Episode 134 – Unstoppable Communications Professional with Rashidah McCoy
On this episode, we get to converse with Rashidah McCoy. While her background is in communications, she also has put her knowledge to use in addressing issues concerning Diversity Equity, and Inclusion. However, first, she wants us to know that, coming from Pittsburg she is a fan of all things Pittsburg. Good to be loyal. Like so many, she learned to survive, thrive, and grow, in spite of her environment and a disability which, as she says, she embraces today.
During this episode, Rashidah and I get to have a great discussion about communications, the ever-expanding number of ways data is thrown at us, and especially about information overload and how we should handle it. Rashidah has some wonderful thoughts on how we all can handle the vast amount of information we encounter every day.
We also spend time about how to change the conversation regarding diversity and inclusion to be more inclusive, as it were. Rashidah offers some great and wonderful observations concerning this and how we, as a society, ought to move forward concerning truly including everyone.
Rashidah offers us much to think about. I hope you will find this program as thought-provoking and pertinent as did I. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
About the Guest:
Rashidah McCoy is a communication professional with 7+ years of diverse background in public relations, marketing, digital engagement, advocacy, DE&I, and storytelling. She’s skilled in executing comprehensive campaigns, integrated outreach, and developing strategic strategies to help deepen the connection with stakeholders and attract new constituents through the consistent execution of transmedia and traditional experiences.
Rashidah has worked on award-winning campaigns and concepts for the National Restaurant Association, CNET, Budweiser, Aon, CharmClick (located in China), and many more. She’s a firm believer in building a strong relationship with clients to ensure goals are met and organizations flourish. As a testament of her dedication to the nonprofit sector, Rashidah received the Association Forum Forty Under 40 Award for her accomplishments, leadership skills, and commitment to the industry.
Rashidah graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelors degree in Mass Communications from Delaware State University and received her Master’s of Science in Journalism with a concentration on International Public Relations from West Virginia University. When she’s not knee deep in the marketing communications world, she enjoys baking, traveling, and family time with her daughter and fiancé.
Ways to connect with Rashidah:
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:20
Well, hello once again. And yes, you are listening to unstoppable mindset. I am your host Michael Hingson. And today, we get to chat with Rashidah McCoy, who is a communications expert. She knows a lot about marketing and a variety of subjects, including one of the ones that we get to talk about often here on unstoppable mindset, diversity, equity and inclusion DEI. And we will be talking more about that as we go forward. I am sure, but we’ll worry about that as we go forward. But for right now, Rashidah Welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Rashidah McCoy 01:56
Thank you, Michael. Thank you for having me. And I appreciate your viewers listening in.
Michael Hingson 02:00
And how are you surviving the day?
Rashidah McCoy 02:03
It’s a good day so far. So we’ll be out here in Maryland, so I’m not gonna complain.
Michael Hingson 02:09
What’s the temperature?
Rashidah McCoy 02:11
It’s like the 40s. You know, what a cool breeze. I’ll take that over the snow from Pittsburgh any day.
Michael Hingson 02:16
Wow. When I checked the temperature here in Victorville just a little while ago, it was 50. I was like 55. So that’s okay, actually not too bad. We are. We’re a little bit up in the mountains. So our temperatures are pretty close to what you usually experience. But we don’t get the snow. We’re in a valley and the the water passes a spy which is okay.
Rashidah McCoy 02:42
I love it. Well,
Michael Hingson 02:43
we’ll cope. Well, listen, I’d love to start by you just kind of telling me a little bit about you growing up and what life was like and all those kinds of things. So if we could start with that, and we’ll go from there.
Rashidah McCoy 02:54
Sure, Michael, no problem. So I want to raise in Pittsburgh, I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and Paris fan. You name it all things Pittsburgh. So I grew up in a single parent household. My mother was amazing. And my grandmother was even more of an amazing foundation for our family. And being a Pittsburgh was it’s kind of hard. I’m from the inner city from Pittsburgh from the Hill District. We’re August Wilson was born and raised. And a lot of times, a lot of us aren’t expected to make it out. When we don’t make it out, unfortunately, just because of the hardship and the property and so forth. But it is a beautiful city. I had a great childhood. My mom worked three jobs to keep me in private Catholic school, from kindergarten to eighth grade, I made some great friends I was loved on and I did my best always to strive for excellence, because I knew education was my only way out. It was for me, I didn’t play a sport. I was low asthmatic girls, I didn’t play a sport. But I definitely was always involved in school. Because for me, first generation college student, that was important for me to go to school, to make a difference and to show my family, not only my little brothers and sisters, but also my cousins and my mom, that you know, all this effort that you put forth in life. You know, there’s more to it. There’s also more outside of Pittsburgh. So being able to do that has been great. And I left Pittsburgh for high school, and I went to Delaware State University. And after that I kind of went on to Washington University. Got to travel the world. So now now I’m almost 32 And it all feels good. And it was somebody to travel the hardships make it a lot brighter today.
Michael Hingson 04:35
Do you think that the troubles and hardships and all those challenges helped you as you were growing up or now that you’re older that that benefited you?
Rashidah McCoy 04:43
Oh, most definitely. I have a greater understanding and empathy for individuals than I would have in any sense of life. If I would not have gone through some things. Just some things that people think are minor aspects from disabilities as a young girl who had eczema, sometimes a point in my life where I was out of school for two weeks because I was hospitalized for severe eczema and my skin broke out so bad, I couldn’t walk. I’m having asthma, had severe asthma, severe allergies, those types of just hardships, understanding who I was and loving on myself, I know we are at an age right now where self care and self love is big. I did not grow up with a lot of that, because I was I looked different, you know, I was itchy girl, I didn’t have the longest hair. And I didn’t come from, you know, the greatest background where I had Jordans. And, you know, my mom and I shop at the thrift stores on Sundays. And I took pride in that. But as I got older, I realized that those hard moments made me more empathetic and made me love on people more and want to serve others and help them get through those moments.
