We had the good fortune of connecting with Krys Wright and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Krys, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Our initiative was born in the worldwide uprising centered around racial injustices and systemic inequalities that largely defined the summer of 2020. It’s remarkable that we’re not all collectively tackling the structures in society that marginalize the Black and brown population segments, and are stuck in a stage of trying to convince a considerable number of people that systemic racism actually exists. Accordingly, we’ve poured our time, energy, and sweat into evaluating the deficiencies in the education pillar of our society’s systems, and have focused on reshaping the curriculum that yields the current understanding of the American identity; one that too-often views the Black, Latinx, and Native segments as “ethnic” or ancillary to a core white populous, rather than a collective ensemble that has been instrumental to the development of the country since its inception.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
We, like so many others, would love to see future generations exist in a society where the notion of Black lives mattering doesn’t need to be expressed in protest (wherein the value of human life is simply understood), and view education as the most viable means of achieving that goal. That baseline led us to extensive research, where we ultimately discovered that the human mind is prone to developing racial bias anywhere from six months to two years young. Accordingly, we’d love to see measures taken in our state’s education curriculum to diversify the voices that are shaping young minds in such critical stages of their worldview development, through both reading selections and faculty. Achieving that criteria can offer reinforcement of self-identity for young students of color, while also normalizing the people of color in communities that don’t have as much exposure to diversity. However, we are not experts in education, and the same can be said for politics. We view ourselves as an agency of change, who can effectively bridge those two worlds together to institute a system of education that starkly contrasts the current eurocentric curriculum. We’re in the process of building relationships with political organizations and legal experts to aid in drafting legislation, while simultaneously connecting with like-minded folks in education to garner support. We’re also confident that there are scholars who have already curated a more inclusive K-8 curriculum, featuring more Black, Latinx, and Native voices, that supporting school districts may be able to glean from on our path to legislation.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’re all about some good food! My husband and I represent three cultures between the two of us, and if we’re craving something authentic to any of those cultures, we’ll do Chunju Han il-Kwan (Korean), Dulan’s (soul food), and Flame in Westwood (Persian). We’re also completely unoriginal and love Sugar Fish. Lastly, you can’t come to LA without getting some bomb Mexican food – Cactus Taqueria has been our go-to since forever. We’re more prone to house gatherings, and bar nights are fewer and further between these days, but we may venture to the Blind Barber or some other low-key speakeasy. Of course, this is all fantasizing a scenario where we don’t have a pandemic ravaging our country.
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?
My husband and co-founder of BEM CA, Ila Parvaz, definitely deserves a shoutout. This initiative was the result of the impassioned conversations we shared on the grounds of the protests, while quarantined in our home, and so on. Those discussions led us to launch an online petition calling for more equity and inclusion of Black scholarship in California’s education curriculum. Our initiative has evolved significantly since then, but that action laid the foundation for our efforts. We didn’t know what we were doing, and often still don’t, but think it’s so important to take action, bump your head along the way, learn from those who know what they’re doing, and continue to march forward. It beats the alternative of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. I also want to show love to our partner, Alanna Brown. She was introduced to us during our initial efforts of floating around our petition to garner support for this cause. Since our very first Zoom meeting, she’s been so instrumental to our team and any progress we’ve managed to achieve. She shares our fire for justice, equality, and the need to reform education to appropriately and accurately celebrate Black excellence in our school books in the same vein as white authors, scientists, etc. We’re grateful to have her on board! Lastly, I want to give a shout out to all of the Black women who are out here fighting for racial equity in any and every way they can. That list includes: Shannon Morton of Black Women Lead, Janaya Khan of Black Lives Matter, Stacy Abrams, Tamika Mallory, Patrisse Cullors, Brittney Packnett, adrienne marie brown, Sonya Renee Taylor, Rachel Cargle (just to name a few) – and all the Black woman who pioneered a new landscape for us to lift our voices and demand freedom and equality as our birthright.