Substantial Issue: Sept-Oct 2020

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Sept-Oct 2020 SubstantiaL Issue


STEREOTYPE We are entrepreneurs, innovators, advocates, family and so much more. We are substantial and so is our voice and our vote. Substantial | 1

STER • E•O• TYPES noun

“a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” In social psychology, a stereotype is an overgeneralized belief about a particular category of people. It is an expectation that people might have about every person of a particular group. The type of expectation can vary; it can be, for example, an expectation about the group’s personality, preferences, or ability. Stereotypes are generalized because one assumes that the stereotype is true for each individual person in the category. While such generalizations may be useful when making quick decisions, they may be erroneous when applied to particular individuals. Stereotypes lead to social categorization, which is one of the reasons for prejudice attitudes, implicit/explicit bias and may arise for a number of reasons.

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SOCIAL LINK 2 Substantial | 3








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Evelyne Del Editor-in-Chief

Letter from the Editor-in-Chief When I moved to NC as a teenager I experienced quite a bit of culture shock. My grandparents, Eastern NC natives had retired and purchased a beautiful home on the water. It was the small, quaint, but awe-inspiring retirement home that most people dream about. It was the final chapter of a long history of hard work and perseverance that most middle class families dream about. It was the natural progression of things that occur when you grow up doing “the right thing”. But after one too many questions about who I was and why I was walking through the neighborhood because our family “couldn’t possibly live there”, I realized that seeing a black family walk through this natural progression was often foreign to many outside of our cultural norms. I grew up with people who exceeded the expectations of those who judged them. Stereotypes were never really a thing to lose sleep over. They existed, but we always proved them wrong. To me, stereotypes about black and brown people were something that you read about or stories that were passed down from generation to generation. In my little bubble stereotypes were addressed as a thing

of the past. But it wasn’t because stereotypes no longer existed. It was more because we created a barrier to the effects of stereotypes out of our necessary need for survival. The looming effects of stereotypes were often a distraction that caused us to get caught up in societal ills that destroyed our hopes and dreams. In order to successfully navigate through this thing called life we put on blinders and forged full steam ahead, ignoring the fact that most young black men will at some point be the target of undue discrimination. We ignored the fact that although many of us came from middle class homes with educated parents we would still be questioned about our ability to make it through an Honor’s history course. And we most certainly ignored the fact that when we went to the mall with a group of friends that most people would assume that the black kid would be most likely to shoplift, even if we had our parents’ money in our pockets. I remember the excitement I felt when I turned 18 and got my brand new ID. My excitement wasn’t for the same reasons as many of my peers. My excitement was because I now had the power to Vote. I relished in the fact that I Substantial | 5

was about to be a part of history. I had the power to create circumstances that would shape the rest of my life. My family, my career, and my finances would all be impacted by the people we elected. I came from a long line of leaders who believed in the power of collective action, and for many of them, voting was the way to long lasting change. Voting has allowed black people to be treated as everyday citizens. It has given black people the right to vote. It has given women the right to own their own homes. It has given us the right to sit in classrooms with our white counterparts. And it will give our future generations so many more freedoms and opportunities that will change the trajectory of their entire lives. The black community is not only facing the stereotypes that apply to our careers and our family lives, but we are also facing the stereotypes that apply to our local, state, and federal elections. When given the choice to select the candidate that will protect the interests of their families, most Americans assume that the safest choice to protect their suburban lifestyles is a white male. These strong and uninformed opinions are elements of what unfortunately lays the groundwork for an attitude that reflects the remnants of the Jim Crow era. This year’s election has created a sense of fear and exhaustion that many have never experienced in their lifetimes. As we draw nearer to November, many are worried that their trek to the polls will be

met with opposition. Many of these voters are still homebound, stricken with the fear of the looming coronavirus pandemic, and worried that their decision to mail in their ballots will be a regrettable one. Substantial Magazine has partnered with the When We All Vote campaign, a nonpartisan organization that strives to keep voters educated and empowered, while ensuring that access to proper voting is never denied to anyone. Stereotypes can definitely bring about a silver lining. Those blinders that we put on to block out the distractions often make us stronger. They create young black men who became 21 year old CEOs. They create little black girls who grew up on the stomping grounds of the campus at Microsoft and easily surpassed their funding goals when creating a tech startup that showcased blacks in tech. Those blinders also created black millionaires from humble NC beginnings who went on to stand beside people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy. Stereotypes are often the source of pain and struggle, but they can also be used to create a life that is unlike anything we ever imagined. The road was paved for me to live a life better than my ancestors. It’s up to me to continue to fight against those stereotypes.

“You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people.

You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.” - Cornel West Substantial Issue 2020

TALK ABOUT IT! HELP US SPREAD THE WORD! Subscribe, Like Us, Follow Us, Share, Retweet, and all those other social things we do.

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Substantial Issue 2020

We Are Substantial and So Is Our VOTE All to often we are told our voice matters, our vote counts and yet a large majority of us still do nothing. Since the Nineteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 we’ve been given the right to ensure we get a say in who governs, creates laws, policies, and leads America. We asked some of our readers why voting is important to them.

Bethann Casey Wilkie Freelance Designer, Community Advocate “As the mother of a child in a minority group, voting has never been more important than it is in 2020. We are starting to see a long overdue shift in social justice for minorities. This includes people of color, LGBTQ and women. It is absolutely vital to continue the momentum of these movements until all families and individuals in America are given equal rights and protections in America. This will be the first election my son is able to vote and I cannot wait to take him to the polls to cast his ballot. Love is strong, but the real power lives in the vote!”

Diane Taylor Publisher, Entrepreneur, Community Leader “We vote because we need judges committed to family reunification and State Legislators that believe in Medicaid Expansion. We vote because we need School Board members that will help supply hot spots to virtual students. We vote because the lives of our children depend on it.”

Joey Peele Client Success Manager, Relias “Voting is important to me because humanity and healthcare are on the ballot! We must ensure the protection and equal access to justice for all people, especially for our Black and Brown communities. It is also important because In NC we need Medicaid expansion and on the national level we need to save Obamacare! We need elected officials who will be champions for families; and who will put “people over profit!”

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This election as you’ve again so often heard holds to some degree the Fate of American Democracy, but not so much because of the potential for another four years of Donald Trump, but because we have lost hope and faith in what was meant to be a fair, just and equal system. Let’s show up and exercise our right to elect who leads us. Visit to stay up-to-date with news, information, and tips to ensure you’re informed and empowered going into this year’s election.

Eric Hazelton Sales Solutions Specialist “All elections matter, but most importantly this election. People are hurting and have real concerns. Not just the top of the ticket with the president but up and down the ballot. Don’t forget our local and state races.. We feel them the most on a daily basis.. We all should direct our energy by voting and making our voices heard.”

Donte Prayer Health Access Coordinator, NC AIDS Action Network Founder, R.O.L.E Models “Voting is one way we can practice our power and ensure we not only collectively influence but also achieve health equity! Public policy shapes our health ecosystem, influencing the accessibility of comprehensive health care and more. We must vote for candidates that has the best interest of holistic health and wellness for every citizen in mind!”

Ibrahim Ullah Pharmaceutical Research and Development Scientist “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” As the son of an immigrant on my father’s side and a descendant of slaves on my mother’s, I will never allow the sacrifices of my ancestors to have been made in vain. Voting is more than a right, more than a privilege, more than an opportunity. It is a responsibility. We have a duty to honor our elders and to inspire our children. If necessary, I’ll be standing in line next to a MAGA hat wearing, AK toting, Covid-19 shake sipping sycophant waiting to cast my vote on November 3rd. Don’t meet me

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were elected to serve in both state and local government offices, which included state legislatures along with members of Congress.

