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

Hi Britney, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?

“What drives me to keep pushing for inclusive education is the fact that I know that most educators in the U.S. have mental models that Martin Broadwell would call the level of “unconscious expert”. In particular, I mean that it is a common and extreme difficulty for many educators to break down their mental model in a way that relates to students who are just learning the material.  Instructors can’t even remember what it was like when they were first learning in order to relate to and incorporate that experience in their teaching practices. I find that the biggest challenge in Mathematics, in STEM really, is confidence and a support system . It’s  easy as an underrepresented minority student to think that you’re not cut out to succeed in Math when you don’t have a proper support system and a strong belief in yourself. It is easy because we are often already dealing with many other unfathomable societal repercussions directly relative to our ethnicities.
I have the passion to understand that the quality of our education acts as a liaison between students and their goals in college and even their goals as they transition out of college upon graduation. I have the personal experience of not having a support system to believe in my journey to pursue a Pure Mathematics major. I have the personal experience of being told, by college advisors nonetheless, “why don’t you just do something easy like Sociology so that you can get in and get out?”. I have the experience of supporting a single mother after my father was deported to Belize–struggling to get readmitted to UCLA and back on track. I have the personal experience of being a Black woman—and being portrayed as the angry Black woman whenever I try to stand up for myself. I have the experience of standing up for and fighting for equality for my younger LGBTQIA sister.
An Afro-Latina woman like myself isn’t usually the instinctive image that comes to mind when society thinks of a student who chooses a Mathematics major. So, why would I reason that I even possess the ability to accomplish that? Therein lies the problem–our desires and our belief in ourselves end up clashing. As a result, we sometimes produce subpar grades/evaluations–classic stereotype threat.
I have to keep pushing because I want to be able to solve student concerns. I want to be able to make grand scale changes in the Black community in terms of education and collaboration. I want to foster student + instructor collaboration by persisting in inclusivity and mindfulness on a smorgasbord of interpersonal and cognitive issues that directly impact students and their families.
So, knowing all that I know, I can’t give up.”

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?

1) ‘For The Culture’ is the name of my networking event and marketplace. The ‘For The Culture’ space is designed to highlight local entrepreneurs/creatives and small businesses owned by local Black entrepreneurs.

We often blur the line between “commitment” and “self-endangerment” and because of that, too many people are burning out before they have the chance to truly shine.

I’ve realized that sometimes–you need to be around like-minded individuals who can truly resonate with your struggle in order to bloom into the being that you know that you can be.

I think what sets me apart is that this space is truly about engaging and creating connections. I don’t just want people to show up and shop when they come (though supporting Black businesses is a plus). I want them to BUILD lasting connections that mean business partners, or more opportunities, or a changed mental model. It isn’t easy to get people out and supporting one another. It isn’t easy to get people to talk to strangers and engage. It isn’t easy to get people to support small businesses instead of large conglomerates.

I also implemented the role of Engagement Facilitators. These lovely Queens will literally facilitate engagements between strangers. We find out who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for. Then, we connect you with other local Black creatives that fit that need. And, you leave fulfilled, every time.

We also typically have a business card table –anyone can drop a stack!

We promote each other.

We celebrate each other.

We have a positive affirmation board. You never know what your positive affirmation can do for someone who is experiencing a hard time. I know that the affirmation board from the last event filled me with so much joy –I was honestly surprised.

The icing is that all guests (of legal drinking age) get free mimosas. We gotta make you feel good before we can make you feel great, ha!

So–I think that, in total, people know me as a giver. Whether I’m tutoring or trying to find a way to promote and help Black businesses, a ‘giver’ is what I will always be. No doubt.

2) I am also an educator. I have been a math tutor for 14 years.
I have worked for the following organizations:

-Community Based Learning Program: a UCLA sponsored after school program located at Hamilton High School,

-Communities In Schools’–Los Angeles West: a drop out prevention program located at a few LA County public schools (sponsored by Creative Artists Agency)

-Insight Treatment Center for Teens: an outpatient treatment center for teens with problems with drug abuse/self harm/behavioral issues in Sherman Oaks,

-GEPS (Global Education Placement Services): a program that works to place students, who moved from the Middle East, in college/GED courses. They help them make a seamless transition into education in the United States.

–UCLA Learning Assistant program: an evidence-based, multidisciplinary instructional strategy focused on facilitating collaborative and inclusive learning sponsored by the Center for Education, Innovation and Learning in the Sciences.

and lastly,

-Tutoring Connection: a privately owned tutoring company

Now I mostly tutor privately, but I definitely always make sure to carve out some time for myself support education initiatives whenever I can.”

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

Currently there isn’t much to do with COVID,

If we weren’t in COVID lockdown, we could go to the Observatory, museums (Science Center, Natural History Museum, pop up museums, HAMMER Museum). Six Flags, shopping on the promenade in Santa Monica or at The Grove. If they’re really my best friend, then we would probably stop at the Slauson (not the Fox because there’s always too many people you know there)

find a DJ RTistic party, or a Thank You LA Party (assuming Kenway still does them), or a COLORS party (if Jabari has any in Cali at the time)

I LOOOOOOOVEE brunch and bottomless mimosas so we can stop at Grub, Eat This Cafe, Court Cafe, Blu Jam, Tart, Dupar’s, Fratelli Cafe, Republique, and the list goes on (though disclaimer not all of these places have mimosas). I feel like I know nearly all the brunch spots in LA. THAT’S how often I go to brunch.

If you want some fantastic Kool Aid –I would stop at the donut shop by Manual Arts HS (little known gem) or at Taco Mell on Crenshaw.

For lunch, maybe Bleu Truck, All Flavor No Grease or Trap Kitchen.

Doctor Dapper usually has Jazz/R&B nights which are usually pretty fun too,

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

I think that the people who deserve credit and recognition are:

Carolyn Brown: She watched over me throughout middle school and highschool. She acted as my mentor even though she taught English/AVID. She, Ms. Georgina Ezeh (the reason I love math) and Ms. Sylvestre of James A. Foshay Learning Center chipped in to help me pay for my prom! Ms. Brown was always there–if I needed to vent or if I just needed some advice. That trio of strong Black women served as INCREDIBLE role models.

Stephen and Zee Spezzano (my first tutoring clients) helped me realize my passion for teaching. I tutored their daughters Sadie & Zoe Spezzano throughout their high school math classes.

Shanna Shaked — the first person at UCLA to believe in me. She lit the fire again when I thought I was no longer passionate. I look up to her. I admire her. She gave me the opportunity to participate in the ‘UCLA Center for Education, Innovation, and Learning in the Sciences’ — Learning Assistant Program. The LA Program is an evidence-based, multidisciplinary instructional strategy focused on facilitating collaborative and inclusive learning. She also encouraged me to join the ‘Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion’ committee for the Physical Sciences Department at UCLA.

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/britney-robinson-b341aa101

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