MIMI BROWN AND BRAD Talk Race And Motivational Speaking
Fun Motivational Speaker MIMI BROWN
Mimi Brown is an absolute rock star. I met her at the National Speakers Association conference — the professional organization for motivational business speakers like me —when I first saw Mimi Brown on stage. She was amazing. Smart, talented, charming. She’s the real deal. The audience loved her. And so did I.
As my guest on the podcast I really wanted to talk to Mimi about race and racism and her experience as a Black, female, motivational speaker. Graciously, she was on board instantly.
We covered so many things in this conversation, but there were a few highlights. I totally encourage you to listen to the whole thing. It’s fascinating.
We’ve Got To Be Prepared to Speak Out Against Racism
One of the mini stories Mimi told was about when she was on site, getting ready for a soundcheck before her motivational keynote. In spite of the fact that she was dressed up in her signature red dress, a white guest noticed an empty coffee urn and asked her to refill it. There was no reason why he should assume she was the person to ask for more coffee. Lots of bad assumptions.
The way she handled it was priceless: she went to the back and asked for more coffee and then came out and informed this ignorant white man that coffee would be there soon. Then she watched his jaw drop an hour or so later, when she was introduced on stage as the main general session speaker. He would not make eye contact with her. That guy had to feel small; he had to know he stepped in it. I love that she put him in his place and educated him without saying a word other than, “More coffee is on the way.”
As a straight white guy from Colorado… a very white state…stories like this always surprise me. People of color put up with this type of junk all the time. But for some reason, hearing stories like this shock and surprise me. Somehow, even though I have heard other Black and Brown people tell similar stories, I am surprised by the ignorance. I think it is because of my ingrained male, white privilege that makes me forget some of the BS that Black and Brown people put up with every day. I was grateful to Mimi for helping me to better understand what she calls “The Black Experience.”
If we stay silent, we stay complicit.
Another story that stood out also. On a video virtual teams meeting somebody who is senior to her made an offhand “joke” about her working so hard that she was like an indentured servant. And yeah, she was the ONLY black person on the call. The story is interesting and complex. You should really listen to the podcast to hear it all.
My take away was that we white folks need to be ready to speak up. People like me, straight, white guys, need to be prepared to be an ally all of the time. In this case, Mimi was so shocked, she was silent. And thinking about speaking up made her a little concerned, because there was a power differential. The idiot with the indentured servant joke was her boss. It was a mine field for her.
NOBODY on the call spoke up. None of the other white people spoke up on Mimi’s behalf. No one called out the fact that his comment was absolutely uncool. For me, the lesson was that I just need to be ready to speak up and be an ally. I need make that decision now, before it actually happens, so that when someone makes a boneheaded racist comment, even if they don’t mean it as such, I don’t need to think about it. I can just speak up. It’s helpful to think about these things ahead of time, because they will happen. And if we stay silent, we stay complicit. No matter how uncomfortable it makes us, we need to speak up.
We covered so many things about race and racism. We covered some current events, including the Tyre Nichols death and the College Board altering the Black Studies AP Course. She had some really interesting things to say. I encourage you to listen.
Mimi is An Expert at Being a Black Woman
Before we started recording, Mimi and I spoke about where we would take this conversation. She was super clear with me that she was not an expert with all things Black. She was understandably uncomfortable at decoding the Black experience for some white guy on a podcast. I pointed out that I don’t want her to be an expert on everything Black. I just wanted to hear her experience as a Black woman. “You’re an expert at being a Black woman.” She laughed. We laughed. “Yeah, and I’m really good at it!” Mimi said.
Mimi is a delight. She’s a super star. You’re gonna be hearing her name more and more. And it was a treat having her on the podcast.
I was especially grateful for her to be so open and caring and gracious, sharing her experiences and ideas regarding race with this 57 year old white guy. I’m absolutely clear that I don’t understand what it’s like to be Black. But I’m equally clear that the single most important thing we can all do is to have more open, honest, and loving conversations about difficult topics.
Thanks Mimi! It was an honor.
Bio of a Motivational Speaker
Funny Motivational Keynote Speaker Brad Montgomery is an award-winning speaker. He speaks to audiences across the globe (and across the USA), and is based in Denver, Colorado.
Although he speaks to audiences in nearly every industry, he is known as a funny health care speaker, a education speaker for teachers, a real estate speaker, and a sales speaker. He got his start as a magician & comedian, but now is known almost exclusively as keynote speaker.
He speaks both at live, in-person events, as well as online and virtually as a zoom speaker. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish with your audience, if you’re ready to invest in your people, give us a call now.