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LiveProud Podcast|Episode 6|Commemorating the Black Neighborhood in Video Gaming | NewsBurrow

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LiveProud Podcast|Episode 6|Commemorating the Black Neighborhood in Video Gaming

(upbeat music) – Hello, everyone, this is Erin Ashley Simon. Welcome to episode six of the LiveProud Podcast, powered by Evil Geniuses. And with it being Black History Month, what a better way to highlight the successes of various black professionals and creators in both Esports and gaming? We all know about the challenges and obstacles that this underserved community goes through, but this one is not just about addressing those pain points.

But it's also about celebrating all the good as well. And today joining us, we have amazing, amazing individuals who have been doing such great work in the community. We have Kahlief Adams who is the host of Spawn On Me podcast and he also works with Intel gaming.

Zombaekillz is a content creator, advocate and more. And last but not least, we have Ryan Johnson, who's a co-founder of Cxmmunity, a nonprofit that utilizes STEM as well as gaming to provide resources and opportunities for underserved communities.

Welcome everyone, super great to have you all. – Thank you so much for having us. – Absolutely, glad to be here. – Super pumped. – So let's get right into it. I wanna start on a more positive note and more upbeat note because as we know, we all have at some point talked about some of the pain points, the disparities and obstacles, that those who are within the black community encounter in gaming.

However, there are already people in this space who are doing amazing things, whether it's game development, hosting, casting, or even more. So my question to you guys is, and we're gonna start off Zombaekillz, who are some people, historically or current who are black developers, content creators or all the above who have been so impactful and influential not only to the industry, but maybe even to you as well? – I just gotta be real here and say, Kahlief is one of my big faves in the space and that I love and really look up to and I look to for a lot of guidance.

So Kahlief's my dude in this space. And then I'd also like to say like Tanya DePass who does a lot of work with I Need Diverse Games and people like a Wall Stormer who are out in the space, who are in the stream space.

I look to these people and I look and gauge. You're one of those people too. So, I mean, I'm kinda new here. So I look around and I kind of, am seeing the people who are in this space that looked like us currently because there's not a lot of people that came so far ahead of us, seeing is how new this tech is.

So I'm kind of just really inspired by people right now. Ryan, what about you? – Yeah, as I told you all the other day, I actually came prepared with a cool little list of folks here. So now, all jokes aside, a lot of my people are on the business side.

So David Robinson for me was actually like a lifetime friend and babysitter and we kind of just grew up in Lo and Behold. He's actually on the marketing team now at Bethesda Softworks. And so like immediately before this call, we have our weekly Wednesday calls where he's always giving encouragement and we're going back and forth.

So shout out to David. I'm a lifelong friend but also now in industry, someone that I work with. I have to give shout out to Chris who is my co-founder of Cxmmunity. ‘Cause a lot of times everyone says Ryan, Ryan, Ryan and not a lot of people recognize the amount of work that he's actually putting into the space as well.

Shout out to Danny Martin down in Texas at Exposure. Danny is doing some amazing work, but again, when I'm starting to come to the forefront, but in my opinion, he is not talked about nearly enough for the amount of work that he's actually put into the space.

And we also have someone else I wanted to shout out, my fraternity brother, who is now the Head of Strategy for FaZe Clan, Matt Agustin. So he just joined as Head of Strategy over at FaZe Clan about three weeks ago.

So again, there's just some awesome new people that are coming into the space. One name I did forget, his name is Chad Womack. Chad Womack is the Senior Director of STEM Initiatives for the United Negro College Fund, who is our partner that we created the first HBCUs Esports scholarship within.

And Chad has been a force always bringing corporate relationships directly to community so we can keep facilitating internship and scholarship opportunities as well. So I could've gone on for like the next 10 minutes.

Those were my intro names at least for this conversation. – Well, Ryan, if this was homework, you definitely got an A-plus for that. But I mean you already told us you were coming with the list. (laughs) Well, Kahlief, what about you? Who are some people who are influential, not only to the industry, but to you as well? – Oh my goodness.

When I started all this work, there were only two black dudes who I remember very specifically kind of looking up to because they were the only two who were super visible in this space and that's Enguy Krul, who's now doing a lot of work in the kind of periphery of gaming but he's still in the space.

Will O'Neill, who was my first on-camera person who I remember doing lots of stuff at attack of the show over G4 before they went away and now have returned. Of course the big names folks like, Reggie Fils-Aimé.

Shout out to the buggy down right there in that respect. And then there's other folks who you may not know but they are absolutely instrumental in lots of things that you've seen and heard over the years.

My fam Tremmel Ray Isaac who is now the Head of Art over at iLLfonic. He's the person who made the iconic figure of the Fallout Boy. So Vault Boy is the character that he created and many people don't know that a black man made that.

So that's one of those things that people don't have an understanding of in those spaces. Then Chintzy Bryant, who we get a chance to rock with often in our blacks in gaming conversations and a lot of places around the internet.

She is brilliant. She has been in the video game space for over 20 years, has been part of teams of some of the biggest games on the planet and she continues to just impress and continue to do magical things in all the spaces that she's in.

So just a quick list of names I can think of off the top of my head but some really dope folks do to recognize – Oh yeah, everyone that you guys mentioned they're all instrumental into the growth of this industry.

And then even if we wanna dive into different categories, I also wanna add even some of the people who are within the LGBTQ plus community who are black, like Tanya, like I am Brandon, like Amanda Stevens.

There are so many of us that represents so many different spaces. Even Afro Latinas like Aziza and there's a bunch, right? That's the one thing I love about the beauty of the black community is we're in so many different spaces.

Representation is so diverse across the board and also, but the one thing is we are looking for that representation to be more diverse across the board when it comes to gaming. But when the space is that we're starting to see that happen with is in the educational space.

And I know Ryan, that's something that you've been working on a lot with Cxmmunity. But then also I know that Zombaekillz and also Kahlief, you guys are utilizing education in terms of your own platforms and your voices to help others.

So I would like us to kind of discuss and I want this to be a free flowing conversation, so jump in whenever you like to. But I want us to kind of discuss our overall views of how gaming has been utilized for educational purposes.

– Yeah, I'll jump in first. I think, gaming has always been a part of my life and especially that first started from an educational standpoint. I am old. I hate when I have those conversations. So I very much remember, one of the first video games I got a chance to play was way back in the day and it was called Logo, which was this really early on programming language that basically had the small icon on the screen called a turtle, and he told it to move within certain directions based on the quadrants on the screen.

You'd make cool patterns and cool stuff like that. So it's always been a part of my life in terms of the way that video games and education have kind of talked to each other and kind of had this connective tissue.