Michael Hingson 05:50
So did you outgrow the eczema and asthma and so on? Or do they still somewhat be with you?
Rashidah McCoy 05:57
They’re still with me. They’re still with me. But at this age, I’ve learned to not only maintain them, but embrace them. I get allergy shots about once a month now, what’s one of maintenance, and for me, I embrace it. I am someone who I used to not even wear shorts or skirts. I used to wear jeans and tennis shoes all the time. Now it’s like, Listen, this is who I am. This is how I look to talk, Phil, I’m going to embrace this black excellence that’s pouring from the inside out. And I raised my head a lot higher now. Because I love who I am. I am a new mommy. So that’s another stage of loving who I am. You know, my body’s changed, my mind changed. My outlook on life has changed. But what it has done for me is put me in a perspective of like, listen, love on yourself and love on others who around you are going through some of the same things you may not even though what every day.
Michael Hingson 06:49
So do you consider eczema actually a disability? Is it classified as a disability or anything like that? Or do you? No, no,
Rashidah McCoy 06:58
it’s a skin condition. It’s a skin condition. And for mine, it’s a very, I have also sale ptosis. So it’s a condition where I lacked the molecule of moisture is held in my skin. So it’s not a disability. But for me, it has disabled me.
Michael Hingson 07:13
I’m sure now I understand that. Yeah. So under the like Americans with Disabilities Act, it isn’t considered a disability as such.
Rashidah McCoy 07:20
No, but asthma is yes. Yes.
Michael Hingson 07:23
Could always you could always just hold your breath longer, I suppose.
Rashidah McCoy 07:29
Breath in my nose and my mouth.
Michael Hingson 07:33
Yeah, that’s gonna happen. Right? Oh, yeah. So you got your bachelor’s from Delaware?
Rashidah McCoy 07:44
Yeah. Delaware State University.
Michael Hingson 07:47
Hmm. And then you went on to West Virginia to get your Masters and and what were those degrees in
Rashidah McCoy 07:53
your, my degree from Delaware State University was a mass communications. And my degree from West Virginia University was in journalism with a concentration on international public relations. And my research, it focused on the mentorship and the importance of mentoring young minorities, specifically millennial minorities, as we enter the communications and marketing space, and making space for young millennials, black, brown and indigenous.
Michael Hingson 08:21
So what is fascinating to me about that is that communication is, in some ways has in some ways haven’t hasn’t changed over the years. That is we still talk to each other some sometimes we talk to each other. And sometimes we don’t but but the the methodology or the ways that we have available to us to communicate, certainly has changed a great deal. So what do you think about now we have social media and now we have such ease of access to electronic communications and so on, set a plus that A minus or how would you how would you
Rashidah McCoy 09:01
really in between discuss that? I think is it in between? Honestly, Michael, I think that the spaces that we have have a lot of opportunity to communicate with each other in different forms and fashions. You know, for not only individuals who are in different states and countries on the internet, you know, you can now get your Google in a different language or you can transfer your translate your documents and communicate with people easier. From an app on your phone or even speaking into your phone. You can have it translated. Social media has put us in a in a space where you can look at and talk to your favorite celebrities all the time or keep up with family members. We haven’t talked to in years or may not talk to every day, but it has put a pressure on young individuals like myself and my age and the current generation has put pressure on them to live up to what they see in here. In an on social media, you know, you’re able to see the BBL is happening, you’re able to see the money flow and whatnot. slike easily easy work. You’re also a lot of space to see the news and real time, unfortunately, you know, we have, unfortunately and unfortunately, you know, we have police cams on chest now out on their chest, now you can those videos are automatically uploaded, or we can record it on our phone and it’s seen or you can go live. Those are moments yes, that are positive for us to be able to fight racial injustice sees, but also those are traumatic for individuals who are black and brown to see those types of injustice happen in the streets in front of you as you try to live a quote whatever normal life looks like for us now, you know, we see it, we hear it, we’re around it. But how we consume it, oftentimes can embody us as human beings.
Michael Hingson 10:46
Well, and whether it’s black, brown, indigenous or white, for that matter. How are we doing? Or what can we do better? Maybe that’s a loaded question. But concerning the whole, the whole issue of absorbing and really dealing with the incredible amount of information that we get today. And you know, what I, what I keep thinking of is and what you just mentioned the news, we get so many videos that we get to look at we we hear so many people talking about different things on the news, or we have so many other ways of getting information like social media and so on. How do we deal with that? And how do we start to learn to put all of that in perspective, as opposed just reacting? Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s really love it. I suppose that
Rashidah McCoy 11:37
one? Yeah. Honestly, I think having a balance to the best of your ability. I know we again, mentioning the self care, self care comes in different forms of fashions. It comes in a bubble bath that comes in chocolate, but it also comes in sometimes not opening the Facebook, Instagram or Tiktok app for a week to just Just breathe. You know, it’s harder, it’s easier said than done. And it’s not just the social media. It’s, you know, it’s the TV, it’s a lot at us, and we’re still getting newspapers, we still get magazines, we’re still gossiping, we’re still talk, I think taking that time for yourself, to also figure out what information is best for you in your life. You know, how do you divulge this information and you share it, but how do you also take it in in order for it to be reshard? You know, are you taking that in in the morning, noon and night because it will keep you up at night? Statistics say that you’re looking at social media, between nine and 12, you’re liable to stay up a little bit longer at night, though, I think is taking that time to figure out how to separate it, you know, what does that mean for you? For me, personally, that means that I try to log off at least by nine o’clock at night, and I still like you know, and just be done with it. For me, I used to when I was an agency like I’m in a larger agency and a smaller agency, we had TVs mounted to the walls were all day CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC was running. And it was like an overload of information just coming in from around the world, from different places at different times, but different information and different topics. And it was information overload. So for me now being a nonprofit, we’re actually going back into the office in two weeks, I actually asked that question I was on their TV in the office, do we have to listen to the news all day? You know, are there certain times we can listen to it on key moment? 6am 3am and 6pm? What does that look like for us five o’clock news. Because you have to watch what you take in because then oftentimes you project that out? And that becomes a part of you.
