Season Four - Summer 2021-Resilience
Investors and entrepreneurs Mitch Brooks and Tristan Wilkerson co-founded High Street Equity Partners to close the racial and gender wealth gap, and support small businesses that can make a big impact. Undaunted by but well-aware of the fact that only two percent of venture capitalists are Black men, the pair are clear that this is their life’s work.
Our conversation between these two friends is reflective, instructive, and funny. Pull up and learn who taught Mitch resilience, how Tristan responded to advice that he would have to cut his locs to succeed professionally, and what music is allowed in the whip.
Experienced educator and school leader Julian Hipkins III organized the first annual Tour de Roosevelt, a community bike ride through the neighborhoods where Roosevelt students live.
The Tour was not just a great event to support the high school, but also a personal triumph for Hipkins. During the pandemic, his young daughter learned to ride a bike, and he found it increasingly harder to walk alongside her as her distance and speed increased.
After years away from the bike, he hopped back on, and soon began regular solo rides to clear his head. These rides connected to his earlier reading about biking infrastructure and community building, and sparked the idea for a community ride. The collective joy of a good ride helped to restore what the months of stress and isolation had broken.
The Dap Project chatted with Julian about what the ride meant to him, the influence of his Morehouse education, and the music that brings him joy.
Over the past 10 years, 44% of firefighters who died in the line of duty suffered from a cardiac event. The life expectancy of firefighters is 10-15 years lower than other public servants. Jonathan Tate was unaware of these statistics when he joined the department nine years ago, or when he began Food on the Stove (@foodonthestove) four years ago.
What did he know? Jonathan knew that three heart attacks and cancer had taken his father’s life just nine years into retirement. He knew that changing his own diet could prevent this fate. He then felt called to share what he learned with his crew.
But who was he, a rookie, to tell his colleagues what to eat? He wasn’t even eating with the station, having chosen to stick with the health-conscious diet he’d developed instead of the tasty-but-unhealthy meals the company typically ate. Further, what money did he even have to buy these steaks, broccolini, and sweet potatoes?
Tate’s definition of resilience doesn’t call for him to have all the answers, he explained, but to lean hard on his faith. In our next conversation on resilience, he tells us how he went from happy party promoter to passionate health advocate and non-profit leader of Food on the Stove.
Nife Olufosoye approached middle school basketball tryouts confidently. Dribbling looked easy, and he had a Vince Carter poster hung in his bedroom for good luck. Nife’s earning a spot on the B team -- not the A team he coveted -- was his first lesson in resilience. Off the court, he learned resilience as he and his mother, recent immigrants to the United States, pursued citizenship to the United States. Soon, he was politically engaged and applying the skills learned in sports to the task of building political power.
Nife is the Organizing Director for the Black Futures Lab. He tells us if we’re winning under the Biden Administration, and what would be his win of a lifetime.
Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III learned to adapt using dap when he transferred to a new elementary school and was one of few Black students. He refined his resilience skills as he supported family members through potentially crippling addictions, declaring “I’m going to survive this...and you’ll be there to see me.”
Now, as pastor to a congregation disconnected from a heritage of healthy eating and food sovereignty, “survival” has taken a literal meaning, and he continues to adapt -- with integrity, he would add -- to the changes. Our conversation (which, at times, is a beautiful sermonic experience) explores how resilience learned at an early age empowers this social entrepreneur to hope, confront obstacles, and remain focused on his calling.
C Brian Williams recalls that dap was always part of his life growing up in Houston, Texas. As an Alpha, he learned the sacred dap shared among frat brothers, and noticed similarities in greetings during travels throughout Africa. He also peeped a little boy in gigantic boots doing a dance that beautifully resembled stepping…
Listen to our conversation about the birth of Step Afrika and the resolve you draw on when the bright lights unexpectedly go dark.
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie represents Ward 5 on the Washington, DC City Council. In our first conversation about resilience, McDuffie takes us into the Stronghold community that shaped his unexpected path to public service where he uses legislation to address structural race-based inequities. The voices of family, friends, and Freeway reassure McDuffie that setbacks are temporary, and he’s here to win.
Season Three - Winter 2021
As of this writing, the Black Lives Matter Global Network has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for "promoting 'peaceful civil disobedience against police brutality and racial violence' across the globe.”
We were among the millions around the globe in Spring 2020, the days barely long enough to contain our protesting, chanting, praying, marching, dreaming, exhaling. We were masks on, signs up, because #corona #blm.
“We gon’ be alright!” We will.
... but we are not the same ... because ... we are not the same.
"The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its
original dimensions." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Remember hearing from the distance, #defundthepolice?
What’s that about? Food sovereignty? Prison abolition?