Ballot or Bust. Written by Taylor Corlew

Mono·lith \ noun

1: A large and impersonal political, corporate, or social structure regarded as intractably indivisible and uniform. In Perth Amboy, New Jersey on March 31 of 1870, Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first African American to cast a voting ballot in a United States election. Only 150 years removed, this act gave birth to what we now commonly refer to as ‘the black vote.’ At face value, the black vote is both treated and discussed as a monolith, a term that ascribes uniformity to a largely diverse and varied group of individuals. But what does it mean exactly? While nondescript, the term ‘black vote’ itself is indicative of the modern politician’s attitude toward potential African American constituents. The term itself refers to a tale of two Americas. Historically, the black vote has been proven to swing election results entirely. For example, there was a brief seven-year period spanning from the ratification of the fifteenth amendment (February 3, 1870), to the end of Reconstruction (March 31, 1877). During this time roughly two thousand Blacks

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This was ultimately met with white resistance, which as a result led to numerous discriminatory tactics such as literacy tests, polling taxes, and grandfather clauses. The grandfather clause is defined by Britannica as “A constitutional device enacted by seven southern states between 1895 and 1910. This allowed those who had enjoyed the right to vote prior to 1866 or 1867, and their lineal descendants, to be exempt from recently enacted educational, property, or tax requirements for voting.” Meaning the sole function of this clause was to enfranchise white voters who wouldn’t have otherwise met the criteria to vote. Fast forward to weeks ahead of the upcoming presidential election, there are many conflicted potential young black voters. Whether they feel as though their vote, in particular, doesn’t count or they just aren’t too thrilled about the prospect of either candidate. Is there any reasonable response that I could offer to the individual who has no desire to participate in the very system that disparages them at every turn? Or the individual who feels constantly pandered to at the onset of every political season with hardly anything to show for in the way of results. I’m not exactly certain. However, there is a fundamental responsibility that we as black people have to ourselves as well as our community to simply exercise the vote that countless of our ancestors died to attain. I conducted a series of interviews with several black male and female voters under the age of thirty to gauge their sentiments regarding the upcoming election.

“I think this election is a bittersweet experience. My first election was in 2016 and I remember feeling the excitement of voting for the first time. This time around it’s simply a vote of buying time for me.” Said Alexis Wilder, a twenty-two-year-old graduate of NC State University. I then asked Wilder who or what shaped her particular outlook on voting. Her response was, “Family, my grandmother’s husband was a freedom rider and he told us stories of what he endured during the civil rights movement. I know what it took for us to have this opportunity.” So, what exactly is at stake in this upcoming election?

As a young black man, it is my responsibility to help other Black folks become more literate about their power and about the importance of local elections.”

Lives, democracy, and the overall well-being and safety of blacks in America. The President’s encouragement of the recent social unrest that this country undergone coupled with his fatal negligence regarding COVID should be reason enough to inspire you to do your part in effecting change. But on a micro-level, if one was to feel as though voting in a new Commander In Chief has no tangible effect on his or her own life, the ballot on November 3rd will hold local implications as well. This is an unprecedented time to pressure the powers that be into seeing us as more than a voting body. We must demand a better future for our children by voting in Superintendents, push for reform by voting in Attorney Generals, and vote in the State senators or any other elected official that directly affect your life. I also interviewed Jordy Etafe (Elon University graduate)—a twenty-three-year-old Belgian citizen who also holds U.S. residency- about his overall feelings regarding voting, to which he replied, “I think that voting is one of the biggest privileges that we get as a people. Understanding this is absolutely necessary to understand how to use this privilege to affect real change in our communities. As a young black man, it is my responsibility to help other Black folks become more literate about their power and about the importance of local elections as they affect our daily lives even more than the federal elections. I truly believe that voting is not only a privilege, but it is also a duty and as such, it should be required as it is in my native Belgium.”

With November 3 inching closer each day it is imperative that we all not only register to vote but encourage those who are not already registered to do so. Cast your vote early, if possible. It is also important that we do our due diligence, informing ourselves among others on the importance of fulfilling this particular civic duty and the persisting voter suppression tactics that may accompany it. Lastly, the most important thing that we can do come Election Day is simply, vote.


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We all know that one person. The one who is the leader in the group. She knows all the lyrics to the latest songs, yet still managed to be the first one in the book club to finish the latest novel. She is cool with everyone in town and knows how to skip the line straight to VIP. She is essentially ‘The Plug’. As a Data Journalist, Sherrell Dorsey is just that. She has her ear to the ground and knows everything that’s happening in the tech world.


Photography credits: Mecca Gamble Photography Substantial Issue 2020

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“THE DATA WILL HOLD US ACCOUNTABLE” An innovative thinker and lover of black culture, Sherrell Dorsey is essentially the love child of Ida B. Wells, James Baldwin and Bill Gates; taking her skills and marrying the art and science and journalism and technology. She sets the bar higher than most and differentiates herself from other tech professionals with her background in journalism - further reinforced with a Master’s degree from the esteemed Columbia School of Journalism. Though humble and relatable, Dorsey relentlessly continues to operate in a space that is foreign to most black women her age. She’s been featured in publications such as Fast Company, Black Enterprise, and Columbia Journalism Review for her candid conversations on innovation inequality, disparities in funding, and the need to humanize the black innovation economy. She even shares her discoveries in the innovations amongst students at HBCUs; providing detailed case studies on the amount of patents and types of intellectual property that are produced at HBCUs. Her work in this field has raised the questions of how funding to HBCUs is allocated, how and when students are mentored, and the resources that are readily available for them to aid in the creation of new business opportunities that could change their lives.

“THE UNAPOLOGETIC GENIUS” Dorsey unapologetically holds space where many may consider shaky ground. As a black woman in the tech space with a growing company, she is

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often tasked with amplifying the voices of people who are often lost in the shuffle. As a data journalist, Dorsey sets out to produce content that humanizes the black experience, while also uncovering some of the racial bias that exists in the corporate world today. As a Seattle native, Dorsey spent her younger years trolling around companies like Microsoft, taking part in internships that exposed her to programming, coding, and most importantly black mentors. In her whole, there was always that presence of the Aunties and Uncles who were creating their own lane and building businesses that created financial stability for their families. She smiles as she recalls working in her Aunt’s hair salon as a young girl. But later on in life, the bright eyed optimist realized that not everyone had been exposed to the “Black Excellence” that she experienced. Furthermore, many seemed uninterested in getting to know that experience or the people driving the innovation.

“SMART REPORTING” Black stories are usually about quotas and compliance instead of triumph and innovation. SD has worked diligently to change that narrative. Her work uncovers the normalcies that many educated black people are accustomed to that may seem foreign to their non-black counterparts. We are more that grief and suffering. We are also intellectuals who are killing it in our respective industries. Dorsey recalls how many media outlets rejected her pitches for stories about blacks in technology and other startups. The white male dominated industry did not see the importance of telling these stories, and didn’t see these as relatable headlines.

Who gets to decide where genius comes from…. What it looks like...How it shapes the world” ~Sherrell Dorsey They struggled to go beyond the concept of sharing regular content that highlighted the success of black professionals. To many of the decision makers at these publications, the only “normal” recounting of a black story would be one that discusses the struggles of our community and the affirmative action efforts that followed. But Dorsey, like many of her peers, knew that there was so much more to the story of black professionals in the technology and startup worlds. Bringing light to these stories would produce a more inclusive culture that warranted the need for black people to have equal pay and an equal voice. It would lead to a revolutionary accountability system that most certainly would be televised. In 2016 SD launched The Plug, a daily tech newsletter that curated news on black founders and innovators. It has since grown to include stories that investigate and report on trends that are relevant to the black community. The growing newsletter provides information on career opportunities, funding, and more recently on companies who are committed to a culture that facilities diversity and inclusion. Dorsey says she realized just how important her work was when the protests of racial injustice began to take center stage in the media in early 2020.

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Sherrell Dorsey “The Plug� Dorsey and her team quickly sprung into action creating lists of companies who had committed (and followed through) on changing their company’s goals of creating a more inclusive ecosystem. It was important for her to highlight companies that went above and beyond a statement on Twitter or changing their logo to support the racial justice movement, and actually stepped up to the plate financially and morally - pledging money for equity and hiring a diverse staff. As someone who has already raised over $500,000 in capital in just four years, Dorsey knows the bad-ass fearless attitude that comes with forging a new lane of accountability. She knows that her self-proclaimed inner hustler is the key to growing her team and expanding her impact. The effects of the 2020 racial justice movement and the coronavirus pandemic have undoubtedly ignited a fire in her that will take an Army to extinguish. Her eyes tell the story of a woman who is determined to outdo herself and take her hungry tribe with her along the way. For more on Sherrell Dorsey and her growing list of innovations, visit her website at

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Hear more of our conversation with Sherrell Dorsey.