Michael Hingson 13:44
How do we teach people to do that? I mean, I agree with what you’re saying. And so in a sense, I I didn’t mean to say it was a loaded question in the try to obviously trap you in something. But how do we teach people what you just said? Because it’s so very true. And the other part about it is, you’ve talked about young people? Well, I’d love to hear your thoughts on older generations and so on and dealing with it. But how do we first of all, just how do we teach people to back off, because so many people have just learned to let all of that overwhelm them. And they get overwhelmed and they react very negatively to it. How do we fix them of that?
Rashidah McCoy 14:27
I think that starts with teaching people how to balance it. I think that starts in the space of understanding yourself and what you’re consuming and why. I think when we think about that, go back to the old school moment where you’re just jotting down what you’re looking at and what you’re consuming. You know what how is this information positively impacting my life? Do I need to be on social media for five hours a day? What does that mean for me? sitting back and thinking about you know, taking the moments to block off some time during the day for you to have your scrolling moments, saying what you do for your emails at work, you may set times on your calendar to particularly look at emails in the morning and in the afternoons you can get work done in the middle of the day. Another example, I think, also is taking the time during certain times of the year to reflect also on the in the things that are on your phone, all the apps, you know, we can have the phones and there’s 1000 apps on them, take a moment and look and see and reflect like, Hey, do I really need to talk social media, CNN, uh, you know, naming all the apps running down even the games, you know, what is there for me, that is important for me. And I know it sounds selfish, to think about just, you know, consuming that for yourself. But sometimes you have to be selfish in these moments for your own self care and self growth. Because we tend to what you know, what’s your take in? And what you put out, you know, how do you speak to yourself, it’s also how you grow within your space, you know, those positive affirmations, those positive moments, you’re consuming positive content and important content, that you’re oftentimes going to kind of reflect that same thing. But sometimes when your content isn’t as positive, or it’s a little bit harder on whoever you are, what you’re doing, it makes you more critical yourself. So just taking those moments. Okay, those are a couple of tips and tricks people can use.
Michael Hingson 16:14
I think you’re absolutely right. The fact is, we don’t tend to take time for ourselves, we don’t reflect at the end of the day, what went on today, how was it? What could I have done that? I could do better? Or even the good stuff? What can I learn from that? We never seem to want to do that. And we just keep going on and on and on. But the reality is, if we don’t stop to take time, to reflect, and to process and analyze, and then decide what works, we’re just going to continue down this rabbit hole, which is so scary.
Rashidah McCoy 16:53
Yes, terrifying. It’s terrifying.
Michael Hingson 16:55
It is. What about older people? I mean, I know that there are more and more people who are getting more accustomed to using computers, although they’re a bunch of people who say I’m not going to learn all that newfangled technology and all that. But the reality is, some of them do. And the reality is, but the other reality is it is here, whether we like it or not. Yes,
Rashidah McCoy 17:19
and you have to adjust to it, I have a friend who actually has a business. And what he does is he teaches older individuals how to use technology. He actually does it goes to a library around different parts of his state. And he sets up days out of the month where older individuals 40 Plus can come on in, and he shows you how to set your apps up on your phone. So it shows you how to use the voice notes on your phone. So shows you how to use simple things that we think are simple, but are often hard how to use Google Maps, you know how to go onto your computer and use a Word document and to type something out and use the spellcheck to assist you in your spelling. Or even if you’re someone who has to say well how to use the read on your Word document how to set that up on your phone to translate if you may speak a different language. I think that’s something that’s definitely needs to be considered because technology is not going anywhere. And COVID has high end it for us has high end not only our understanding of the lack thereof, resources to distribute to individuals during a time of technological challenge, but at the same space is like how do we ensure that everyone knows or has access, but it’s I know, I see a lot of people who are like my friend doing some of the work in the communities to do that.
Michael Hingson 18:34
I think some people may think me crazy for saying this, but I will anyway, the reality is that we’re doing the same things we did 3040 50 and 60 years ago, just using different tools. You know, we used to write things that you said down on paper. When we were students we would turn things in, we didn’t have computers to help with a lot of stuff. But the reality is that what we’re doing is the same stuff. We’re just doing it with more and more efficient information dissemination tools, and it’s also allowed us to spread the word to a whole lot more people, which can be a plus and which can be a minus but the reality is communications is still communications and basic process hasn’t changed.
Rashidah McCoy 19:21
Not at all. Not at all. It has not I think we’ve lost the art of just conversations like this, you know, getting on the phone and talking to a friend rather than shooting a text and saying, gee am i i seen a social media post yesterday said it literally said someone texted me said GM Have a good day and they said well General Motors a YouTube you know, take the time to pick the phone up and say Hey, good morning. How are you? Have a great day miss you love you. Okay, bye, you know, take minutes to have that human connection with people. I think we kind of have lost the art of that and I am that person who makes my friends it sounds weird but makes my friend wants to hang up as opposed to Hey, love you. Because you don’t know what’s going to happen next Tomorrow is not promised. So taking that moment to embrace that old school, quote unquote, community, and old school communications, it means a lot, you know, go visit your friend, you know, they live down the street, don’t just text them and say, Hey, checking on you go, you know, check them and set up a time to actually meet and have lunch and have dinner. And as my grandmother was saying, me my say, lay eyes on, you know, make sure they’re well, are you well know what someone’s really going through. And I think sometimes, we indulge ourselves in so much, from media, to social media, to whatever’s around us and happening to us, we forget to check on people, and you that who that human is and what they’re going through, because every one is going through something, whether we know it or not.
