[00:00:00] Lisa Yancey: Hi, everyone.
Lynnette Kaid: Hello everyone.
June Wilson: Welcome to this episode of Getting Unstuck.
Lisa Yancey: Getting Unstuck is a conversational series that the founders of The We’s Match launched to open and deepen dialogue between Black women entrepreneurs and investors.
Lynnette Kaid: This is a conversational space of truth telling about where investors and entrepreneurs get unstuck–
Lisa Yancey: –when it comes to scaling Black women businesses.
June Wilson: Black women are high performing bad ass —
Lisa Yancey: — Bad ass —
Lynnette Kaid: — Bad ass business innovators who are not reaching revenue potential in the marketplace because of under-investment
June Wilson: and limited places to get trusted advice about what to do to scale.
Lisa Yancey: Our role at The We’s Match is to create an online and offline community that is 100% dedicated to the business growth and personal well-being of Black women entrepreneurs, full stop.
June Wilson: Full stop.
Lynnette Kaid: Full stop.
June Wilson: Through this Getting Unstuck series, we aim to have some real talk
Lisa Yancey: that leads to more investments and revenues.
June Wilson: In fact, make sure you check out our Ignite Pledge,
Lisa Yancey: That is completely about activating unrealized annual revenue growth in Black women businesses.
With that said, let’s get started.
June Wilson: Let’s get started.
Lynnette Kaid: Let’s get started.
June Wilson: Hello, welcome to this episode of Getting Unstuck. So ladies, I’m going to let you introduce each of your names just in case people don’t know who you are and all of your brilliance.
Lisa Yancey: Well, I’ll start. Um, I am Lisa Yancey. I am one of the cofounders of The We’s Match.
Lynnette Kaid: I am Lynette Kaid, and I’m also a cofounder of The We’s Match.
June Wilson: Today’s series is about power and agency.
And I think this is a perfect time for us to really talk about power and agency and what it means to each of us. So I was thinking the other day, when was the first time I remember the very first moment I felt power and/or agency? And, and what was that like? And so for me around the third or fourth grade, um, I was, it was during a break or lunchtime break and our principal kept announcing over the Intercom, um, for about a week or so, about how he wanted the — for all of us to say, please, and thank you. And it was a kind of ongoing kind of monotony. And I remember thinking, “My mama taught me how to say please, and thank you.” Like, what is this about? There’s something about this that felt off and so well during the break, I was standing in line to get an ice cream sandwich and I was standing there talking to my girlfriends and one of the teachers, lunch monitors told me to go sit down.
And in my head, I heard the principal: “Say please, and thank you.” And I turned to her and I said, “Say please.” But it felt so important because she was consistently talking to me and talking at me as if though I was somebody who didn’t also deserve to be thanked and asked nicely to sit down. So I’ll never forget that moment.
And I turned to my girlfriend and she stood with me because she, I think she saw me falter in my face. And she stood with me and that both power and agency aligned and the teacher was pissed and made us sit down and called the principal. And I remember thinking, “Oh shit, I am in trouble now.” And I went to the principal’s office and he just asked, like, what were you thinking?
What were you doing? And I said, “You kept telling us to say please and thank you. Shouldn’t the teachers have to also say please and thank you?” He let me out. He didn’t call my mama. He never again announced over the intercom for us to say please and thank you.
Lisa Yancey: Ha!
June Wilson: So that was my moment. What about y’all? What was your moment?
Lisa Yancey: There are two moments, but my honest first moment of power and agency? So, let me just say how I understand power. For me, power is the ability to move something or whatever it is, like, it catalyzes it, it moves. I’m an agency, a voice, and to be there, to be my full self in that space. And I will say the first, my first known, and I didn’t know I was having power, like I didn’t have that framing. I was a little girl. Um, and my [00:05:00] family is particularly, my mom can attest to this and I realized that where I first actualized my power and agency was when I would throw these tantrums?
I got a Black woman, mother who I learned not to be doing that. Uh, soon. But, uh, I remember that I realized and I learned that if I screamed or yelled or cried I’d get attention, like I would get something. People would do something. They would, this thing, this voice would cause something, this voice yelling and screaming and, and expressing discontent in that little body. And I would actually fall out on the floor backwards, hit my head and just lose my mind. Um, as I heard.
And I’m — I — I’m, it’s coming up for me now, particularly in this moment where we are rising up, uh, where there are protests and people are speaking with their voice, people are, um, actualizing power in their bodies.