But now we're seeing so many cool ways in which the work that everyone on this panel is doing. We're seeing a huge influx of conversation especially in HBCUs spaces around education and bridging the gap between Esports and college and building out scholarships for things in those ways.

That was never a thing that was in my line of sight when I was going to school when I first started to go to college. So it was like seeing that now it'd be an actual Avenue for not only a career, but for people to be able to go to school and get their higher education and do that work.

It is brilliant. We live in some fantastic times when it comes to that conversation for sure. – Yeah, I will say on our end, for a lot of the data that we found in inner city schools that we work with and also historically black colleges and universities is that historically, gaming education has never been linked together before.

Gaming in a lot of inner cities and honestly, the black community has been looked down as a damper, a hindrance, a distraction. And so I just think our opportunity now at Cxmmunity is just so amazing because we're now able to educate, not only the students but faculty and administration and also university leadership all the way up to the president about these various opportunities that are going on at over 200 predominantly white institutions.

So the question that we get to ask is unlike any other industry, right? You talk about FinTech, finance, business, Esports and gaming, that subcategory is only about five, maybe six years old collegiately in North America.

So that gap that we talk about is much smaller in this finite space as it continues to grow. So we're just really excited now to be able to use Esports and gaming as a tool to gamify education and then provide additional opportunities to students that academically improve.

So even as we're implementing Esports programs, K through 12 collegiately, we look at it as a tool of gamification. We're not just giving it to the students. But if you're showing that you're on a positive track, that is when then we provide those opportunities and then provide incentives to students to continue to go down that path.

– And I love that as a mother, 'cause I'm not just a content creator, I'm a mama. I have three kids, one who's close to entering high school age, just to tell you how old I am, very old (laughs). And I really love the idea of meshing education.

I homeschool my children and we use Minecraft a lot for all sorts of different educational things for our younger children. And it's really cool to teach all kinds of different things like with programming things and getting their brain ready to start working in those types of ways.

And my oldest one is now like, Oh man, I can do this When I go to college. They have options for esports when they go to college and this is fantastic. This is another Avenue to get our kids into colleges and it doesn't have to be something that runs out their bodies on a time clock, like sports, et cetera, like physical sports and I think it's really magical.

I think it's so right that we live in a time where we can utilize these things. ‘Cause I've always seen the learning power of gaming my entire existence. And I'm seeing it currently with my six year old right now.

He's in kindergarten and he's learning how to read. And he has been learning how to read Fortnite because of Fortnite. So he's learning sight words and he's learning how to complete his Fortnite challenges because he's sounding out the words and he has got to like level 135, he's much better than me.

But he's gotten there because he's reading and sounding out the challenges. ‘Cause he used to come downstairs and be like, mom, what's this challenge so I can do it. And now he's like sitting there and sounding it out and finishing out his challenges and I'm like, yo, Fortnite is teaching my kid how to read.

– That's amazing and what's even more amazing is just like kind of the overall perspective that's a little bit changing right now when it comes to gaming. I mean, we all are gamers. So we're starting to see the shift because the people like us are becoming parents, are having more family.

We have a better grasp and understanding but like, for some of us growing up, we had family members that didn't understand gaming. And for some of us, if you were really talking about in the black community, it's like gaming was a waste of time.

It's like that's what they viewed it as. And so what are some of the challenges that you guys had to face? Whether you were supported or not, but what were some of those challenges being a black individual within the community and the community's perspective when it comes to gaming? – Well, I can say real quick.

So for me, my father has always worked in higher education like my entire life. So for him at the time, not currently, but he was the Dean of Students at Johns Hopkins out of Baltimore. And so like as an academic, he was always like, Ryan, get off the game, go read, go re go read.

And it actually reversely made me never want to read and make me wanna play video games more. And ironically enough, fast forward, now he's at a different university in Maryland but he's still Dean of Students.

And literally in 2021, one of his agenda items is creating the Esports program at his university. And so now fast forward all these years, community, we're doing what we're doing. And like literally my dad, the guy who cannot stand to stunts in the test video games is like, now son I need to understand this now and understand how one, I can use it as a tool to bring more students to my school but then also as a way to engage with current students.

So I think there's this revelation that's happening. And so like, one thing we're really big on is parent education, right? And explaining specifically to black moms 'cause we know that black moms are the key to everything.

Is that when black moms get it that, no, no trust me. Been there, done that experience it time and time again. But that's kind of where we are. So as much as we focus on the students and the teachers, we also focus on parents and make sure that they understand.

Because especially in the black household, if We're teaching parents how to now ask their children questions or even strengthening that internal family bond. So where it becomes a point of contention to a point of conversation and actually belonging.

So it's a really unique, but it's even interesting to see my own parents change their own perspective and narrative of how gaming can impact young people's lives. – I love that because, so for me, I grew up playing video games with my parents.

So my parents were like really cool. Like they liked video games but as I got older, I had to get a job at a very young age. My parents always worked multiple jobs to take care of us because I have a big family, I'm the oldest of eight girls.

And for me, when I started working, I went to work and did makeup. I was talking to you about that earlier on. I've done makeup because my parents were like, yo, you've been on the video game for like 10 hours straight, you need to go like, get a job.

You've been hanging around the house on this video game. And now fast forward, 20 plus years later, my dad thinks it's so cool. He's trying to understand the Twitch as he calls it the Twitch. And he's like hella supportive and he really tries to understand what I'm doing.

And he's like, you're part of a revolution right now. You're part of all these really amazing black creators 'cause my dad like watches Kahlief and he's been like watching all these people and he's like, you're like part of this cool wave and I feel so proud to see you doing this in this space.

So like my parents don't fully understand it but they really support it and they're learning how integral it is to our society at this point 'cause they're seeing people like AOC and stuff utilize our platform and they're realizing it's not just video games.

– Yeah, I had a weird version of that because my grandma is the one who got me my first video game system. And it wasn't because it was like, here you have a like for a thing. It was more because it was like I need to just stay your in the house 'cause it was like the Bronx was not great in the late '70s and early '80s.

So it was more of like a way to keep me safe as opposed to giving me something to do in a kind of traditional sense. And since I lost my parents fairly early on in my life, they didn't get a chance to see the stuff that we're doing now in terms of gaming.

But I think that the folks who are not aware or super connected to the gaming initiatives are in my friends groups. And folks are co coworkers and former coworkers, they're seeing this stuff that's happening now and they're like, this thing that you do with the video games it seems to be having an impact in some way and I feel like that's a cool thing that's happening.

And anybody get to like bridge the conversation to the broader groups to say like, well, charity is happening here. We're like saving lives with people. Were like getting people out of poverty, helping people do stuff that traditional forms of media have tried to do.

