I remember first meeting Lisa at a party five years ago, and we’ve all come a long way since! Her submission for Tales from the 2.9 mirrors much of mine, but she touches on a lesson I think every Black Canadian child has heard at some point about life in a country filled with others who don’t look like we do:
“You need to work twice as hard to get half as far!”
Read more of her views below!
Lisa Simone Richards, principal at Vitality PR & Communications, has spent more than ten years working with brands of all sizes to grow their businesses through effective public relations and marketing strategies. Her clients have secured coverage in some of North America’s largest media outlets including Breakfast Television, the National Post, Chatelaine, and FitnessRX for Women. As a sought-out speaker, panelist and writer, Lisa Simone has been featured in the Globe & Mail, FASHION, SheKnows and more.
1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?
When I think of Black History Month, the novel and also the miniseries The Book of Negroes is what comes to mind, exploring slavery and how that whole time not only related to the US but to Black individuals who made their way to Canada.
2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?
As a Black person in Canada, I’m fortunate to live in the melting pot that is Toronto where a number of different background and cultures all come together. I haven’t personally experienced what I would consider to be a ‘unique’ experience as a Black Canadian, just a Canadian experience. I have always found myself to be treated equally among my peers of different ethnicities. However, I am still conscious that a divide exists and always practice what my parents taught me – that as a result of my skin colour, I need to excel and push further than most non-Blacks do, if only to have a shot at being considered ‘equal’, not even exceptional or above average. We do have to work harder than most to achieve basic equality.
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
I hope to leave the impression that every individual, no matter how small he or she may feel, has an important contribution to make and footprint to leave behind. It’s specifically why I work with small businesses and entrepreneurs.
4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?
I haven’t had a specific mentor from a cultural standpoint, but again will reiterate what I learned from my parents: to work harder than the ‘average’ person to be able to compete with my non-Black peers.
5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
Believe in your own capability, define a clear vision, and be willing to work harder than anyone else to make that vision a reality.
Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!