This week I am joined by Christopher Harmon Jr of Harmland Visions LLC with the hope and expectation that, based on the recent events, we can have the tough conversation about racism. Until now, the title of this series has been the Live Conversation Series. That doesn’t really well represent the intention of this episode so I have titled this one the Live Listening Series. I realize more than ever how important it is that we support those that have a voice that needs to be heard. I am committed helping amplify those voices and their stories through this platform.
Moving to Dallas in 2010 from Monroe, Louisiana, Christopher Harmon started his company, Harmland Visions in the Events industry. Providing clients with Videography, Photography, DJ, Lighting, and Special Effects services, Chris was able to take Harmland to the top of the industry and created one of the strongest entertainment brands in the area. Chris also began a second company within the brand called High School Hype. During Chris’s career, he has represented the Weddings and Events industry well by being a member of all of the local organizations as well as serving on the board of SWP, Txacom and NACE.
Don Mamone (00:00:07):
Chris Harmon (00:00:11):
Don, what’s up what’s up?
Don Mamone (00:00:12):
I’m doing great, man. Thanks for being here today. I told you before we started that I was going to re-title this one, and this has been my Facebook live conversation series, and today’s going to be the live listening series. Um, I’m excited to listen and learn and, um, to get started. Welcome everybody that’s listening live. This is the Facebook live listening series with me and Chris Harmon. I am going to read this very, very late arriving bio that Chris put together, but it’s well worth the wait. Okay. Um, I know Chris as an unbelievable person and a great friend, uh, and I needed to hear a little more about his actual sort of career. Um, and so here it is…Moving to Dallas in 2010 from Monroe, Louisiana, Chris Harmon started his company, Heartland Visions in the event industry, providing clients with videography photography, DJ lighting, and special effects services. Chris was able to take Harmland to the top of the industry and created one of the strongest entertainment brands in the area. Chris also began a second company within that brand called High School Hype, during Chris’ career he has represented the wedding and events industry well, uh, by being a member of every local organization, practically, um, as well as serving on the boards of SWP TexaCom and how I know him best is his service to the DFW NACE board. Uh, I’m so glad we could do this Chris.
Chris Harmon (00:01:44):
Oh yeah, man, we gonna have fun. It’s going to be very informative, a hope when everyone leaves this, uh, this call today that they have more of an understanding of, you know, how people of color, um, specifically black people feel about a lot of things that’s going on during these times. So, uh, hopefully, you know, it’s an educational piece more than anything.
Don Mamone (00:02:13):
So, um, that is the perfect segue. Let me take one care, one housekeeping. First of all, we already have 26 people watching. And so, uh, I’m humbled that so many people would join to listen to us, Chris. And secondly, I’m going to keep an eye just want to make sure, just cause we haven’t done this before. Uh, I’m going to keep an eye on the comments. And so if people have questions or if they want to sort of have thumbs up love heart, uh, the things that Chris is saying, I’m going to keep an eye on that. Uh, so I’m not distracted, Chris. I’m just kind of keeping an eye on that as well. Uh, and I think, I think we should jump right in man. Um, in light of current events around the nation over the past week, what’s the first thing you want to say or share to the audience.
Chris Harmon (00:03:00):
Um, man, I just want to say man, the things that are, the things are happening right now is hard. Um, the, the Covid situation, nobody, I expected to see that that’s something brand new for probably everybody, the racism situation and especially going on with George Floyd is that that stuff happens all the time. And what’s happening is, is just black people are tired. Like it’s, it’s, it’s over. It’s like they tried everything that they could do. So everyone’s seen the end of it. It’s the downhill side where it’s new to some because, uh, when they were first happening, things were either taken as a joke. There was a lot of conflicts. There’s a lot of questioning. Well, you know, maybe that happened, maybe that happened. It’s not any of that. It’s no, you can’t really explain. It’s no questions involved is just, this is what’s happening. And we’re trying to express that in a way. And now with the destruction of downtown Dallas and all the cities amongst the United States, if it said that it has to come to this. Mmm. So it’s a, it’s a lot. And I know some people, I seen a lot of comments on Facebook and some are very disturbing. Uh, and I want to just start off here. I’m going to be brutally honest about a lot of things, because I need my friends and the people that I work with that respect me to just understand. And once you understand, from there, after this conversation, I mean, you know, you can take it however you need. Mmm. I, I don’t agree that the destruction part of it needed to happen in a way, um, because it ended up affecting more black businesses. Like they destroyed other black businesses by doing that. But at the same time, I’m not saying that it didn’t need to happen because that’s what if that’s what it took to get everyone to say what is going on, but let’s, let’s fix this. Then it is what it is like that had to happen. It sucks. But if it didn’t happen, when, when Colin Kaepernick took a knee, a knee, it was too many questions. It was, Oh, why does, why did, why did the, it didn’t work when it was people protesting? We wasn’t destroying nothing. It didn’t work. So it’s kind of like a kid, you know, like, and I don’t condone, you know, whooping your kids. But if you probably my generation and older, we got whoopings. And when your, when your parents tell you to stop, you don’t listen. She yelled at you. You don’t listen. What’s next. She’s going to take that belt out. And then you all of a sudden start listening. So that’s the way this is harsh reality. It just, it is what it is. And that’s what it took to get to where we are today.
Don Mamone (00:05:58):
So, um, first thing that you said that really hits me hard, really hard as, um, is this stuff happens all the time. And I think that the reason it hits me so hard is because even as somebody, I consider myself to be an ally and somebody that tries to pay attention, it’s not in your face unless you’re living that reality. And so this has, this has put people in the uncomfortable position, admittedly, the necessary, uncomfortable position of it being in your face and this wholly irrational, unacceptable intolerable existence requires a wholly unacceptable intolerant response. And that’s sometimes requires, like you said, um, more destruction and more damage. Um, I mean, I just really want to get right at it. Um, let’s talk about racism. Um, when we pre-framed this and I had a chat with you yesterday, again, I, I, I oftentimes felt myself saying, how did you not know? How did you not see? So we kind of talked about racism in your life as an individual. I wrote down as a husband, as a father and as a businessman. So I want you to take that wherever you want to go. And I want to listen as long as you want to talk about what that means to you, racism and all those buckets
Chris Harmon (00:07:36):
Got you. Um, as an individual for racism. I mean, uh, I’m I’m black, I’m black from Louisiana, uh, born that way. I didn’t have a choice. Um, I mean, I’m glad I didn’t have a choice. I mean, I love every bit of who I am, but that’s, that’s what I am. I can’t, there’s, there’s nothing about that. I can change at all. I can’t do anything about it. Um, so the way people perceive me has to be in my character and who I am as a person. And I have to carry that with me every single day. Um, when I, when I wake up, I have to think about the decisions that I make. Um, as a black man that could affect my family, could affect my business just based off of the color of my skin. Um, there’s times where I can disagree with something and I gotta bite my tongue. Cause it’s like, okay, if I say this, I could, you know, I could lose my get upset. And then the police get called, you know, or I could, uh, you know, be judged off of every little thing. Cause it doesn’t, agree with, um, you know, white people or agree with the company that I’m around. So there’s a lot of times when I’m in situation where either I’ll have to leave early or, um, just, just stay out the way and I shouldn’t have to do this. Like I should be able to just walk and talk freely just like everybody else. But that’s the reality of it. I don’t know, like I’m 32. And I don’t think that if this thing ended today, that my mind would shift to where like, Oh, I don’t have to do that anymore because I’m 32. So by that being instilled in me for 32 years, the best thing that I can do is just keep, you know, my daughter away from the reality, as long as I possibly can until, you know, she gets of age to have to understand this is the life that we live in.
