My day job is founder of Heymiss Progress. I’m a motivational speaker and social entrepreneur. I’ve created a number of annual events including The Conversation Mixtape , which focuses on the love that exists between Black men and women, The Black Women’s Leadership Conference, which brings Black women from across the country to Madison for strategic power sessions, speeches, and more and The Black Business Expo. The Expo not only provides space for Black business owners but influences the larger community to support Black-owned businesses year round.
I founded this organization to help black families thrive and everything I do is from a love ethic. The business name comes from one of my father’s favorite Frederick Douglass quotes, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” When I was a kid he and his friends would refer to me “Lil’ Miss Progress” and it stuck!
My most memorable caffeine was when I was taking an AODA (alcohol or drug assessment) class with Lynn Wyble, a local instructor. As one of the exercises for the class she had us give up our “drug” of choice for two weeks and journal about it. I chose caffeine.
Now, I need coffee to live and I’m accustomed to having three or four cups a day. Needless to say, I was pretty miserable—I actually think I was suffering from a mild depression from not drinking coffee. I kept a very colorful journal during this period and had a lot to say about my instructor and this assignment. I was quite surprised—and dismayed—when she instructed us to hand in the journal at the end of the two weeks. I included a note to explain that I thought this was a private experience!
This was an invaluable experience for me, especially as my own father was, what I’d discover years after his death, a functioning drug addict and died from complications related to his addiction. It gave me a glimpse into what he had been through.
My current caffeine of choice is a light roast with a little cream and a little sugar—nothing else! I like Ethiopian blends as they’re less acidic.
My favorite place for caffeine is the Cargo Coffee on East Wash. The central location is great and the whole experience—the coffee, the food and the service—is excellent. The desk upstairs feeds into that nerdy school vibe that I love.
The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is my father. He died when I was only 10 years old and I wish I could ask him what made him take that first step into a life that included drugs knowing all the damage it could cause.
I would also love to share a cup of coffee with Oprah. I’d like to be able to ask her about the process she goes through to make choices, both large and small. She’s accomplished such amazing things and it would be great to have a glimpse into the steps she takes to decide where to dedicate her energy.
World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: Helping Black families have a healthy amount of love for each other. Sometimes these families struggle because so much of their energy has to go to survival. They’re constantly dealing with the negative history created by the racism, grief and tragedy of slavery and all that came after it, plus the many elements in our culture that tell us Black is bad and don’t allow us to have a healthy love for our Black selves. There are so many negative stereotypes and so much cynicism. I want to build our community from a love ethic and create healthy models that will allow our families to thrive.