Question WHAT makes you think I can’t? Substantial | 19


ALEB FARRELL At 21 years old, Caleb Farrell has already reached one of the biggest goals of most millennials - monetizing their online presence. After a viral video animation showing Mary J. Blige wielding a lightsaber reached over a million views before he could get home from school, Farrell realized that he was destined to pursue a career in animation. The Raleigh NC native is now the CEO of his own company and is living a dream that sometimes surpasses his own ideas of success. Sitting down to speak with this young entrepreneur was not only eye opening, but also inspirational. Having downloaded his first software program at the age of 7, Caleb has consistently continued to work on perfecting his craft, taking pride in perfecting each project that he releases for his company Wolfinity. As CEO he now manages a team that helps to develop assets for the brand. The Wolfinity platform offers both paid and free visual effects in packs that are easy for gamers to implement into their own projects. He also offers merchandise and content on platforms like Roku. His business is steadily growing mainly through digital media, where he is known

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as CalebDigital. Although still very young, he has developed a keen sense of business and knows the importance of creating multiple streams of income within his brand. He is strategic in releasing content that serves as both an ongoing portfolio as well as a form of marketing. He says he was inspired by television shows like Sonic, Dragon Ball Z, and Naruto. His mission became to create his own projects where he could insert himself into those same types of stories, where he could fly, punch walls, and become larger than life. These films take action to a new level and deliver an adrenaline rush that has kept Caleb Farrell wanting to learn more about how to create an impact in the digital world. Before he knew it, people and brands all over the country were reaching out to him for collaborations. Over the years, he’s worked with many of his creative idols including animator Funny Mike, Jaleel White, and Michael B. Jordan. The digital creative recalls his encounter with Jordan as one of the highlights of his career, and has since gone on to work with brands like Coach and Atlantic Records.

3 Cs: “consistency, creativity and collaboration”

A conversation with Caleb Farrell leaves you feeling like it’s time to step up your game, but with a warm hug and encouraging words from your younger, cooler little brother. Check out his work online at or on Instagram at @calebfarrell. But his true passion and new focus is on making films. He wants to do more industry work that will take his career into another direction. He strongly believes that with working on films with bigger crews, better lighting, and more expensive cameras he will have a chance to show people just how much he can do creatively. “You can only do but so much with internet popularity”, Caleb says. In his short time working with big brands and celebrity clients he says he’s seen people with up to 8 million followers get turned down for contracts because they simply lacked the talent to back their online popularity. Caleb has used these lessons to keep him grounded and focused on the end game. Above all else, Caleb credits his success to the implementation of the 3 Cs: “consistency, creativity and collaboration”, a concept that he developed when he was still in high school. He explains why those three C’s are so important : “If you don’t have consistency, you won’t be able to grow. If you’re not being creative it’s not going to stand out And if you’re not collaborating then other people in those fields won’t be able to see you”. Insightful and powerful words from such a young business owner.

Click to play The God of High School | Live Action Trailer (2020) CalebDigital



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Now, more than ever, it is important the we challenge the way media portrays Black Men. Tonya Jefferson Lynch, the Producer of the Black Light Project, works with two photographers, Bryce Chapman and Randy Curtis, to produce images that challenge pervasive negative perceptions presented by the media.

CHRIS Click to listen

KYLE Click to listen

The City of Rocky Mount and the Black Light Project were one of ten projects selected for a $50,000 grant for inclusive public art through the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. The men represented in this project are the unsung heroes of their communities. They are fathers, sons, husbands, brothers, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and they light up the world around them.

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BRAD Click to listen

The project uses eight portraits of Rocky Mount participants and installed them onto community buildings and structures throughout Rocky Mount. Banners can be viewed at the following locations: Rocky Mount Mills, Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences, South Rocky Mount Community Center, R.M. Wilson Gym, Booker T Community Center, and Stith Talbert Park.

MICHAEL Click to listen

All black and white photography is by Bryce Chapman. All color photography is by Randy Curtis. Read this full story and hear more interviews via the Rocky Mount Imperial Centre website.


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Reginald Bean We talk culture, potential, wealth, coporate and community.


n the weeks and months that have ensued this summer’s multiple tragedies at the hands of police brutality-systemic racism, there has been countless speculation as to what a remedy to said ills would look like. In a majority of solutions given you’re almost guaranteed to overhear a specific term: Wealth. A term with a clear-cut definition yet it’s meaning is still ambiguous to most. But why? What you or I may deem as wealth most likely will differ completely from the next man or woman’s definition. Substantial had the opportunity to speak with an individual who highlights the importance of not only black wealth but why establishing what wealth means to oneself is just as imperative, Reginald Bean. Bean is a critically acclaimed author, renowned speaker, and social justice and education reform, advocate. Bean currently serves as vice president of culture, engagement & inclusion for Coca-Cola Consolidated. He’s held several positions within Coca-Cola including director of multicultural marketing, director of finance-operations, director of sales analytics, and strategic planning analyst. Prior to joining Coca-Cola, Reginald served his country in the US Army for seven years. As mentioned Reginald is a published author of the books “UNFINISHED: 40 Lessons

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on Purpose, Self, and Becoming a Man” and “A Year and Some Change: Revealing Your Full Potential through Purpose and Perspective,” where he inspires emerging adults to discover themselves while positively impacting their families and communities. Bean, a native of Detroit Michigan, spoke with Substantial on the rigors of being an executive with a now fortune 1000 company, what initially prompted him to be an author of now two critically-acclaimed books, what the experience of COVID has illuminated for his personal and professional life, and why he feels like the game is JUST now slowing down for him. SM: With COVID there’s been an interruption. For a lot of people obviously, our plans were all derailed. What are consumers looking for right now in terms of how brands can really give back and help them get to a position where they feel like normal life is here again and there’s hope for them to be able to get on their feet, particularly the minority community. What do you think larger brands can do to bridge that gap and help people get back to normal life? RB: I’d say brands would first have to understand what are their core competencies, what’s the thing that they’re experts at? Then they could turn to

“We are all a work in progress. It’s about communicating the journey as much as it is about communicating the success.”

communities and say, we can lend our expertise to help either bridge the gap, buy some time, or infuse some capital into those communities. What I mean by that is, you take a wealth management firm, a bank, or a soft drink company and whatever that core competency is, that’s what they’re going to be good at. Whether it’s human human capital resources or actual financial resources, and then direct them to those communities during this time? SM: We know that certain communities feel a little bit more marginalized right now. What is your perspective on the relationship between corporate and these communities? What can people do to maybe provide feedback or continue to be engaged and keep that conversation going so that we get to the finish line? RB: Some of the things that people can do is to have realistic expectations of corporations. What exactly are you expecting them to do? And then there’s some performative things that corporations do, but then there’s sustainable investments that they can make also. So do you want just a statement that says we care about the community without the action? Or would you like the action without the statement? I’ve seen consumers, people, a part of a community say, “Well, we want you to come out and make a statement”. And I’m like, is that really what you want? Or would you like a sustainable plan on how they’re going to invest in the communities?

minorities can be created equal. We’re not a monolithic group of people, and we don’t all have the same journey. So even even if you have a minority in the C-suite or on the executive team they may have a different perspective, and rightfully so, based on their journey.

For example, if you had a minority that was from another country, they may not have the history, journey and legacy of what it means to be an underrepresented, marginalized community in this country. Or you may have somebody that came from a privileged journey that still may not be able to identify who they are even if they were from this country. So just understanding that, even if those folks are in the room, that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand. But again, having realistic expectations, even from those executives is important. Are they responsible for carrying the load? Or can a white peer or counterpart, have the cultural competency and awareness to understand or have done the work to say, “Well, let me make sure that I understand what’s going on in some of these communities.” And there are those that may not represent that community, but they understand and they may be the ones that step in and say, I want to lend my voice my energy, or my effort for this cause.