Michael Hingson 20:53
Yeah, the reality is, again, communication is still the same. It’s just that we are we are forgetting part of that. And you’re absolutely right. The fact is that that personal contact is extremely important. And there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be doing it, the art of conversation has really gone away, in a lot of ways. I, it took me a while to get a mystery solved in my life, which is, why is it that we hear about the stories of a family driving down the road, and the kids are in the backseat texting each other? Why did they do that? Why did they do that? And somebody finally said to me something that unfortunately, makes sense, I suppose, which is they don’t want their parents to know what they’re talking about, which is so unfortunate. And so we’re getting away from this whole concept of conversation, and, and trust. Because why should it really matter if your parents know if you really trust your parents? Now, the parents have to earn trust, too. It goes both ways. But definitely trust and respect. Oh, yeah. Yeah. But the fact is that we’ve, we see people, especially younger people texting, because we don’t want our parents or other people in the car to know what we’re talking about. Well, that’s pretty bad. And we’ve got to, and unfortunately, I’m not sure how it’s going to happen. But someday, that’s gonna come back to bite people.
Rashidah McCoy 22:26
I agree with that one friend. I agree with that one. Yeah,
Michael Hingson 22:30
it’s a real, it’s a real challenge. Well, you went off to college, and then what did you do when you graduated?
Rashidah McCoy 22:35
After I graduated Washington University, I took a fellowship at one of the largest marketing communications agencies in the world. And I was a diversity equity inclusion fellow where I worked there for about a year and I worked under you name it, I did sector health, I did social media, I did marketing. I worked with larger clients, smaller clients, military clients. And after I left there, I continued on to a smaller agency, where I had bigger clients ranging from AON to Budweiser and National Restaurant Association, it was amazing. Being able to work in I call it that the rat race phase I was because it was like, you know, the earlier the better, the later you leave, the better. You know who it was kind of like who can say the longest, you know, who’s watching office. So that was my younger face. And I thoroughly enjoyed it gave me a lot of exposure to a lot of different organizations, cultures, languages, media relations, techniques of writing aspects of politics, I got to work with multiple clients at one time, I also got to help mentor and most amazing, young, bright magnet scholars, and help them start their career off. But I’d really ultimately realized like I’m meant to serve. So after I left those agencies, I went to work with migrants or refugees. The one that’s how when President Trump was locking down the borders, so I had the opportunity to work with refugees and migrants and tell their stories and give a voice to them. I also got to spend some time in South Sudan, where I got to tell the stories of those individuals that the organization was helping and get money for them to fund different programs to help them with the psychosocial work, to assist them with their rehabilitation programs and stuff. And that was amazing. And then another after that role, I left and went to work with an organization that works for Racial Equity and Inclusion amongst lower income children, to help them have whatever they need to succeed by any means. In school and beyond. And now I’m at the organization that where I’m at now with more than a membership organization bringing together nonprofits, foundations and charitable organizations for the greater good of the US. So I’ve had a pretty good career along the way, and it has been one that has been up and down, had some challenges in between But the work I do, and I’m still doing is one that’s close to my heart. So you
Michael Hingson 25:05
started out at a big company, why did you then go to a smaller company?
Rashidah McCoy 25:10
The closeness, um, I needed more from my team. My fellowship also ended that too. Yeah, that part too. But also, I knew I didn’t want to stay in the big agencies because I wanted to be closer to the on the ground work. And for me, that meant more than being at a higher level in that space.
Michael Hingson 25:34
So the whole idea of, of being closer and, and being able to accomplish more, because you were in a smaller organization, where here we go, again, you can communicate with people, we get something done.
Rashidah McCoy 25:46
Exactly. I got to actually go to those meetings and sit one on one with these individuals, and be close to them and talk about their work. And what do you need me to do? How can I help put together strategic plans and alliances amongst partnerships and do media relations for them, develop not only strategic plans, but you know, execute them, you know, develop the social media campaigns and editorial calendars, and put together dei calendars for them and also help them see their work through a dei lens, which oftentimes is ignored. When you’re doing storytelling work, you’re telling the story of someone else, but you’re not allowing that person to use their own voice, when they’re telling the story because you’re telling their story, which is actually not equitable at all. So I’ve done a lot of that work to over the past few years.
Michael Hingson 26:34
So as you’ve been involved in this whole concept of Dei, for a long period, what does that mean to you? As a as an African American woman, what is what does the whole concept of dei mean to you?
Rashidah McCoy 26:54
For me, it means space, to not only have a seat at the table, but have a voice. And it means for me to have a space, have a voice and be able to mentor and bring along other individuals who look sound like me, or who are facing in justices every day. You know, a lot of times I get into the rooms, and I get asked the question, hey, who else is coming? And I’m like, Oh, it’s just me. It’s little me. I’ve also been asked, you know, oh, how old are you? You know, I’ve even had the question. You know, is it just you coming? Are you skilled, do you understand what you’re doing? And for me, that gives me a moment of teaching. Because not only do I understand, but I’m good at what I do. And I’m even better at educating and mentoring the young individuals who are coming behind me to do this work, I want them to be better. I want them to have that space and time to ensure that people know who they are. They’re educated, and they’re self educating. And also beyond inclusion, the word belonging, making sure you have a space where you belong. You get into a room and you have a voice and you’re not afraid, a comfortable space, where you can be yourself and do your work in order for you to serve society for a better tomorrow. I mean, it sounds cheesy, but for me, it’s that’s important to me. You know what, I have a three year old daughter I have a three year old little girl. Her name is Yara and for me I need to make space for Yara Yara needs to be able to walk into a room and not be questioned because she’s young, black or excellent. I need for people to understand that Yara and my little brother Rashad have an understanding of who they are, that they stand on the backs of ancestral giants. And they will and can make a difference in this crazy world we live in.
