I would have my students show their exercises on video and send them to me. If they didn’t it would be a failed grade. I don’t do that nocamera stuff.” Nassara Gargonnu has been teaching physical education and fitness training in the San Diego community for years, and has made a large impact on the students he has had. “Sometimes, I’ll see old students of mine at a planet fitness, or on a run, or at the YMCA gym, and they’ll tell me about one of my classes they took when they were younger.” Gargonnu believes in making PE class just as challenging and important in students’ lives as any other academic topic in class. “When you’re in math class on the first day, you do 1+1 but you don’t keep doing 1+1, right? You keep challenging yourself and moving on to new concepts. That’s what I do. Mr. Gargonnu’s PE at Morse High School of San Diego is a mixture of health, exercise, sports, meditation and Yoga with health trainers and coaches coming in occasionally to show students how to live a healthy life. Nassara Gargonnu also runs an after-school program called “Just Keep Livin” that is funded with a grant from Matthew McConaughy. “Anything that had to do with health and wellness,” Nassara said “I would do with the kids. For example, I would take them to Whole-foods, rock-climbing, bike-riding, go to the park or the movies in the Lot; a luxury type theater. A lot of my kids haven’t left the community, so I would take them out sometimes to Pacific Beach.” Oftentimes, the students in the “Just Keep Livin” program will have a nutrition day where they make food. Nassara Gargonnu got into the journey of health fitness to get himself right first. It wasn’t until he began going to gyms in Atlanta that Mr. Gargonnu started to notice some fitness trainers not doing the right things in terms of exercises and fitness. Already enjoying the process of exercising, Mr. Gargonnu got his certification in fitness training to show that he had something genuine to teach about health. “I used to just go to the gym after work from Kinko’s, and I fell in love with Step-aerobics and

this African step dance class. I enjoyed the hype energy and group training experience.” Once he got his in personal training certification, Mr. Gargonnu started teaching fitness programs throughout San Diego at the YMCA, Turbo-Kicks, and even started his own fitness program called “Serious-Fitness” in SouthEast San Diego. “It was a low-cost or free program to get more black people moving in the area.” Eventually Gargonnu started taking people out for runs and joined the Blackmen run program in San Diego. Nasara finds inspiration in his style of training and fitness from Billy Banks and Chalene Johnson. Chalene Johnson is the creator of “Turbokicks” and Nasara considers it his favorite workout for its mix of kick-boxing and dancing. It was through Turbokicks that Nasara found the inspiration to do workouts and training based on upbeat music and hip-hop. “Most of my workouts will sometimes look like choreographed dances; if one person is off-beat I make sure they get on it.” Nasara looks up to Billy Banks, who is the creator of the Tao-Bo program, for his inspiring energy to stay fit and healthy for those that don’t move as often. Mr. Gargonnu is looking to make his fitness program Serious Fitness to become more of a holistic health fair every year. “I would want people to come to learn about steps they can take before shooting themselves up on medicine. For example I would have a high energy person, then I’d have a Yoga instructor to wind down, I would have a professional come in to speak about nutrition and preventive health actions, and we just give people a range of different things to do.” As America continues to be one of the most obsese nations in the world, health and fitness trainers like Mr. Gargonnu are going to keeping creating spaces and programs to reach those that need it the most in the San Diego community.


Todd

Anderson Written by: Margaret White

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Todd Anderson

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“A little way into the documentary, the guy says one sentence that stuck with me. It was that we were the only species that drink milk from another species. And to me that was very odd. And it was like my moment where I felt like maybe I should rethink some of the things that I’m doing...”