SM: Looking at statistics, there’s a very small percentage of minorities who are in that upper level management. How does that have an effect on what messages get put to the forefront? RB: Well, that’s a broad question because not all

Read the full article and listen to the podcast at Substantial | 25



hen he was just in middle school, Uri Robinson began his

journey as an entrepreneur. With a desire to be in control of his own finances, Robinson knew that it was no longer cool to depend on his parents to give him the little “extras� that every teenager wants. So he took matters into his own hands. Fast forward years later and Robinson now teaches others how to successfully emerge onto the path of financial independence. He and his wife Tiyana are both business owners who have created a system that can easily be a Blueprint for Millennial couples. We sat down with Uri and Tiyanna to talk about their journey to financial freedom.

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SM: What’s the most valuable thing your spouse does to support you in your business and personal goals? TR: I think the most valuable thing that we give each other when it comes to goals, both personally and professionally, is autonomy and space. We respect each other’s individual dreams and aspirations and give one another the latitude to achieve them.

UR: My wife is my peace. As long as home is peaceful, it allows me to flourish in business. She is never really negative towards anything I’m trying to accomplish unless it has to do with anything involving a motorcycle :)

SM: What was your relationship with money growing up? UR: My relationship with money growing up was an ambitious one. While my father got stuff that I asked for, it was on a very limited basis. This led to the saying from my father that led me onto my Entrepreneurial endeavors….” You need to work and get some money if you want more things.” From then on, I’ve never let somebody tell me that I can’t attain anything, because I just sold stuff for money and bought the things that I wanted. In addition to that, I realized that if I didn’t save any money, I would have to always work for it. The first thing that I ever saved for was a bulk load

of candy that I could buy at the grocery store in order to lower my margins and make more money. I didn’t know what margins were at the time, but I completely understood the concept in 4th grade. TR: Unlike Uri, I didn’t have an entrepreneurial spirit in the same way that he did as a child. I never sold Candy or flipped things like he did. Some people are born with that—I wasn’t in that way. He’s just wired differently than most! As a child, my relationship with money was formed by my parents. My Father is one of the hardest working people I know, always juggling several jobs in order to provide the lifestyle that he wanted for my mother, my sister, and me. So, at an early age, I learned to associate working hard, Substantial | 27

long hours with making money. I knew I didn’t want that for myself (My Mother always reminds me that I told her that “I didn’t want to work for “the man” when I was 8 or 9 years old), but I didn’t know the pathway for making money for myself. SM: How/If at all has that relationship with money affected you as an adult? UR: That relationship has positively affected me with what I do with money today. TR: The belief that in order to make money, I had to work HARD followed me into the corporate world, and eventually into my work as an entrepreneur. But I learned early in my entrepreneurial journey that trading time for money is often a dead-end that leads to burn-out and exhaustion. In my first few years, I got so enthralled in work, work, work that I lost sight of why I started my business in the first place, which was to create more freedom! As an adult, I’ve made a commitment to un-learning pretty much everything I thought I knew about money so that I can create a healthy relationship with it -- One where money is a tool that empowers me, instead of something that I’m a slave to. SM: When you made the decision to become an entrepreneur had you saved money beforehand? Did you receive loans or grants to fund your business? UR: In my situation, I didn’t necessarily need to save money per-se, because I had negotiated a contract with a company prior to leaving my “9-to-5” job. I organized my timeline to align my last check from my job to the first invoice payment for my company. A lot of planning had to go into it so that I did not see a lapse in funding over a two month period. TR: I actually started my business at my lowest financial point. I’d been unexpectedly laid off of my job, and I didn’t have any money saved up. I was BROKE broke! So broke, in fact, that I actually moved in with Uri because I couldn’t afford rent! I bootstrapped the first couple years of my business by reinvesting pretty much everything I earned back into the business. I’ve never pursued grants or traditional loans, but I have taken a couple Paypal Working Capital Loans, which were great when I needed small infusions of cash. With Paypal Working Capital, they give you the loan amount upfront, and they take a percentage of each payment you receive via Paypal. It’s a pain-free application process (it literally takes less than 5 minutes), that allowed me to get capital without the hassle of a traditional loan process.

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SM: How hard was it to make the decision to become an entrepreneur as opposed to working for someone else? UR: The decision was not hard for me, because I’ve always had authority. Being an entrepreneur allows you to do things that the average person cannot. And while being an entrepreneur can be very lonely at times, it is worth the freedom of not having your decisions questioned by somebody “higher up the chain”, because you are the highest of your own chain. TR: Deciding to start a business wasn’t a hard decision for me because I needed a side hustle (laughing!) When I started out, I just needed a way to make a little bit of money to hold me over while I found a full time job. Little did I know that my side hustle would become my full time passion! SM: What are you most proud of in your business and your personal life? UR: The thing that makes me the most proud in my business is that I am ever evolving in my knowledge of Finances and Government Operations. I buy a new book or attempt to meet 7 new people every week. I also am proud of the effect that I’m having on the Black Community. With one of my business goals to be spreading the wealth of knowledge tied to Financial Literacy, it feels good when my clients let me know how much more confident they are in understanding their finances and have a positive outlook on their future. TR: I’m also most proud of the impact that I’m able to have with my business. In my coaching program called Makeup Mogul University, I teach Makeup Artists and Beauty Pros how to diversify their incomes and they’ve been able to take what they’ve learned to make REAL change in their lives! I have Artists who were able to survive and thrive during the pandemic simply because they implemented what they’ve learned and found new ways to serve their clients through launching online classes and creating products.

@uri_robinson @TiyanaRobinson

@uri.robinson @tiyanarobinsonbeauty

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Why Black Business Matters...

The Black Wealth initiative In the early 1900s there was a huge migration of progressive black families who made the shift and relocated to Harlem NY. This period of transition sparked a revolution that included arts, entertainment, culture, and business. This cultural mecca became known as the Harlem Renaissance. It continually holds the candle as a symbol of pride for black culture in America. The Harlem Renaissance gave us people like W.E.B. Dubois and Madam C.J. Walker. It created a standard of excellence that provided a blueprint for economic power in the black community.

pertain to black and brown advancement. While many companies have created marketing campaigns that advocate for equality and purpose driven leadership, many are finding out that their sentiments fall short of creating meaningful relationships. In response to the lack of true diversity initiatives, black business owners are now committed to creating and sustaining their own businesses that will not only put food on the table, but also create generational wealth. Here are just a few of the black business owners that are paving the way for a new standard of excellence in the black community.

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When the pandemic of 2020 was announced, many of our lives came to a full jump-stop. So much so that it allowed us time to revisit stories of yesterday, meanwhile providing opportunities at merging the relationships of today. In making full use of this new-found window of time, the pause give me a moment to pivot in memory to an unguarded interview with the late Congressman John Lewis. It was in that conversation that I’d be indirectly introduced to Mr. Robert “Bob” Brown. Attending the interview with me was my good friend and former Spring Lake, North Carolina Mayor Chris Rey. Post our interview with Congressman Lewis, I vividly recall him asking, “J.J., where are you from?” I said, “I’m from a small town called High Point, North Carolina.” He pauses and says, “High Point, I have a good friend from there. His name is Robert Brown, but we call him Bob.” Congressman Lewis proceeded to share important facts about Mr. Brown’s legacy that were related to his humanitarian efforts, and those of the Civil Rights Movement. In legendary John Lewis fashion he gave Chris and I a transparent history lesson and he was on his way.