Michael Hingson 28:40
Well, so here’s a question. And not not trying to make it too challenging. But nevertheless, it is. So you’ve talked about dei in terms of race, which is absolutely true. But the problem is that some of us have found that that limits to race. So we talked about a number, any number of people who talk about diversity when we talk about black people and the fact that they need to be included. But the reality is one of the observations and I was thinking about it before we started this interview this morning. One of the things that I find is that people get locked into their particular area of diversity or equity. So the real question is when we’re dealing with this whole idea of diversity, equity and inclusion, how do we get people to really recognize there’s more to it than just their individual sphere, if you will?
Rashidah McCoy 29:44
Hmm, good question. Thank you for that, Mike. Well, I honestly think it’s these open, honest conversations. In some spaces. I am the person to bring the discomfort to the room in a positive manner, of course, but let’s have the conversations that it’s not thought about just your aspect of dei or of inclusion or where you are me, particularly as a black woman, you know, there’s an equities for individuals who are deaf blind who have medical conditions, you know, what does that mean for them? I think having those open, honest conversations, and not only the conversations, but bringing solutions to the table with these individuals of how they want to be talked about how they want to be seen and heard, and work that can be done to address the some of the injustice sees that they face every day, I think can help bridge those, those gaps that we often face.
Michael Hingson 30:37
Yeah, it’s a trick. Because mostly, when I ask people to define the whole idea, what do you mean by diversity, they’ll talk about race, or they’ll talk about sexual orientation, and so on, and disabilities and disabilities usually get left out. And so diversity has kind of been so defined that it leaves all of that out. And I’ve said that many times on on this podcast before. But the other side of it is that, what do you do if you’re going to deal with inclusion? You either are or you’re not. And if you’re truly inclusive, you can’t leave different segments of the population out, but people are so locked into one area of it. How do we get people to really change that mindset? Because, you know, most people who happen to be black or who have a different sexual orientation, just want to focus on that. But we are inclusive, because we include those people, but you don’t include the rest of society. How do we how do we really change that idea?
Rashidah McCoy 31:42
I think is, of course, it’s going to take time, it’s something that will never happen overnight. But I think it has a conversation between those different communities, per se. And then putting forth the efforts for us to put up the work, develop strategic plans, take the time, one by one, to have this conversation in the groups and within the communities and lift them up, you know, going to conferences, meeting like minded people, putting forth those changemakers and influencers and putting them in front of these different audiences and giving them the tools and keys, and also the proper words and terminologies. But in order for them to help us bridge those gaps for belonging, I think the word we need to use instead of inclusion oftentimes is belonging. Because inclusivity is like yes, everyone’s here. We’re welcome. But do I belong? So I’m in this space? And I’m included? But do I feel as if I belong? Like you said people use the DEI term? And it’s like, okay, diversity, equity and inclusion, I’m included in the conversation, as a black woman are included in the conversation as a white man who was blind, but what does that mean for my belonging? What have you done to ensure that when I’m in this space, not only do I have a voice at the table, but you have also done the physical part, and made sure that my voice is heard, or made sure that, you know, there’s Braille on the books in our, in our meetings and things of that nature, the conversation goes beyond that. And I think a lot of the work needs to be put forth. And I think the people who have the platforms to do it need to be equipped with not only the resources to do so, but also I think teaching our youth, the same thing, you know, teaching our youth, they, it’s not just how you look and what you see about someone that may be a disability, you know, sometimes you can’t see someone’s disability until they may have a speech impediment, or something of that nature that impairs them from being accepted, or included, are feel as if they belong. So having those conversations with teenagers and myself, for a three year old, you know, my daughter, I have a lot of conversations with her as well, too early, of course, on her own level, but I think that helps as well. And one last thing I think also would be helpful is putting the academic research behind it. putting data in front of people, oftentimes numbers speak volumes, they still do, you know, money, talks, numbers talk, you oftentimes can’t ignore the numbers in front of you. And what that means, you know, humanizing those numbers and breaking them down. In order for individuals to understand that, listen, it’s not just a black brown thing. It’s not just a racial thing. It’s not just your sexual orientation or your gender. There’s more individuals out there who feel as if they’re left out, let’s figure out how we can better include them. And what are the next steps to get them in these conversations so that change can be made.
Michael Hingson 34:30
So you and I talked a little bit in the past as we were getting ready and preparing for doing this podcast, about some of the things that are going on when we deal with diversity. You mentioned Rhonda Santos and his idea of banning diversity programs in public schools. Tell me more about that.
Rashidah McCoy 34:50
It’s a disturbing pattern for me, that we keep seeing this is honestly like the silencing of black voices and the aggressive attempt to literally wipe out black history, it puts me in a space where I’m one uncomfortable, but to ready for change, it’s like come on, are we still doing this years later, because it’s also an attack on some of the most vulnerable, marginalized people in history who are still fighting for this. And in that sense, if this attack continues, it then leaves for our younger generations to be ignorant and have a lack thereof of knowledge of the country’s history of its own. And then it denies them the skills and understanding to break down this information to make the decisions of how they want to be a part of this change, or if they want to be a part of change, and how to enact change, to change historical things and continue to make a difference. I think that then just leaves people blind and by and blind sighted in the sense of like, how do we then not understand that history is here, history is real. People are in classrooms, and they need to learn about who they are, and where they come from, in order to have a better understanding of where they want to go. And I pulled a quote that I want to share from Miss Janae Nelson, she’d had a New York Times article a couple of weeks ago. She’s the president and director of counsel from the Legal Defense Fund. And she quoted and said, students will arrive at institutes of higher learning, Ely equipped to engage with historical fundaments of the fast up foundations of this country, which include and are inapplicable from the history of black Americans. More over it will deny future generations the full story of turmoil and triumph that is in America. And it will also so racial divides that are enabled through white supremacy, which the FBI has identified as a major domestic security threat to thighs. I think that was such a powerful thing that she said in that article. It just literally leaves people without knowledge as they continue to thrive and try to grow and learn. But they don’t understand what the who the backs of this country were built on.