Chris Harmon (00:09:19):
Um, you know, just as a husband, I mean, like I have, I have to, uh, and I always decide that in just being a husband and a father, just, just being that family man, when I leave the house every single day, I have to make sure that whatever decisions I make gets me out the house and gets me back in the house without being harmed, without being taken to jail. Um, I remember, uh, I forgot who had just got killed, but it was, I remember the very next day I was driving somewhere and I was speeding. I was speeding and I didn’t think I was speeding that much. And, um, I got pulled over and I got pulled over. The first thing I did was take my phone, put it out on my dash. And I went on Facebook live just because I didn’t know if that was going to be my last time breathing based off of speed. And I didn’t put any comments. I didn’t, I didn’t say, you know, I got pulled over by the police. I just went Facebook live and people were just looking and not really understanding what was happening, but then they seen the police officer pulled me over and they kind of, they were praying for me and just thought about it. But it was because of a speeding ticket. And I got pulled over for one mile, going one mile over, it was the speed limit was 75 and I was going 76 and they pulled me over for that ticket, ended up getting dropped, which you know, that was cool. But other than that, um, in a normal situation, I would have been like, man, are you serious? I was going one mile over like, come on now. But I just knew like, you know, our, I’m sorry, officer. I, I was going over just give me a ticket so I can get out of there. And I shouldn’t have to do that. Like I shouldn’t, I should be able to have a conversation with the police officer. Like, man, I was just going one mile over, give me a break. And I’m like, I don’t want to say any of that. You know, also, um, that that’s, that’s, that’s a reality for me. Um, as a businessman man, that honestly, I probably seen racism grow in my life, but it wasn’t clear to me until I got into the, until I started working and I got into the event industry.
Chris Harmon (00:11:40):
Um, my first job prior to the event industry, I was working at enterprise and my manager, um, he, he was a racist, he was a racist. He would always make sleep racist. And you know, you try to like, not have car, cause you don’t know when people are joking. Sometimes they, they, you know, sometimes people can joke with using the black word or are just using words. Um, the N word, you know, you can joke with it a little too much and you, you can say, um, it’s just a joke. I’m just playing. We’re cool like that. Well, no, it’s not, it’s not, it’s not that. And I, and I have white friends that have said the N-Word and in some situations, and it’s like, you know, you kind of laugh it off, but it’s still our reality. Um, one of the things I was telling you earlier is that a lot of people now are not comfortable having the black conversation, but if you ever heard a song and you was with your white friends and the N-Word was in the song, you are going to say all the words, you’re going to say that because you’re in a comfortable environment, you know, no one’s going to take it out of proportion. It’s just saying the N-Word, well, if you can do that, you can, you can at least have the black conversation in public with your black friends. Um, so as a businessman is when I got into the industry, I just felt like I had to work really, really hard. And a lot of people recognize me for, for the work ethic that I put in to this industry being on all the boards. I mean, how many people, you know, those on three boards at one time is SWP TexaCom and NACE in one year, same time I had to do that, I had to, I didn’t even want to, I had to do that. How many times do you get the same videographer recording the big events for all organizations and have to go home, leave a part of earth. Everybody’s partying a midnight drinking, having a great time, but you got to leave the party early just to get home and edit a one minute clip to put it out the same night, just so people can say, wow, he really works hard.
Don Mamone (00:14:10):
I have to, if you don’t mind, Chris, um, Amber asked me a really good question and it kind of ties in here because I want to, I want to show my ignorance. Yeah. I said, well, don’t say it like,
Chris Harmon (00:14:22):
Don Mamone (00:14:24):
I’m just kidding. Um, so I said, I said earlier that it’s not always, when it’s not always in your face. Right. When I was talking about racism and she asked, what does it mean to say that it’s not always in your face and, and what I meant by that clarifying that meant. I think that if it’s not your reality, if it’s not something you live in, then you can sort of keep blinders on and either convince yourself that it’s, it’s either not a form of racism. It’s not that prevalent or it doesn’t happen that often. Okay. And so that’s all I meant by that. And when we talked about this yesterday and you said those things I used to, I kind of would always call you a hustler. I was like, man, Chris is a hustler, man. He never slows down. He never says no, never once in all the times I was paying you a compliment for how hard you worked and how much you did and how much you gave never once did I think, Oh man, he’s doing that because he has to overcome the color of his skin, never once. And so that’s, that’s just blatant sort of ignorance on my part. And, and having you show me that having you tell me that yesterday is, is both eye opening and heartbreaking at the same time. So I just want to point that out because I just made the business assumption. He’s just working hard. He’s just representing his brand. He’s just showing people what he’s capable of when an actuality, your intention, there was to say, I have to overcome, I have to do more and better than everybody else just because of the color of your skin. And so I just, just want to interject that. So please go on.
Chris Harmon (00:15:58):
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s that that’s a hundred percent of the truth. Um, and I I’ll even tell you a story. One of my DJs man, one of my, uh, one of my best friends, uh, DJs with me and, uh, you know, we was going back and forth on his pricing and like, man, I gotta, you know, you gotta raise your price and, and get you up there. And he was like, nah, man, I’m good where I’m at. I’m like, no, man, you gotta, you’re like one of our best DJs, you gotta come out network, get your face out there, you know, do these meetings. And he was like, Chris, like you don’t get it. Like if I go out there and do all this DJ-ing what they’re going to do, they’re going to dance to my music. And then when they get done dancing, they’re not going to refer me to these high end, these high end weddings, I got to charge 1200 or 1500 at the minimum. And then with, with sucks is that you’ll be in these conversations with other DJs or other videographers, you know like, Hey, you guys need to raise your price and your price needs to be at this point. But then when you prove that you’re at that point, but you don’t have that support from anyone is like, well, I got to settle for the cheaper client I got to in order to put food on the table. And then that was the conversation that we were going back and forth. Cause I’m like, no, man, you can do it. You can do it. And he was really fighting me back on it that, um, now it’s, it’s impossible to do. Um, and, and I, and I still believe that it’s not impossible, but like he’s done a lot of work and, and nobody would look at him. At least the white clients would look at him. But then in return we have white clients that will try to get the black client because everyone wants to diverse their, their portfolio. And like I was telling earlier, like with a South Asian, with like, come on, man, like no, no South Asian couple is going to do a wedding with no South Asian vendors. Sometimes we gotta do our job. Sometimes we have to do our job and doing our job is simply studying our client, who is my client who decided to book me, letting me put you with vendors that I know fit you versus forcing your own into that. I don’t believe. And I, and I wish I could see today, but I highly doubt that I could get a South Asian with, and it just be a hundred percent black vendors. There’s no way we don’t even know all the codes. We don’t even know all the songs or the culture and all the traditions and things that come with that. But part of your job, if you want to diverse your portfolio, you have to diverse the people that you work with and associate with in order to do that. And that’s the piece that I think a lot of people lack on.
