Why is Interracial Dating Still So Complicated?

This question stemmed from a thoughtful and genuine conversation I had with a few friends on Facebook. I know – a meaningful discussion on social media, who would’ve thought! The discussion was about a Black man, dating someone other than a Black woman, and the question, “Can he still speak on his experience of being a Black man if he is not with a Black woman?” The answer is, of course, yes! It’s preposterous to think that just because someone dates a different race, somehow this man magically wakes up a different color. He is still Black and still lives the struggle of being a Black man in the world.

But I also understand the plight of a Black woman, who made the comment. I get the sentiment of the argument, being a Black woman, I know there are some that feel like there are no good Black men left. Not all, but more than you think. And the dating scene is tough. 70 percent of Black women are single and if you are in that pool, it can be a daunting experience. And throw in there that the majority of Black women choose to ONLY date Black men, it’s like finding Neverland!

Side note: I understand there are many, MANY nuances, historically and generationally, that go into this argument as well. Black women are the backbone of the Black community and support Black men like no other through systemic oppression such as incarceration rates, income inequality, police brutality, etc. that continue to keep our Black men from thriving in society. On top of generational bias that teaches our community to stick with our own. I won’t touch on the entire conversation since this isn’t a book, but just one observation that was sparked by the aforementioned FB post.

So this discussion pushed me to dig deeper into my own relationships because as a Black woman growing up and seeing Black men date women from different cultures, there was always a stigma in the Black community, that at times, I didn’t always understand. But it was something I needed to be aware of and realize how history is so deep-rooted in present-day.

Personally, I was taught that I should marry someone that looks like my father. And that is a tough act to follow regardless of ethnicity. But I have been lucky enough to find someone that is just like my father, but I’m getting ahead of the story. Now, I believe in Black love. My parents are both Black and I’ve seen the strength of such a relationship and how important it is for younger generations to see. But this is true for all cultures, not just the Black community. We need positive examples of companionship and love from all backgrounds to encourage young people to find someone that challenges them and awakens their soul no matter who they are or what they look like. Especially for the Black community.

In my adult life, I realized that I was limiting myself and my experience because I was only looking at one slice of the pie. I didn’t realize it, but I was shutting myself off from potential blessings because I had tunnel vision – considering Black men as my only option in a mate. Why? I don’t know, but to some degree, I needed someone that could understand my journey and what it meant to be a Black woman. It took me a long time to realize that not all Black men would understand my journey either way, and haven’t. And I was closing myself off to different and unique opportunities to get to know other people, cultures and teach them about my own. Once I opened my mind and my heart, I found exactly what I was looking for and he’s not necessarily what I was taught to be with or thought I was supposed to be with. And for good measure, since moving to DC, in recent years I’ve noticed more Black women being open to other cultures and dating non-Black men (or women), which is exciting to see!

Which brings me to the question above – why is interracial dating still so complicated? Why do we criticize people for dating outside of their race and somehow their experience as a (fill in the blank) man or woman is less than because they are dating a different race? Why is my love for Black men (in which I still have my father and two brothers that I love dearly) diminished because my significant other is not Black? Why does my Black card get revoked because I found a man that I love and cherish, but he’s not Black, so automatically, I’ve given up on all my Black brothers? I feel like people are threatened by this instead of curious to learn about other cultures and happy to see others happy. And I’m not being overly dramatic here, these were responses to the actual post and conversations I’ve had with many people over the years, including people I’m very close to. I didn’t understand either until I took away the barriers I put in front of myself.

Overall, I see this as an opportunity to educate and inform people that this type of logic is not the future. It’s okay to see color – it’s beautiful and inspiring and freeing. I love the man I am with because he is smart, ambitious, caring and pushes me to be a better woman. He teaches me about his experiences and his culture and I respect that so much. At the end of the day, he may not be able to speak about the Black experience and I may not be able to speak about his experience, but love is love. This conversation has a historical context that is for a different time, but the racial divide in our country is wired in so many directions, in which our children (many of whom will represent multiple cultures as time goes by) will live with the decisions we make today.

So open your heart to the world around you. You never know what blessing awaits you. Most of all, at a time with so much hate in the world, celebrate love where ever people find it. Live in your truth and happiness will find you.

Peace & Blessings,

Chloé

Song of the week: Pink Lemonade by James Bay

 

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What It’s Like to be Black in PR

black-in-pr-2.pngPRWeek recently released a mini-documentary with the title, “What it’s like to be Black in PR” and it couldn’t have been more timely.  During Black History Month, it’s nice to hear about ground-breaking trailblazers of our past but it also ties their struggles to today’s challenges and how we all must continue to march on and fight the good fight. For a brief second while listening to the stories, I felt comfort. Comfort in knowing that the things that I was feeling and the situations that I’ve experienced throughout my career weren’t just in my head. But then one of the interviewees said something that was oh so true, but infuriating:

“The only people who are talking about and understand how big the diversity problem is in PR are the people of color.”