Liberatory public education? As the world arose in unprecedented protest,
so did bold ideas emerge from revolutionary corners into the mainstream
of our twitter feeds. We, at the Dap Project began to pay attention, closer
and closer, with curiosity -- what could this Black future look like,
for real for real?
A tweet floated around the virtual galaxy last summer -- Resistance is a multilane highway, where there is space for multiple forms of protest. Art and culture, politics, organizing, investing, researching, writing.
Season 3 of the Dap Project is that Impala in the slow lane of storytelling. We are capturing the ambitions, reflections, and radical imagining of brothers doing the work to resist injustice and create the world we deserve.
We intend to learn, and by learning, free our minds from the status quo. We intend to build space for the Dap Project community to learn and act with us through the launch of our monthly book club, “TDP Be Reading.”
In the spirit of Angela Davis: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
Born in Connecticut, raised in Baltimore, author, historian, and professor George Derek Musgrove associates dap with church and feels compelled, coming out of 2020, to make history even more relevant to the present moment.
Where cities such as the District painted “Black Lives Matter” on main streets in the summer of 2020, Prof. Musgrove’s Black Power Map illustrates DC’s rich Black political tradition from its origins in 1961 to its resurgence in 1998. In other words, we been here. But there are cautionary lessons that today’s activists can apply to the current moment, which he highlights.
Listen to our conversation to learn how dap shows up in academic spaces, and the music that energizes the professor to keep dropping knowledge.
Shout out UMBC.
Aaron and Rhonda talk with 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗸𝘂𝘀 𝗕𝗮𝘁𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗿, Deputy Director for Leadership Development for People for the American Way. A native son of Washington, DC, Markus is well versed in DC political traditions but has developed a progressive, inclusive political vision. He joins us for an honest reflection of 2020, including his run for At-Large City Council seat, what statehood means for DC, and how to remain politically engaged when it’s not election season. Oh, and he drops a few songs that bring him life.
Born into a community steeped in the work of Black liberation, Tongo Eisen-Martin has always known dap, which is to say, he’s always known the struggle for, and celebration of “dignity and pride.” I crossed paths with Tongo for a minute when we were both undergrads at Columbia University.
We spoke with David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition in our latest conversation. This interview came to pass a day earlier than planned in order for David to bring some heat to the Georgia legislators in response to SB 202. He also brought the fire to the pod, lighting us up about all the things at the intersection of gender and joy.
Five Star Rating.
A child of an educator and a wildlife biologist, Taylor Morton spent their childhood in the outdoors of South Carolina, where they fell in love with nature, and watched their dad dap up the few other Black families on the trails. Taylor’s passion evolved into a pursuit of justice as Director of Environmental Health and Education at WE ACT for Environmental Justice in New York City. We talk with them about bears, climate change, and holding elected officials accountable.
This episode provides a wide ranging conversation with Vincent Southerland, former public Defender and current Director of the Center for Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU. He discusses how he experienced the summer of 2020, and critiques the current investment in policing over people.
Vincent breaks down the current state of the justice system as it relates to today's headlines and historic shortcomings of the institution. We learned a lot from Zooming in for this candid conversation.
Myron Long and Brandon Johnson are co-founders of the Social Justice School, an innovative middle school in Washington, DC that teaches students to apply design principles to create a just world. This week, we talk with them about pivotal experiences as students-- reconciling with opportunities lost, answering fundamental questions about identity and the “right” path to liberation -- that deeply influenced their philosophy about teaching and leadership.
While Long and Johnson did not plan to open their school in the receding waves of global protests against injustice, it is an auspicious time for students to witness the relevance of their unique education.
As much as 𝗩𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗼𝗻 𝗝𝗼𝗿𝗱𝗮𝗻 was America’s power broker, he was America’s consummate mentor, especially to determined, emerging Black American talent. We are taking a moment to share personal tributes to the legend. Listen in as Nasir Qadree and Kim McClure remind us of Vernon Jordan’s impact. Aaron also shares how he ended up with a letter of recommendation from Mr. Jordan, who also mentored his wife, Danielle. Her story about Vernon is nothing short of divine intervention.
Season Two - Fall 2020
Welcome to Season 2, Round 2 of The Dap Project podcast. We are seven plus months into the global pandemic, economic recession, and reinvigorated pursuit for equity and justice. We have a lot to discuss, question, examine, and definitely ... to laugh about. 2020 has been quite the decade. The brotherhood, the love, the support and encouragement that comes through this season, matches and exceeds much of what we were able to bring to you in Season One.