Chris Harmon (00:18:57):
Um, I had a, just, just a couple of stories. There was a time where I built a relationship with a planner. And again, when I go into these networking events and stuff, and I don’t necessarily think that I’m going to get business like the next day, I do understand, I, it takes time to kind of, you know, get into that mix. Especially when we do events, most of our events are planned a year out. So it may be a minimum of a year before you get in that next rotation. But I was, I had a really good relationship with a planner. Um, we would go to conferences together. We was always drinking and always having a good time or whatnot. And um, and I’ve made it clear as to what I do for us to be that close. And one day, uh, they had a, a couple and the videographer had bagged out for whatever reason something happened. And I was, you know, I was off of my minding my own business and whatnot. And the couple had, I’m sorry, not the couple the planner had got on Facebook and was like, Hey, I need a videographer tomorrow or whatnot. And I didn’t see the post like I didn’t even see. Um, but everybody was booked that day except me. So another planner called me and was like, Hey, I got a last minute event. Like I need you to book. So boom, I’m booked. Now the next day comes around. And the planner who originally that I had relationship with originally made the Facebook posts and everything text me the day of the wedding. Like, Hey, I noticed a long shot, but are you available for this wedding? I’m like, no, I just got booked last night when I got to the wedding that I had got booked for that night, another vendor friend was like, Hey man, did this planner ever hit you up? I was like, yeah, she hit me up today. He was like, man, they, she text me last night looking for a videographer. And she sent me a list of all the videographers she had reached out to and couldn’t find nobody. And what hurt me in that conversation was that it was like 10 videographers and they were all white videographers, all good videographers, like nothing against them, all good videographers, but I wasn’t after spending all that time and drinking and having, you know, these, this relationship, not one time was I even a thought, you know, on that list or whatnot. And it was like, it was like a, uh, a desperate need at that point. So, um, just little things like that, man, just that I, I identify as racism. Um, there’s other vendors that I know that had conversations with me. Uh, even Keith I’ll put, Keith Betters out there. Man. Keith Betters is a black videographer. Me and him, we play basketball with DJ Riz before COVID every Wednesday morning we were playing basketball and stuff. And me and him had a conversation that he works with a lot of high end planners, the catch is, they only call whenever the client has a low budget, when they have a higher budget for his normal rates, he doesn’t even get a, Hey, are you open on that date? But whenever it’s a, Hey, I got a, I got a client, but they only have a budget of this. Could you do? And he’ll do it. He does it because he’s trying to build a relationship with the planner, get the white weddings, but they won’t respect his price range. So, um, those are just things and, and we can say racism or, or is this things that people need to be aware of, of how we view you necessarily may not view it as racism or you’re not doing anything wrong because it’s something that you don’t have to deal with every day. But, uh, for us, it is it’s super noticeable. And that’s why we create these, these black groups where it’s like, you know, keep the black dollar within the black community. Uh, we’ll only black vendors. We don’t necessarily see like people saying book white vendors only. You don’t see that, but that’s kinda how it just happens in a way. So it’s kind of happening without necessarily being said.
Don Mamone (00:23:23):
So, um, I want to point out a couple of things. So Ben and Chris Q are on, um, and they’re listening and making comments and do you know, Ben and Chris Q photography team. And Ben builds these amazing Ferrari of computers and he’s so talented. Um, and they’re obviously people of color and, um, Ben has pointed out something that is, uh, he, he, he makes it jovial. I’m going to point out. He makes a jovial. I find it heartbreaking, uh, that he, uh, he, he agrees that you have to work twice as hard, but he always finds it funny that people ask him routinely how he’s going to be dressed at the wedding. And then his very talented wife chimes in and says, or they hand us dishes because when they show up, of course, if they’re people of color, they’re not, they’re as talented visual artists that create some amazing and beautiful wedding images. They’re there because they’re part of the part of the service staff. Um, that’s, that’s, again, one of those times when I look at it and I go, man, because I don’t live that existence, no matter how much of an ally I try to be, I was ignorant of it. Um, I just want to point out for everybody that’s watching. It’s not willful ignorance, it’s ignorance. And now that I’ve been educated, I will no longer possess that ignorance. Um, and I want to pivot you a little bit, Chris, if you don’t mind. Cause one of the things you talked about yesterday that, um, you know, I told you I wasn’t getting emotional. I told you, but it’s unlikely. Um, because it’s so near to my heart. Um, we talked about being in an association together and how much work we’ve done together and how much I value and appreciated your contributions when I was working alongside of you and when I was the president of the organization, you never said, no, you always gave hard and you pointed out, I would like you to tell a story about how, when you walk into those meetings, how you oftentimes feel, do you remember telling me that story?
New Speaker (00:25:20):
Yeah, um, when you walk into a networking group, um, so like, alright, put it like this networking is, it’s hard. It’s not easy. And there’s a lot of extroverts and introverts out there. There’s a lot of people that never been in a big group in their lives. And this is white and black. This is not just black. Um, you know, so when you go to a networking event, your, your mindset is man. You know, who can I connect with? You know, who can give me business? I need my business cards. I need to be dressed the right way. Like, you know, you just want to make a good impression. Well, black people gotta do all of that plus be black. So when you walk in and you see no black people in the room, it’s a little bit more, it’s a little harder than, um, then the normal person networking for the first time you see the different clicks, you know, no one really comes up to you and break the ice. The people that the people who are the leaders of the organization, they don’t see color. And that’s, that’s the problem. It’s like, you can’t assume that everyone is gonna feel the same. Um, I know a few planners that even told me, like, man, when I walk in a room and I don’t see any black people in the room, I don’t feel like people are going to connect with me. I’m gonna think like, you know, am I going to get anything out of this because I’m black. Do I belong here? Um, it’s, it’s a very hard for reality. Sometimes it can be over-thought, but sometimes it is a true, real feeling that when you walk in and people aren’t greeting you and treating you as, as such, you instantly clock out and it’s like, okay, I don’t belong here you end up leaving early, you wait until everyone’s brought to the meeting room. Once the announcements start, you slide out the back door just because no, one’s really talking to you and interacting with you. Uh, you know, they’ll, you know, if you give to those circles, they’ll laugh and shake your hand, but then you don’t turn our soul during, continue talking to who they were talking to. Um, so if you, if you’ve ever been scared of a clique or you didn’t want to try to, you couldn’t break into this clique, you thought something was real clique-ish add being black to that too. Cause then it’s like, you really not gonna break in. Even for me, it was so difficult for me to break in, uh, into, into networking as much as I talk. I’m really, I really am not a big networking person. Like sometimes I go to a networking event I’m really like, I just want to talk to the people that are already know, and I kind of stay by myself and then people gravitate towards me. Um, so it helps me talk to other people. And I constantly show up year after year at the year, year meeting, after meeting, after meeting, I constantly show up and at some point it ended up working. Um, but I felt like that’s what I, again, it goes back to, that’s what I had to do in order to support my team and to support myself. But a normal black person just going into that. No, it’s not the same. You definitely feel like the world is against you. Um, and you’re there for no reason. And then you, you ended up leaving and never coming back. And then how we as leaders in the organization, we respond to that by saying, Oh no, you’ve just got to keep on coming. You got to keep coming and you gotta keep coming. And we’re overlooking the site that that person is feeling that they’re not being welcomed because they are black. And then when it’s time to renew, we call and we say, Hey, just checking on. You just want to see if you want to renew. And it’s like, no, we didn’t do anything that whole year to make sure that they felt comfortable in that room.