And I've kind of failed at to a certain extent and we're kind of bridging that gap and broadening out the conversation through a thing that most people still consider to be a thing for kids which is cool which is one of the coolest parts about all the stuff that we get to do.

Is like we're breaking stereotypes in multiple areas all the time about the medium about us as people playing games and about the way games actually affect the world which is super super dope. – Yeah, it's interesting too because for me, I never had a problem with like my parents understanding, like my mom and my stepdad, they both, and even my dad.

they all have worked in tech and finance and my stepdad actually created one of the earliest games for the Commodore 64. So it's like gaming and we also had like the cabinets, the RK cabinets. For the youngins are watching this back in the day, there used to be arcade cabinets.

You couldn't carry around your game boys and stuff. Lily had this big fricking, I don't know how tall cabinets to play games, but it was never a problem with that. I think me and my biggest problem was letting people outside know that I play games.

And especially as a woman, it was like for women, we're viewed as kind of like, what's wrong with you? Why are you playing video games? Is there something wrong with you? Because I don't know if you had a similar sentiment with some people, but it was just a weird stigma like women playing video games back then.

So I never really told people. But now it's just kind of like, people are just like, Oh, women video games, yes. Turn on. I don't wanna like… I don't know so that was like the hardest part I think that I struggled with.

– I think so too, I agree with you on that. Like there's definitely, and especially black women, right? It definitely is like a weirder thing in the black community and it wasn't just a prevalent thing growing up in the time that we were growing up in particular.

Being a black woman who played video games was just like, but why though? And they always want to assign gender stuff to video games which is also so dated but it's like, Oh, well, boys do this. So you're a tomboy and I'm like, nah, I like fruit, fruit, pink stuff but I do dig video games.

Like I did princess peach. I just wanna play video games. – It's so wild too because I remember very specifically having conversations, I was already married and all that kind of stuff. But I remembered seeing and thinking about that conversation when I was a younger person, remembering those moments.

And I was like, man, it is such a different world to be living. I know women we were playing games back when I was in high school and when I was in junior high and when I was looking for a gamer girlfriend, I couldn't find one.

I was like, yo, I'm trying to find a hot one that plays games. And I couldn't find it. – We don't wanna share. We don't wanna share controllers. – Yeah, and I was like, what happened? But now everybody's kind of like flying their flags in that way and I'm like damn it.

I missed out on that part of the part of the world when I was that young and it wasn't seeing it. – Yeah, I can't lie. I told this story before but I've been just opened up a little bit more just about personal stories and stuff like that.

But I definitely had a moment where an ex boyfriend got mad at me 'cause I beat him in Madden. And it was funny because you know, I was like, “Oh yeah, I broke up with him because he was upset that he lost in Madden.

” But ultimately he was just kind of a dick. But he still lost him Madden. And like, it's just weird, it's just funny how even just that perception of like, Oh man, my partner beat me in x, y, and z game.

Like back then it was viewed as a bad thing instead of being like, oh wow this is awesome. – It's such a weird time. It's such a weird thing again. That's how the patriarchy gets you, right? It's like that's how all that stuff kind of like blends itself into the world and you're just like how it infects everything that we think of and everything that we wind up doing.

– Ryan, what about you when you were a younger strapping gentlemen? Like how did your group of friends kind of like of men? How did they view it especially when it came to like black woman in this space? – I grew up in it like really different.

So the schools I went to were no more than like 20, 30 kids in like a class kind of thing. It was like a really closed environment. So I don't think truthfully speaking, right, I never had the issue of like that gender separation because like the dudes would play, the girls would play and we will then play together kind of a thing.

And it was really cool because I can remember certain times like even in middle school, high school, we used to bring like our console's to school and play either during lunch or like after school. And then I would say that separation really became when it was like casual gaming in like the school environment versus like going home and getting on Xbox Live And that's when he kind of would see the separation as far as like a lot of our women, female friends growing up who wanna play in a social physical setting.

But then they wouldn't wanna play when we will get on four V four Halo 3 and then we're like doing call-outs and like being aggressive. And I don't really… Now that I'm actually thinking about it, I'm not sure what the difference was 'cause I don't think we ever said like, Hey, y'all can't come but it was more or less that barrier, right? It was the casual play versus the competitive, serious aggressiveness.

So for us growing up, it was just very straightforward. I've always had women in my life that were like big time gamers even like to this very day. One of my good friends out of LA she's AKA alpha Kappa alpha sorority and like she plays Call of Duty more than I do.

And she actually re-posted the thing I just put on IG. So I'm like, I don't think I've ever been in an environment where that was like an abnormally basically. – Yeah, I think it's interesting too because I think that especially thanks to platforms like social media, discord and just certain organizations, I think it also was kind of, it was kind of a thing where you knew that there were some women that played video games but it really wasn't something that was openly talked about.

It was kind of like one of those things where like, if someone found out and it's just like, Oh, you play video games? And like, yeah, yeah, yeah, me too. It was like more like that back in the day but now it's like something where it's like a badge of honor in the sense because everybody and the grandmothers, probably intended or not intended are trying to get in with gaming right now.

And so with that progression, I think that the one thing that we've seen is we've seen kind of just how the viewpoint of women and more severely black women has changed over time. But there's one point that I think hasn't really quite changed and it's the misconceptions when it comes to black gamers.

For some reason and not a fault to any companies are like that but there are some companies that like when they're focusing on what can we do in gaming that appeals to the black community, right? And instantly they're like NBA2K and fighting games, which granted yes, we do have a higher player base when it comes to those specific titles.

But black gamers play all games. And we also don't just play on console, we also play on PCs. I mean, even though there is a disparity with that, what are you guys' overall thoughts when it comes to these just misconceptions that people have about black gamers? – I guess I'll kind of start, right? Because again like literally tonight we an HPC Esports league broadcast.

And so what I can say is like, when we started the league we actually sent out a student survey. And so to get an understanding of like what school they went to, age, city, aspirations and life, et cetera.

I'll argue not out of over 200 responses, two kids had PCs, about 10 to 15% had X-Box and the rest was PlayStation. And this is like hardcore like raw data from that community. And so I don't wanna say that it's a misconception.

What I would say is that two things can be true, right? So there's a misconception that blacks don't play PC games. But then also I think the other second truth is that the black PC gamers aren't recognized and highlighted as they should be to then give more insight in light of to why more young black kids who aren't PC gamers should or should aspire to go down that track.

So what we're focusing on, even at the league level with us is working with corporate brands and technology partners to then actually provide more PCs to HBCUs. So that way it becomes more of a cultural staple, right? Because again, one of the things that we've spent saying this whole year is that if you don't see it, you don't become it.

