“I put my hand on my heart, that means I feel ya. Real recognize real and you lookin familiar.”
All Around the World – JAY Z 2002
There has been much discussion about “Two Detroits”. I’ve even written about a variation of it in this space.
However, there’s been another online discussion that’s been percolating recently. It has been elevated by a social media initiative started by Marlowe Stoudamire–specifically, providing a platform which provides balanced portrayals and identifies networking and business opportunities focused on African-American men and women.
Stoudamire, a Detroit-based consultant and entrepreneur, founded Butterfly Effect Detroit and Mash Detroit, He is a self-described social capitalist, which he defines “as an economic, cultural, personal value that you gain from shared experiences and relationships with people, organizations and people”.
He recently launched Roster Detroit and the #DetroitHasTalent hashtag which are online efforts focused on sharing balanced portrayals of African Americans while changing the overall narrative.
According to its official statement, “The inspiration for Roster was something organic that happened over 50 days on his (Marlowe’s) personal profile. The tributes help establish and maintain the narrative that Detroit Has Talent as we build the foundation for the future of Roster.”
Stoudamire was frustrated with the overall portrayal that Detroit is being saved by primarily young, white millennials at the expense of those who’ve been a part of Detroit through “thick and thin.”
He simply states, “…(it) is not the Detroit I know.”
Stoudamire believes Detroiters, particularly African-American men and women, have been engaged in making a difference in the city for years, but have not been recognized for their achievements and contributions. He hopes this platform will help change the narrative by sharing positive stories.
Regarding corporate-level executive leadership, many African Americans in business believe growth opportunities are limited. For example, according to a Fortune, 2017 study, 73% percent of the male and female senior executives are white, while only 2% are African Americans.
Stoudamire says, “People do business with people they know, like and trust” and “people hire people that look like them and people connect with people they can identify with.”
As a result, he launched daily narratives featuring two African-American men over the course of fifty-straight days. Those identified and featured were individuals with whom he met and worked with personally, professionally and/or were recommended via social media and referrals.
His storytelling started in February with the intended purpose of acknowledging achievements of those individuals making a difference in Detroit. By using the power of words and visual images, his hope was to craft positive narratives and images while building a network and an online community.
The #DetroitHasTalent hashtag is designed to be a digital platform while providing a channel of opportunity focused on:
- Providing validation and exposure to talented individuals,
- Developing and connecting to available tools which provide people with development opportunities to craft and build their brands, and
- Celebrating and sharing the good for individuals.
He thought it was important to challenge the status quo and help identify talent based on helping individuals market themselves. Ultimately, it was essential to begin to change overall perceptions by focusing on an individual’s overall contributions.
“Writing those positive daily tributes for 50 straight days to two deserving black men in my life to challenge the status quo of false narratives and images about us was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Stoudamire says. “But I believe black men showing other black men love and respect publicly is needed and healthy for our community.”
The premise is built on the notion it’s important to take control and not wait to ask for permission from others. It’s important to create your own table and ultimately, your own opportunities.
And not just identify opportunities solely focused on jobs, but also potential Board memberships, service capabilities, access-to-capital, philanthropic and networking opportunities.
Since its initial launch and according to Stoudamire, three individuals have been recruited and offered opportunities with Sports & Entertainment, Nonprofit Leadership and Business Consulting firms. He’s also looking to expand relationships and opportunities on the B-B side.
Roster Detroit is currently focused on converting existing online followers into active members of the Roster community. Subsequently, targeted projects will be developed and rolled out to its existing base of followers. via expanded social media platforms later this summer.
Stoudamire is looking to self-publish a book that captures the first 100 tributes and is looking to expand its initial Roster network organically through enhanced social media efforts.
And he’s looking to extend this concept to ten additional cities later this year.
Bottom line, Stoudamire is looking create opportunity for all people by developing relationships which will help drive business and enhanced relationships and economic value within the African American community.
A website is currently being designed and developed and will launch this Fall. In the meantime, to read more about the 100 people interviewed to-date, please click here.
By the way, the aforementioned words from JAY Z are what Stoudamire uses to close out each tribute.
Mark S. Lee is President,The LEE Group, a Plymouth-based integrated consulting firm and you can hear him Sundays, 8-9am, ET, “Small Talk with Mark S. Lee”, viaradio.com, Sundays and, “In the Conference Room with Mark S. Lee”, 11am – 1pm, ET, on 910am.Superstation. in Detroit.