This statement is a part of the problem. Reaching communities of color has always been a goal of mine. Whether its an opportunity to educate, engage or inform, I’ve always felt that many underserved communities are left out simply due to access, among other reasons. I want to work with big companies who have the resources to connect with communities of color to help them flourish and close the gap of inequality. It’s a lofty goal, but I know there are people out there that want the same thing. I want people of all backgrounds to have a seat at the table if they choose. But we need more allies to speak up and act out against our industry only being 10 percent people of color. Does that reflect society, which is 17.8 percent Hispanic or Latino, 13.9 percent Black, 5.7 percent Asian and 2.6 percent mixed race, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data?

Why is this infuriating? Because it’s the same people pointing out the obvious. It’s the same people voicing their concerns, speaking up for the disenfranchised and pointing out the disconnect. There aren’t enough people of color in the room and this industry shift is dependent on just a few folks that are lucky enough to be at the table. We need allies to join in the conversation and make some noise beyond those that are expected – POC.

Representation is the action of speaking or acting on behalf of someone. It will take people of all backgrounds to change the advertising industry from its dismal 10 percent number. In order to cultivate a pipeline of potential candidates, everyone must make inclusion a priority. It must become innate and a part of a companies DNA and culture. I truly believe that in order to best serve our clients, for those that work in an agency, or to best serve customers for those on the corporate side, we need to have a team that reflects the audiences that we want to reach. And even more so, we need to hold ourselves accountable.

“If you are at a firm that doesn’t have the representation of your clients’ communities, how are you going to serve clients and help them have conversations that are authentic with those communities.” 

This video gave me hope as all of the interviewees are prominent Black leaders in PR and their visibility will encourage more students and recruits to follow the PR path. That’s the thing, we want to have insights and input from people of all backgrounds to better inform our clients and reach multiple audiences. But having a seat at the table also means younger employees can see themselves long-term as a part of your organization and see a pathway. Representation symbolizes an organizations commitment to inclusion and if this isn’t visibly clear internally, you can’t fake it or hide it from people externally.

I thought this quote from Andrew McCaskill, SVP of Global Communications at Neilsen, summed it up loud and clear:

“Change will happen when Black folks on the corporate side say to their agencies, until your team that is going to service my account is reflective of my companies culture, reflective of our consumer base, you are not going to get our business.”

Accountability.

Inclusion is a mindset and I’ve been very passionate about this since I started my career in PR. It’s something that I believe is just scratching the surface of its true business impact. I look forward to the day when audience engagement takes a new form and inclusion is an integrated part of every companies DNA. This will be my life’s work.

Peace & blessings,

CK

Song of the week: Get Free by Major Lazor

 

 

 

Your Tribe: Outgrowing Friendships in 2018

I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day and he is having a tough go at things. In fact, he’s always had a tough go at things. You know those instances where, whatever you do, something always goes wrong? Well, that happens to him more than most. And it can be disheartening. We chatted about friends and having people that are in your corner, through tears of joy and moments of sorrow (with the “ugly cry, as Oprah would say). And as we get older, that pool of people dwindles and/or changes.

We both admitted that our pool of people has definitely changed in the last 10 years, even more so in the last 5 years and as you get older. Why is that? Here are a few theories: jobs, marriage, children, relocation, selfishness, etc. But the one reason that stuck out was – we’ve simply outgrown each other.

Some friendships will expire their time… instead of pretending to be cool, learn to let go and move on.

-Toni Payne

You’ve outgrown the late night drinking and partying on the weekends. You’ve outgrown those that never have a positive thing to say anything. You’ve outgrown people that put no effort into bettering themselves spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. You’ve outgrown people that are content living an average life. You’ve outgrown what you didn’t realize was never a friendship, just two people that kept in touch but never really enhanced each other as people. But while navigating all of this, you’ve continued to grow yourself. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is adulting (The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult).

As we get older, good friendships seem to be as hard to find as a good soul food spot in D.C. (and I’ve been searching for four years). But more so, it’s about people that genuinely care about you and your well-being and want to help you achieve your potential. There are friends I have that I don’t talk to often, but when we do connect, it’s like we never stopped talking. We laid a strong foundation and we have an understanding that it’s not personal if we don’t talk every day (or realistic), but it’s important that we both “check on each other” because that’s what friends do. They hold each other accountable. And if they are truly your friend, they want to see you reach your dreams and do what they can within their power to make that happen.

friendship-pictures-best-friendshipI tease my significant other because, for someone our age, he has the best group of friends that genuinely care for each other and look out for each other. Never in my life have I seen a group of men (men!) that have a bond like him and his friends. It’s extremely fascinating! I have about a handful of people I know, if I called tomorrow and said I need your help, they would drop everything to make sure I was okay. And this includes men and women – which is rare but it works.

The world can be a very tough place to navigate and it is important to stay grounded. Surround yourself with like-minded people so you can continue to learn, grow and progress in life. Find people that you have an authentic connection with, that do NOT bring drama into your life and that lift you up. You also need those that challenge you to be better. I miss that sometimes but those I consider good, close friends always know how to make me smile.