We begin Season Two with an intimate conversation with filmmaker Denver Edmonds, a student at Spelman college, who wrote and directed the short film The Dap. Her singular agenda to use her gift to pursue black liberation is a resonant theme in all of our conversations with non-profit leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, creatives, and artists. Our guests this season are Presidential Leadership Scholars, dope DJs, twins, a vocalist and consultant. We were also fortunate to talk with two brothers with first hand accounts of dap during the Vietnam war. Each welcoming dap that this bunch of dope lady and gentlemen extend (virtually, of course) is an invitation to understand their perspective on the world, and how their love of the culture fuels their pursuit of liberation for the culture. In a period where faith seems a futile exercise, they remind us that we’ll be okay, and that we will save us.
The Dap Project loves and appreciates that you are taking time to soak up each drop of the culture that our guests are sharing. So subscribe to the podcast on Apple -- we’re aiming for a buck of subscribers, rate us, leave a comment with your favorite line, and follow us on social media at The Dap Project.
Season 2 Finale
The final episode of Season 2 is a personal conversation with two brothers who tell the story of growing up in Washington DC in the 1960s, with a guest appearance by the cool-ass cousin who taught them the dap.
Adrian & Jamil
The subject of music emerges in every dap conversation, possibly because dap itself is rhythmic: the beat of coming in, the sounds of hands clasping, then snapping, the step back and smile (or nah, depending). DJs and long-term friends Jamil Hamilton and Adrian Loving know music well, and that we need it now more than ever. Our conversation begins in Far Northeast DC — “over by the Shrimp Boat” — blossoms at The Mecca (Howard University), and lands on the turntables in perfect time.
Chike & Byron
A quarter life crisis led CEO of Big Thought Byron Sanders to write his personal mission statement, which he recited at a leadership development program. Chike Aguh, of the Equity Design Lab, was in that room and approached Bryon with a proper dap that initiated their brotherhood. Our conversation, which travels from a small town outside of Lagos to the boardroom in Dallas, explores authenticity, dismantling oppression, and, of course, dap.
Kris & Keagoe
Today, twin brothers Kristopher and Keagoe Stith are, respectively, a graphic designer based in Washington, DC, and a visual arts teacher in Brooklyn, New York. But in 2004, when Rhonda happened to be their summer camp director, they were your typical middle school boys growing up in the nation’s capital: curious, savvy, and obsessed with drawing. Our conversation picks up from there...
Olu & Ab
Olutosin Burrell and Aaron “Ab” Abernathy met at Howard University with a shared passion for music and the creative “Love Jones” life. After graduating Ab developed a professional career singing, playing the piano, and traveled the world. Olu, a Covid-19 survivor, influences the local government as a facilitator and executive coach. We talk about giving dap at the rec center, what is required to create an anti-racist culture, and why dap is a radical expression.
As we listen to hours of discussions about dap through The Dap Project, we hear familiar refrains: "my dad taught me," "it's a show of respect," "it's love." Yet we gained new understanding about dap from the Sierra Leonian origins of handshakes to the prohibition of the Black Power Salute in the US military. "Dignity and Pride" remains steadfast in our expression through this nuanced and telling gesture.
Season One - Summer 2020
DAVID & DARNELL
This is our very first interview, and it sounds like our very first interview! We sat down with TDP Family for this one. David is Rhonda's younger brother and Darnell aka Cuzzo is, of course, Rhonda's cousin. We had some brief introductions, proceeded to pour a little wine and a little Uncle Nearest, then we sat around Rhonda's dining room table to begin our first dig into some of the fundamentals of Dap.
Les joined us, via Zoom, back in April to share his take on Dap. Les is a long time friend and an extraordinary business man. Most folks that know Les will label him as the guy that seems to know everyone. Les connects friends and business associates as easily as he connects Dap to the culture of Black men. Unless of course those men happen to be Clarence Thomas or Ben Carson. This chat is full of energy, laughter and keen insight on all things Dap!
Nearly every cool point Rhonda earned was courtesy of my Skai's instruction. Rhonda and Skai have talked about a lot of things, but this was a special conversation. Skai shares how dap appears in multiple spaces: DC coffee shops, work at Shell Oil, and with his in-laws. Listen for the touching conversation between Skai and Aaron about giving dap to their children.
LAEL & WINFRED
Over the years, we’ve had really deep conversations with Lael and Winfred, and I knew these two would be fascinating guests. But they totally exceeded expectations! From Winfred riffing on his Uncle Anderson, to Lael talking truth about giving dap in the halls of power, this was such a great talk. You can really feel the deep friendship between these guys.
MALACHI & JASON
The conversation with friends Jason and Malachi, both recent graduates of Princeton University, was an unexpected gift to the Dap Project. They share their experience at the storied institution, “where giving dap felt like a revolutionary act.” We also hear what Jason said to Malachi that radically changed his perception of what black men can do to change the world.