And again, going back to the question earlier, it goes further because it isn’t just black Americans or, or different races LGBTQ plus
Rashidah McCoy 37:17
friends or family. Yes, it’s not just color.
Michael Hingson 37:22
But we’re dealing with a country where the unemployment rate, for example, among employable persons with disabilities, is 65%. Yeah, and, and so that quote is great. But it doesn’t include discussing disabilities. And the question becomes why and how do we change that? Because quotes like that, really cover much more than race, color, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. But yet, it continues to be that, that the reality is that one of the very largest minorities in this country are left out that is people with disabilities who make up over 25% of our population. Yeah. And so somehow, the people who champion specific areas of diversity, need to recognize that it goes further. And yeah, that’s, you know, that’s kind of really the issue that I was thinking of. Hmm.
Rashidah McCoy 38:27
No, I agree with that completely. I think a lot of that conversation has to come from the forefront of just because Janae did speak a larger into her article, as she mentioned, LGBTQ plus individuals, and so forth. But I do think a lot of times, like you said, that ability community is left behind. I think maybe having individuals who are at the forefront, continue to be an influence and speak out on these topics as well, because it is very important that they not be left out of these conversations are the solution as a bigger thing, the solutions are, to me, most important outside of the competence were the next steps, after we had the difficult conversations, and make sure that everyone the proper stakeholders are at the table to make a difference, and have their voices heard. And again, like I said before, and that change from the beginning to the end, but they have to be present in the rooms. And I feel like oftentimes, individuals with with disabilities, excuse me, are often left out of these spaces.
Michael Hingson 39:25
Yeah. So unfortunately, another another thought that comes up with this. You so we’ve talked about Rhonda Santos, did you happen to watch President Biden State of the Union address, and then the response from Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Yeah, yeah. And so what was one of the major things that Sarah Huckabee Sanders talked about? She was very proud of the fact that after becoming governor, she made sure that critical race theory was banned in public schools, and so on. And so again, we see this continuation of not Recognizing that there have been some significant challenges and blocks thrown in the way of a lot of us by some of the people who should know better.
Rashidah McCoy 40:13
They definitely should know better and should do better,
Michael Hingson 40:16
and should do better. You’re absolutely right. But it is one of the things that that we do face. Well, in your job, what kinds of discriminations or challenges have you faced, and how do you deal with them from a standpoint of inclusion or diversity and so on, or
Rashidah McCoy 40:38
out, a lot of times, I laugh because just thinking about it is, sometimes it hurt to remember some of the things that I went through, because it’s, it has put me in a space where now as a young professional, I can look back and know that those challenges helped make me who I am as a professional. But I’ve been told that I’ve hit plateaus because I could not bring in additional black or brown media hits, or that I was in a space where I was, where it wasn’t short, that I still belonged, because I could not provide them black insight. Or I then became the black voice or the female voice in the room as well, too. But also in the same sense, I’ve gotten a lot of discrimination for being young. I got a questions about like I said, I think I mentioned this earlier on, like, you know, how old are you? Should you be here by yourself? You know, is there someone else coming? That to me is not only disrespect, but what is negating to who I am and the work that I put forth. But when it comes to those moments I’ve learned over the years, and I will admit at first I was not the comments, Michael. It takes time, that I’m a little older now, I think when people walk into the room, and they do ask who else is coming? You know, is there is it just us or I had asked for my resume and asked for my qualifications before, or spit their accolades to me and asked me to, you know, recite mine back to them. And I have combated sometimes in that sense, where I’m like, Well, I’m a gate scholar, you know, I have a master’s degree I’ve studied in South Sudan, you know, things of that nature. But I’ve learned to calm it down over the years, and ask them the same question back in a sense of pain. And that place of where you’re asking me is a my belonging, let’s ensure that you understand that I’m a young professional, and I put in the work. And yes, someone else will be joining us for this conversation. But I am the director in this room. And moving forward, I would like to understand that there’s a level of respect that’s given. And we returned to you. So I think boundaries are a big thing that I have put forth, as I’ve gotten older, as putting up boundaries. And also, having people understand that that’s not how you interact with people. That’s not how you communicate with individuals, as you walk into a room. And the first thing you see is that it’s a black woman, or just a woman in general, and you should be condescending, I think taking the time to educate people, but also addressing them and their biases in the most professional and empathetic manner. Because some people just don’t know, they should know. They should, yes, they should. But some people just don’t know, Michael, and they have gone along so long in life where people have not addressed them or just said, Hey, listen, that was not right, that was not polite. And I prefer not to be addressed like that moving forward. And there’s nothing wrong with standing up for yourself in those spaces, or standing up and the next individual in the room. And if you see it happen, address, it helps someone else who may not feel that they have a voice, or that they have been silenced, because I had been that individual who has worked in these spaces, and then had my work taken from me have my credit removed from an assignment or a test or plan or strategy that I’ve put together had someone else’s name put on it, I think is taking the time to address it. And oftentimes asking for help, if you do have individuals who can support you in those moments, whether it’s, you know, some friends at work, who’ve been through the same thing, or talking to HR about the policies that are put in place for these types of moments.
Michael Hingson 44:17
Yeah, tokenism is alive and well in the world and in people’s attitudes isn’t
Rashidah McCoy 44:24
very much so unfortunately, very much so.
