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517 Magazine Presents: The 26th Annual Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards

A Q&A with Cameo King

517 Magazine checked in with Cameo King for her perspective on the racial climate and where change can begin.

Cameo King is the CEO of Good Girl Radio; the founder of Grit, Glam & Guts; an award-winning journalist; and an advocate for women and girls.

 

As a leader, advocate, award-winning journalist and Black woman, can you describe how the last couple of months have affected you?

I am a Black woman first. As much as I may identity with my faith, my career, a title or even a gender, Black is how I experience the world and Black is how the world experiences me. The past few months I have become even more aware of my Blackness and especially in proximity to institutions, systems and a society that’s very rooted in white supremacy. In 1961, author James Baldwin was asked by a radio host about being Black in America. He said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time — and in one’s work. And part of the rage is this: It isn’t only what is happening to you. But it’s what’s happening all around you and all of the time in the face of the most extraordinary and criminal indifference, indifference of most white people in this country and their ignorance.”

 

You aren’t new to social justice and equity work. What are practical lasting steps for people of color and what does systemic change look like to you?

The Hughes-Rogers professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, Imani Perry, said it best: “Racism is terrible. Blackness is not.” Simply put, do the work of being anti-racist.

 

Do you feel a shift at all this time?

There have always been folx fighting on the proverbial front lines of social justice and the mattering of Black lives. These same folx worked for decades behind closed doors, in board rooms, in neighborhoods, in churches, in private conversations and even when their livelihood was on the line. What we are seeing now is the world catching up to their work, energy, dedication, sacrifice, education and intellect.

 

For those who feel called to be a part of the change, where do we begin?

I have always been a proponent of doing internal work first before attempting any external radical change. First things first, work on your soul. Addressing the racism and anti-Blackness that exists within an individual will be the foundation of any real long-term anti-racist work. Racism and anti-Blackness are embedded in our society and our way of life in ways we do not even notice. It has affected everything we do, from how we love, to where we live, to what we eat.

Have Black folx’s backs out loud. Speak up in the private conversations, in the neighborhood meetings, in the police interactions, in the HR department, in the board rooms and even in your own home. Believe, stand behind and advocate for the stories and lives of Black folx.

Educate yourself. There is more than enough research, data, compiled narratives, books and lived experiences of racism, inequities, anti-racist work at the world’s fingertips.

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