Um, and so that was, that was the first, the first time that I recall thinking now where I actualized my power and agency. But I think the first time where I knew it, cause I didn’t know it, then I kind of knew it. I knew it, but I didn’t know. I didn’t have any rhetorical analysis like now, but when I did know I was on a basketball team and it was in high school and our coach used to always call us girls.
And he would reference us– It was an all male basketball team, you know? And he would use language that was gender characterizing. And you know, you girls do this, you girls do that, you girls go do that. And I remember one time saying, “First of all, you should stop infantilizing us,” in front of everyone. And I don’t know what made me say it other than my annoyance and I didn’t care what happened. Okay. The repercussions didn’t matter because what felt like he was belittling us was more important to speak out. And I think that’s, that’s the time I remember. I didn’t get kicked off. I did, we did have an exchange, but he stopped calling us girls.
Lynnette Kaid: I’m trying to think about it, um, because it looks slightly different for me.
And then when I thought about it, it was like, oh, because it’s my personality. Um, in high school I remember — well before that, um, things like, uh, as my mother was dying, we had to go live with my aunt in Texas on a military base. And I would, you know, back then you’d have to get up and do the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. And I wouldn’t do it! And it wasn’t because I had, I just didn’t understand why to do it. Um, and so I remember that being the first time that I was sort of figuring out, uh, I couldn’t understand why everybody just did something with this because you’re told to do it and not understand why.
So I was working my way through those kinds of things. When I was young. Um, I remember in high school, my principal, I always had these strange relationships with my principals. Um, but this particular principal was a white woman. Uh, we went to a pretty predominantly white school, less than 20% Black, in high school and she would stand next to me in our commons. And one day she said, “Lynnette I don’t understand, um, why all the Black kids sit together. You know, I wanted this commons to be–” you know, she was having her whole emotion around it. “I wanted this commons to be for everybody too.” And so I said to her, I get up at five o’clock in the morning to get dressed, to get on the bus to ride around the neighborhood, to pick up people for an hour and something to be at school, to be at a bus stop at 7, ride around for hours to be at school by 8:30 for the bell. We spend roughly two to three hours, if not longer in the morning, just together. Uh, and you want to solve racial issues in one hour at lunch with people, we don’t really even get to sit [00:10:00] around and know, and she said, well, what, what can we do? I said I don’t know, what can you do? She said, well, how about we start at a racial, a racial– um, I can’t remember the name of it now, but, um, it was basically been bringing everybody together to talk about their racial discomfort, uncomfort, uh, discomfort. But so it was the first time I was getting to see myself in a position where people come to me. So, much like, um, in the present day, what’s happening around us. I get a lot of phone calls from all over the country and it’s, I realized it’s always, “Lynette! What are we gonna do? What’s– what are we going to do?” And I think that’s where I started, I’m starting to see a pattern of where my power and agency shows up to take those questions. Also reverse them because it’s, it’s really, you know, what are you going to do? How do you show up in your own power agency to, um, voice change?
Move any and everything. I think that kind of answers it.
June Wilson: Not kind of, that absolutely answers it.
You know, it’s interesting. We are in this moment right now, that is both COVID-19 and a moment of, um, extreme frustration and anger around George Floyd around really standing and not just George Floyd. This is really about kind of enough is enough.
We need to stand, be heard, address the issue of police brutality, address so many gaps and so many issues that have plagued particularly Black and brown people and indigenous people here in the US, and folks are starting to say no more. Now we’ve been here before. I’m hoping we’re not going to be here again, but maybe we will be here again.
What does that mean right now for you all to think it’s about this moment in time? Think about how will, how will we begin to use our power and agency where we are. It’s making me, it’s reminding me again of, um, Toni Morrison when she said, you know, in the sixties that I — that she herself didn’t see, it didn’t make sense for her to be in the street, but that she could use her power in a way where she was to help move the movement.
And so what, you know, Toni Morrison did was really as an editor allow and provide voice for so many folks like Angela Davis and so many other folks who didn’t even think of themselves. I mean, if you see this documentary and you hear from Angela Davis, who didn’t even think of themselves in that moment, you know, I’m young, what am I doing writing an autobiography? Who wants to hear from me?
But that idea of both using our power, where we are, and our agency to change things. What does that look like for you all?