T

odd Anderson, also known as Vegan Influencer on instagram as @TurnipVegan, describes his decision to go vegan as unintentional. “Prior to being vegan, I used to do music. I did a lot of fun stuff that young people used to do. And I was living an unhealthy lifestyle,” he says. But his life changed in 2016 after a trip to Vegas. “I went to Vegas in November of 2016 and partied hard for about a week. When I came back, I felt horrible.” Todd felt like his body was rejecting his lifestyle; so he decided to watch a documentary that would hopefully inspire him to make healthy decisions. He ended up watching a documentary called Food Choices. “A little way into the documentary, the guy says one sentence that stuck with me. It was that we were the only species that drink milk from another species. And to me that was very odd. And it was like my moment where I felt like maybe I should rethink some of the things that I’m doing,” Todd shares. That moment sparked Todd to change his diet and go vegan. As @TurnipVegan, Todd wants to inspire others to make healthy choices. Now, his page is filled with so many tasty recipes and his own cooking; but he actually started off with interviewing others and just showing off restaurants he would eat at. He says, “A lot of people were asking me: ‘What do you eat, rabbit food?’ and start making funny jokes and stuff. And I’m like, you know what, I’m gonna show you how I eat.” That experience led to him filming in kitchens all over the world like Hong Kong, Brazil, and the Amazon River. But then the Pandemic hit and the whole world shut down. Todd lost his gigs filming and editing for restaurants. While at home during the pandemic, Todd decided to remake one of his very first dishes as a vegan. Not only was he proud with the outcome, he realized that his last few years filming in others’ kitchens were preparing him for this— filming and sharing his own cooking and recipes.


BREATHING LIFE INTO BLACK-OWNED RESTAURANTS AND CHEFS IN LA Written By: DaVonne Evans

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ometimes the breath of fresh air that we need doesn’t simply come from stepping outside and inhaling deep. Instead, it comes from speaking with someone who is so open, giving, and unselfishly invested in the success of others that it infuses you. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Tiffany Hinton of Black Owned Food LA, and believe when I say, sis came with a vibe and the fresh air that I need and want to share with others. Black Owned Food LA (BOFLA) is a significant source of business connections for Black-owned restaurants, chefs, and customers in California. However, Tiffany has taken her mission further than simply eating and giving reviews - she shares her knowledge of the food industry, service and sales, and her drive for success - going above and beyond to build up the Black-owned food industry. How did you come up with the idea of BOFLA? I got furloughed from my job at the start of the pandemic. I was a leader in my field so instead of having a “woe is me attitude,” I decided to do something that I was passionate about and aligned with my spirit. While figuring it out, I watched the pandemic hit California hard. I saw how Black-owned businesses were struggling, especially in the restaurant industry. I know how to promote and decided that getting the word out that these businesses were still open and doing business was essential to our survival. Was it an adjustment to go from a corporate job to BOFLA? I have always been a relationship builder and enjoy talking to people. In the past, I had to make sure that my teams were victorious. I am used to helping, consulting, and doing whatever I can to make things run better, so the transition was easy for me. In addition to food and restaurant reviews, what else does BOFLA do? I wasn’t initially looking to monetize from BOFLA. I just wanted it to be a source where people recognized how the food industry and chefs were suffering due to the pandemic. I connected out-ofwork chefs with people looking for food preparers for events and whatnot. The saying for the chefs was, “We bring the restaurants to you.” I did that for a year, using my own money, gas, and time just making connections for chefs. I also started making captivating and creative social media posts showing the chef’s food dishes, and people would like, comment, and share a genuine interest in supporting.

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Tiffany Jefferson

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People see you and think what you do is only about eating well and having fun. What do you say to that? I tell them, there is a lot that happens behind the scenes and it takes a lot of work and energy. In addition to being the middleman for hooking up chefs and event planners, I consult restaurant managers about what I see firsthand and some of the messages, DMs, and texts I get about the restaurant. When there is room for improvement, most take heed to make their restaurant and service stand out. Do you have any future events planned? The second week in December, we are having Black Owned Food Restaurant Week here in LA. All restaurants that would like to participate can and we invite everyone to come out to support restaurants with Black chefs and Black-owned food menu items. Where do you see BOFLA in five years? The sky’s the limit for BOFLA. I have the experience and expertise to put together a book, a line of cookware, a cookbook, or a television show. I am a big fan of Anthony Bourdain and would love to follow his path. His legacy is enormous and I admire his work. BOFLA and Tiffany Hinton can be reached at blackownedfoodla@ gmail.com, and Instagram @blackownedfoodla. DaVonne Evans is an entrepreneur and writer based in Maryland.



The Banana Pudding Business that instantly became a sensation in La Mesa. December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Toran Gray

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As luck would have it, people drove in flocks for his banana pudding.