Chris Harmon (00:29:19):
Um, one of my pet peeves man is that, and I tried to like push it like indirectly because I don’t, I didn’t necessarily at the time, want to make a big conflict about it. But when there’s these big events, these, the Vendi awards, the NACE gala, um, the SWP gala. Like those things I always wonder, like, is there a person of color in that committee? Is there a person of color on that vendor list? Is there a person of color going to be recognized because all of these things matter again. And I want to keep interjecting this. You may not see it as an, as an issue because you’re, you’re following the book. You’re following the rules…think. Like the Vendis. I obviously use the Vendis, for example, the Vendis like the members vote on that. There’s nothing like nobody can do about that. Other than the members vote. Like it is what it is, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t, it doesn’t defeat the reality that people of color are not being recognized at all. Um, I was telling SarahBeth this just, I don’t think she’ll, she’ll, you know, she won’t be upset about this. If they ask SaraBeth, SaraBeth, will you plan the Vendis? SarahBeth will take it like, Oh, sure, no problem. Yeah. I can do that. If you tell Reytheta, will you plan the vendors? That is a huge, huge thing for the black community is huge. Some of these small victories are the world to the black community, because one, we have an opportunity to show our talent and our skills to the fact that it was even a thought, like, it was like, Hey, I like what you do. Like I like your work. I think you were pretty dope. Like, I would love to see you put this big event on, but when it don’t happen, it comes off. Like we’re not good enough. And that’s where the problems and stuff come in at. Um, when Jana’, when Jana’ , DJ uh, Rosé Red for those, you know, a lot of you had an opportunity to see Rosé red DJ on several opportunities. When Adam Wilmore texted me and said, Hey man, you think one of your DJs wanna DJ? Well, he asked for Rosé Red because Rosé Red DJ at NACE Evolve, in our, in our private party. He’s like man. You think Rosa would DJ NACE Gala. And it was no question. It was like, Rosé didn’t even have a chance to even say yes or no. Like I told Rosé, you’re going to do this. And this is how you’re going to do it when we can’t mess up. Like we can’t sound has to be perfect. Cable’s gotta be tightened. Neat. You gotta play. You can’t play the same songs that a normal DJ will play at these events. You have to go above and beyond, get them dancing during cocktail hour, because the end of the night, we’re going to Jordan Kahn, we’re going to hear his band play. So no, you have to dominate the cocktail hour. You have to make people remember that cocktail hour before the party, just because you’re black. And just because you need people to remember your name and that’s something that I don’t think everybody else has to do. If somebody asks another DJ, Hey, all you gotta do is play cocktail music and they can put a playlist, just let it play, walk around and network. Not for us. We have to show out. And that’s, that’s how that situation went.
Don Mamone (00:33:02):
So just want to go on to say that I love her. When she started playing at the Evolve at your after party, she was professional kind, talented. Uh, she played one, uh, song. I’m going to show how old I am. One song that were reminiscent of high school for me. And I was like, man, nineties jam all day long, anytime you want. And she kept playing it over and over again. And she would make eye contact with me when she would play one. And it was just, I literally felt for that period of time. And then again at the gala, when I reconnected with her, I felt like she was playing specifically to me. I felt very, um, very well cared for, right, from a position of the fact that she was just going above and beyond it again in my and un-willful ignorance. I just thought what a great DJ she’s part of Chris’s brand. That all makes sense. And to hear that basically you’re doing that. You’re having to do that. You’re being forced to do that, um, to overcome color of skin that you were born with is heartbreaking. Um, I just, I wanna, I wanna, I want to ratchet it up a little bit. Um, well, first of all, the comments and the, the things that are being said, Chris on Facebook are exceptional. There’s a lot of people agreeing with what you’re saying. There’s a lot of people that are, um, are basically sort of commenting in support and in an agreeance. There’s also a lot of people that are not of color. There’s a lot of white folks on this that are talking about how much they want to hear this, how, um, I wrote down somebody posted, “I didn’t realize how much I didn’t realize” And so, um, for those of you that are on here, that would, um, that are able to sort of, uh, feel what I feel in a sense that we were un-willfully ignorant. And if this wakes them up and helps them see that, then I think that what we’re trying to accomplish here is working. So thank you for your stories. Thank you for anecdotes. Um, I kind of want to ratchet it up a little bit because there’s a word that’s been coming to me while you’ve been talking and that’s, um, uncomfortable, right? Um, everything you’ve described in so many different ways at the bare minimum is uncomfortable. And so I’ve read a lot. I’ve tried to listen a lot. I’ve tried to learn a lot and it’s kind of like it’s time for white folks to pull the blinders away, no longer be willfully or un-willfully, ignorant, and be uncomfortable with you…would you agree with that?
Chris Harmon (00:35:37):
One hundred percent. Um, at the end of the day, man, I, there’s a couple things I want people to take away from this man, black people, or even any person of color. We’re not, we, it’s not a handicap. It’s not a handicap is not a disease. It’s not a sorry for your loss. It’s not a, Hey, I got to treat you a little bit more delicate than others. It’s not any of that. It’s it is an uncomfortable conversation to have. And I want people that’s hearing this to walk away, being comfortable. If we can talk about sports, we can talk about Trump. We can talk about business. We can talk about family being black and being white is it is an exceptional conversation because there are things that we do that you have to understand. Think about it like a, um, an all inclusive resort you’ve ever went to Dominican Republic, or you went to Jamaica or you go to a place like that. But when you go and you take the tours, you get to understand the culture. They don’t have a problem telling you about their culture, the way they live, the huts, they live in the food they eat. They don’t have a problem telling you about those things. So it shouldn’t be uncomfortable to have a conversation with black people about the way we live in America. It’s, it’s the same thing. It’s just that our lifestyle is different from yours and your lifestyle is different from ours. We feel that we live a hard knock life. Here’s examples of how we feel that way. And it’s a debatable. It’s not to say that nobody else live like nobody else had a hard life. That’s not what we’re saying. We’re just saying that we have an extra, extra thing that we have to deal with too. And in a perfect world, we just hope that people would overlook. Like, listen, if we all do our jobs, it should get overlooked. If, if you refer me to one of your clients and your client just didn’t book me because they just didn’t book me then cool. They just didn’t book me. It is what it is. But if it’s a, Oh, well, let me just book the same people of my color. And without even saying it that’s different that I never even had a shot. I never even had a chance at them. Even if my talent is great, my work ethic is great, but you overlook all of that because of my color. That’s the issue. And again, you may not ever say that out loud, but the actions speak louder. People are not going to go out the way and do things like everybody knows that if they asked me for something, I’m going to say yes, as long as it doesn’t interfere with anything else I got going on, anyone needed a video done, or they needed a DJ for a small little birthday party for their kids. And it’s like, okay, well, you know, we can do that from two to four of something early in the day. Anything like last minute networking event leader, DJ for I’m gonna always say yes. So at the end of the day, I just ask that if, if I can build a relationship with you, by always saying, yes, you don’t always have to say yes to me, but we should be comfortable enough to be able to talk about any of these things. Um, one of the things that I’ve noticed is that, um, and I have a lot of good friends that are doing this. They’re like they’re posting black lives matters and they’re posting the vendors who, uh, are black to show of support. I appreciate, I want to make sure I don’t say it as the wrong way. So if I do, I do not mean it in no bad way. I appreciate that you are taking the time to try and do something. Is it the right thing to do? I mean, who knows, but you’re trying to do something. However, I, I owe it when people ask me for that, I say, yeah, that’s cool, but I never give any input. I’m not writing a bio. I’m not telling you what companies to promote, because if you’re doing that, that’s great. But I don’t want to use that as a marketing scheme because this whole thing is not about marketing, whoever I haven’t had the chance to look at the comments, but whoever’s like listening. This is not a, I’m going to stop doing what I’m doing. And I’m just going to book Chris for everything. This is not that at all, because it’s bigger than that. Even if we fix everything in the industry, we still have to live with the fact that people get killed for no reason all the time.