You see it, you become it kind of a thing in when we can start highlighting and raising the awareness around the cleese of the world even zombies of the world, right? I guarantee you, the kids in my program don't know that you two exist and not to say that that's anyone's fault but when you then bring that linkage together, it provides more opportunity and exposure.

So that's the big word that we're on right now is exposure. And then when they see it, they get to ask a whole set of questions that they never have before. So I'm really excited to share that we're gonna be building this year in the first Q2 of this year, we're gonna be building five PC gaming labs at HBCUs.

I'm specifically working with Ryan on this to then introduce games like League and Valorant. And then working with the evil geniuses of the world, i.e like our relationship to then actually coach and train those schools and institutions to close that knowledge gap for what they may or may not already know when it comes to those titles.

So we're actively working on it. So I don't wanna say it's a misconception is that they just don't know what they don't know when we're looking to close that knowledge gap as quickly as we can – As I said, it's an easy layup for me to be able to jump into that part of the conversation.

Yeah, one of the things I spoke to my higher ups on day one of me going and working at Intel coming from the community specifically was like, Hey, as a consumer, before I'm an employee, from a visual standpoint, we don't connect to the black community in a way that I think is tangible.

How do we figure out ways to fix that in a real way? Usually the conversation winds up being one around P and L, profit and loss about margins, about all that kind of stuff. About, hey, we know that this is a problem.

We know we're gonna try to fix it but let's talk about the money part. And I'm like, you're missing the point here when we have that part of the conversation is because you're asking someone to buy a thing from you before you've introduced yourself to them.

That's not the way the black community works. We are a co-signed culture, people forget that. That's a huge part of the way we move and that being a part of that conversation. And there's stuff that I'm trying to work on now at Intel through Intel gaming and through the kind of the bigger gaming vertical is making that connection happen.

We did some really fantastic research that we're gonna hopefully share some time this year. And there were some really good touch points in there that I remembered off the top of my head. Was like one, the kind of entry point for most gaming in our community is mobile.

People forget the mobile space often when we have these conversations for sure. The next level up is a laptop. Laptops are easy to carry around, it's the dual-purpose machine, do your homework, play your game at some point.

But most folks are not getting that extra money to be able to buy a 700 to a thousand dollars to a $1,500 PC, that's just not in the cards for most black families in the way that we usually think of the socioeconomic gaps that we see between our communities and white communities.

This is not a thing that is prioritized in that way to be able to say like, hey, you know why do you go play this thing? Maybe you want to go farm some Bitcoin. That's another thing that you hear in most black middle middle income families, right? So we're trying to figure out ways, you know, as a company with my company hat on to kind of figure out ways to bridge that gap.

We're working with folks in the HBCUs community. We're trying to figure out good ways to, from the influencer side make it hot and connect culture to gear in that way 'cause I think that's a big part of the conversation too.

That often gets missed within our communities as well. Like there's a great conversation to always dig into. We do a lot of that work through culture, right? Who are the folks who are hot? We all know the names right now, right? But none of those folks are doing tech tech commercials.

They're not doing PC gear commercials. It's a very rare thing where you see someone like Meghan Stallion or Cardi B connected to a company like ours or AMD or anything else like that, AMD don't steal my idea.

But it's those conversations that need to happen in this space to connect the youth to things like this. You need to see someone who looks like you, you need to see somebody who's hot that looks like you who's doing that work.

Who's in that space, who's a part of the actual like day to day cultural things that we see move. So there's lots of conversations on how we build that out. And going back to the initial point that you had Erin about misconceptions, about what we play.

There are some great nuggets of information in some of the data that we found that was like horror games are a huge part of our community in a way that people don't recognize in big ways. Somebody plays a lot of horror games and by daylight on her stream, right? There's so many different genres that we don't talk to from a gaming industry perspective that also needs to be addressed in that space.

And that then goes again to conversations around PR, that goes to publishers or how they market that stuff to our community and not just in February. But there's also spaces where we can have those conversations about the overarching way that we are spoken to as a, I'm gonna use the word, as a consumer block with money.

how we're spoken to about what we play and what our interests are and what we get, what we're supposed to play. So there's a big conversation there for sure. – That's a great layup for me to jump in here as Ms.

Content creator, who's streams from a PC a lot. I started out as a console player, an Xbox Mama. In this household we love X-Box like so much. And I've always been a console player just because I never had enough money.

And so many of the people that look me never had enough money and I never saw other families that had PCs. And if they did have PCs it was a PC that was normally provided by that person's parents job or something like that.

Like the tangibility and the access is a word I like to use a lot the access simply isn't there. And so for me, moving into the content creation space, I started out streaming from my Xbox and that's where I started a year ago.

I started streaming from my X-Box and I very quickly realized I needed to upgrade to other equipment so that I could make better content. And it was very cost-prohibitive for me in particular, being a mom of three kids.

I don't prioritize this stuff over those guys. And so it was very hard for me and I just bought my first PC literally three weeks ago from Power GPU and it was the cost of a car here in Mississippi. I spent three grand on a PC like $3,000 for something to do my job with.

And I don't like if I wouldn't have gotten a grant from broadcasters, the broadcast, her grant I wouldn't have been able to afford that. And I think that's really what it comes down to is like affordability, access those types of things.

It's not that we don't want to play PC games 'cause 90% of the titles that we have on console, we have on PC now. It's not that people don't know how to use computers. We've just never grown up with the access.

And I started working for Tom's hardware. I'm a tech writer and tech reviewer for Tom's hardware. They've given me so much access to tech that I get to review and learn about and I'm learning because I have access because their editor was like, hey, this is your space.

You wanna learn more about this space? Let me figure out ways to help you and make it accessible to you. And now I'm learning, like I got my first PC which I can't even tell you all the parts in it 'cause I don't understand all of it, but we're trying.

And one of the things I advocated for when I was talking to Xbox and PlayStation about providing consoles to people was getting tech reviews in of people who look like us. We are a co-sign culture, 1000%.

I'm not gonna watch 25 YouTube videos from a white man on cooling fans in PCs. I'm tired of white men reviewing tech. I wanna see somebody who looks like us reviewing tech in a language that we understand and in something that feels real to us and feels tangible as Kahlief said.

So for me seeing people like Megan Stallion or somebody like linking up with these companies, Swae Lee or you know somebody who I know and seeing them in those spaces is everything to me 'cause I'm like, Oh man, okay, they got a PC build.

