We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaron Samuels and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Aaron, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think risk looks different for people depending on how much privilege they have access to. Silicon Valley history has often heralded the founders who quit their job or dropped out of college to start companies without fully acknowledging the privileges of wealth, race, or gender that allowed them to make that decision. When considering my own decisions, it was important that I remind myself that what risk looks like for some, is very different than for what risk looks like for others. And that I shouldn’t let anyone outside of myself determine whether or not my choice was brave.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What sets us apart at Blavity Inc. is our vision for a world in which all Black people are happy. We operate from the belief that Black happiness will mean a better world for everyone. There are obviously many components to creating Black happiness, so we decided to start with storytelling. Getting funding for storytelling early on was a challenge, so Blavity ran for two years without any outside investment. But, we continued to tell and build space for our stories, stayed true to our vision and knew that our place and purpose in the market would be undeniable. It is important that people know that because of our tenacity and unwavering goal of controlling our own narratives, we’ve helped change how people see themselves. We exist to tell the truth about our people’s living history–that Black people are and have always been at the leading edge of technology, innovation, and culture. Knowing the truth of our historical contributions paves the way for future contributions.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In the time that I‘ve lived in Los Angeles, I spent the first two years on the west side, in Marina Del Rey, and the other half living in DTLA. Between the west side and DTLA, my favorite places are: crepes from KC’s Crepe Cafe, tacos from La Fiesta Brava, sunset bonfires at Dockweiler Beach, the Jamaican patties at Simply Wholesome, pastries at Hilltop Coffee, drinks at The Wolves or the rooftop of the NoMad Hotel. But for late night food, I have never been disappointed with BCD Tofu House. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to shoutout Whitney Parnell, founder of Service Never Sleeps. She was one of my first mentors and taught me what it meant to be a selfless leader. Growing up as a Foreign Service child, Whitney lived between Latin America and West Africa in her earlier years. During her college years at Washington University in St. Louis, she embraced her calling as an activist and went on to move to Washington, DC to serve with City Year and work in homeless services. Now her organization, Service Never Sleeps, works to combat social injustice and promotes volunteerism through a year-long service fellowship for working professionals. The fellowship fosters issue-oriented and dynamic leaders of tomorrow by providing leadership training and mentoring as the fellows engage in meaningful projects at the community level in various issue areas. I am a better leader and person for knowing Whitney and I recommend that you all look into the great work she and her organization are doing.

Website: www.blavity.com
Instagram: @poetryaaron
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-levy-samuels/
Twitter: @poetryaaron
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aaronlevysamuels

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