Chris Harmon (00:40:43):
Every time I decided to go out for a run, like I got a membership at the gym, just so I could go into the gym and run on a treadmill, but I actually liked to run. But now I’m, I’m conscious. I’m like, I’m thinking about when I go out for a run. I hope when I got my headphones on somebody, don’t pull up behind me, jump out of the truck and killed me. Every time like I’m running in my neighborhood and I see a truck light just coming the opposite way. And then they have to make a U-turn. I instantly get paranoid. So I’m like, why are you making a U-turn that slow? And all it was was they missed their turn. They just had to turn around and go back to the other spot. But it instantly makes you think like, what are they about to do? What are they about to do? And I hate that I have to live that way. So, um, the biggest thing is, you know, because this is our work, our work field, this is our industry. I’m just hoping that people that into consideration, cause it’s a hundred other things that we have to deal with outside of the wedding industry or the events industry. So, um, hopefully that covered it all.
Don Mamone (00:41:47):
Well, not only did it cover it all, it took us back to a place that we, um, you know, when we, when we started talking about how racism affects your life, we talked about it as an individual husband father, and then we kind of, we kinda got rooted in businessman, because that’s so much of what we do together. It’s so much of who we are and it’s so much of the people that are watching. But man, I got to tell you the fact that we kinda moved back up to a place of how does racism affect you as a man and as a father, as an individual? I don’t think that’s, I don’t think that’s unwarranted. And um, I think the things that you just pointed out are, are the things that are the most uncomfortable and the things that people need to see and hear the most. The idea that you wouldn’t be able to go out for a run, you know, it kind of pulls it back to business a little bit, but one of the other things is you told me that you had to leave events early and you said, you know, I just gotta get outta here. Cause I don’t want to be driving much later at night through this area, you know, I’m going to go home and get safe. Um
Chris Harmon (00:42:51):
Don Mamone (00:42:52):
And that, that is again in my willful ignorance would look at that and be like, Oh man, Christmas, he’s probably hustling. He’s probably got to go home and edit a wedding in an actuality. You’re like, I got to get out of this area town because if the black man seen driving around in this town, this area, this town, I’m just, it’s more inclined for me to get into trouble for doing absolutely nothing. And so
Chris Harmon (00:43:14):
Just think about after a networking event, I’m pretty sure everybody can attest to this on here. Like just a nice, let’s just say with the House of Blues downtown and what we, you know, Uber, or we, we parked down the street or something at one of those parking garages and you’re drunk and you’re, you’re walking to your car and then, uh, you may have a, you know, an argument or a joke or anything, anything in a police, see the police officer or anyone sees a black person walking with a group of white people and you know, and everyone’s loud. Do you think I really want to deal with that? Like I, Oh, well we were, we were all drunk and we were all, uh, coming from the same party and we were all joking and playing around, but I’m the only black person in the group. I don’t wanna, I don’t want to see that. Like, I don’t want to take the chance of being the one person that had a situation. And then, you know, everybody else around me, they look at it like, Oh, the officer just messing with Chris, not thinking like, no, the officer’s like being racist. Like he’s, I’m the one that got picked out of everyone for them to figure out what was going on. Um, so those, those are like a of reasons why, um, we will have a lot of after, after NACE events, events, and like, I’m, I’m there for like an hour max. Like I try to be there for hour max. And then sometimes I got a good group of people that I trust that, um, and I’ll stay a little bit longer. Like everybody knows like me and Lauren Twitchell, we always hanging out afterwards. So I’ll stay with, you know, at least with her. But if I’m like in other groups or whatnot, it’s like, I’m there for an hour max and I got to get out of there just because I don’t want to find out what was next. I don’t, I don’t want to take a chance. I’d rather just go in and go home and be done with it. I had a great night. I got to network. It was all fun and games. And I’m out of there. Now, sometimes it sad, and I do this on Wednesdays. I go to Knockouts on Wednesdays with my black friends, my fraternity brothers. So when I’m done with NACE, I’m going to Knockouts on Wednesdays because I’m with I’m in a black community where I know that I’m not going to get in trouble over the police officer, the black, the owners of black. I don’t have to deal with all that, even though I’m not really the guy that gets off getting in trouble and stuff like that anyway, but I don’t have to think about it. And that’s, that’s the part that I wish I didn’t have to do in the industry neither. I wish I could just be in the industry and just whatever happens is this goes on, but I don’t have to worry about, Oh, I gotta go to jail and all this stuff too. Like I don’t get killed. So this is a big thing for me,.
Don Mamone (00:46:04):
Man. Um, so I’ve got some questions here that I’m going to put it back over to, but, um, we’ve covered a lot in, in the first 45 minutes. Um, we’ve covered everything from, let’s say sort of at the most inconvenient and unfortunate, it’s the hard work you have to do to overcome the color of skin that you were born with from a business perspective, right? All the way to the fact that right now, a very, very bright spotlight has been cast on the fact that in society, people are weaponizing things that should make you feel safer that make you feel the least safe. And to me, that’s heartbreaking. And I think that it’s something that people on this call need to hear. Um, you know, it started with Amy Cooper in New York city in Central Park where she weaponized a phone call to the law enforcement people to say that she was being attacked by a person of color African American man. And the fact that he basically at his core had to think the thing that should keep me the safest has now been weaponized against me. So I just want everybody to on a call or is listening in to think about that span. Um, because for me, whatever part of it, I was able to see and whatever part of it, I was not willfully ignorant of this has been unbelievable. And I hope to do better.