T

owran Grays invested his all into his business Extraordinary Banana Pudding when he opened in March of this year. Prior to March, he was working full time and selling his Banana Pudding on the side. He made a goal that if he was able to meet a financial savings and acquired the right demand for his desserts he would make it his full time business. “I had to turn away customers because I couldn’t keep up with the demand, so I knew it was time for me to get my own storefront,” said Grays. He never knew that the secret recipe his Grandmother taught him would be something that would make him a business owner. So with his savings and hearing the demand from customers, he went on a mission to find a location in La Mesa, California. A city which he has called home, since he is a native, wasn’t quite as open to him being a business owner. “Many leasing agents and property owners didn’t take me seriously when I requested information on storefront locations,” Grays told the team during our store visit. He was met with quite a few racial discriminations which were actually blatant. A young African American man who had a hefty savings and great credit was being rejected only based on the color of his skin. He didn’t let that deter him from going after what he wanted. Determination and tenaciousness was what fueled him and still does to this day. During his search he found a property owner who gave him a chance for his storefront but was still hesitant on the longevity of his ability to be profitable so he gave him a 1 year lease contract. Grays accepted because he knew this would be the start but won’t be the permanent place for his business. As luck would have it, people drove in flocks for his banana pudding. He has now expanded with his own secret recipes and twist to over 18 flavors including vegan and gluten-free Toran Grays invested his all into his business Extraordinary Banana Pudding when he opened in March of this year. Prior to March, he was working full time and selling his Banana Pudding on the side. He made a goal that if he was able to meet a financial savings and acquired the right demand for his desserts he would make it his full time business. “I had to turn away customers because I couldn’t keep up with the demand, so I knew it was time for me to get my own storefront,” said Grays. He never knew that the secret recipe his Grandmother taught him would be something that would make him a business owner. So with his savings and hearing the demand from customers, he went on a mission to find a location in La Mesa, California. A city which he has called home, since he is a native, wasn’t quite as open to him being a business owner. “Many leasing agents and property owners didn’t take me seriously when I requested information on storefront locations,” Grays told the team during our store visit. He was met with quite a few racial discriminations which were actually blatant.

” A young African American man who had a hefty savings and great credit was being rejected only based on the color of his skin. He didn’t let that deter him from going after what he wanted. Determination and tenaciousness was what fueled him and still does to this day. During his search he found a property owner who gave him a chance for his storefront but was still hesitant on the longevity of his ability to be profitable so he gave him a 1 year lease contract. Grays accepted because he knew this would be the start but won’t be the permanent place for his business. As luck would have it, people drove in flocks for his banana pudding. He has now expanded with his own secret recipes and twist to over 18 flavors including vegan and gluten-free options. You can enjoy flavors such as Cheesecake, Chocolate, Orea, Red Velvet, and obviously the list goes on. “I have always been one in the kitchen so it came natural to me to make new flavors and build on what I learned from my grandmother,” Grays said. Shortly after his opening, he was met with more racial discrimination in the La Mesa community from a local law enforcement. Grays was steadfast in his view of this action and took to social media and exercised his first amendment rights to speak on the transgression. The community was in roar and everyone came to his support. Lines were out the door as people traveled throughout San Diego County in support. “I wanted to make a statement and to show people that you don’t have to deal with racist acts,” said Grays. His bold move attracted the attention of the local La Mesa government which turned to them requesting a zoom conference with him. His voice was heard and he let the community know he would not be moved. Nine months into his business he is profitable and seeing a triple digit increase in his revenue. Toran Gray’s story is one of triumph, dedication, and passion. Seeing the success he had made in La Mesa with minimum ad spend or aggressive marketing, he knows that this is the time for him to expand. He wants everyone to enjoy his desert one spoonful at a time.


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y name is Bethovan , so naturally, music has always been a part of my life. I grew up playing the piano and classical music.