Michael Hingson 44:28
And it is a it’s a hard thing to break and hard thing to get people to recognize that we’re all people. Because people don’t view us all as people and they don’t. We haven’t taught people to truly recognize understand and accept
Rashidah McCoy 44:51
difference. Exactly. And it has to be taught, hatred is taught, but acceptance of indifference is also Who taught? You know? Have you asked me about my childhood, that was not an easy time being a girl had eczema, it sounds like something to some people very minut. But I had eczema. And I had very itchy, very dry skin, and it was very visible on my face, my neck, my hands, my feet, you know, children are cruel. So when you don’t teach your child, how to address someone, or how to talk to someone who looks different from them, or sounds different from them, that child then continues on as an adult, and thinks that those actions are okay. I heard you mentioned in previous podcasts that a child came up to you and said, I’m sorry, you can’t see. And I wouldn’t respond the same way you can. I’m sorry, you can’t see. You know, teach your children to respect people, to talk to people with love. Everything people should do should be left with love. When you open your mouth to communicate, or you write on a pen or paper or you’re on social media, remember that the things you’re saying to people affect them, there’s a person behind that screen, you know, there’s a person standing in front of you respect that individual wholeheartedly, and for the entire person that they are. I’ve leaned on that for a very long time.
Michael Hingson 46:19
And should actually, yeah, I and the issue with that that child. He wasn’t he was being a person, I’m sure he will say demonstrating pity where it didn’t belong. But he wasn’t he certainly wasn’t saying it out of hatred. Now his mother almost immediately pulled him away. Which is really the big problem, because having the opportunity to talk to that young man was a good thing. As long as it lasts. Yeah,
Rashidah McCoy 46:52
yeah. And I bet that moment was a teaching moment. You know, I’m sure Chuck said didn’t mean it out of harm. But teach your child take that moment as a teaching moment. And you as someone who’s calm and loving and willing to teach and has taught many people in spoke about your story, that then put that child in a space where they could learn not only to understand difference, but maybe accept it. You know, acceptance is also another thing when you put someone in a space of belonging.
Michael Hingson 47:23
Yeah, and it as you said, it is a teaching moment. And part of the problem for those of us, all of us who are different, which really is everyone, but part of the problem, for those of us who are viewed as being part of a minority is, and it does get to be hard. Sometimes, we have the opportunity to be teachers and deal with those teaching moments. But it’s a tough thing to be patient enough always to do that, too, which is the other side of it.
Rashidah McCoy 47:55
It’s easier said than done. It’s very easy to say, oh, go ahead and teach, you know, bring our wants to the table, and we’ll talk about it. But sometimes those conversations don’t want to be had. It may be traumatic, someone may be reliving something, maybe a PTSD moment. And I think that then leaves space for the grace. It’s a word that I’ve used heavily over the past three years, give people grace. Again, you don’t know someone’s going through, but you don’t know how what you may say, may affect them. And they may not be ready to be an advocate in the front that you are, you know, give people time, help them find a different way to make change. It doesn’t always have to be through your voice. You know, maybe you’re writing a letter to your representative. Or maybe you’re you know, you’re taking time to have small conversations, or you’re seeing something on social media. When you see something that’s a great quote or a testimony from someone or a video. That’s an education, that’s educational. take that time to do that. But don’t expect other people to advocate the same way you do. And give them again, Grace, time and space to be ready to have those tough conversations.
Michael Hingson 49:12
Sure, for you who or what kinds of situations have really made you stronger at dealing with this whole idea of diversity, inclusion and equity and social justice.
Rashidah McCoy 49:27
I think a lot of the moments that have put me in a space is being a first generation college student from Pittsburgh. I grew up in our city I didn’t have anyone to know, got me through school. So when I did leave Pittsburgh at 18 and go to the go to Delaware State University. It was pertinent for me to go to an HBCU to understand that I’m built and bred off the backs of giants. And I wanted to know who I was before I stepped into a world who may not accept who I was, or may not warmly welcome me, which may not will not, you know as so reality. So that for me going to Delaware State helped me learn the importance of loving on myself as a black woman, and also encouraging the youth in the generations behind me. And putting forth that model as a mentor. For individuals who are going through it with me or after me, I think it still puts me in a space of understanding when I’m in marketing, how to see things through a dei lens and be empathetic to people. Because I do understand what it means to be from a state or a place in a family, where not many of us make it out. So I think that was like my first opening to that. And then it continued on is things heightened, of course, in college when I went to Western University, which is a predominantly white school, I walked to the school and I wasn’t accepted automatically by some people. I had different experiences to individuals who were in my cohort. But what that did was that made me want to write about that, that made me want to tell stories about that in a positive fashion and educate people. But then it does sometimes infuriate me when I see the racial and justices that happen in our country, and I have gone to protests after the killing of George Floyd and Trayvon Martin. You know, those moments have made me proud. It made me cry, but it made me work even harder for change, for belonging. And for again, like I said, my daughter cannot hopefully face as much injustice that I had to.
Michael Hingson 51:45
How many siblings? Do you have? Too many? There you go.
Rashidah McCoy 51:50
drive me crazy. Michael. Um, I come from a blended family. My both my fiance and so my mom has my brother in law. And on my dad’s side, I have four sisters.
Michael Hingson 52:00
So any or all of them gone to college as well?
Rashidah McCoy 52:04
Yes, my younger sister who’s right under me has gone to college. Yes, she is the amazing grad from Kent State University. And she’s also in the same sorority Delta Sigma Theta as me so reincorporate it. So we do a lot of work through delta as well. We have both gone to Capitol Hill when we’re active when we were active on campus. And she was doing the same work as me as communications and marketing. And it made me proud. I couldn’t be prouder of her and all of my siblings.
Michael Hingson 52:31
Well, that’s cool. Well, yeah, so you, you now blaze the trail, but others are going to college as well, which is cool.
Rashidah McCoy 52:38
Most definitely. My future husband, his siblings are impeccable to breaking the mold, breaking the cycle. My little brother on his side is also in college, doing amazing work. And just to see them thrive and push through and, you know, call and ask for help about certain things, even a little thing, you know, you don’t think college students will ask my like, Hey, I have a question. But can you edit my paper, you know, to me, that’s a big moment that I feel good about that, that I have come so far, that not only through education, but experience, I can talk to my siblings and and mentees about the moments that I face and how they can overcome them. And here’s some tips and tricks that may help you in this space or just be a listening ear. Sometimes you just gotta be quiet and listen to people.