Don Mamone (00:47:31):
I’ve had a lot of questions in the comments section Chris about, um, like what can we do? Um, Michelle asked like sort of tips, what can we do as allies, as white people or, or I imagine even people of color and other African Americans, like what can we, as a society do to be seen to help you be seen? Um, uh, Ashley Thompson asks, what can we do specifically, maybe in the weddings industry. So maybe we attack this from a, from a couple of different angles. Um, let’s start with overall society. Let’s ask let’s answer. Michelle’s question. What can we do to help fight racism, help you be seen, take away this.
Chris Harmon (00:48:18):
Okay…So I’m gonna say a couple, a couple things to that, man. Cause if you asked, you know, if you ask other, uh, people of color, that question, they probably won’t give, give you an answer because it’s more of like his personal life. It’s like a, it’s a, it’s a thing right now where it’s like it’s been going on for so long. So the first thing is really just being aware of that. Just being aware of, of what it is. If I had to make a suggestion, I would say, start with your kids. Start with your family. Start in house. Correct the issues that are in house. If these things aren’t being talked about in house, they are being talked about at school, amongst their friends and how their friends are raised is what they’re going to give to your kid. But in your household, you’re not going to talk about it because you’re thinking by me, not by you being silent and not talking about the racist issues in your home, doesn’t do any good. If the other family talks about racism and they are racist and their kid teaches your kid racist, that’s a problem. Speaking about it, not being afraid to like I have my logo behind me, but I still I’m black first. I’m the black guy before this logo. behind me. So if anyone feels like, Oh, I’m going to lose business because of the way I feel. And the way that the support you gotta, you gotta check yourself like which one is more important, your values or your business. At the end of the day, like this is business DFW is so big. You’re going to still get business. People are going to probably love you more because you stood up and you, uh, you supported what it was, but you can’t, you can’t sit back and be silent. That’s what you can’t do. Um, because it comes off as if you’re, if you’re silent about it, it comes off like either you are racist and you don’t agree with it, or you, you, you don’t know what to say, but are you seeking what to say? And then once you seek what to say, do you go out and say, it and if you don’t, then it’s like, well, I gotta protect my brand. So I don’t say anything at all. So, uh, identifying the situation and doing the best that you can internally to change, but I don’t know what the, I couldn’t give you a step by step tool or whatnot, because at the end of the day, too, I don’t want to make this a handicap thing. Like, I don’t want to say like, Oh, well this is what you should do. I just think that everything should be pretty conscious when you walk into a room, Oh, I’m just saying NACE gala. And you put together a NACE committee. You come in a NACE committee for the NACE Gala. You think about it as, Oh, I’m just putting together a committee. We think about it like, is there anybody of color on that committee? So that’s the mindset that you’ve got. You kinda gotta have. And it just kinda gotta be luent. Like you don’t have to say it out loud. If you’re the person putting together the committee, you can just say, okay, I want that person, that person, but in your mind, they may ask somebody of color and you don’t have to make it a big deal. Just, Hey Chris, can you be on this committee? Hey Lance, can you be on this committee? Hey Amber, can you be on this committee? Like get people involved because then that shows that you’re trying to keep it diverse. And the person of color that you bring in is going to bring you other color ideas. They’re going to say, Hey, look, I think we should have this person as a vendor, or that person should do this. Or maybe our theme should be a Jamaican type theme, or like, let’s take us to an Island type theme. It’s going to bring people of color. They’re going to suggest these things. They’re not going to suggest a night under the stars. They’re not going to suggest a Hollywood theme, Oh, they’re going to come up with some creative out the box type things to keep it very diverse. But in order for you to get that, you got to include that. So, it was just some like small steps that I could say. I’m not even saying that that’s going to fix everything. Cause at the end of the day, it is what it is at this point, at the age that we are, and this is a habit that was taught. This wasn’t a habit that we just, you know, just kind of grew up with. So, um, if the industry wanted to do things differently, just, just think about it like that.
Don Mamone (00:52:57):
So somebody, somebody in the comments and I’m sorry, I don’t have your name to quote you, but you can comment again, please for me. And I won’t give you credit. It was an awesome statement that to not be represented as to not be seen. And so when people look at boards of directors, at committees, at groups of people talking, when they see that they’re, they’re not included in that and they’re not represented, it’s like not being seen. So that was, that was the first thing, Chrys, I love you so much. Chrys corrected me and I think it is the, it is the un-willful ignorance, um, that I’m working through. I said that you had to work so much harder and do so much more to overcome the color of your skin or to sort of fight that racism. And she very wisely pointed out that it’s not that you’re trying to overcome the color of your skin. It’s that you’re trying to overcome other people’s problem with the color of your skin. And if you guys are listening and you know, my heart, you know, I would never say anything that would even in any way, um, represent a position other than of love and inclusivity, but it’s just that simple wording words matter. And so, um, thank you Chrys, for pointing that out. Um, I think the other thing I heard there, Chris is to talk to your children, man. Um, Frankie’s three and a half and unfortunately she doesn’t have any friends right now. She’s stuck in this house with her parents 24/7, but I’m so fortunate that we live in a community that has a lot of diversity. And so she has been around people of color, her whole little existence, including neighbors and friends. So, um, I think that is the best advice. The other thing that we talked about yesterday that I think would be a great thing to say on this call is that, um, I don’t, you, you said it actually, if you don’t mind my paraphrasing you that there’s nothing that we can do to fix this root cause you just have to do something and doing something sort of imperfectly is better than not doing anything at all. Um, and I think you, and I would agree to say that if we can unite as allies and start doing stuff, momentum, doesn’t just start out of nothing. It has to grow and it has to develop. And so if we can all commit to doing something that that momentum will grow, um, let me take a quick look. Um, Kimberly says that yep for all the people who are raising your children, are they exposed to people of other cultures and colors, if not that’s problem, uh, Lance, a hundred percent, he says it has to be intentional. It’s not going to happen by happenstance. You have to want it. You have to commit to it. Um, Hala says she feels hopeful. Um, when she sees, um, how children think and who their friends are. Um, Kaci Brown also, uh, complemented Chrys on her wonderful, uh, correction of language there. Uh, Amber says everyone is going to make mistakes on this journey. It’s important that we don’t allow making mistakes to get in the way of making progress. One hundred percent. Uh, I am not ashamed to admit this Chris when we started talking about this on Monday night, and then you and I talked on Tuesday, I was willing to admit how fearful I was of having the conversation, not because of the conversation, but how, how it was going to be perceived, how was going to be received. And you and I just basically went all in and said, just have to do it, just have to do it. We try to prepare for it. I’m trying to do the best I can to moderate, but at the same time, this is the Facebook live listening series. So, um, I guess my next question, guys, we kind of touched on this already, but yeah,
Chris Harmon (00:56:46):
I want to throw one thing out there, uh, um, that I mentioned to you yesterday, that, and it’s kind of goes back to just an experience. Um, I have some friends that’s in the industry and for a long time, they didn’t put their, their picture on their website or their social media. You go through their social media, you don’t see a picture of them at all. If you go through their website, there’s no like about me or meet the owner page. It’s just the page, you know, all the services and stuff. And the reason why they didn’t do that was because they’re black and they didn’t want the client to judge them off of the color of their skin before they got to know their personality. Um, it’s kinda like what we like to call it…t’s kind of like pricing where the company doesn’t put their pricing on the website because you want the client to reach out to you and you got a chance to sell them. And then, you know, you get right to them like, Hey, this is a big heafty price tag. But you got to chance to show your personality. You got a chance to show the importance of your service and then boom, there’s the price. Same thing. When it comes to black vendors, a lot of them didn’t have their faces on there. So when the client called and inquired, and then they set up their consultation and they met, they probably, they could have already lost the job once they set at that consultation, but they had a chance to talk them into it. And that was a big thing. That was a fear for a lot of black vendors for a long time. And, uh, I’m happy to see like a lot of the black vendors. I know they changed that. Now you go and they page, and it is what it is. They’re, they’re living their truth because we can’t change it. We can’t hide forever. We can’t do this. Like it’s tiring to try and do that. So I didn’t want to, you know, I just, I had a note about it and it was, I was supposed to say it earlier. And I just want to just bring this story up, uh, before I forgot about that.