So go and check on your people, because I guarantee, if they don’t need a friend right this moment, they will be happy to hear from you and glad that you’re checking on them. So, do you know who’s your tribe?

Peace & Love,

CK

Song of the Week: “Real Friends” by Kanye West, The Life of Pablo 

 

 

New Year, New Me? Nope, Just a Work in Progress

IMG_8108Happy New Year! It’s been awhile since I’ve shared my thoughts on here and I decided that this year, I wanted to write more for myself. For most people, including me, 2017 was a rough year. Given the challenges and heartache of the world, it was enough to paralyze even the strongest people. Personally, I didn’t get from point A to point B as quickly or in the way that I hoped. In fact, I am still working toward point B and it’s been a tough pill to swallow.

I’ve been blessed to do everything I’ve ever set my heart out to do. How many people can say that? I didn’t set out to change the world or create something that would change the way we live, but me just wanting to be better and do things that I felt would better my opportunities in life. And now that I’ve checked a lot of boxes, I feel this need to find the next big thing. I’ve made a life out of being a mover and a shaker but I always wanted to just…”be.” Now that I’ve reached that pinnacle of just “being”, I miss moving and shaking!

But I refuse to give up. The Lord has surrounded me with amazing people that challenge me and help me to live a fulfilling life. I feel like I left 2017 only slightly better than I left 2016, which isn’t a bad thing but it’s not what I’m used to. Self-reflection was major for me last year and talking to trusted individuals about what I could do to figure out my next move was critical. I want my next chapter to be strategic, impactful and to continue to grow for myself and my significant other.

So to kick-off this year, not as a new me, but someone who is evolving toward her destiny, I have three areas that I’d like to focus on. I won’t call them resolutions because if we are all honest with ourselves, it’s work in progress:

  1. Side Hustle: I need something that I can look forward to, and I don’t mean my everyday work. That will always be there. But something outside of the day-to-day. Reclaiming my time! Doing things that I want to do, just for me – volunteering, writing, cooking, etc. I love mentoring young people and helping them navigate the world. I would love to get back to sports in some capacity as a referee or basketball meetup to enjoy the sport every once and in awhile (and blow off some steam).
  2. Health & Wellness: Speaking of blowing off steam…For a host of reasons, I wasn’t 6eacc4aeec423644287b1d075193c149focused on my health as much in 2017. I used to workout 3-4 times a week and I found myself too tired, with little energy to even get up and go to the gym. I need to find something that makes working out less of a task and more engaging. I owe it to my past life, the athlete of 15 years, and my future self – wife, mom, caregiver – to take care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I need to do better at nourishing my soul and prioritizing my health. It’s hard to do when your time is demanding but its essential.
  3. Dollars & Sense: Money talks, and as someone close to me always says, “its a means to do the things that I want to do.” In order to grow and attain the future I see for myself, I want to continue to build a strong financial platform. I really want to focus on where my money is going, do I need it and will this help with my greater financial goals. I am not without, but I want financial wealth one day, with (say it with me)… multiple avenues of income. That’s where the side hustle comes in!

I hope that you take the time to reflect or write down a few areas that you want to continue to grow and be better. One thing I have in my corner is that I know what I want and I know what I won’t stand for. Be brave, be courageous and go after what you want. It may not happen when you want it, but if you lay down a strong foundation, when the opportunity presents itself you will be ready.

Words for 2018: be ready. *we ready, we ready!* (for those of you who know)

Peace & Love,

CK

One shining day, moment

Chloe Kerr NASCAR Diversity Awards_Mom_Dad
(R to L) Maggie, Chloe’, & Lloyd Kerr celebrating at the NASCAR Diversity Awards in February 2015

The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program is a gift that keeps on giving.  Two years ago I made a list of places I wanted to work, NASCAR being one of them.  Diversity engagement is the career path I want to pursue and I noticed NASCAR’s diversity initiatives were on the rise.  I felt as though there was and is an amazing opportunity to be apart of the evolution of a culture and a tradition at one of our nation’s most prominent sports, as NASCAR continues to diversify on and off the track.  The term diversity is more than demographics such as race, gender, age etc.  Diversity and inclusion is a commitment to change.  Its a commitment to being innovative in every aspect of business, especially in consideration of your key audiences.  There is an opportunity to extinguish the historical perception of this sport and celebrate the traditions of NASCAR with all types of sports fans.

Being a NASCAR Diversity Award recipient solidified my purpose and the impact on diversity engagement that I want to make.  Seeing young people, on their journey to great things, being awarded for their efforts is the reason why these programs need to continue, to give future generations inspirational figures to aspire to. NASCAR gave me insight into the power of diversity and inclusion, and how it can change generations to come. My parents, pictured above, worked hard and endured certain things so that I didn’t have to.  It was part of their journey to make a positive impact on my brothers and I, and I want to infuse that character and integrity into making an impact through a major organization such as NASCAR.  I am eternally grateful to NASCAR for giving me the courage to stand up for what I believe and creating a career path, for those such as myself, to make a difference.