Written by J.J. McQueen Photography credits: J.J. McQueen

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Dr. Robert (Bob) J. Brown SON CEO & Founder of B&C International, a global business management consulting firm headquartered in High Point, NC

On my drive back to Baltimore from Washington D.C. I kept replaying the Bob Brown part of the conversation. The next day called my dad back in High Point to ask if he’d heard of Bob Brown. Unbeknownst to me, my dad had a full tablet of mental notes about Mr. Brown’s investments in his life, and the lives of his friends. In the early 1960’s my grandfather left my grandmother with a host of children to raise alone. It was also around the time that Mr. Brown relocated back to High Point from New York City to start his public relations firm. It’s well noting in his book, “You Can’t Go Wrong Doing Right” he’s been credited for putting out many of the public relations fires during the civil-rights era. My dad shared that the strength of Mr. Brown’s company was built on his ability to navigate the murky waters of segregation and racism. In the world of journalism, many of us find ourselves hanging onto every word of an interview in order to tell the most compelling stories. Some would go as far to say that we miss details because a number of us are in awe of the subject vs the subject matter that we should be covering. In listening to Congressman Lewis, I knew that I couldn’t afford to get tangled up in emotion. However, the debrief with my dad didn’t help that part of my cause. See what Mr. Brown didn’t know was that he’d given my dad his first job.

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It would be one that would prove to be a life sustaining opportunity for my dad, grandmother, and his siblings. Fast forward eighteen months beyond the time that I’d sat down with Congressman Lewis, and it was my turn to meet Bob Brown. Ironically the way that I met him happened in the same fashion that I’d met Congressman Lewis. One day I’m sitting at my desk and I idea popped into my head. I picked up the phone to call my god sister Shelly who’s like an idea Rockstar. As always when she answered we exchanged our typical brother and sister banter greeting and jumped right into our usual life updates. She proceeds to share with me the need to capture the legacy of our civil-rights icons on film. Primarily because she knew that as of late that I’d been working with a number of civil-rights legends. I stopped her mid-sentence and asked, “who are you looking to work with Shelly?” She says, “Bob Brown.” After she said his name it was like listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher and I heard absolutely nothing clearly for about five whole minutes. During the days following my conversation with Shelly, my preparation involved getting as much authentic background information on Mr. Brown that I possibly could. After nearly a month of research and conversations with my dad, I took a trip back to my

hometown to meet with Bob. When I arrived at his office for the initial icebreaker, I was amazed at the history that his office had held in what seemed to be a time capsule. There were photos with he and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Sami Davis Jr., Nelson Mandela, and a number of other international world leaders. I’d always known about the legacy of Bob’s time working as the aid to President Nixon, but I’d never knew the depth of his gifts beyond his millionaire status. Shortly after my office tour, I was ushered into Mr. Brown’s meeting area where it had the feel of history. While seated in walks a man with a high dollar cigar

in his mouth. It was the mythical legend himself. I stood up and we shook hands and exchanged greetings. The moment reminded me of watching my dad meet new people. I learned at an early age that my Pops has a formula. It was simply to be yourself and to establish common ground with. It’s a formula that was taught to him by men like Bob Brown. Over the course of my career I’ve also learned that people of wealth don’t have much time, and many of them like to share their knowledge if they feel that you’re genuine in your motives. Mr. Brown is a very intuitive man. In his book he speaks about a calling, and how that calling lead him to his life’s purpose. Becoming the first African-American millionaire from High Point, North Carolina was less about status, and more about purpose. At eighty-five years young Bob Brown continues to be a canvas for economic influence for people of color, and for those that sit across the aisle welcoming opportunities that have yet to be uncovered. Some sixty years later, and countless world leader conversations later. I am the recipient of the impact of the “Brown Why”. Who knew that the day that my father stood next to the man that owned a struggling start up business, that his son would one day be responsible for helping reintroduce that said man to a generation that may not know his name and good deeds. It’s because of men like Bob Brown who wrote the original bill for the federal funding/support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, that African-Americans students would be provided with the ability to receive a top-notch education. In summation, when world leaders begin to echo the words of your grandmother, you’ve become the somebody that she knew that you were born to be…


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Thriving on the Spectrum A Substantial conversation with mom, CEO & Founder Tracey V. Hawkins

of overwhelm, Hawkins began to think of the many other families out there who were probably struggling with a way to manage life with children that had specific needs. Her personal solution was to be extremely organized. With so many people living their lives constantly on the go, she realized that she could reach other parents in need by using technology. She created Thriving on the Spectrum; a tech startup company that develops interactive, digital, therapeutic tools and resources that are tailored to address the unique needs of individuals with autism. Substantial sat down with the entrepreneur to talk about her passion and her entry into the tech space. For most parents, finding out your child is diagnosed with autism is a challenge. But finding out that both of your small children have autism is a challenge that most are never fully equipped to deal with. As a mother, your greatest goal is to raise your kids in such a way that they will grow and thrive in unimaginable ways. For Tracey Hawkins coming to the realization that her children would ultimately have a different path in life than she and her husband Zack had planned for was a moment that required her to address her biggest fears and tap into her greatest strength. Hawkins, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill wears many hats. She’s a mother, wife to a busy politician, and now an entrepreneur who has recently emerged into the tech field. Her venture into entrepreneurship is the textbook definition of how innovative ideas hit the market. They come out of necessity and provide a sustainable solution. In this case, the necessity for her was to find a way to navigate an extremely structured schedule with her boys. Their specific needs required routines that were void of even the smallest disruptions. In order for her boys to truly thrive and live life on their terms, they needed the type of balance that would require the same exact routine every single day. Simple for them, but difficult for a parent to track. That is until the light bulb went off in Tracey Hawkins’ head. In her moments Substantial Issue 2020

SM: Did you have any sort of tech background initially, or did you just kind of see the vision and know that there was a need? TH: Not at all, I saw a need. And it really came in at a time that was really hard for James Preston, our middle son who was transitioning at the time to Pre-Kindergarten. I never speak in broad strokes when it comes to individuals with autism because as we say, in the community, ‘If you know one person with autism, you know ONE person with autism’. It is a spectrum disorder for that very reason. Even within our two boys, you’ll see differences. So, for James Preston, he is a child that thrives in a very routine, regulated environment. He is someone who needs to know every hour what’s going on, so every day he has a schedule from sunup to sundown. He’s not a child that takes well to surprises; unless it’s an Amazon delivery! So he needed that level of routine and a seamless transition into his Pre-Kindergarten class. There were a lot of transitions happening all within one environment. So, new teachers, larger classroom, new peers, new schedule, and he had to get adjusted to it all. It was overwhelming and overstimulating for him. And that level of overstimulation led to a lot of emotional meltdowns and behavioral outbursts. And as a mom constantly seeing your son every day, trying their hardest to

find a level of comfort and peace into an ever-evolving environment. It was hard. We had him in his therapies, but how could I teach him what he was learning in therapy and begin implementing in real time? As he was he was transitioning, and having these significant challenges of just trying to maintain his demeanor and calmness, I thought, there’s got to be a better way. At this time was like 2018. And I said, there’s got to be some kind of app or device that’s on the market that could help him understand his emotions and provide him with his therapeutic resources on the go. I remember picking him up from school one day, and it was another hard day for him. I raced home, got him situated, and I just started Googling. Trying to find out, Is there an app? Is there a device? What is it that is currently out there on the market that could really help James Preston? I couldn’t find anything. And I remember getting upset that somebody hadn’t created this app that can help individuals with autism. Autism is a common disorder now. One in 54 kids are now diagnosed with autism. I thought to myself, ‘why are we still not having the necessary technologies and devices to really meet their needs?’ So I went to bed feeling defeated as a mom, but then I woke up the next day inspired. And I thought, why do I need to wait on someone else to create it? I’ll create it myself. I’m a mom, and I know what my kids need. And I think that this would be something that would be helpful for many kids, not just kids with autism, but kids, and adults that have challenges with that executive level functioning. Those who have challenges planning, or have challenges organizing, all of those things.

to understand and be able to identify those emotions, and then be able to help himself eventually begin to regulate those emotions. I just started thinking, what is it that James Preston and kids like James Preston need to really find that peace within their day, and that’s how I came up with the different features of the app. SM: Tell us about Thriving On The Spectrum. We know why it was started, But tell us about the name, and forming the idea, and bringing it all together. TH: You’re going to have to excuse me, because I may get a little emotional. When you hear that both of your kids have a lifelong disorder that rocks you to your core as a mother. Even while we were in the process of getting James Preston diagnosed, we started seeing Adam begin to regress where he was hitting all of his milestones, and then he hit 16 months old and he stopped responding to his name, he stopped making eye contact, he stopped speaking. And he would go like two months without saying anything. And then he would say a word. And I just kept talking to him because I knew he could hear me, but it was a matter of breaking communication and being able to respond. So we have never stopped