Don Mamone (00:58:55):
Um, I’ve once again, can, can, um, admit to my willful ignorance again, I never, in a million years would have thought of that. Especially as a visual artist, I would literally be like, Hey man, why don’t you have a headshot? I’ll be happy to take your headshot. You know, you never once thought that that’s something that somebody would have to sell over. Um, and that’s, that’s my fault. That’s my fault to be that willfully ignorant, un-willfully ignorant. Um, and so thank you for opening my eyes to that as well. Um, all right guys. So we’re at about an hour. Um, we have a couple last things, you know, um, we talked about it yesterday, Chris, you know, so much of this conversation is heartbreaking and challenging and sad and eye opening. And I mean, we can describe it a million different ways and I wanted to sort of upswing it and then we’re going to give some resources and then you can kinda share any final words you have, but as we upswing it, um, what else can we talk about from a perspective of making change, making progress things we can do. So we talked about, um, and we, and we can talk about it from a variety of different sections, right? We can talk about it as an individual, as a father, as a businessman. Again, what can we do? What else could we do? We talk to our children, we raise them with this understanding. We make sure that they’re not ignorant of what’s going on and they affect change. Uh, I think it was Lance posted, um, about working twice as hard or working harder to ensure that our, our lists of people that we recommend represent the diversity in the community and in the industry. There’s anything else you can think of that we can share with the audience to make change?
Chris Harmon (01:00:37):
I think we covered…I think we definitely cover a lot of stuff, man. Like I’m really big with starting with the kids, because if it doesn’t happen to me, at least, I know that when my daughter is of age, knowing that if she decides to be in the wedding industry and all our kids are in this industry at the same time, at least this conversation was done. Um, and we could make some type of change within, um, I just think that it should be a, and this goes for me to, this is not something, this is, this is not something that just white people have to work. Black people have to be open to receiving the, the, the, the, the willingness of white people who wants to help. Cause I know sometimes we can get so in our, in our thoughts, like, Oh, they’re only doing that for their business or over there. They’re only doing that because, and I get that too. I do get that too. But some people are not like that. Some people like yourself just wasn’t aware, and this is mind blowing and you have to take this in and grow with it. And we have to also be able to receive the growth as well to help. Um, so it’s, it’s not, it’s not a one way street at all. It’s not, it’s not that at all. It’s just, I think we have been doing it for so long, like trying to fit in that we’re tired. And again, a lot of this comes from the energy that happens outside of the industry. And then we take that and mix that into what’s going on here. And it’s like, okay, I’m done. So it’s definitely a mental thing. I would say, man, just, just be mindful of who we say or our friends. Um, if we’re going to go in and it’s not going to happen all the time, but sometimes we’ll have like gatherings and stuff. Just ask one of your colored friends, Hey man, we’re going to go hang out over here. Like make them feel included. Just little things that you would normally do with your all white friends. Add some of that to that they, they may not show up, but it’s the fact that they were included. I’ll tell you like Renee Steele, every time she goes to the pool, I unfortunately have a lot going on. So I couldn’t go, but she includes me and that text message. Hey, we’re going to hang out at the pool all day. She didn’t have to do that. She has all white friends too, but, but she also has a relationship with me. So she doesn’t look at me like, Oh, well that’s my black friend. I’m not going to invite him over to pool. Like, no, like I’m one of her friends and she’ll send that message. Hey, come out. So just little things like that, that, um, it’s a start, just trying to include people in more of the things you are going to go do anyway, um, when we’re, when we’re in our networking organizations and stuff, just be inclusive. Just it make it diverse. Again, it’s not, it’s not putting up a sign yelling, Hey, we’re looking for a black person to be on this committee. Like, no, don’t do that at all. That’s the, that’s the wrong thing to do. But just being, being thoughtful about it, bringing somebody that, you know, and trust like me, I think me Lance, Kimberly, Amber, you know, we’re all heavily involved in involved with NACE. So if it was NACE related, if any of us was in there, we’re going to help bridge that gap. That’s what we’re going to do. Um, but if none of us were involved, then that’s where it’s impossible to help bridge that gap. So this is my thing. Just be thoughtful of it. If it fits, it fits. If it don’t fit, it don’t fit. Don’t force it, it can’t be forced. It has to be something that is genuine. It has to be something that makes sense. Um, you know, and everybody just wants to be treated the same. We’re not going to see color. Then everyone has to be included the same, but you also have to understand that a person of color struggle, it’s going to be a little bit different and it’s not to be a handicap, but it’s just to be noticed just to be aware of.
Don Mamone (01:04:48):
The language you used is so important. And I think that one of my takeaways, one of the most important takeaways for me is there’s no act that’s too small. I think people feel like, Oh, well, if I just do this little thing, it’s really not gonna make a difference. And they convince themselves out of doing it. I know that I will never allow that to be the case again. I will always do the little things because I think we can all admit that sometimes enough people doing the little things move more mountains than one Herculean effort. So, um, thank you for that language. Uh, let me scroll through comments. Just a lot of comments on here, Chris, a lot of comments thanking you for your honesty, your transparency for taking the time to share your story. I love that. I see a lot, a lot of white folks on here. They’re just saying this has been so unbelievably eye opening
Don Mamone (01:05:41):
Based on the horrific and tragic events of the last, I guess now when I’m 10 days, my only hope from all of this is that it doesn’t, that this doesn’t come to an end that this is truly the sort of incendiary event that, that affects real change. Um, and I hope to be a part of that. I wanted to share a couple of resources and Chris, you can jump into, we’re also going to come back to you for some final thoughts, but
Don Mamone (01:06:09):
I’ve been doing a lot of reading, learning and listening lately. And I just wanted to throw out a couple of my favorites, um, Equal Justice Initiative by Bryan Stevenson, uh, was something he formed. And it’s an unbelievable organization that fights injustice, of course, the Southern Poverty Law Center. Um, both of those entities are on, um, on Twitter. Uh, his book Just Mercy is not only a book, um, that I got when I had an opportunity to meet him. Um, but it’s also right now a movie that’s currently streaming for free all throughout the United States, um, on different streaming services. So, um, he’s one of the people that I’ve looked to his articles, his words have been very helpful to me. Um, so if you’re looking for resources, there’s a few, I’m also going to collect resources and put them in the comments, um, of the video. So if you want to stop back by and also try to publish them elsewhere, because I think, I think your words are right, Chris is that, um, we just have to do something. We just have to do something. So, um, let’s see here.
