I am honored to introduce Mr. J. Kevin Powell to you today. He's one of those rare people who actually lives what he believes. Kevin is a graduate of Howard University who owns his own marketing and media company called Open Windows Culture. Even though he sounds like a real life superhero who spends his days saving Americans from all types of segregation, he is also a husband, father, musician, and lover of martial arts who resides in Atlanta, GA.

Show Notes

Kevin actively works at helping others identify where they have prejudices and how they can work to grow and include the "other." It's beautiful, necessary, hard work. Kevin has all the best words. I'm envious of his ability to string such genius sentences together. He definitely has the gift of communication. The thing I love so much about Kevin is genuineness. Everything he does comes out of a desire for a deeper connection between differing cultures. For example, in both his book and his podcast he opens with ground rules for conversation which he's learned throughout his years as a facilitator. These are genius and can aptly be applied to our everyday lives. Here they are: 
1. no personal disclaimers (I don't mean to offend you, I don't mean to say it)
2. no industry speak (a short cut)
3. listen with the intent to understand (listen more than respond)
4. be comfortable being wrong (being human means we make mistakes and how we grow)
5. don't intentionally harm others (not here to insult)
6. just "I" statements (leaves the space for perspectives other than your own and opportunity for growth)
7. understand your facts could be wrong (we put our personal bias on them) 
8. make purposeful mistakes (practice is controlled failure - your failure is for your growth)
9.end it with an action (we have to do something with this new information -  "You can be part of the answer." he always says).

In his book, Kevin refers to himself as a "realistic idealist." I think that's a perfect description of him. I also resonate with that. I just appreciate his desire to always be growing and evolving in his understanding. I also respect how he is proactive in his realistic idealism about unified understanding and action leading to growth.

This whole culture vs race thing is a huge revelation to me. I want to just sit and ponder this for a long time. Race is superficial, a surface understanding. Culture requires you to dive in for a deeper understanding that might reference things such as customs, art, or institutions of a certain grouping of people. Understanding culture can get messy, take a long time, and requires lots of self reflection. Focusing on race is the quick and easy way out. I'm so glad Kevin discussed these distinctions and encouraged us to focus more on opening our minds to learning about culture. And remember, it's a process and we won't get good at it overnight and we'll still mess up. But if we are intentional and aware, we'll grow from our mistakes as well. 

Robert Sapolsky, a professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University says, "An open mind is a prerequisite to an open heart." Kevin takes this to heart the way he lives his life with purpose, helps facilitate diversity growth, and stays open to new experiences and perspectives inspires me to do the same. May we all choose to open the windows of our mind, as Kevin has.

Kevin's Podcast

Kevin's Website

Kevin's Instagram

What is Gramercy?

Stories from those who live and work on the margins of society.