Then I was able to really kind of start breaking down and thinking, ‘Okay, what is it that James Preston needs? He needs to know his schedule at all time. So why not create a digital version of a visual schedule instead of walking around with a little notebook everywhere we went with these little cards in it. And if we lost one the cards, or misplaced one the cards somewhere, you better prepare yourself for an epic meltdown, because his schedule is going to be interrupted. For James Preston and Adam they learn through pictures first. And then they’re able to pair that picture with a word. He knew his schedule because of the pictures. And I thought, I can’t be bound by a notebook and hundreds of different two by two cards all over the house. So I just started thinking, okay, let’s make this digital. Let’s make a visual schedule. I want to be able to track my son at all times. What else is it that James Preston needs? Oh, he also needs to be able to understand his emotions and what he was learning from therapy. I wanted it to really be an extension of what he was learning in therapy and put it into real time. I wanted him Substantial | 35

‘We’re Thriving on the Spectrum.’ Every day is not a great day, you have challenges just like any other family, but through it all, We’re thriving! We’re not going to be locked up in a house. My kids won’t be denied being able to interact with other kids. They’re going to learn that it may take them a little longer, but we’re going to get there. And when we do, we’re excited. In our house, we celebrate every milestone. The smallest of the smallest milestone, we are having cake and ice cream, popsicles. If Adam put three words together - it’s a birthday style celebration! SM: I just want to say, that is amazing and I commend you for saying, I’m going to take charge of this. I’m going to figure this out and then do so in a such a tremendous way. Tell us how Thriving On The Spectrum works.

speaking to either of our boys as if they were just me and you talking right now. But hearing that James Preston had received his diagnosis and then seven months later, Adam got his, it took the wind out of me. And at the same time, Zach (my husband) was running for North Carolina House. I was trying to balance it all— trying to be there for my husband, and for our family. I remember feeling this bit of guilt and shame as a mother, feeling like I had done this to my child, like I had made my child like this. As I began opening up to more people that my boys had autism it was helping me in my own journey of parenting. I think within our community, I felt like there weren’t too many families of color that I could really identify, which made me want to kind of keep within my bubble, and just be like, okay, we’re not going anywhere. There were a number of times that I had to leave a grocery cart to the side and just race out because they had a melt down and I’m embarrassed and don’t know how to handle it. I realized, ‘We can’t do that forever.’ And the more I began opening up about our kids and what makes them different and unique and special, I begin learning from other parents that were also parents to kids with autism. The more I opened up, I started connecting with other parents of color, and other parents in general, I began noticing other families that were there who were thriving. They were living their lives, they were making the necessary modifications that they needed for their kids and their disorder. But they weren’t locked up in a house like I was. I needed to see other examples of parents and caregivers thriving while having kids with autism. And then it just kind of came up like, you know, Substantial Issue 2020

TH: Within the journey was when Zach became elected, you start thinking about this is bigger than just our family. We’re essentially a vessel. And we just truly believe that, for us to keep our kids’ diagnosis, secret and under wraps, how is that helping other kids with autism in the state of North Carolina? Especially other black kids with autism in the state of North Carolina. We really kind of sat with that for quite some time. And I was like, you know, we’re really doing a disservice to not just our boys, but other kids across the state. By having this platform to really be able to advocate and ensure that all kids within the state are able to receive the same resources that our boys had. And then I was able to really say the word autism, because for the longest, I wouldn’t even say it. It was always just developmental delay, or sensory processing disorder, I could handle those words, but not autism. So eventually as I started connecting with other parents, I was able to really say and appreciate the fullness of the disorder. I reached out to an advocacy group, here in the state, one of the largest advocacy groups for families with autism. And I said, ‘Hey, I have two kids with autism’. I heard how they were doing a really good job with connecting families to resources, and really navigating them through this whole diagnosis. I knew I couldn’t do it by myself, and I’m all about a village - it truly takes a village to raise a child, especially a special needs child. I was trying to build my village. And the woman on the other end, said, “Good luck. And be thankful that you’re not the mother in North Carolina that has 5, because there is such a thing and she exists”. And she says realize you’re not going to be able to do it all. Choose and pick the therapies that you can provide your kids, but sometimes you just have to realize you can’t do it. And I remember sitting on the other end of that call thinking ‘You have met the wrong one!’ I thought, I’ll be darned

if I’m going to allow another mother to hear this—what is it that I can do with our network and our resources? How can I provide easy tips and strategies for other parents and families that they can begin doing at home to help their kids reach those developmental milestones? I started thinking, well, this has to be more than just an app, right? It’s great that we have this app and these are the features, but I really want to be able to provide parents with monthly tips and strategies, and just let them know that there’s a community and that you’re not alone. If I can do it, then so can you. Really just trying to empower others, because it was still helping me along my processing journey - understanding that okay, you can do this. It’s about building your network finding your village. We just started last October, providing monthly newsletters to whoever goes to our website. On the site they can sign up for our monthly newsletter and we provide easy tips and strategies and suggestions for families to do things with their kids. And we have a team of therapists that we work with on an ongoing basis - occupational therapists, ABA therapists, a speech therapist, to really make sure we’re providing good content to these families on a regular basis. SM: There are families out there that are struggling with this and may not even know. What are some of the things you could say to our readers about what they might need to know? TH: Early intervention is key. That is something Zack and myself are huge advocates for. At the very beginning when you start seeing those signs, go ahead and start intervening. Especially with a disorder like autism, the earlier that you can intervene, the better to really set that child up for getting those resources to help them along the way of achieving their milestones. The evaluation process for autism is not just calling someone and getting an appointment. We started in 2016 and we did not get a diagnosis in until 2018. And for each child it is different. So for James Preston, I think it was a bit hard to be able to diagnose him until we went and had him treated and tested by a developmental pediatrician. Adam was a bit different for me. He was a bit more textbook, like, if you read what autism was, you can kind of look at him and say, okay, for some of his behaviors and quirks, you can kind of pick up on it. When Adam hit that 16-month time frame he just started regressing. He wasn’t responding to his name, he was kind of in his own bubble. He stopped speaking, started having some behaviors like hand flapping or making noises, all things that we eventually learned were his way of regulating himself. So when we saw those signs in Adam, and because

we knew that his brother had already received the diagnosis, we knew to go ahead and get him tested. SM: So let me ask, being a minority, and more specifically a black female, do you find it difficult to break into the space? Were there challenges that you had to overcome breaking into this tech space? TH: I wouldn’t say there were challenges because I was thankful for having the ability to utilize our network. I had a girlfriend from Carolina that had a software engineering background, so I pulled her in at the very beginning. She really kind of set me up to be able to start interfacing with various developers, making sure that I had the layout for the app, and just really kind of held my hand through that process of being able to engage with the tech aspect. As with everything do your research, if you know that you have a deficit. This is not my field, I have a psychology background. So going into this space of business and technology was like, wait, this is not me. But I knew to utilize the networks and resources that I have. So I pulled on my friends, the Carolina alumni network, I was like, “Hey, I’m looking for this. I’m trying to do this. Does anybody have any recommendations?” It’s amazing the connections that you can make through networking. SM: What’s next? What is on the horizon for Thriving On The Spectrum? And what are some things that you want to see happen in the coming years? TH: We are in the midst of our crowdfunding campaign, and our goal is $55,000. We were able to begin development of the app, so we have a clickable prototype. We just had a really exciting opportunity with some news coverage from Spectrum News, and from there had several other large organizations reach out to us. And from that, we also got a verbal commitment from an angel investor, but we are still needing funds so we can hit that $55,000 goal to begin developing the app. We hope to close on our crowdfunding goal by the end of this year and we have friends and colleagues who are hosting virtual fundraisers for us. This is something that is definitely needed, and we have a lot of support and excitement from the community; especially the autism community. We’re ready to begin development and we’re really excited about the resources that we’re able to provide to other families. Please visit to learn more.

