Webinar: Black. Queer. And Successful: A Discussion on Pride, Race & Business Opportunity
As our celebration of Pride Month comes to a close, each and every one of us has a duty to uplift intersectionality and diversity within our community - not just in June, but every single day of the year. We owe the ability to celebrate Pride to Black trans women, as well as the rest of those who paved the way for us to be here today. As the voice of the LGBT business community, NGLCC recognizes the importance of uplifting Black LGBT voices and stories to better understand how to combat systemic racism within and outside of the LGBT community.
On Wednesday, June 24, NGLCC moderators Alicia Greene, Manager of Supplier Diversity, and Sean Franklin, Manager of Stakeholder Engagement, were joined by two Certified LGBTBE® suppliers owned by Black LGBT individuals. These were Braxton Fleming, Founder & CEO of Stealth Bros & Co., and Endia Dickerson & Nastashia Matos, Owners & General Counsel of Women Builders Group. Here are some of NGLCC’s main takeaways from the meaningful dialogue that took place.
1. We have a LONG way to go to combat micro and macro-aggressions directed at Black LGBT individuals.
“A lot of times, people look at us, especially when we were starting off as a new business and then being Black women, as if we weren’t knowledgeable,” said Nastashia Matos when asked about experiencing racism in the workplace. Matos and Dickerson emphasized that men in their field fell under the impression that they didn’t know how to use certain machines or techniques through their business. Beyond that, others in their field, even gay men, would make assumptions about their relationship. The intersections of Blackness, queerness, and womanhood has significantly increased obstacles and microaggressions for Black LGBT women business owners like Matos and Dickerson. This says quite a bit about the amount of work that privileged individuals within and outside of the LGBT community must do to educate themselves and take tangible steps to reduce systemic racism in and out of the workplace.
2. Now is the time to connect with others in your community for support.
“I accept that eyes are on me, but turn it into a positive,” Braxton Fleming, a trans Black man, explained when asked about his experiences in majority white and cisgender business settings. For Fleming, whose identity is directly connected to his dopp kit supply business, attention can be beneficial. Maintaining connections with others through online communities, as well as through the NGLCC, has fortified his business. For young trans Black men who are looking to follow in Fleming’s entrepreneurial path, he recommends finding a need that is beneficial to their community, whatever it may be, and fulfilling it.
3. It is an ally’s duty to educate themselves.
“With extra time to be online, now is the time to pay attention to what’s going on and put an end to it,” said moderator Alicia Greene on the subject of systemic racism and police brutality. All participants in the conversation stressed that as a nation, we can only discuss and compare the statistics for so long until we MUST take action. It is not the duty of the Black community to educate those around them on their oppression - non-Black allies must speak up and take the time to seek out resources, whether they are books, articles, or documentaries, to educate themselves on racism and police brutality. Through this process, allies can also support Black businesses, especially Black LGBT enterprises, and work to combat micro and macro-aggressions internally and externally.
Braxton T. Fleming (he/him) is a Licensed Practical Nurse and the CEO and Founder of Stealth Bros. and Co., a luxury Dopp Kit supply company that provides travel and at home personal storage for hormone replacement therapy and other medical necessities. Braxton launched the company in 2017 from his bedroom to raise money for his own top surgery and to create a way to become an an active member of the transgender community. Today, Stealth Bros. and Co. continues to grow and serve the transgender and allied communities, as well as IVF and diabetic communities, among others. Through Braxton’s leadership, Stealth Bros developed a surgery fund for members of the LGBTQ community in need of financial support and his company is a proud Certified LGBT Business Enterprise of the NGLCC. By sharing his own life experiences, Braxton hopes to uplift other trans people in their journeys and to fill a gap in representation of trans people of color.
Women Builders Group, LLC (WBG) is a full-service janitorial and construction cleaning company dedicated to meeting the needs of our customers. In 2013, WBG was established by Endia Dickerson, CEO, after working in construction for over 10 years. Endia’s vast knowledge of the construction cleaning industry has allowed her to use this expertise to meet clients’ various project goals. Nastashia Matos was named Operations Director in 2014. Nastashia’s legal experience has allowed her to become a leader in operations effectiveness, process improvements and best practice implementation.
As a small business, WBG believes the growth and success of our company comes from building lasting relationships with clients and employees. Our biggest contribution to our clients is providing them with consistent and quality services with measurable results. At WBG, our effective methods leave our customers with the highest quality of services.