I worked in LA for a while as a sound engineer and music producer. But moved back to San Diego to be closer to family. Family is extremely important to me, especially being a father. As a father, you start to think about your legacy a lot more. Thoughts like what legacy will my children inherit when I’m long gone? I wanted to create something that they would appreciate, that would get them excited about milk alternatives. That’s where my vegan cheese originated from, but at first, I didn’t make anything of it. Selling it to other people wasn’t a priority, I just made it for my loved ones. My mom kept mentioning how good it was, but the lightbulb didn’t light up. That’s until I tried a vegan cheese from a commercial store… I was so disappointed, I thought to myself, “Man, these guys are really giving this to people?” That moment inspired me to create my brand and start packaging my work. It was time to market. Within a matter of months, I won an award for best vegan manufacturer. The product wasn’t just moving fast, but that moment made me realize how quickly my idea had grown into a business. I had always considered myself a businessman, but that moment gave me a different type of confidence. Making vegan cheese is just like creating musical art. I’m not a chef, but I take the process of creating music and I apply it towards my vegan cheese. Just like different instruments coming together to make a beautiful symphony. The ingredients of our natural vegan cheese come together to form a beautiful cheesy masterpiece.

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Bethovan

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December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Bad Boyz of Culinary

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The Bad Of Boyz Culinary by: Co-Founder Kelson Moore

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f I had to sum up the reason we started Bad Boyz of Culinary in one phrase, it would be “stronger together.” So often in our community, we see so much competition that we forget and lose some of our power as a whole. As a collective of goal-oriented Chefs in the urban community, I believe it is our duty to support each other and educate our community with knowledge of culinary arts and business logistics. We believe that our unity will set a precedent that will dissolve the lack of support and negative connotation of competitiveness. Given that we are a network of chefs, from catering, yacht lifestyle, private sector, and the restaurant world, we recognized that there are an array of beginner Chefs that could benefit from our accumulated knowledge. When people think of a chef, they automatically think of someone such as Gordon Ramsey. However, there are numerous, notable black Chefs who have been pivotal in innovating the industry, such as Hercules Posey, George Washington’s Enslaved Cook, James Hemings, the first American to train as a chef in France, Mariyah Russel, the first black woman to be awarded a Michelin star, and James Beard award winning chefs Mashama Bailey, and Kwame Onawuachi. Bad Boyz of Culinary wanted to change the narrative; we wanted to show more of who we are, where we’re from, and why we are the best. The most effective way to do this was in collaboration! After Co-Founders Chef Quinnton Austin and Chef Kelston Moore began their brotherhood, they created the plan, vision, and foundation to pull local San Diego Chefs together. The result was the creation of an organization whose mission statement is to highlight African American Chefs and create awareness through special programs, events, and mentorship: Bad Boyz of Culinary.

What we did-

In 2020, in the midst of the worst pandemic the world has ever seen, we managed to hold two events showcasing over 20 Chefs. We displayed a tasting menu of each Chef’s signature dishes. There were over 200 guests between the two events held at two outdoor restaurants: Louisiana Purchase in San Diego & Park 101 in Carlsbad. This event was attended by some of the most elite, including the Mayor of Carlsbad. Bad Boyz of Culinary were guest panelists in San Diego’s first ever Soul Food Festival, featured on CBS News 8 San Diego.

What we’re doing-

In 2022, community residents and officials alike, can look forward to the first ever People’s Choice Culinary Showcase featuring 5 of the best black Chefs in the Southern California Region. We believe it is imperative to host this event to showcase the growing talent in Southern California and to bring the community together through palate. In alignment with Bad Boyz of Culinary’s mission, a portion of the proceeds will go towards a scholarship fund for local culinary students. Future events will include the Culinary Showcase February 1st, Back to School Drive, Scholarship Fund for Culinary Students, and a host of other great opportunities. We have national Chefs eager to create chapters in other major cities. At the end of the day, we just want to give others the opportunity and motivation to be great, despite the odds against us. We are very hopeful we will continue to be so.