Michael Hingson 53:26
And so do they call on Big Sister occasionally for advice or guidance?
Rashidah McCoy 53:31
Oh, they do. They do. And some of them have lived with me. So it’s quite interesting to help mold them into these young adults and then see them like go into these spaces or call for like, hey, how long should I eat this tomato it? You know, it’s been a frigerator. Can I still eat it like, though? But also advice or just how to navigate the office space? Or how to go to college? And how do I organize my time? You know, it feels good. I love that feeling. It’s a proud Big Sister moment for me all
Michael Hingson 54:02
that that is great. Well, what kind of advice would you give to other people, young people, but people in general who are facing social injustice or challenges? What What? What would you suggest to them?
Rashidah McCoy 54:18
My suggestion would be to honestly, lead with love. When you face these moments, try your hardest not to give people back the same ignorance or disrespect that they give you. I don’t know. It’s so hard. So hard. But I think if we put ourselves in these moments where we are ready to make a difference. Sometimes leaving it with a little bit of force is good, but sometimes taking a moment to step back and realize who you want to be in this moment and how you can change that moving forward, I think makes a big difference and how we then move on We’re as a country and as a people, as a culture, I think that moment where you have those mums in front of you where you’re confronted with it, breathed first, breathe. And think about the next action and how it can affect not only you, but others around you, and how you can take that moment again, and be a change that you want to see. Again, I know it sounds cliche, but take that moment. And if you have the opportunity to do have moments like this and have conversations with individuals like you, Michael, who had different experiences, do it. Have those conversations, go and make change, go talk to representatives, go to Capitol Hill and protest, be a part of your HOA in your community, just little things like that. People think don’t have an impact, but they do know.
Michael Hingson 55:52
And be patient.
Rashidah McCoy 55:54
Always, always be patient and give grace. Give grace, don’t tell us to give a hug.
Michael Hingson 56:02
Even to somebody you don’t like there’s nothing wrong with doing that. If you don’t start to show the friendship, then they’re never going to get the message.
Rashidah McCoy 56:11
Exactly who will. Yeah, I know, my friends laugh at me sometimes. And like you’re always trying to help somebody, we can’t help everybody. But sometimes you can help one person, if you can help one person, I think it makes a difference. And for me, I have the opportunity to serve through communications and marketing every day, and do the best of the nonprofit sector to help as many people as I can come together to make that change. And for me, that’s important. And it’s very important that the message that we put out into this world, the messages that people see and read and receive are ones that can change, you know, once that can educate, once that can be of you know, sometimes give a laugh, you know, in these tough moments, but also highlight the difference. And also give people a chance to have a voice and a seat at the table. That is literally important to me and everything I do especially my work as a marketing and communications professional.
Michael Hingson 57:13
You mentioned earlier that you you write some things, have you published anything I have
Rashidah McCoy 57:18
I was low, younger, haven’t published anything most recently, but I did have opportunity to publish an article with the Public Relations Society, about the importance of mentoring millennial minority youth. I also have published research from when I got my master’s degree. I’ve also had an opportunity to do some speaking like you might go I’m trying to get on your level. I went back to WVU last year and gave a presentation on you know the balance between racial inequity and trust what that means. I also spoke to some young students and got to help them understand what that means as well. When you’re doing marketing and communications. I’m including, again, seeing through talent, storytelling, good the island. So I continue to do some more published research, hopefully, and also some more speaking engagements because I feel like I have a story to tell. And also I want to help other people tell their story.
Michael Hingson 58:13
Well, if people want to reach out and maybe contact you explore your firm or learn from you, how do they do that?
Rashidah McCoy 58:20
Sure, sure. I am on Twitter at Hey_RashidahPR. I’m on LinkedIn as Rashidah McCoy. I also have my own marketing communications agency called Maven Marketing LLC. You can find us online at Maven Marketing four number you.
Michael Hingson 58:37
Once you spell that Maven Oh, sure.
Rashidah McCoy 58:40
No problem. M A V E N marketing M A R K E T I N G number four, Y O U@gmail.com. And also.com is the website. So yes, we are here to help. We are a woman led and owned organization. And we see of course, like I said to a dei lens, but we are with you every step of the way. As you decide to, you know, build your communications plan, build your editorial calendars, as you plan events. And we also do a lot of pairing and partnering of the clients that I have and move forward with to do work in the community with individuals who are have different disabilities and who are black brown individuals from the LGBTQ plus community. So we’re looking to do more connection and partnership to again make change and enact different voices to be heard.
Michael Hingson 59:32
And by the way, Rashidah is spelled
Rashidah McCoy 59:35
R A S H I D A H last name McCoy M C C O Y Phillips? Yes. Michael Yes.
Michael Hingson 59:47
Um, but you know, it’s the way to get the word out.
Rashidah McCoy 59:50
It is it is definitely get the word out and I appreciate it. I appreciate you helping us spread the word and spread the joy.
Michael Hingson 59:57
Well, I appreciate you being here and spreading the joy and help Need to spread the love. And I hope that you as you’re listening out there will follow what Rashidah says and help spread the joy and the love as well. We’d love to hear from you. And I’m sure Rashidah would as well. So please reach out. I’d love to hear your thoughts, please email me at Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I at accessiBe A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to www dot Michael hingson H i n g s o n.com/podcast. And wherever you’re listening today, please give us a five star rating. We love your reviews. We love your thoughts. We love your comments. And we really appreciate you adding value to this podcast and Rashidah for you and for anyone out there listening. If you have any thoughts of other people we ought to have as podcast guests here on unstoppable mindset, please let us know. Email me reach out. We’d love to explore all your friends and guests. And we will do our best to bring them on and continue these kinds of dialogues. So Rashidah one last time, thank you again for being with us today.
Rashidah McCoy 1:01:05
Thanks for having me.
Michael Hingson 1:01:13
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.