At its essence is selflessly giving/providing necessities to others with no intent to benefit.
Wow, this is how it resonated with me prior to my commissioning as a United States Air Force (USAF) Officer the Friday before a Mother’s Day graduation at Howard University. “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign AND domestic” (that is for another time). Growing up as a young black man in the DMV, formerly known as D.C. Metro, well, not much difference than growing up a young black man practically anywhere in these United States now. Usually looked upon warily, as a suspect, not be trusted, unpredictable, blah, blah, blah…….But now, now as a graduate and an officer I had come to the realization that I am and always have been empowered by the tenants of perspective (Col 3:2), perception (Isaiah 43:18-19) and priorities (Matt 6:33). The grounding and foundation of my family, my community and most importantly my faith instilled in me a great sense of service, even for a country that did not serve me.
What the heck does that have to do with innovation?
It has everything to do with it because our lives and experiences are the origins of true change, true innovation and this varies in meaning and definition from person to person. Whether it is cultivated and leveraged for greatness is another thing. Innovation is realized as “history is rarely historic when you are in the middle of it”. I have realized that although I was a great officer and accomplished executive, I could do more that would truly benefit others in a selfless manner. I am now more cognizant of my legacy, my “footprints”. I want my footprints to be so deep it will take many series of ocean waves to wash them away. Thankfully, my upbringing and career have made me focus on great innovations or opportunities that will benefit others and hopefully their children and their children’s children.
The convergence of sports, entertainment, and society to drive social justice and equality.
I am now realizing this through esports/ gaming for underserved k-12 and college students. In all industries in the country minorities, especially Black Americans, are under and misrepresented. My goal is to think and fight like hell for that not to continue in esports/ gaming, presently a $150 billion dollar international industry. Last year I researched and observed a tremendous five-year growth rate of esports/gaming. From zero to over two hundred Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and ZERO among Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). So, I decided to do something about it. I researched, developed and launched the esports “Trifecta” at Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, N.C. during the 2020 Spring Semester. We presented an esports curriculum/minor program, developed an esports club and presently completing a 12 – person competitive esports lab, in less than 10 months. We will expose our students to tremendous industry career opportunities, secure internships and sponsorships across the esports ecosystem and ensure they become industry leaders and influencers. This specific esports/gaming industry phase is approximately twelve years old. Although the “train has left the station”, I will help track it down. I will continue to educate myself and become a better advocate for esports/ gaming opportunities within the industry, education, and community.
Innovation + Empowerment = Opportunity
I would hope the actions we have begun at Johnson C. Smith University would be observed and serve as a catalyst for future program/curriculum growth at other HBCUs and this one education and industry movement manifests itself across other new technology opportunities in initial stages of development. Only through inclusiveness and true “Allyship” can we impact and innovate the most important aspect of life, mutually, and respected acceptance from all for all. Yea, that is where true innovation will truly manifest itself. Not what was really on my head but in my heart.
Now go and do great things!