Timothy Parker Written by Diego Esparza

“ Our communities need

to understand that there are multiple paths to ge to the same destination

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y love for craft beers started when I was out on deployment with the Navy, while everyone was out sight seeing I was trying to find beer. It all lined up to where I ended up stationed in San Diego the beer capital of the US. I realized there were over 100 breweries in San Diego, but none of them were in Chula Vista. I got tired of having to travel outside my community to buy craft beers. So I started dabbling in home brewing just out of curiosity. One day, I decided to go on a run down 3rd Avenue, and I ran into a beat up building. The place was abandoned for ten years. At that moment lots of ideas came together at once, I thought ‘someone should open a brewery down here’. Then I was like ‘why don’t I do it?’, so I kept telling everyone my idea and people seemed interested. I didn’t even have a business plan, but soon as I started talking to people It all snowballed. As a minority, we’ve always been told what we can’t do, not what we can do… Say I want to start a kitchen to sell food, we start telling ourselves I can’t do it cause I don’t have money for it. Well what do we want to start the kitchen up for? The goal is to make money right? Go raise the money there’s multiple ways you can do it.

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Timothy Parker

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ur communities need to understand that there are multiple paths to get to the same destination. You’ll always be at ground zero if you don’t get started. Let’s look at breweries for example, every Cinco de Mayo breweries come out with a ‘Mexican Beer’, mind you Mexican companies don’t have a ‘Cinco de Mayo’ beer cause they don’t celebrate that day like that. But they’re using the product to make money, why can’t we make money off of it ourselves? We know what we want for our culture more than them, so why can’t we build something for ourselves. We have to build our communities up from within, yes we have gentrification going on, but we have to take advantage and build them up ourselves before someone else comes in and does it for us. That’s the good thing about this block in Chula Vista, that money is being invested from within, and that’s unique…” -Tim ...That ‘go getter mentality’ came from my time in the military, often times we’ve been trained to do our own duties and follow the chain of command without asking any questions. Once we leave that system it’s hard to go into something different, we seek the same type of order. Someone to tell us where to be, who to be, and how to be… if we can’t find that then we start seeing the problems, homelessness, suicide rates, drinking problems and things like that… We get stuck in a box. For me I was always on the outside looking in, I was on the ‘Search and Rescue’ team, and I was the only Black guy in that unit. I remember walking into the shop and overhearing them say ‘Black people shouldn’t be flying’... I couldn’t go down to maintenance where all the other Black people were cause I was an AW, and they treated me different. I was an outsider in both worlds. I was stuck, I had to figure it out on my own.. So I never got boxed in. I had to navigate two worlds, I couldn’t go to other AW’s for help so anytime I needed something I went to the mechanics. I flipped the switch and made them (AW’s) care, I was constantly outspoken. To tell them how messed up they were, did it get me in trouble? Yes. But at the end of the day they came back cause they knew I was right. Thankfully I had a good chief, who always taught us to prepare to get out. So I always had this mindset where I’m going to get out. As soon as 20 years started coming up I started preparing to do something that would prepare me for the world outside the military. And I found it. That’s what one of my goals is, to get people inside the military to start thinking outside the box. But that change all starts when you’re inside.” -Tim


DJ PRODIGEE

Written by: Cheyenne Simpson

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

DJ Prodigee

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Written by: Cheyenne Simpson The Bio

The Journey

or veteran musician DJ Prodigee, entertaining crowds has been his bread and butter for as long as he can remember. He seeks to create unique sounds that explore beyond the horizons of a field saturated with unoriginality and repetitively. It is his mission to explore the depths of music and share these record crate gems he discovers along the way— through his carefully crafted and seamless mixing wizardry that is his extraordinary talent behind the decks. DJ Prodigee is an open format DJ who proudly sports 10 years of experience under his belt. With over 20 years of being a musician, DJ Prodigee has developed a great sense of dynamism in his sound. This entails a distinct ability to mix a diverse range of tracks that are tactfully selected to suit any given moment or event. With confidence, his mixes take the party goer on a roller coaster of timeless emotions, via an electrifying dance floor journey, of exciting peaks and deep, cerebral lows.

For DJ Prodigee, he found his love for DJing after he volunteered at a radio station at Fayetteville State University. “It was there I met Ray Thomas, the music station director who later became my mentor,” said DJ Prodigee. To his surprise, he found a love for radio even though it wasn’t his first choice when he started volunteering. Being around it for two years, he grew a passion and love for it, but more importantly the love of discovering new music and people. This is where his vision for Mitzfitz radio began.