They went through this person, maybe I should learn about this so that I could figure out so that I look as clean as they do. And in the content creation space, we're seeing more of that with what Kahlief's doing with Intel, hooking, one of my friends up, got a PC and she's having her first PC experience and we're starting to see a revolution of people who are learning.

It doesn't mean that console gaming is any less, just wanna say that now but it's access. 100%, it comes down to the discriminatory levels of access and the way that tech is held behind a massive paywall.

And that's never really addressed – Again, even to add to that. Also part of it's just like we wanna play with our friends and for some people, their friends are their immediate community which means they have a lot of gamers and friends who are black gamers.

And if there's not that accessibility point, they'll mostly be predominantly playing on a PlayStation or Xbox versus PC. So that also could be a part of the reason why some people may not transfer over into PC.

I mean, now that you have cross play functionality implemented to a lot of games, it opens it up a little bit more. But I know before there were certain console's or I used to play on X-Box heavy during the Halo 2 and 3 and also Gears of War era because, why? All my friends were playing it.

So I was mostly on X-Box and then there was another period where I was mostly playing PlayStation, why? Because all my friends were playing specific titles that were exclusive to PlayStation and that's just part of what kids do, right? It's they're gonna play the games that their friends play.

And for the black community for some of us, it wasn't just games. It was also consoles. So whatever console our friends played in, we were predominantly playing because that's how we were able to play online with them.

But influencers, entertainers also contribute to that as well. You guys mentioned several whether it's Swae Lee or Megan Stallion or Offset. We're starting to see black entertainers and influencers be utilized when it comes to philanthropic endeavors and also gaming endeavors.

I mean, we all know that gaming has always been instrumental. I mean, look, you have a Notorious B.I.G. who has one of the most notable gaming hip hop references of all time, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, when I was dead broke man I couldn't, you know.

And it's just like we've always been a part of the culture but at the same time haven't really been utilized until more recently. Like what are you guys' views on all of that. – Going back again a couple of years ago, I think we're still facing the same challenge when you talk about DNI and influencers because at the end of the day, these are groups that we have partial equity but not full ownership and equity.

So I argue that the Swae Lees, the Offsets, a lot of the investments, and I say them not specifically but just as overarching names, we can go down the list , you'd use Smith, et cetera, et cetera. Made investments into orgs based on what was presently available, right? So you still are running into the same issue where a lot of the stakeholders are not of the community that we're still looking to service because I asked myself this very extreme question that I don't ever think would come to reality.

But the problem of DNI that we're talking about in this industry, what if it's not wanted, right? Because we're talking about DNI in a space for things that we as people asking for DNI did not create.

So what if we got to a world where the industry became 80% diverse and then the publishers, this would never happen, but this is where my head goes sometimes writing questions. Says, well, we don't want this group playing our title.

Boom, what happens then? That's why we're so focused on helping these artists, the Offsets, like we have a ton of conversations with that guy, very very often to invest in the black developers, right? In the event that when we get to a scale and let's say HBCUs Esports league, I pray, it happens.

We become one of the most notable leagues in Esports. But then a publisher says, well for every brand deal you get we want 90% of the revenue or you can't play our title. Well, in that moment, I would hope that I could turn to my right and be like, well, we can't play CoD but now we can play duty of call which is a game that we created within our community that we have equity and ownership over.

So I love what's going on, right? I mean, even you Erin, you're now getting into the ranks of ownership within the space. So now your voice is gonna be able to open up more doors, your presence. People can look up and see you.

But now it's like, I wanna see more of the communities come to light. So then that way, the opportunity for the talent, because Esports is getting into the music record label business, right? We have the capital and we're gonna give a percentage, but you're not gonna have full ownership.

And I wanna get to a point where we're owning the IP, we're owning the tournaments, we're owning the buildings, we're owning the platforms that all this is taking place on, i.e Cxmmunity, right? We didn't choose that name for no reason.

It was like, no, we actually want to have our own ecosystem where we press play and we press stop and there's no jurisdiction that. So that's my long-winded answer kind of but I just wanna see more and more investing into those spaces kind of a thing.

– Well, quick question. Sorry Zombaekillz and Kahlief. I kind of wanna add this 'cause we were actually talking about this off camera like equity and ownership is very important. But how do we encourage or how do we get whether it is these entertainers or black owned companies or content creators or pro-plays.

How do we get more to be comfortable with saying, Hey, I would like ownership because I feel like that's something that we're working on and discussing a lot more when it comes to those in the black community.

But that's not something that you were usually taught initially. You know how we have certain conversations growing up or it's just like, listen, you're gonna to work 150 times harder than everyone else.

Like, there's never that conversation in some capacity where it's just like never be afraid to ask for a piece of the pie or ownership especially when your resume and your work shows that you've earned it.

Like how do we encourage people and get them to be okay and speak up about asking for owners. – Yeah, you and I did a stream this past weekend around financial literacy, right? We did this fantastic stream talking directly to that.

I think that's one part financial literacy conversations need to happen in the home from a really young age and needs to be a thing that is taught. I think that black people in America, 'cause I'm just gonna keep it here, we still don't really use the power of our financial wealth well yet.

We don't combine forces to do that work well yet. We're still trying to figure out good ways to amass wealth and to figure out ways to align in those things to do that kind of stuff. And I think that's a question that I posit to folks within not only our company but outside all the time because of me as a content creator too where people are like, well, how much money do you offer that thing? And I was like, I want as much money as that guy over there.

I'm just as good. I might even be better than that person doing that work. And I want just as much money as you pay them, right? So I think that there's a layer of that conversation that is one about the power of the black dollar.

The conversation that we did just a second ago about the pros of some of the programs that we're doing, that came from a hypothesis of what if the black dollar was gone for a year from gaming? If we all decided that we didn't spend any money on any video game stuff, what would that do to the video game industry? How much would that hurt it? And the number was significant, right? So it's like, if we think about that in terms of- – [Erin] What was the number if you don't mind adding? – It's not a great number because it's not a full representation of the sample set.

All those sample sets are not great. But it was like 12 to six, like 12 to 25 million, right? If you just took our money out and say we're not paying anything, we're not buying nothing, not spending money on anything in the gaming industry.

It's that. I know that number is probably four times that because we don't poll all those reasons why. So then you have that and then if you took that and you multiply that past all the other ethnic groups that we see in the in the space.

And you say, all right, we're just gonna say if you wanna keep talking about the video game in terms of white folks, just having a space, here's how much money they bring and how much money we all bring.

What are you gonna do with that, right? Do you want that money to not be in your coffers every year? And most people, if they look at their bottom line, they'll be like, oh, hell no. We need that money in this space.