Lynnette Kaid: You know, it makes me think about, I instantly called Lisa and I said, well, what is, what does this mean for The We’s Match? Um, and as we talked through, “be ready so you don’t have to get ready,” and it made it very clear for me in a way that it had not, in three years, we have been, we’ve been building The We’s Match that we’ve been getting ready.
Right. So that we’re ready for these moments. We, the work and where we are is empowering a whole side of Black people, Black women entrepreneurs, to do the thing we need to do, which is create wealth in our community. Educate, strategize, organize, create wealth, and be building something towards, um, what we need it to look like.
We are actively being the “we” that builds the world we want to see. And, and it was sort of, um, it [00:15:00] hit me in a way that I hadn’t felt that boulder like that, that the work’s starting to, uh, and I don’t want to say, start to simplify it, but, um, I’ll say this often when something lives in your body, right. When it starts, when it’s living in your body it’s like a tree planted by the water. It cannot be moved. When you know that you know that you know that you know, nobody can take that from you. The thing that The We’s has been building is very much timely. It was yesterday and it is right now and it is for the future. And I think it very much speaks to, um, uh, this moment, which is we have, have to be actively building it, right? Um, we have to actively be in our power now. This can’t be, we, you know, I listened to Sam Cook and I was listening to Bob Marley all weekend, and Fela. And we 30 years singing the same songs. So we got all the information and it is time to actively be in our agency and moving and building the world.
We are building the world. So we are taking out and tearing down bricks of one structure and system, and we are building the world we need to see.
Lisa Yancey: You know, what I want to do. I want to bring in Breonna Taylor. I want to bring in Ahmaud Arbery. I want to bring in George Floyd, I want to bring in the many Black men and women in which this, where we at, when we’re talking about this moment, over here. We’re talking about a moment where protests are happening all over the nation. We’re building upon the egregious, malicious, persistent murders, that are — have taken a toll and has catalyzed that same voice, scream, callout that I referenced earlier of agency. And I think about, um, what The We’s Match’s role is, and has been, what even inspired us to do this work. I think about this commitment, our commitment to systems change, to the impact and — uh, a friend of mine, Farai Chideya, who’s a journalist, author, amazing Black woman, um, currently a program officer at the Ford Foundation, wrote an article in the Washington Post in the last week about her experience living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and seeing and experiencing disparities, and then moving during this period of COVID-19 to the Hudson Valley, and there’s a line in her article that I want to pull in to this conversation because when I read it, it made me think about what we’re doing with, The We’s Match, and it says, “Wealth inequality and its relationship to race will kill us all if we do not face it head on.” What it makes me think about, that statement felt like it encapsulated what we are doing with The We’s Match by, first, in terms of power and agency, we’ve activated both our power and our agency as Black women to focus on Black women entrepreneurs and to focus exclusively on Black women entrepreneurs without feeling that we needed to make excuses for why we’re not focusing on all women, or why we’re not focusing on all women of color, or why we’re not focusing on all Black people. We’ve tapped into our agency in saying that we need, we as Black women entrepreneurs need a hundred percent dedication, uh, to shift the, the trend of inequities and inequalities around wealth.
You know, we are challenging and changing this idea of terms. Um, we are activating, uh, individuals to first commit, investors to commit. That’s the first thing: commit to investing in Black women entrepreneurs. And then, in committing to investing in Black women entrepreneurs, let’s also undo [00:20:00] and unlearn what we’ve learned around what it means to invest and have terms that are only connected to what the financial yield is.
We’re saying let’s plus one that. We can talk about what the financial yield is, because we know that these women are brilliant. They are smart innovators, smart business people. They, um, they and we– because I am one of we, we are one of we– we just need, uh, the opportunities that are afforded any entrepreneur to be able to thrive and the resources to be able to thrive. So start with the commitment, uh, in investing in these entrepreneurs and then work with us to redefine what terms mean that get to the desired impact, the desired change. Not just the desired revenue return. So that’s one thing we’re doing.
We are holding steady that our purpose is to change, to create an environmental change, as a result of what these investments do by focusing on a woman, her business thriving, her business thriving and community thriving. The second thing that we’re doing as a company, I believe is that we’re documenting and sharing it.
We are acknowledging and bringing voice to that, that we have to unlearn and that we are enough to activate the change that we desire. Uh, we don’t have to beg, plead and request the existing ecosystem that was never designed for us to thrive, to include us at their table. We can design and raise tables with these values, with the legs and anchors of these values of us thriving.
