By: Teia Burroughs
Ma’at Zachary is a force, one growing more and more determined, and impactful. As a curator of some of the more insightful and inspirational content that we have seen, Ma’at has the knowledge and the experience that qualify her to initiate dialogue on tough conversations. She is passionate about providing resources to black and brown people, as evidenced by her latest project “Real Talk Drives Real Change,” in conjunction with Urban One, a tour that gave the BIPOC Community opportunities the right of passage to connect, share resources and tools to help each other better grow, and plan for success and execution.
Partnering with Chevrolet, “Real Talk Drives Real Change,” created a positive social and economic impact that was bigger and better than ever! Now in its second year, this dynamic partnership created what Zachary calls a “safe space for difficult conversations.” With tour stops in major cities such as Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Houston, it was clear that the mission was to make an impact in markets that rally around some of the most pressing issues in these supported communities. The very appropriately titled Real Talk Drives Real Change Tour, was one bold and necessary step for what Ma’at Zachary hopes will create a chain reaction.
Ma’at took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with us about the tour and what she feels will begin to inspire lasting change.
Why was the Real Talk Drives Real Change Tour created, and what has the experience been for the people who have attended in person and virtually?
This is a serious time, and a pivotal year for us, and the time of just accepting things that we can change are no longer; so this public forum was designed to be a safe space for people to come together and share experiences and also solutions in a way that should be a judgment-free atmosphere. The tour was created to do just that, to bring together those great minds and advocates and professionals that want to have an intimate conversation, and, for us, the big thing is our care about enhancing the community, self-reflection, and tangible actions that create small, and incremental changes. Ultimately, we just want to inspire the BIPOC Community and inspire conversations that we do not normally get to have.
Why is it important for you and other people in leadership roles to find ways to connect BIPOC communities with these resources?
Personally, I am a huge proponent of ‘Black Assets, Black Owned and Black Resources,’ and I think those are the tools that will level the playing fields of systemic racism, and systemic institutionalized separation, and we need access and opportunities. People in leadership need to find ways to provide resources. That’s one of the greatest opportunities for change, providing resources. It is also important that leaders make safe spaces for people whose voices have been silenced or who have been villainized in some sort of way. Whenever we can speak the truth and give a platform, it is really important because black and brown people have feelings about a lot of things but rarely are they given the high visibility to express them, especially in a way that is compassionate and intentional and in a way that does not stereotype them. We have to be able to talk about these things and this is why we partner with large brands that give us this type of platform. I think this is where we begin to try and drive that narrative.
The Real Talk Drives Real Change Tour covered some REAL issues–Higher Education, Policy Reform, Mental Health, and now Financial Freedom. Why were these topics chosen, and how did this series scratch the surface of a breakthrough?
I think we actually just got the opportunity to scratch the surface and, by design, we chose certain areas where certain conversations connect well. For example, in Washington, D.C., we had a conversation about education because we have our HBCUs and our PWIs that are attended by black and brown students and we opened the conversation about trades as a part of education because not everyone is going to go to college, and not every entrepreneur has to go to a University, because back in the day that was not always readily available, so there was major success and independence. We also did policy and reform in Atlanta and this is a voting year again and we wanted to get a voice out there. Stacey Abrams is just a treasure within herself and partnering ourselves in places and markets where the conversation is valid; was very important. This has been an opportunity in each market for us to partner with a nonprofit organization that is already doing the work and we were able to give $15,000 to each partnering organization in these areas. We are about access, resources, and opportunity.
Ma’at, how do we achieve justice and liberty when there are systemic structural barriers designed to prevent the BIPOC communities from reaching it?
We are to stay encouraged and do the work. As black and brown people, we have to find a space to love each other again and find value in our own community.
With the Real Talk Drives Real Change Tour wrapping up, explore the content on TVOne On Demand under the title “Chevy: Real Talk Drives Real Change” via: change.newsone.com.