We need you to buy all that stuff so please do it. So, it's a part of that conversation. Ownership is a big part of understanding your worth, understanding that you have other people with stakes in the game that can work with you in your own community and figuring out good ways that you can bridge that gap that you have from I don't know how to ask for a thing that I want, not need, that I want to getting into the spaces where you're in the room with decision makers who can do that stuff or you become the decision maker.

You make it yourself, which again costs a lot of money, a lot of effort, a lot of stuff. So there's lots of ways to get there at that point – I think for me, it's definitely something I'm on the journey to understanding currently, like since I am so new in this space and I have come such a far way in such a small amount of time, I have had to heavily adjust like things that I had no idea about.

And I'm very blessed that I have people like Kyle who've been in my corner and who pulled me literally aside and be like, shake, hey, you need to ask for more. You need to ask for whatever you think you're worth and then double that because you're worth more than that.

And there was a very real time, and we don't talk about this side of the industry as much where I was definitely getting exploited. People were definitely taking advantage of my just, I don't know, attitude of gratitude and happy to be here attitude and people were having me do a lot of work for free.

And as a content creator, a lot of content creators early on in their content creation get taken advantage of especially people of color because we don't have a lot of conversations that are open and going back and forth.

So it's very different for us. – And I'll just really quickly, 'cause I think this is important too. – [Erin] Go ahead. – I think that we as a community need to do is we need to be honest about what we're getting paid.

I know it's a thing, it's a taboo. People talk about this all the time. Don't ask me how much money I made on that thing 'cause I won't tell you 'cause you might try to take my bag. It's never about that at least for me.

because very recently, there was a conversation I had with a fellow content creator who was doing some work for a big company and we were doing the same sort of same work for the same company and they weren't getting paid for the stuff that they were gonna do and I was.

And then that person hit me up and was like, hey, yo, this doesn't smell right. Can you tell me what the deal is? And I was like, oh, word. I sent an email to all the people up the chain and was like, this is not okay.

If you're gonna pay me, pay them two and pay everybody else who is in this activation and make sure you do it 'cause if not, you're gonna get blasted. People are gonna tell you online that you ain't right and that's the thing you have to do.

You have to look out for your other folks in the space because it's all about back-channeling. Other people back channel all the time and they get exactly what they want. We need to not be afraid to talk to each other about what we're getting, or what we're making so that we all raise the level of what we should be getting in this space.

– I had a recent experience with a company who shall not be named where I found out everybody in the program got paid. We all got paid the same amount except for one creator who was trans got $0. It's because we started our own group DM because we hadn't received payment and like they were being wonky with the money and we were talking about it and they were like we didn't get any money from this.

And it was so offensive. So the first thing I did was i said, okay, well we have to rectify this. Either we'll all pay you out of what we got or but I'm gonna write an email and I'm gonna say you need to pay this creator or I'm gonna tell the world what you're doing right now 'cause this is wrong.

And it's stuff like that, having those important conversations. You don't have to break in NDA and have the exact amount but you can say take your time and do this. I was very blessed to work with a company recently and I sent them, they asked me my rate and I sent them my rate.

And Kahl's gonna get so mad at me. But I sent them my rate and it was very, very low. It was very, very low. So I set my rate and I said it was $100. Kahl don't yell at me. – I'm mad at you. – What? Oh God.

– I'm mad at you. – And I said, it was $100 and the person from the brand said “Can you call me real quick?” – Oh. – And I was like, oh man, I probably asked for too much. And I called him and he said, “I've really enjoyed your voice on Twitter and you advocate so much for others but you are not good at advocating for yourself.

So this is the amount you need to ask for in the email and you need to resend it to me because you're worth so much more than you're telling me.” And he was like, “So I'm telling you how much you should ask for because this is what we have the budget for.

So please go back in the email and ask for it”. And I did and it was, you know, so much more than what I had asked for. (laughs) I'm so new. I am new and I have a hard time valuing myself and that's something that we struggle with.

And if I didn't have friends that helped shake me and advocate for me, I don't think I would do a very good job of it. And that's why it comes to these conversations in this back channeling and uplifting others and sharing and mentoring with other people of color in this space.

– And I also wanna like, I wanna celebrate that because, especially when we have these conversations, like I was mentioning before. We talk about some of the struggles obstacles and sometimes the people who aren't doing right.

But there are some amazing people who are supporting, who are allies, who are educating us, and helping us within this space. And for those who are watching, you know who you are because of everything that you've done, the conversations that we've had privately or even publicly and even some of those conversations were uncomfortable conversations, right? But at least it wasn't taken as anything personal and it's blossomed into something that's very fruitful and amazing.

And for me, I'm a firm believer and I always say this because when we talk about diversity inclusion, one, for some reason everyone thinks that diversity means unqualified. It does not mean unqualified, right? But I'm a firm believer that when you help to open up opportunities, and when I say open up, it is to allow equal opportunity for every in all communities so you can truly find the best of the best for whatever initiative or job or project that you have.

The problem is that's not the case. When you open up opportunities on a level playing field for especially the black communities. It will naturally and in some ways help to open up the leveled playing field for others as well.

And part of that too is because of how diverse our community is. You know, our community expands in different countries, speak different languages. The diversity in our community allows for the diversity for it to tap into other communities.

Now, I must say though that kind of like what you were saying Zombaekillz. Black trans and non-binary and some individuals in the LGBTQ plus community are not respected in Esports and gaming by some people and that is not okay.

One of my friends, Amanda Stevens, who's a trans woman, she is a reason why I got my or part of the reason why I even started my broadcasting career and she was one of the first people that helped me and guided me.

But from some of the stories that I've heard where she had to like work things for free or people not wanting to do interviews with her because she's trans, like come on people. I think that it's just like when it's more inclusive and we embrace people and treat people with respect, this industry is gonna thrive more.

But paying someone less because they are trans or identify differently, that's horrible at the end of the day. And that's why for us, especially in the black community, we must do what we can to protect our LGBTQ plus and also trans fellow black gamers as well.

Because unfortunately, some people treat them differently and treat black women differently and just treat us differently. And it's like, we all have to come together and build with each other and also allies too stand by us.

And I think that that's the most important thing. I think at the end of the day, it's important for us to convey. It's just like, there are people that are not treated well and even within the black community, there's some people that are not treated as even further and we haven't even touched colorism.

That's a whole other story. But like I think that we're getting there. But these kinds of conversations, us having conversations privately, working with each other, educating each other, that's how we're gonna truly open up the doors for not only our community, but various different communities as well.

– I can say one of the biggest things that we recognized because I would say like we're outsiders that came in. I've always gained, but I've never considered myself of the industry but it's like, we recognize an opportunity in a problem that we wanted to fix.