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Dr. Eveangel H Savage Wife, mother, grandmother, educator, founder and advocate

Black women are and have always undoubtedly functioned as the cornerstone of the African American community. The proverbial glue that holds everything together: from our men to our children, then eventually themselves. Black women are the most educated demographic in all of America, however, the mainstream media typically portrays a far less endearing archetype. Which ultimately ties back into this issue’s theme of stereotypes. Throughout history, stereotypes have played an influential role in shaping the attitudes toward Black American’s. We had the absolute

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pleasure of speaking with the exemplary Dr. Eveangel Savage. Dr. Savage is an international activist, best-selling author & speaker, as well as Leadership Advisor. Dr. Savage is the founder of Audacity Group SE LLC, an international social enterprise and consultancy firm. Dr. Savage is a mom of 4, spouse of 29 years, and grandmother of 6. Dr. Savage aims to center her work on “lived experiences of humanity,” while building competency for civic engagement, economic empowerment, and the biopsychosocial well-being of her community.

ES: I know what its like to be an intrapreneur, that person who works the business as if they owned shares. Flawed cultures and discriminatory practices make it impossible to grow in these environments. I had a choice–stay or ignite my gifts. ​ ​​​​​​I chose to serve my community and build leadership capacity for the change I want to see in the world. I know my strengths and want to walk in them everyday.

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Representative Zack Hawkins Durham - District 31 Photos provided by



ack Hawkins is one of the most significant young political leaders in the state under 40 as indicated when he was named an NCCU 2018 Forty Under Forty Honoree. He has served in leadership roles at the local, state and national levels, most recently as 1st Vice Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. In this role, he was able to see several plans to fruition, including his initiatives to increase voter registration and fight voter suppression. Zack received a B.S. in Biology from Elizabeth City State University and a M.S. in Biology from North Carolina Central University. Zack has served as a teacher in Durham Public Schools (Southern High School) and works every day to help remove financial barriers for those that need it most. As a development and advancement professional in nonprofits such as United Way and higher education institutions like East Carolina

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University, Duke University and UNC, few causes are closer to his heart. Zack lives in Durham with his wife, Tracey; sons, Zachari, James Preston and Adam; and golden retriever, Sophie. SM: Tell us a little bit about Zack Hawkins. ZH: I’m a country boy from North Carolina. I was born in what used to be Pitt County Hospital. It was an amazing upbringing in so many ways growing up on a dirt road. Living in a rural community, we knew it was small, but when it got paved, that was the most exciting thing ever. And so if you fast forward to see and understand the process of why that happens, it just cements that those small things mean a lot to people. Dad is from Trinidad and Tobago, Mom is from Chocowinity. My mother is and was absolutely amazing. She played all the roles growing up, but she made it work. I also had amazing grandparents. My grandmother believed in the arts. And she wanted to make sure that kids who had a small town upbringing had more than that. She also taught us the beauty of NC. She would take me and my sister and have us on a bus with a bunch of 70 yer old ladies from her Garden Club going across the state of NC. My grandfather still thought he was a sharecropper, and I was his

laborer. So when people say you know a long road to hoe I know exactly what that means. After that amazing upbringing I went to Elizabeth City State University, and from there, I was able to grow a little bit more because I was thinking, “yeah, I was in student government when I was in high school, but what does that look like at the next level?” And so Elizabeth City State was just big enough for me to stretch my political wings. And learn about bigger issues, see what was happening in the university, and how it connected to the state. I also pledged Omega Psi Phi fraternity, which you know is a lifelong love of mine where I built friendships that lasted a lifetime. SM: So when did things change for you in the Political arena? ZH: Funny enough, I know it always surprises people because I started off as a Biology major, and got a degree but had this wanting to get involved. When 2000 hit the North Carolina Democratic Party tapped HBCU’s to get involved and they asked me to lead the voter registration and the voter outreach. We killed it that year, even though 2000 was a different type of election. I had that political bug, and I thought “This is what I can see myself sort of being a part of ”. But in 2001 when my son was about seven months old his arm was broken in daycare. And, as a young Dad, I feel hopeless and helpless. And so here I am, with this young kid and his mom and not knowing where to go or who to talk to. And I said, “You know what, I’m gonna get involved”. And so while I was doing my studies, I started showing up. I showed up at the Democratic Party with David Price for Congress, because I said that I would never feel that way again.

But as I went through the process of getting involved in and finding out more about issues, I realized that people felt this way every single day. And so that’s sort of where the first part of my involvement and wanting to stay involved really came from. So I said, “you know, I’m gonna be okay”. But to know that people felt this way every single day, helpless and hopeless, not knowing where to turn. I knew I needed to be a part of either making that help happen for them or being that voice. ZH: I eventually get into the classroom at the same time as I’m president of the Young Democrats. I hear candidates talking about education and what they’re doing. But when I’m in the classroom, I see that we don’t have enough resources. Kids are not getting the type of experience that they need to excite them about Biology and Earth Science, and the environment. But during that time I met bright students. I was at a high school that had some rough parts of town, but they were just incredible kids. And on top of all of that is that there were so many outside forces that were coming in. Kids were hungry, kids didn’t have stable housing, kids didn’t have enough to eat. So there were things that were impacting their ability to learn, outside of the fact that we were not giving the structures for sound basic education. So that was really another turning point for me.I needed to get into something to make sure that I am fighting for them. I’m fighting for those who are helpless and hopeless, but that true talent that exists in the state of North Carolina should be able to be maximized and not be underutilized.

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SM: We love that you allowed your passion to drive your purpose. Tell us a little bit about your journey into state and national political issues. ZH: Fast forward-after that time I then left to go work for Obama for a short while to push the Affordable Care Act, which we’re still fighting for. I then started to get into philanthropic work. I did a complete 180 and said I need to go into the belly of the beast to ensure that whatever I do helps to do two things: move policy forward, or create financial opportunities and raise money so that we can fill the gap for the needy- that need could be housing, food, whatever. I was elected to the NC House in 2018, I was First Vice President of the State Democratic Party. And I got involved in it at that level, because it was really important to make sure that we built North Carolina back. I have dedicated myself to this and all these good relationships have built a lot of good will. Folks that invested in me felt that it was my time. And I felt like it was my time. I’m just blessed to be in this position, because I see the world really clearly both historically, and as we move forward.

I’m a big James Baldwin fan. Brother Baldwin talked about being in a constant state of a fear and of a sort of ire. You know and see the problems, and that causes an amazing frustration. But the thing that I will say to people is, no matter what platform you have, use it to get in some good trouble. You’d be amazed at how much just saying something about an issue will make a difference and change someone’s life. Each week NC State Representative Zack Hawkins hosts “The Breakdown with Zack” where he breaks down the hottest topics as it relates to policy, community challenges and overall concerns in simple terms.

I come to it from an incredibly genuine and passionate place. You come in as a freshman and sometimes you have so many ideas. But what you quickly realize is that you cannot boil the ocean. And that once you find those five to seven things that you can really hone in on and give a voice to and build a network and an awareness around that’s when you’re really going to become a good Legislator.

Substantial Issue 2020

Read the full article and listen to the podcast at

Question Have you earned my vote? Substantial | 43

THE DONALD THOMPSON PODCAST Why Charles Barkley Invested in Ashlyn Sanders, CEO of NeuroVice

Ashlyn Sanders was super successful academically and on track to become a doctor. She graduated from UNC a year early, interned in the Obama White House, and went to grad school at Duke. But while at Duke, a life altering diagnosis steered her to the path of entrepreneurship and an eventual investment from NBA legend Charles Barkley.

Click to listen to full podcast

Tonya Williams: From Pitt County to the White House

Born and raised in Eastern North Carolina, Tonya Williams‘ incredible career path took her all the way to the Obama White House, where she was the Director of Legislative Affairs for Vice President Joe Biden. On the show today, Tonya talks about that journey – which included UNC Law School, the North Carolina General Assembly, GSK, and the office of Congressman GK Butterfield where she served as Chief of Staff. Tonya is now with SoftBank, as the Director of External Affairs for the Opportunity Growth Fund, a fund that will invest $100M in American minority owned businesses.