And we’re sharing that. Another thing that we are doing, um, is that we are, um, we’re building. We are recruiting. Recruiting more investors who are aligned with these values, who understand what Black women entrepreneurs can do, will do, and what that means not only for our economy, but what it means for our society, what it means for the future.
What it means two generations from now, certainly two, if not seven generations from now, from the work that we’re doing today. That’s why I, like, I like to think about when we’re talking about moments that this is a sequence, this is a moment that’s in a sequence of moments that will come in to place towards the desired longterm change. The other thing that we’re doing is prioritizing relationship building, because we know that if we remain without knowing each other and understanding each other and getting to know each other, then we can never unlearn the prejudices, the biases, the microaggressions that this society has taught us all.
No one’s exempt. And until we do the work to build the– to build the, the– to take in the lessons, to unlearn, to invest in something towards the change and not just invest in something towards the benefit, the personal benefit, is the both/and because the personal benefit, the financial benefit and the societal benefit can be a yield.
Um, The We’s Match is building that as well. And I think that that’s the work that we’re doing. And then the last thing I’ll say as an auntie, I’m not a mother, but I’m an auntie. And, uh, one of the things that I’m doing in my power and agency is speaking clearly to my nieces and nephews. And, um, particularly I had a conversation with my nephew this weekend, asking him, when you look back at this moment, what will you be able to say that you did to stand up. What has been your role? How, how have you activated your voice and mobilized yourself in this, on the things that you care about? And, and that’s, that’s the work.
June Wilson: We’ve covered both power, agency and systems. And then you also talked and, and really spoke brilliantly about what The We’s Match is trying to do as a real ecosystem change. And so, as we think about those three components and sort of bring in sort of, I’m a mother, so I have a daughter sort of really struggling in this time. You talked about what it means to be an auntie– Um, Lynette, maybe you can talk about, as you think about how you, I mean, actually it’s– so you really talked about it, how people call on you to help them get unstuck. I mean, so we are playing this role to help them think about what’s next. We’re all playing this role of birthing something new, getting unstuck and helping others do the same.
And so, you know, as we think about this moment and knowing that one, we’re not alone, we are never alone. We’ve been activating how we have collective both individual power and collective power. Cause we know it takes us all. [00:25:00] What else do we want to say in this moment, at this time to, you know, as we think about our Black women entrepreneurs who are feeling much of what we’re feeling and trying to get their businesses to thrive, and in some cases survive, as we think about the investors, some of the ones that we’re in touch with, who are completely committed to black women entrepreneurs and ready to do more. And those who aren’t yet, like have not yet even thought about, you know, why they should invest in Black women entrepreneurs. And we think about these are our communities that we’re trying to hold and nurture, hold and nurture and activate, activate our power that allows the power and strength and success of Black women who hold their own agency and are committed to making a difference in the world.
Yeah. What else might we say to them?
Lisa Yancey: You know what I’ll say? I’ll say to them what I say to me, cause I am them, we are one of we, that’s one of our mantras, um, is that, you know, let’s not believe narratives and, and, and, and believe narratives that continue to pigeonhole, isolate, exceptionalize our work cause we know we are one of many and our brilliance has run as deep as the river Nile. Um, I would say to me that: continue to stay fast because change is coming. It is now. And the work that we’re doing is a culture shift. We’re not here to accelerate you. We’re not here to incubate you. We are here to be architects that hold us at the center and the values of what we do produce and can continue to produce at the center for culture change, because that culture change will have intersectional implications. Um, and we know that when we do this work, that this work ripples out to many communities, many lives and many families because Black women ripple out to many communities, communities, many lives and many families. I was– I didn’t know it was 11:26 pm because a colleague, a different, another Black woman and I were doing some work, and she texted me and said, it’s 11 pm, here it is again, Black women behind the scenes, doing the work for communications on our institutions, doing the work to say, no, that’s not enough, doing the work that’s saying, if you don’t stand up in this way, you might as well just sit on down and say that you’re complicit doing the work in the shadows.
And what I said to her, I was like, well, this is the way. One: we are not in our shadows. And these shadows are, are no more. Um, we are outside the shadows that we are claiming and owning that we are architects and engineers around the ideas, that designing the movements and protests that are happening.
And this is how we ignite flames and we continue to hold each other through the night, through the day and in the future. And so. I think I would just say we are here. We are strong. We are powerful. And we are doing this. These inequities, this fatigue, this perpetual fatigue that our ancestors had to bear for us to be where we are right now? I say, no more. I say, we do this work. We change the system and we invite those who are going to hold those values for that change and produce bountifully because that’s what we do.
