06.19.24

COMING JUNETEENTH 2024

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Innovation is in our DNA

Our story doesn’t begin with chains. The origin of who we are is innovation.

The blood, sweat and genius of Black people has made the world wealthy. How can we make the advancements of Black people work for Black people? 

 

From Chains to Links: The Innovation Podcast is a dynamic community where visionary guests explore the deeply rooted relationship between Black people and innovation. This podcast goes beyond traditional entrepreneurial topics by exploring the intersection of culture, identity, and business. We also address the systemic barriers faced by Black entrepreneurs and discuss strategies to move from resiliency to thriving. Here, we confront our journeys in an effort to reframe, reclaim and reimagine narratives about who we’ve always been and co-design the abundant world we deserve.

 

Each episode uniquely focuses on how we’ve innovated survival: joy, creativity, curiosity, collective economics, healing, and revolution. Through the power of conversations, each of our guests bravely revisit their own journeys to shed light on Black entrepreneurship in an authentic and honest way. Collectively, From Chains to Links is a layered library of stories, research, insights and tools that every changemaker needs to tune in to and share.

 

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, artist, or advocate, this podcast is your hub for fostering economic empowerment, community well-being, and sustainable success for Black creativity and innovation.

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EPISODE GUIDE

What Is the Future of Racial Justice Work?

EP. 01

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has been a staple of corporate America for the past several decades, with peak attention at the height of movements challenging the lack of safety of Black lives post the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020. At an unprecedented rate, Black leadership was visible across industries and as a result, institutions began confronting generations-old practices which created barriers for marginalized communities. But as power concedes nothing, “anti-woke” efforts conspired assaults all the way up to the Supreme Court. Furthermore, many racial justice advocates have long called out the shortcomings of DEI and its cousin affirmative action—neither of which have remedied the second-class citizenry of Black people in America. Thus, our first episode tackles the real question: “what’s next for racial justice advancement?”

From Chains to Links kicks off with policy expert, professor and Senior Fellow at Brookings Institute, Dr. Andre M. Perry, author of the book Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.

The Modern Undergrounds

EP. 02

How much do we really credit Black people with the innovation of freedom and liberation? The significance of the Underground Railroad is not only how it freed enslaved Black people, but how leaders like Harriet Tubman and unknown conductors innovated safe, trusting and liberatory pathways and spaces for Black bodies. From Chains to Links is joined by entrepreneur and founder of The Gentlemen’s Factory Innovation Lab Jeff Lindor, for a powerful exploration of liberatory practices, the power of spacebuilding, and the ways environment impacts innovation as Black visionaries build out their dreams.

Before we were Black

EP. 03
Society makes it hard for Black people to imagine liberation or freedom outside of our experience in White America. Because so much of our existence is a product of resistance and survival, even our creative spaces consciously and subconsciously speak to a relationship with oppression or designing solutions to issues Black people didn’t create. But if we could imagine a “state of nature” outside of racism or white supremacy—one that does not limit our fullness to narrow, exoticized or romanticized tropes of our African origins or American journey, but rather pays homage to and embodies them—what might that look like? And how might we reverse-engineer back (or forward) into a fresh and compelling vision for ourselves? From Chains to Links sits with the futurist creative studio Intelligent Mischief team—Aisha Al-Hurra and Terry Marshall—who share how imagining whole, well Black beings is a crucial part of visioning and world building.

Introducing The Equity Mindset

EP. 04

We’re celebrating the middle of our launch season with a special conversation with our very own co-host Ifeoma Ike, author of The Equity Mindset. Ifeoma shares why she developed a gumbo of interviews, practical tools, and disruptive strategies to support those invested in building spaces where marginalized communities are ignored and harmed. Providing a vulnerable account of writing with a disability, maneuvering the publishing world, and creating space for underlooked equity architects, Ifeoma’s journey is a must for visionaries and entrepreneurs alike seeking to use words to spark change.

Innovation & Sustainability as Birthright

EP. 05

The height of the COVID-19 pandemic made folks aware of a very rare fact: our modern understanding of vaccines is because of an underknown man named Onesimus. Sold into slavery and gifted to a Puritan Minister, it was observed that Onesimus was unscathed by ravenous smallpox taking the lives of colonizers in the late 1700s. Onesimus shared how in his home country on the Continent of Africa they administered an inoculation, which shielded him from the disease. This precursor to the modern day vaccine would ultimately save countless lives through the American colonies…and that knowledge is still saving lives today.

From medicine to fashion, violence, theft and erasure has resulted in Black contributions being intentionally invisible, treating Black communities as foreigners to their own innovations. To add insult to injury, Black culture and indigenous and native ways of being—often an offspring of being and survival—are praised when others adopt and appropriate with no attribution to Black genius. Sustainability influencer, writer, and environmental justice educator Dominique Drakeford explores with From Chains to Links how we ensure that the current and future generations of innovators are able to make their mark—and possess it.

Commas, Currency and Collective Economics

EP. 06

The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” doesn’t explicitly factor how much that village will cost. The price of just “being Black” is expensive. And for many creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs, the cost of growth and expansion is unaffordable. Although one of the brief responses to the murder of George Floyd was a slight uptick in public and private commitments, data reveals that funding to Black entrepreneurs still severely lagged in comparison to what white spaces received. Institutions gained a lot of clout and exposure being connected to the brand of Black activism and movement, but not that most have departed from their public promises, Black entrepreneurs seeking to build impactful ventures are lumped back into the traditional models of funding and support—which includes tokenizing and the VC quest for the next “unicorn” in tech and business. 

Former NYC Deputy Mayor and current CEO of Robin Hood Foundation, Richard Buery, Jr., challenges the From Chains to Links community to question whether these standards yield sustainable results, and how bridging imagination with capital interventions help us build the villages we deserve.



Frontiers, Pioneers and Pace Setters: Leading While Black in the Innovation Economy

EP. 07

The Digital and Innovation Economy is in the midst of a technological revolution—one in which Black people have the best chance of not only getting in the water, but on the front side of the wave. Emerging Black technologists face new terrains as pioneers among pioneers, as well as old habits and beliefs which aren’t welcoming to the possibilities of an inclusive digital landscape. Nevertheless, breakthroughs happen, thanks to trailblazers committed to not being the only Black visionary in a still very undiversified world. 

Digital creator and Glow Up Games co-founder, Latoya Peterson, shares with the From Chains to Links her pioneering journey in new media and gaming provides major keys for how rising talent can succeed in the digital economy while still being authentic to themselves and the culture.

Building the 21st Century Civil Rights Movement, Today

EP. 08

The Civil Rights Movement is not the only Black movement, but it stands out with distinction for many reasons, including the way activism was more visible, thanks advancements in television usage and access which made the realities of segregation and brutality towards Black lives hard to ignore. Movements have proven to be both inspiring and have yielded some gains, but debates around how effective they are can prove to be emotional and tense. As with the rise of modern Black movements since the fatal tragedy of the murder of Trayvon Martin, questions around the purpose of sustainability of racial justice movements continue to spark passion and differences in theory and goals within Black spaces.  

Season 1 of From Chains to Links concludes with a spirited conversation with attorney, political commentator and New York Times bestseller, Bakari Sellers, exploring the following questions: Do we need a modern day civil rights movement, and if so, how do we build it? Who leads the movement? And how do we tap into a sense of unified purpose to continue the progress of past movements?



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