Click to listen to full podcast

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The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence

Substantial Magazine announces their role as an official media sponsor for the 2020 Heart Of A Woman Conference. The two day

virtual conference is hosted by the Women’s Business Center of Charlotte and is designed to provide a holistic view of personal and professional development for women business owners by providing solutions to enhance confidence, knowledge, marketing strategies, and skills to build relationships to ultimately grow and scale. The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte has successfully hosted the interactive conference since 2017. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has moved to a virtual platform and will be held on October 21st and 22nd. The conference comprises four track model sessions: Entrepreneur, Lifestyle Mind & Body, Professional Development, and Industry, that gives women the power to walk away inspired by the connections and resources to effectively leverage and fulfill their vision. The theme of the conference is UNAPOLOGETIC; focusing on empowering women to let go of the constructs that obstruct their vision and purpose. The conference website says “With all the setbacks, we will still move

forward and we will do it graciously. Therefore, we are unapologetic about the way we will conduct our businesses, see ourselves, and fulfill our dreams”. The mission of Substantial has always been to amplify and uplift stories of influential minorities. The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte is a pillar of growth and opportunity for women business owners in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. The state run agency empowers women with the tools needed to establish businesses, stabilize their companies, generate sustainable profits, strategize for future growth, and contribute in the growth and economic development of the community. Serving as a media sponsor for their annual conference allows the growing nonprofit to expand its influence and serve more members of their state and local communities. We look forward to sharing information on the dynamic host of speakers and workshop presenters, as well as additional resources available through the Women’s Business Center. For more information on the conference and to register, please visit the conference website at Substantial | 45

It’s about more than just the GAME Substantial sits down with Erroll Reese to talk about his journey from rural Alabama, he transition from sports to technology, to combining the two in radio.

Since the arrival of Covid-19, there has been an almost complete stoppage of communal activity. Cinemas, bars, offices, and sports leagues alike were forced to shut down, with little to no knowledge of when they’d reopen. As a result, most of our days in some way or another consist of some type of interaction with technology: virtual learning, online shopping, food delivery apps, or zoom filled remote workdays. Concerning the absence of sports, this created a void within the entertainment space that was entirely apparent.

Substantial Issue 2020

Today we had the privilege to speak with an individual whose journey has uniquely bridged the two. In this issue of Substantial Magazine, we are elated to converse with a man who wears many hats: entrepreneur, HBCU graduate, twenty-five-year tech executive, and co-host of “The Sports Shop,” along with KMac McClendon, Erroll Reese. We spoke with Reese on a multitude of topics, such as his upbringing, his athletic career, attending an HBCU, and his transition from a twenty-five-year tenure in tech to hosting a successful sports talk radio show.

SM: First and foremost, for those that don’t know who you are, if you will just introduce yourself, and just tell us a little bit about what you’re doing right now. ER: I’m Erroll Reese. I’m a host along with my colleague K Mack of The Sports Shop with Erroll Reese and K Mack. We’ve been around for about eight years in the Raleigh-Durham market. A Project that started, believe it or not, from the concept of a barbershop and cigar shop. And it kind of morphed into an opportunity because of our network. We started on the weekends for about four years. Now we do drive time in the Raleigh-Durham market from 7 to 10 a.m. on sports radio. SM: We definitely want to learn more about the legendary Erroll Reese. But we also want to know, How has Covid affected the broadcast and the way you create your show?

ER: So, you’ve done your homework, Greg. I appreciate that. You know, I think we are the aggregate of our experiences. Where I am right now is somewhat a surprise, but at the same time not as much. I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, my mom was a schoolteacher. And at 84 she was still teaching up until two years ago. My father was a steelworker in Birmingham. I always loved sports and I’ve always loved math too. And they come together at some point in my life. I had an opportunity to get a scholarship to Alabama A&M and I majored in computer science. And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the best football player. But my life has been full of surprises. Other people that probably didn’t have the faith in me or the confidence in me and all of a sudden, they look around and say, “Wow, you did that? Does that happen?” I wasn’t to the greatest football player coming in there. But right now, I’m in the Hall of Fame at that school as a football

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ER: What’s interesting is that COVID hit a lot of people in a way where we don’t have guests and we’re not a studio. We broadcast from our homes, as I shared with you earlier, but we were getting ready to be on different stations at 730 a.m. We were going to be in Charlotte, we were going to be on in Louisville, Kentucky. It was going to be on in Cincinnati Ohio. And we were going to start up in those cities with our show on April 1st, and when COVID hit we had to put all that on hold. SM: I want to dive into why this conversation is so important. You have had the opportunity to go and sit in some spaces and occupy some opportunities that hold a lot of weight. I want to just take a moment for you to kind of walk us through just a little bit of that journey.

player. So, I must have done something right. My Senior year when they interviewed all the seniors on the football team they asked “Reese whom do you want to be drafted by?” And true to form. I said “I want to be drafted by IBM”. That’s what I said. They were like, “What are you talking about?” I said, Man, I know what side my bread is buttered on. I love technology. I’ve always been interested in how things work, how they connect, how the sausage is made in terms of the technology. So that’s why I’m hanging my hat on. And lo and behold. IBM brought me to Raleigh-Durham, that’s how I end up here in this area.

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SM: I love the fact that you speak to building your network as you go along. We are the sum of everyone who’s contributed to our lives, just as you’re contributing to our lives right now. Tell us a little bit about how all of those bits and pieces of taking sports, your background, where you’re from, and how that led you to where you are here with not just the show, but a platform and a lifestyle. ER: Oh, great question. Very good question. My father made recipes, he had an unbelievable personality. And I guess I took that kind trait from him because, you know, you try to make people feel good. You may leave things better than you found them when you first got there. And to be honest with you, I remember when they integrated schools in the seventh grade and I thought it was kind of weird because I was always going to say, “Well, if their nose bleeds, is it red?” because I wasn’t around them to know. But those are the things we kind of worked out. I never saw racism until I got older, way older, because, first of all, my mom was a teacher in a school that had to help. When you were a teacher’s son, you get a little clout in the school. So, nobody messed with you, but taking all those concepts and moving forward and understanding that you treat people the way you want to be treated. I carried those traits with me as I continued. My father told me a long-time ago “Son, your network is your net worth”, and I never did quite understand that until I understood that. You could be the most creative person. We are the fastest run in the world. And that may get you to a certain point. But at the end of the day, you’re going to need someone to help you.

Substantial Issue 2020

Read the full article and listen to the podcast at


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A valid ID is not necessary in every state. Check with your state beforehand to be aware of the regulations.

Some states will automatically send mail in ballots, but others will require that you request a mail-in ballot. Check with your home state to see what the requirements are in your respective state.

If you are in line when the polls close, stay in line - you still have the right to vote as long as you were in line before the polls have closed.




If you make a mistake on your ballot, you have the right to ask for a new one.

If the machines go down at your polling place, ask for a paper ballot.

Representatives are on call on Election day to address problems and concerns. You can reach the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.


When We All Vote Am eariorepra quibea nis ex earumenis erspele ndicia que vere quod ulles denditem Virtual Couch Party! STREAMED VIA FACEBOOK LIVE @SUBSTANTIALMAGAZINE Substantial Issue 2020

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Special Thank You President & CEO Greg Hedgepeth Editor-in-Chief Evelyne Del Substantial Fellow & Contributor Taylor Corlew Partners Donald Thompson Contributors Rep. Zack Hawkins Eric Hazelton Tonya J. Lynch J.J. McQueen Joey Peele Donte Prayer Diane Taylor Ibrahim Ullah Bethann Casey Wilkie Sponsors The Black Light Project The Diversity Movement The Donald Thompson Podcast | Earfluence The Sports Shop with Reese + KMAC The BUZZ • 96.5FM • 99.3FM • 99.9HD2 When We All Vote NC MWBE Coordinators Network 2020 Heart of A Women Conference Sponsorship Opportunities Eastern NC, Triangle Area, Charlotte © Substantial Media, LLC 2020 All Rights Reserved Substantial Issue 2020

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