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The Accomplishments •

• • • • •

Formed MizFitz Radio, an Independent radio station aimed to promote and educate independent artists while entertaining. Member of the International Fleet DJ Coalition. Opened for international dancehall recording artist, Kevin Lyttle. Opened for and performed with national recording artist Big Mike of Day 26 during the 4th Annual iMusic Festival. Provided music for national recording artist Noel Gourdin during his Meet & Greet at Bronco-iRadio.com Official DJ of Poetry-in-Motion, L.L.C.

It took him about a year and a half to get everything together to launch his online radio station. This included the process of getting license and rights to play certain artists as well as ensuring they were compliant with all FCC guidelines. It isn’t an easy business to get into and he started it self-financed. From the day to day operations to listening to hundreds of songs weekly, DJ Prodigee is on a mission to make Mitzfitz radio a station where overlooked and often unrepresented artists can find a home. “I know other stations aren’t searching as hard and honestly don’t care unless someone is mainstream,” said DJ Prodigee when asked why he spends so much time searching for new artists. It’s because he knows that these artists are working on their craft and they need visibility. This is at the heart of his radio station and will continue to be as he grows and finds more ways to give these artists a bigger platform.


December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Ramel Wallace

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Uplifting the Voices of the Underrepresented and the Unspoken with Ramel Wallace By: Margaret White

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hen you look at all of the things Ramel Wallace has achieved and done, you can see his deep connection to the arts and storytelling. It seems like everything he does is to inspire and link creatives together. With over 10 years of experience as a recording hip-hop artist, Remel Wallace has always focused on representing the underrepresented and amplifying the voices of the unspoken. As a recording artist, he has worked with AbJo of Soulection, Blu, Ryan Lewis, and Daniel Koestner, and $later. His experiences with engaging crowds as an artist translated well into his office life. In 2014, Ramel Wallace was one of the original co-founders of thChrch, an organization that works to bridge the gap between art, tech, and creativity. thChrch describes itself to be a collaborative community between creative industry leaders and professional educators. With thChrch, Ramel is breaking down the struggling artists’ stigma and the barriers of business and entrepreneurship for artists. Ramel Wallace is also the owner and CEO of The Holyfield, a community based organization that focuses on music, education and empowerment. With The Holyfield, Ramel and his team are working to raise awareness and provide social emotional support through music and education.

He also sits as a board member of the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Arts and as a Senior Community Manager at BAM. With his advocacy for the underrepresented in creative spaces, Ramel has become a community leader for those of us here in San Diego. This has led to him speaking at USD, UCSD, SDSU, A Reason to Survive, and other events about art as a form of social activism and therapy. One of his more recent achievements is being the first Black Host of Creative Mornings San Diego, a breakfast series that brings together creative professionals to celebrate local talent and provide a space for people to network and engage with like-minded people. In an interview with San Diego AIGA, Ramel shares that he plans to use this opportunity to invite more diversity to the Creative Mornings space. In a space that has been predominantly white, Ramel hopes to bring inclusivity and equity and simply speak for the unspoken.


The Man Who revived African American Art in San Diego Written By: Margaret White

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s the Executive Director of the San Diego Museum of Fine Arts, Giadie Finnie has worked hard to bring African American Art to San Diego. When the museum first opened in the late 1980s by Shirley Day Williams, Finnie was one of the original board members. However, upon Williams’ passing in 1996, the African American Museum of Fine Arts went stagnant for a while. In 2014, the African American Museum of Fine Arts was able to host its first exhibit after 18 years of no activity. Giadi Finnie was the force behind this renewed energy for the museum without walls. He saw the importance in sharing great African American art with San Diego. In July of this year, Giadie Finnie unveiled the Say Their Names Memorial in the Martin Luther King Jr Promenade, right next to the New Children’s Museum downtown. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was filled with powerful and invoking speeches from community leaders like San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Councilmember Monica Montgomery, and Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber. The “Say Their Names” Memorial started as a grassroots project in Portland Oregon not too long after the death of George Floyd shook the hearts of America. The exhibit hosted recognizable faces like Emmett Till: a name I learned in history textbooks, usually next to the word lynch, a name I relearned in 2017 when Carolyn Bryant Donham revealed that she had lied about the incident leading up to Till’s death. Or Breonna Taylor: a name that lives on in the Louisville, Kentucky law banning no-knocks warrant after a change in warrant status was ignored by Louisville Police which ultimately lead to Taylor being shot and killed by police in her own home.