Don Mamone (01:07:17):
Uh, yeah, lots of Lance. Um, if you want to get the visual of what we’re saying, thumb through the history of the DFW NACE Industry pictures, um, from then to now two different worlds, but that’s because of the intent of Chris, Amber, myself, and the others to ignore stats and show change, not coincidence. And unfortunately, uh, not by broad invitation.
Chris Harmon (01:07:37):
Let me, uh, so with Lance’s uh, was talking about, um, this is, and it was probably one of the last stories, but, uh, with the Vendi award nominee thing, uh, it was, it was big. It was, it was bigger than what you could imagine. And what I wanted to say was, Teshorn mentioned that yesterday. It was so funny because we were not, I’m not big on awards. I’m not that that’s not something that I look for. I’m not that the purpose of it was there weren’t any color people being nominated or winning the awards or even being a vendor. I don’t even know what black people was, was a vendor until like when Twitchell was over and she had me do the video. So it was a effort for me and Lance and Amber, and Teshorn, we were just trying to get people of color involved. So at this last, uh, Vendi, I, when I got nominated, it was important. Like, Hey man, we were going to buy tables, let’s get as many black people as we can get there. Uh, it was just a big thing for that nominee. So when I kept saying like, man, I already won, I won because I just wanted people of color to be involved. And I wanted the people of color to know that it can be done. So, uh, I think we accomplished that. Um, and then also with Lance is referring to, is that when you look at photos, if you just go back and look at events, you will see it in the photos that there no people of color or very few people of color. You may see the same, you know, a couple people, but you would see a room field of whites. And then when, when we’re able to get it to where every other picture is like black, white, Hispanic, Asian, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, it’s kind of all over the place. Then we know we did our job that is forward trying to get to, so we ever need a, I guess a measuring rod is going to live with the photographers. Cause when they take the photos, they’re documenting exactly what they see and the photographer has got to be, you know, mindful that as well. Like if you’re taking photos of an event, don’t just take photos of the people, you know, there’s going to be new faces and colorful faces and, and, and, you know, people all over that. We want to make sure we show we’re moving in the right direction. And in order to move in the right direction, we got to show the people of color being involved in these events. So, um, for all the photographers, that’s done, uh, photos for these networking events. If you’ve got time, just go back and take a glance at your photo gallery and you’ll see the difference. And as time moves on and you see more colors than, you know, we’re moving in the right direction.
Don Mamone (01:10:35):
So, uh, because thank you for that. I think that, um, I think that there’s a real message there about the fact that we can all do better, um, to that end, since you mentioned Renee, and we all love her so dearly and she’s watching and she commented which I have to share and that’s that Rene loves everyone except assholes and that she just wants everyone to feel included no matter their color. And she promises to be even better about it. Um, so I think that’s one of my strongest takeaways, Chris is that we can all do better. We can all do something and we all sort of have to/need to, um, any other final thoughts you want to share before we wrap up.
Chris Harmon (01:11:19):
I appreciate you Don for even, you know, uh, using your platform cause you didn’t have to, um, it was something that you felt in your heart and, and I’m glad you were comfortable enough to reach out to me and lean on me in order to make this conversation happen. Because I hope that when we end this call, everyone understands the, the point of view and they’re being and they’re aware of what they could do better or just the things they could think about differently. Um, like I told you before this call, like I’m not a big interview person. I’m not a big podcast guy. Like I listened to podcasts, but me being on a podcast, like I think I got to get to another level of life so I can tell this brilliant story before I get on one. So to do this, this was kind of big for me to like, and I got to drop all these jewels right now. I wasn’t ready for this, but I feel like it was needed, uh, to happen. And I hope that it’s something that we don’t have to continue to beat up on the next time this conversation comes up. I hope that it’s more of an, a positive manner and we see change. And we see difference because I believe this is healthy for not only our personal lives and how we are as people, but it’s also important for our businesses, for the people that want to have diverse portfolios. This is how you do it, for people who want to build relationships with other vendors and have different vendors that fit their clients differently. This is how you do it. Uh, when you, when you just kind of stay in that bubble, that’s all you get is that bubble. And then, you know, you get assumed that that’s how you are. So, uh, that’s is my final takeaways. Now, again, I represent a black man and a person of color before my company, and I hope that everyone could just respect, uh, our views and our thoughts on the things that we go through. Um, I know everyone has different opinions on comments and stuff like that, but it’s something that you can, you can have it, you can always have an opinion, just just know that, uh, you, you, you don’t live this way. So some of the things you may say, you gotta be cautious of that because you can say the wrong thing. It’s OK to, to express your thoughts. But if you act like you live that way and then express your thoughts, that’s the problem. That’s the issue you don’t want to do? Um, so yeah, I just hope that everyone, you know, respects that. And, uh, again, I am friends and, uh, I have a lot of relationships with a lot of white vendors, um, a lot of great friends and, uh, I just hope that we can all move forward and not take this as a step back.
Don Mamone (01:14:14):
So, uh, those were supposed to be the last words, but, um, uh, the audience won’t let that happen. This isn’t me. This is the audience, Chris. Okay. Um, two, three, four, five, six. People have said, Chris, you’re there. Your voice is needed and wanted. You’re ready. Your voice is calming, encouraging and educating Chris. You’re awesome. Thank you for sharing this here today, Chris, thank you for sharing your heart. So, um, I gotta tell you, man, one of the, one of the things that I love the most about you is your humility. Um, it makes you a lot of who you are and why you’ve been so successful. And, um, let me give you the last word. I’ve refused to have the last word. I just want to tell you how much I love and respect you, and I appreciate you doing this. So give us the last words.
Chris Harmon (01:15:04):
Um, okay. Um, given some last words, I’m kind of running out of run out of gas, man, but you know, I love everybody. Thank you all for the comments. Thank you all for tuning in. That means a lot to me. I haven’t had a chance to look at the comments cause I’m trying to talk when I’m trying to get my notes and then I got my comments going here, but I let that go. So, uh, when this is over, I will jump into comments and respond to everyone, but I haven’t seen any of them yet. Uh, but thank you for the ones as watching and still watching. Um, thank you. I’m spending this hour and almost 15 minutes with us. And cause that tells us that this is important to you. Uh, for you, you could be doing anything else. You could be working even though COVID going on and nobody’s working, but you said you working and, you know, your network, your way of not wanting to listen to this, you could’ve, you could’ve did that, but you did. You decided that you wanted to see what was going on and see how you can be better. So, um, now I appreciate that. And I definitely, when this is over without jumping in the comments and responses and stuff.
Don Mamone (01:16:10):
Thank you, Chris. I love you brother.
Chris Harmon (01:16:11):
Alright. Love you too. Thank you.