Lynnette Kaid: I think I would only add to that because, uh, what I said to myself, I like doing, did that. Cause what I said to myself is in this moment, um, it’s uh, as all the statistics have shown around Black women entrepreneurs and the work that we have been doing and the strides we have been making, this moment said to me, go all in. Go all in.
If, uh– We’ve seen very clearly that there is nothing left to fear. Not one thing. Because, you can be getting a bag of Skittles, and it’s over, and, you know, you can just want to buy a [00:30:00] cigarette and, right? Um, and sort of that narrative is starting to sound like the same ending. So we’re at a place where the fear part, there’s nothing to fear.
And so I only say because we, we know that the work has been happening in the shadows and front, in the middle ground, in pulpits and streets and around the corner, in the barbershops and beauty salons, the work is been working. So now I just think there’s a place where we say, I’m all in. I mean, that’s what I tell myself. Shit, there ain’t nothing else to fear.
Lisa Yancey: Yeah. In a Nina Simone kind of way. Right. In a Nina Simone kind of way. There’s no fear. That’s the freedom, there’s no fear.
Lynnette Kaid: We got zero to lose. We are standing– we are standing at the, I don’t know what you call it, the crossroad, the–
June Wilson: Precipice?
Lynnette Kaid: Yeah. We, we right there at the moment where it’s like, uh, fuck it.
Lisa Yancey: Yeah.
Lynnette Kaid: Forward, and, and this difference. I love the conversation between Nikki Giovanni and Baldwin that’s been circulating again over the years, but, uh, and I liked the way she defined, uh, what was happening for them as a moral issue in their time versus– well, it’s all still happening, but the way we look at it in our time. And now we have to say how we see it in our time. Right. Cause it’s strange times, but the same times.
And so it’s, it really is. I’m all in, and I’ve never felt so fearless in my life to build a world that I want to see and I don’t have to apologize. And– and kind of even what I love about the documentary you brought up with Toni Morrison is, as much as she understood the power of words, when it became clear to her, what the power of words does, she didn’t have to say, “I’m unapologetically Black.”
She just was that.
Lisa Yancey: You know that’s making me think of the, um, this organization, GirlTrek. Um, I’m happily on their email list and they’re starting this, this boot camp and today is the first day of the boot camp. And they said the last kind of open blast email. And in that email, they hold up a manifesto by Shirley Chisholm on activism.
And it was the quote where she says, “I want history to remember me, not as the first Black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a Black woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be herself. I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.” And I was like, I’m like, yes, that’s it.
There is no more. There’s no more time. There’s no more room. There’s no more room for anything. That’s not advancing this agenda. That’s not advancing this work. Because the fruits of this work, the fruit that will come from this labor will benefit all. Will benefit all.
June Wilson: Full stop. I say yes. This has been such a wonderful, powerful conversation. You all inspire me every day. I’m so blessed to get to work with you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m glad we are together in this trying to make change, not trying, making change. We are fearless. We invite all of you who are witnessing and watching this to also be fearless, please, please, please. You know, this is all about getting unstuck and right now, while it looks like we’re a bit stuck, we’re working to be unstuck. And that’s what this moment is so please join us. Continue to join us in this conversation. You can go to our website, TheWesMatch.com. On the website, share, tell us what you’re doing, tell us what you’re up to, tell us what you need and what you’re engaging with to thrive.
Lisa Yancey: And the only thing I would add to June besides saying, I love you. I love you, Lynette. I love who we are and what we’re doing. I love Black women. I love you Black women who continue to just be the anchors. Only thing I would add is that we are being transparent about our journey. So when you go to our site, as we’re [00:35:00] building this, we’re not just building it without you.
We’re asking you to be with us and sharing where you are and share information and build a relationship with us, because together we’re going to build this alternate universe. We’re not going to build it just by ourselves because that will all, that will falter. That African proverb says if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go farther, go together– We’re doing this together.
So we will ask you to share information and we also promise you that we will never ask you something without giving something back. Because we know the burdens of Black women of being asked all the time to give something, without being able to, to get something back in exchange, as a value of that information, as a value of that network, of that brilliance of your resilience.
And so we are holding that because again, we are you. And so you’ll find us very clear in our journey. But we are building, and we are building together and we invite you to join us in that journey. Thank you.
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