“I knew I was doing good work when a Black student came up to me and said that I made learning look cool.” – Marquise Richards
Bridging the gap between academia and the hood is how Marquise Richards, creator of This American Negro podcast, makes an impact. With a goal in mind of owning his own multimedia and content creation channel, he continues to generate stimulating and educational conversations that have a major impact on the community. In this interview, Richards discusses his goals for the podcast, how he deals with set backs, his hair rebellion, and personal style.
Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in a small city called Reading, PA. It was an low-income Black and brown community, but it is filled with some of the nicest people on the planet. It is my home and I take great pride in the place that I come from. There’s something different about the energy, but I know that I want to keep making a positive impact there.
What was your purpose behind creating This American Negro?
This American Negro was created as a way to bridge academia and the hood. I knew that I loved the research aspect of my college education, but I knew that I was getting access to conversations that I knew needed to be had in my hometown. I am a firm believer that once you can educate a community, then there is opportunity to change that into action planning, culture shifting, and implement a sustainable life. I want Black people to have more access to the studies that are being done in academia, but we don’t always make it to the streets and solely exists in the echo chamber that is the academic space.
Brainstorming, producing, generating feedback– What’s your favorite part of being a podcaster? Who is your dream guest for This American Negro?
My favorite part of being a podcaster is generating a conversation around each episode. I love to create a space where I’m learning and my listeners are learning as well, but also being challenged. I think that podcasts are a wonderful educational tool to hear about the world in so many different aspects. People use me as an educational tool and that’s dope.
My dream guest for This American Negro is Marc Lamont Hill. He is absolutely goals. He bridges this idea of the hood, Blackness and academia into one great blend. I think he was one of the great minds of our generation. He is also in a space where I want to find the perfect balance in doing media commentary and still engaging in the academic space. If I ever got him on the podcast, I would probably geek out. I saw him at Uncle Bobbie’s recently and I was still shook that he was just a regular human.
As a lot of creators experience, with success comes failures. What setbacks have you had to deal with and how did you prevail?
As a creator and more specifically a podcaster, I keep finding myself having to overcome impostor syndrome. I am constantly thinking that my work may not be good enough or my opinion isn’t valid all the time. I know that there is support, but I am hyper-critical and that is where I need to keep reminding myself that I am making an impact. I knew that I was doing good work when a Black student came up to me and said that I made learning look cool.
You’ve stated that you grew your hair out as your own personal form of rebellion. Tell me more about that.
It was definitely a rebellion. I was tired of being told from family and professional settings that my hair was not professional, or I can’t go outside looking a hot mess. I was actually inspired by the natural hair movement to find beauty in my hair, but also let it serve as a big eff you to people in power. My quality should not be judged by my hairstyle. That is anti-Black. As long as our hair is being policed, especially Black women, then I am going to keep showing up as myself and being an accomplice for Black women as well until that narrative around Black hair changes.
Let’s talk about your goals. Where would you like to like to see yourself end up? What does an ideal future look like for This American Negro?
I would love to see myself on my Issa Rae wave. I want to be able to own a multi-media and content creation channel on YouTube and be able to provide a space for more storytellers or commentators to help push the narrative and challenge the establishment. An ideal future for This American Negro would be going straight to video and a larger production. I don’t think that we get to see Black researchers at the forefront of conversations, so I would love to shift who we see relay the information to our communities on a network.
I always like to talk style. So, how would you describe your sense of style based on popular trends happening now?
Winston Duke and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II are my style guides, because they are celebrities closer to my build. I love their choices in outfits and the bold patterns that they pick to go with their skin. Trend wise, I love Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss. He mixes fashion and social justice, so it is making me more conscious about wearing historical shirts and politically charged clothing as well.
Finish the sentence: I love my people because…
…because we’re consistently pushing the boundaries and changing the culture in everything that we do from social movements to style.
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