December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Gaidi Finnie

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or every face I recognized at the exhibit, there were so many I’ve never seen or heard of. So many faces of people we lost because of systematic racism and the corrupt foundation of this nation. Arts and politics have always been intertwined; whether it was arts protesting for political change or politics inspiring powerful art. The Say Their Name exhibits inspired all. The People’s Councilmember Monica Montgomery presented Giadi Finnie with a proclamation that stated “July 10 to the 25 to be Say Their Name weeks in the city of San Diego.” There was something poetically ironic about hosting a memorial at the New Childrens’ Museum. There was something ironic in hearing the jovial giggles of young children while looking at 200 photographs of black people who have lost their lives due to racial injustices, police brutality, and racism— some of which were young enough to join the children in their fun. I’m sure Giadi Finnie recognized the poetics when choosing the location.

We want to thank Giadi Finnie and the San Diego Museum of Fine Arts for bringing this and every other exhibit to us in San Diego.

Arts and politics have always been intertwined; whether it was arts protesting for political change or politics inspiring powerful art.


December Issue 2021

BlackSDMagazine.com

Juile Coker

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JUILE COKER

A Business Leader of the Future A short bio introduction into Julie Coker:

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ulie Coker is the president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA) where she oversees the organization’s efforts to promote and sell San Diego as a top destination for meetings, conventions, overseas travelers and leisure visitors. The San Diego Tourism Authority is recognized as one of the best in the business and continues to set the standard for destination marketing organizations around the country. Previously, Coker served as the president & CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) where she oversaw the 2017 NFL Draft and the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which had a combined economic impact of $325 million for Philadelphia. Prior to that, she was PHLCVB’s executive vice president, Convention division, and managed a staff of 25 sales and services professionals responsible for selling the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center and hotel packages to customers across the country. Prior to joining the PHLCVB, she was the general manager for the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, where she oversaw all operational aspects of the 350-room hotel. A 21-year Hyatt veteran, she began her career in 1989 as a corporate management trainee at Hyatt Regency Columbus. Throughout her more than two decades with Hyatt, she rose through the ranks in a variety of positions, including assistant front office manager, front office manager, hotel assistant manager, assistant executive housekeeper and general manager. Coker serves on several boards, including the California Travel and Tourism Commission, Visit California, The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and Meeting Planners International. She is currently one of the vice chairs on the U.S. Travel Association board. From January 2018-2020, she served as co-chair for U.S. Travel’s Meetings Mean Business Coalition and secretary-treasurer for International Association of Exhibitions and Events Executive Committee (IAEE). In 2016, she served on the transition team of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. From 2016-2019, Coker co-chaired the Shared Spaces Initiative to combat homelessness.

Additionally, Coker is a member of the San Diego Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. In both 2012 and 2019, the Philadelphia Business Journal named her among their Women of Distinction honorees. She was the 2017 United Negro College Fund Mayor’s Ball Honoree for Civic Leadership and was named one of the Network Journal’s 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business. She also received the Cradle of Liberty Good Scout Award by the Boy Scouts of America Cradle of Liberty Council and was the recipient of the 2011 John Wanamaker Award (Individual Award) given by the YMCA of Philadelphia and vicinity. Coker is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she received a Bachelor of Science in hospitality management and graduated magna cum laude. A day in the life of Julie Coker the CEO: One word: Crazy. No two days are the same, but they are all filled with efforts to ensure a robust, equitable and inclusive recovery for our industry and our region. Lastly, her vision for the region and what she wants to see accomplished in her position as President and CEO: The mission of the San Diego Tourism Authority is to drive visitor demand to economically benefit the region and that mission is even more important now as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. I know that the work the SDTA does is critical in helping the tourism industry continue its recovery and to getting people back to work and our economy back on track. Central to that work is an ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. These DEI efforts are intentional and have a clear business case. We know that the more diverse and reflective the tourism industry is of the larger community, the more welcoming and appealing San Diego will continue to both residents and visitors. I firmly believe DEI efforts are key to ensuring the ongoing economic health and sustainability of our tourism industry.