There are many negative connotations toward the word, “hustler.” In this blog, I will invert the meaning, and use the word to bring light to how we all can have a hustler’s mindset for using their influence to positivily inspire future generations. This is a heavy responsibility. A hustler is someone with an ambitious spirit to approach obstacles as temporary speed bumps and seek positive outcomes for all parties involved.
Hustlers are influential, innovative, and charismatic. They thrive on taking the initiative, they self-promote, and they are visionaries. They also dream big dreams, create new products, and easily organize priorities. Hustlers can be overly assertive while being extremely generous in the pursuit of building community and overcoming barriers experienced by marginalized communities. Also, these individuals overcome negative experiences and still thrive in the midst of mounting restrictions. A true hustler is bold for their ability to see what is possible in a sea of despair. Educators must find themselves to be hustlers for learners (both students and adults). Imagine a hallway or school bustling with “hustlers”, who share the same ambition from one classroom to the next, is powerful.
For Educators, the concept of “time” is in short supply and high demand is laughable. Ambitious and intentional educators know the profession demands excellence, and this requires more than 40+ hours per week for planning, studying, performance, therapy for others, etc.
In a greater sense, Black Educators with an entrepreneurial background spend excessive amounts of time, finances, and emotional capital on establishing programs and services to mentor, advocate, support, and increase representation in the most needed learning spaces. Thus, educators of color strive to create and sustain voluntary affinity groups of mutual support. These groups are well attended due to its collaborative nature. To be able to connect in an emotionally safe space, that is inclusive is invaluable.
This act is a hustle. To create original ideas, develop fresh content, secure funding, and levy space, Black Educators must juggle all these pieces while raising families and maintaining a demanding career. To balance this sometimes comes at the sacrifice of our well-being. Black Eduprenuers, Black startup founders, minority business owners, etc., understand that to go far in this business, having a “collective” mindset raises the possibility for each entity to succeed.
Thus, establishing a network of formal and informal citizens who are both knowledgeable and ambitious. Without a web of support, these organizations will struggle to stay afloat. If a mutual common ground is not established, maintained, and respected, then our future generations will experience a widening divide between those who share marginalized characterists.
Recently, my cofounder and I were interviewed for a startup accelerator. At the end of the interview, they asked if we were willing to quit our day jobs to pursue the accelerator program. Our employers allow us to support our families, provide health care and retirement options. At the same time, we believe in our product and its ability to benefit the field of education. I wonder who has the luxury and privilege to quit and gamble away the safety and security of their families? Here lies the hustler’s ambition. To ensure success in education, business ventures and maintain our creative license, sustaining an unyielding spirit of determination is never negotiable.
But, there is something else. In this uncanny era in education, Black organizations are sought after as a “solution” or an “answer” to the layered initiatives adopted by corporations. Diversity, equity, and inclusion have become tenants for how an organization engages a sense of belonging in the workforce and maneuver hiring/recruiting goals. This is a tall order for Black leaders. Over the past few years, state departments, private organizations, and philanthropists have given millions of dollars to this worthy fight.
“Although notable, this creates a dynamic for hustlers to see “green” and negate the spirit of a communal space for Black-led organizations. The hustler mentality is only as strong as the goals and aims for which the organization is established. Money can make people do strange things.”Darryl Diggs
We have repeatedly heard that when an individual wins the lottery, the worst behaviors are brought out by those who love them the most. If we are not careful, the hustlers’ ambition will force us to steal ideas, undercut our allies, and risk ruining the foundation for which affinity groups exist. Visualize, confidants being decietful.
The motivation behind establishing focus groups is to gather like-minded people together and allow for the facilitation of nurturing environments. These environments are built on trust, respect, and a “brotherhood.” All of this becomes null and void when there is an absence of courteously and civility. My cofounder and I have succeeded in our events, programs, initiatives, and shared business ventures. Since we have worked together, the hustler’s ambition of other leaders has forced them to mimic our work and use legal jargon to substantiate the lifting of our intellectual property. This is not isolated to small organizations; some corporations choose to take advantage of small Black-led organizations and not be responsible enough to pay them for their work.
In closing, I will say this. I pull from many individuals and listen to their concerns and incidences of pain when working as a Black Edupreneur and influencer. Their plight, unfortunately, is not unique. When large corporations feed a sizable amount of money into smaller organizations, small organizations quickly compromise their values and ethics, and trouble arises. The result can have long-lasting effects on relationships, especially when politics are involved.
Where do we go from here?
If this story resonates with you, you might feel uneasy and hesitant to collaborate with organizations, fearing your most incredible ideas will be used as a pawn for relationships with your kinfolk. We have learned to protect our peace…at all costs.