I can tell you one of the biggest problems of why I could see why this conversation of DNI is going on for so long is 'cause Esports in video games, treats diversity and inclusion as a noun versus a verb.

It's a topic of conversation. It's an event and it's not action items that lead to systemic change. And so that's why for us like me and my co-founder, we always say this, we're not the only people. But we're one of the few peoples that came from HBCUs.

How trying to help HBCUs come into this space. So our interest is actually started with the schools that we graduated from and recognizing those problems as students. So that's one of the things where I sometimes get frustrated, I'll be honest.

Maybe I shouldn't be. But I just feel like there's too many conversations about DNI and not enough people just doing the work. Because technically speaking, if the work was being done, you wouldn't have to have conversation after conversation after conversation about diversity and inclusiveness.

It's not that challenging, quite frankly it's not that hard. You either do it or you don't, right? And so that's why in our perspective of how we came to address the problem was not asking companies that were asking to be diverse.

We're like, screw it, bro. Let's just do our own thing. And then let's partner with the Evil Geniuses or the companies that want it to do that. And then therefore there is no more, well we tried it. It's like, no.

We're actively doing it. So eg, like literally this summer, two of my students are getting internships at their organization. Like we're having programs and so our goal, we're agnostic, right? So we partner with as many Esports orgs, as many publishers and as many agencies as brands to bring these opportunities to that culture versus asking an industry to change for us.

We're just kind of doing the opposite of that. So our big thing is that it's not a noun, it's not a verb. Like less talk and let's just actually do the work. – I'll piggyback off that really quick 'cause I think a frustrating thing that I find when we have these conversations from a corporate standpoint is that, often in many, many meetings across my job now and other jobs 'cause I'm doing this new kind of role for us, the first thing that people would say is, so what's the KPI for this? You know, what's gonna be the KPI.

Yeah, like that's the wrong question. That question is a bad question because the answer is whatever the hell you want it to be. That's the real answer. What number is gonna show me success? Whatever number you pick is the number that's gonna show success and then you work towards it.

That's the actual answer. And I think that's a part of the conversation, right? It's like people kind of tie themselves. Even folks who like understand what needs to be done, and what's the actual process for some of the stuff to work.

There is this tie to this metric, this magic metric that's supposed to like show you now that you're a diverse company or now you've done this diversity project and it's working. It's a never ending project.

You're never gonna finish doing DNI work. That's what I'm saying. – Yeah, like literally, that's it. It's like how we look at this is like, literally 2020 in my opinion was the second version of the civil rights movement, right? You had everything going on and how I think about this historically in this industry to date is like going back 50, 60 years.

DNI now means that we're gonna get a half a million dollar marketing budget, we're gonna pay some black influencers. We're gonna create this content. It's gonna get a million views and now we achieved diversity and inclusion.

Like it's the equivalent of like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X like, hey, target, give us a half a million dollar campaign and we're gonna go tell these stories. Like, no, right? There's no money attached to DNI.

DNI is not sexy. It's not a money… It's not a revenue driver. You either wanna see it or you don't wanna see it. Just like civic leaders, 50, 60 years ago weren't in it for the cloud. They wanted to see change.

And so that's why for us we post often but it's like we're not as social engine, right? We don't make short pieces of content. We don't stream like, no. We're literally just, hey, this school needs this.

You wanna be diverse, cut a check. And now let's actually have a new program. So again, I could go on a monologue for this but DNI is a verb. That's like my big takeaway for this. It is a verb – I just wanna ask one question to you all who are in the Esports area.

Like I know that you're at HBCUs and you're doing stuff. What are you doing to also include black trans kids, and LGBTQ kids in the program? Because I know so often these are cease facing programs. My friend control out Quinn is non-binary and they have been so interested in joining an Esports team or just finding somebody that represents them that's a safe space and they've really been struggling with that.

And I'm curious to know what you all are doing to stand out from that kind of thing at Cxmmunity. – I don't know that we're super focus on that community. But what I would say on the opposite of that is that we don't hinder from it.

So with our league, if you're a gamer and you go to HBCUs, I don't think that's an Esports question. That is more of a cultural question because we're creating programs at HBCUs, right? We don't run those programs.

So if someone of that community wanted to be a part of the club, there is no jurisdiction stopping us. And quite frankly, they could be in the in our league and we're not even aware of it. And so the same thing I told Amanda is that I don't know that Chris, myself or John are the best people to even build that strategy because I don't know.

So what I share with Amanda is that I would like to work with you to then understand what are some of the nuance things that we could or should be doing to make sure that we're capturing these students because I'll be very honest, I do not have that answer.

And I do not know the best approach to make that possible. – Yeah, and even for me, right? One of the things that I decided that I will do to help with that is accessibility to information and knowledge, right? I realized that as someone who's in broadcasting, but also there's a lot of work and things that I do behind the scenes and just aren't publicized where I have close relationships or I know or I communicate with people who lead departments who are high up executives at some of these publishing companies who are in certain positions of decision-making, right? And I would get information and talk to them and I would actually disclose that information via panels, via Twitter because I tried to find multiple different ways to give out accessibility to knowledge and information.

And especially because I am a representative in that community as someone who's bisexual. But I also, for me, I learned about some of the trans experience from Amanda Stevens. And then I also talked to various different people and figure out, okay what are some of the, the challenges and obstacles and one of the biggest one is accessibility to knowledge, information and opportunities.

And for the opportunity standpoint, I'm actually, I mean this hasn't been announced publicly. It will later on. But the only thing I can say is I am actually working with a known and established publisher to create a career development program to open up opportunities for specific jobs and roles within the industry where it's needed, where these positions are needed by these companies.

But i creating an opportunity for those who are in underserved communities to actually actively be trained and actively work on projects and also be paid the entire time. So that is a project that I am working on with actually the publisher company as well as several orgs and companies.

But that's all I can say. But that has been something at the top of my mind and that's something that I've been really focusing on especially since I'm an on-camera talent. Like I have people from whether it's Latin community, black community, LGBTQ plus community that follow me and so I always try to give out as much information as possible.

And kind of going back to where we're discussing in terms of rates, I've had other people hit me up and ask me about rates and stuff and I disclose my rates. I mean, even with talent, we disclose at each other too.

– I love to see it I love a queen who shares. We love a queen who shares. (laughs) – I never had a problem with sharing too because I'm a firm believer that if you're great at what you do, you will always get the opportunities.

And sometimes it's a struggle because you feel, sometimes you hit that roadblock after roadblock but all it takes is that one chance. And if you're great at what you do and with people like us who can help to support them, you're gonna be okay.

But it's when we don't wanna share and we're like, oh, it's only a one spot at the table. No, it's not one spot at the table. It's now only one black person can have this position or one that like, no, that's not how it works.

If we work together and band together, more opportunities will actually come about. – I love that. Kalief said something powerful that stuck to me. And now I say it all the time. Kahlief, whenever we did a lesson in blackness afterwards, a lot of people were like, oh, you're not gonna be around in a short time after this and Kahlief said, “You're not catching lightning in a bottle.

You're trying to establish yourself in the industry. So I don't mind helping you. I don't mind helping you with whatever you wanna do because I know dang well how hard you work and soon enough everybody else will see it too.

” And it stuck with me ever since like, there will always be a place for you if you just work hard in the space, that's it. – And people know and people see it and they talk about it. Again, this industry is extremely small.

That is one of the things I've learned in my eight years doing a show in 12 years in general doing kind of some of this work. The industry is extremely small and once you start to make and knock down those doors, people talk, people understand.

And they know the folks who are working and the people who are just talking and there's a big difference between the two and that's a movement that always has been in this space for sure. – Since we started on a good note, we'd like to end on a good note.

There's a lot of amazing people who have been great allies, who supporting the black community, all different kinds of communities when it comes to Esports and gaming. Now, for those who want to continue their support, how can they be a good advocate and how can they continue to be a good advocate when it comes to supporting the black community and supporting the overall progression of the industry? – Well, I'll just go real quick.

My two people, well, it's more than two people. But two people specifically that have been extreme helps and allies and advocates are Kevin from Twitch student and also, I would say Chad De Luca from Twitch.

These two individuals respectively, a lot of our growth really came after we made an announcement that our league was partnering with Twitch to actually, well, the first time for HBCUs used to be on a platform of that magnitude.

So like that announcement in that press alone is re really uplifted and changed the trajectory of our company at large. So Kevin, Chad, I would easily say that those two people have been insurmountable in their support for HBCUs and they have seen more black people come on into this space and then also working to help make Twitch a more safe environment for black creators, right? Because I'll share the story with you all.

Our first two weeks of doing HBCUs Esports League, we didn't even think about the band words that we should have preset and the amount of inwards that were flying in our chat. Who led all these inwards on Twitch? Who led these inwards on the front page? And so the conversations we're having is like, if y'all wanna partner with us, I'm not about to bring these students to your platform for the first time that they're ever been exposed to streaming just to get berated.

So now we're actively working through what are some of these policy things that can be changed to help mitigate a much bigger conversation than what I can answer right now. But my long-winded way of saving, Kevin and Garvey have been at Twitch and also I have some other people I've been instrumental from an allyship standpoint.

– I'll say for me, definitely like Mary Kish over at Twitch has been a wonderful advocate, ally and friend. She has been instrumental and 8BitDylan over at Twitch and these people have been just like an alley cat.

They've been pushing to make sure that we're doing things and they're getting things right with their impact and are creator and social impact program. They're making sure that they're getting these programs right.

This black history month that we've had at Twitch this month has been the best that it's ever been and it is being done very, very well. And I know people like to hate on Twitch but it's my home and I love it and there are so many things that we need to celebrate when people get things right because people are so loud including myself when they're wrong.

But I also try to be really loud when people get things right. I got to try to have balance, you know a little sugar, little spice. And I think that we should continue to do that and push things forward.

But you know, Kahlief's is also, I keep going back to Kahlief 'cause he's my family but he's advocated for me so many times I can't even probably tell you. I get like people that hit me up and they're like, yo, Kahlief said that you are good people and that you knew a lot about this subject and can I hit you up? Or Tanya DePass sent me over here or so-and-so sent me over here.

And there's nothing better than seeing your own people advocate for you as well in the space. Because like Kahlief said we're a co-sign and vouch culture and the game space is very much similar to how we operate as a people and it's very much voucher oriented.

So for me, that means a lot and we have a long way to go. But like you said, there's a lot of seats at the table and I'm really looking forward to see where we're going in the next year and what's happening and what's opening up because we've had so many good life-changing discussions that the games industry has been flipped on its head since June of last year.

And we are doing things in a bigger, louder and blacker way and I can't wait to move forward in the game space being as loud and as black as I am openly. A year ago I posted something where I said, a year ago I said, “Gosh, I really hope I can make it in the games industry talking my activism” and I shared it on Twitter and I'm doing it and getting paid.

So like, that's a change because couple of years ago, that wouldn't have been a thing. And so we are making a lot of progress whether or not people wanna acknowledge it. We're moving forward really well.

– I will thank you Zombae for the love. I appreciate and love you. – I love you. – In terms of folks, I will double down and say Mary Kish and 8BitDylan and Orellian as well from Twitch is brilliant and has been so thoughtful about all the stuff that you see kind of expressing themselves on Twitch right now.

Two of my favorite white people on the planet, Adam Sessler, who got me into my first E3, most people don't know that. He literally was on our show. I'd like hit him up on Twitter and was like, yo, you're one of my favorite people on the planet.

Can you be on my show? He loved what we did, co-signed me and the rest of what we were doing on Spawn On Me and got me into my first E3 which is huge. And my job at Intel, I would have never gotten it if I had not met and hung out with and you know, rolled up in, rolled up on when I was really, really shy.

Robin Hunicke, creator a Journey and she became a friend. And she was the person who vouched for me to get this job over at Intel, which is a nuts thing 'cause she's a person who I looked up to because of the love of her work.

So like, you know, again, it's about using your platform. It's about using the space and the power that you have when you see people who are doing good work to give them the space to be able to do that and use those connections that you have to let them get in the door and that's a big thing.

Oh, really quick. Shawn Alexander Allen, Sterling McGarvey, those two cats held my hand in so many different ways during this industry. It was brilliant. So they've been super fantastic in that space.

– Phenomenal, phenomenal. And guys, you don't have to work at a Twitch or be in the industry for a long time to be a good advocate. It's about supporting uplifting and amplifying the voices. If you see a fellow black content creator or professional that are speaking out about important things amplify it, share it, talk to your friends about it, right? I think that's the most important thing.

You don't have to make every advocacy action be a big bang. It can even be just small conversations. And more importantly, it is about spreading love sharing love, and more importantly, live proud. Be proud of who you are, be proud of your community and be proud of everything that you are.

Thank you everyone for listening and joining in. Kahlief, Ryan, and Zombaekillz, thank you guys so much for joining. Guys, this is episode six of the LiveProud Podcast powered by Evil Geniuses. We have a lot more in store for you later on.

Make sure you follow up to catch episode seven. My name is Erin Ashley Simon, and we will see you all later. (upbeat music)

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