{You Pick Six} An Interview with Entrepreneur: Darryl Settles

You may not recognize his name right away. But if you’ve been in the Boston area for any period of time, it’s virtually impossible not to know the work of Darryl Settles. His company, Catalyst Ventures Development (CVD) is the umbrella organization for his many business ventures.

For years, Darryl has had a hand in shaping the landscape of Boston’s food and entertainment scene, including being the creator and founder of the Beantown Jazz Festival back in 2001.

Boston’s iconic soul food restaurant Bob the Chef went through lots of name changes and ownership over the decades. Yet, the spirit lives on. Transformed by Darryl, he brought it to the 21st century as Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen, where new generations and old continue to enjoy southern comfort food, cocktails and jazz.

He’s part of the new ownership of Slade’s Bar & Grill and though no longer affiliated, he’s a founding partner of Beehive Boston.

Anyone who follows the food business sees restaurants quickly come and go. I was curious to learn more about someone with such success and longevity in this industry and Darryl was nice enough to oblige. So, let’s resume this ongoing series with the 18th interview of You Pick Six.

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What is a favorite dessert?
Red Velvet Cake

What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
Hang around smarter people and LISTEN!

What three people do you admire most?
That is hard to narrow down, but Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, and Nelson Mandela come to mind. Each were/are great, respectful, and smart men whom took a lot of “heat” but always kept their focus and helped make the world a better place!

What do you think that most people don’t understand about food?
Food always tastes better when you are happy and with family and/or great friends.

Tell me about what you’re working on now.
I am developing an online platform to connect scaled minority businesses to both private and public sectors to help level the playing field and build wealth in our communities of color.

Tell me about where you grew up.
I grew up in Aiken, S.C., a very nice community, but worked on weekends and during the summers on my grandfather’s farms in the country. He was my hero and helped develop my work ethic.

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Thank you so much for participating Darryl!

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Photos: Provided by Darryl Settles.

Condemning Trump’s Comments Regarding the African Diaspora

A few months ago, I did an Ancestry DNA test. Now for the first time, I have the names of African countries where my ancestors came from: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Mali, Benin, Togo, Senegal. It’s an amazing feeling to have that information.

In direct opposition to that feeling, each day Donald Trump’s increasingly racist comments are an assault on my mind and soul. He is morally repugnant. Ignorant and hateful. I condemn him and all that he represents.

The most recent abhorrent statements by Trump referred to Haiti and African countries in general as “s***hole” countries. The context of these statements were in regards to immigration policy. He then went on to say that he’d prefer that people come to the United States from countries like Norway.

Many have since denounced his comments. The Government of Botswana issued a statement asking if they are considered one of those countries and further stating that they “view the utterances by the current American President as highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist.”

The African Group of Ambassadors to the United Nations met in an emergency session yesterday to consider Trump’s remarks. They issued a statement demanding a retraction and an apology.

Among other things, they said they are “extremely appalled at, and strongly condemns the outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks attributed to the President” and further stated that they are “concerned at the continuing and growing trend from the US Administration towards Africa and people of African descent to denigrate the continent and people of colour.”

In the wake of all of this, there are a few things that I would like to state.

There are 54 countries in the African continent.

The birthplace of human kind is in Africa.

Africa is brimming with precious resources. Called a new form of “colonial pillaging,” African bio-resources are exploited by the West.

In September 2017 at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump stated, “Africa has tremendous business potential, I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. I congratulate you, they’re spending a lot of money. It has tremendous business potential, representing huge amounts of different markets. … It’s really become a place they have to go, that they want to go.”

Donald Trump Jr. has a history of visiting Africa to kill wildlife.

The conversation around Trump’s comments has degenerated into talking about “s***hole” countries that people have left to come to the United States. I hate the focus on that word.

Instead, I wish the conversation would elevate to how the Continent is rich with resources and beauty that everyone wants.

Further, the people from this magnificent continent make-up the African Diaspora, who have shown unshakeable resilience and bravery in the face of terror and horror over centuries and brought beauty and culture throughout the world.

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Image: Public Radio International


Oprah’s Cecil B. de Mille Award Golden Globes Speech

When I was reading about the planned activism for the Golden Globes last night, I read that this was a movement, not a moment. From #MeToo to #TimesUp, things are definitely changing.

But I absolutely believe there are specific moments in this movement. Oprah Winfrey’s speech last night was one of them. It was part teaching moment, part rallying cry, celebration, gratitude and memories.

It was everything. It was so much that I don’t think any of us really know what it was. Yet.

It was the type of speech that needs to be read multiple times [here is the textwatched repeatedly, studied and looked back on.

In the future, when we look back on it, maybe we will understand the nuances based on what comes after. My blog has given me many gifts. One is the gift of perspective. I can look back and see myself growing and changing through my writing. This is why I keep blogging.

I can also see changes beyond me. Changes where I live, in this country and the world. Only time let’s us see things from a distance, along with keeping a written record of the present.

Part of the beauty of this speech is the way that Oprah speaks. It’s not just that Oprah is giving you a car. It’s how she says, “You get a car! You get a car!”

Merely reading the words doesn’t do the speech justice. The same words gather energy and intention based on her inflections.

These two passages below resonated the strongest with me. And I think with the audience as well. Seeing peoples’ reactions was just as powerful. Oprah truly moved the crowd. And a nation.

For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men, but their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up. …

I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who have withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights. So I want all the girls watching here now to know that a new day is on the horizon.

After this speech, many have said that Oprah will run for President in 2020. People love the hype of speculation and jump to conclusions over anything she does. I hope that she would want some government experience first. At least a run for Senate.

And to be truly honest, I have been very disheartened by her lack of speaking out against Trump. The last that I heard her mention about him was right after the election, when she said that we should give him a chance. That was like a punch in the gut. I was shocked.

The #MeToo movement reminds me that we don’t really know the stars that we admire. They are just people who happen to be famous. It’s hard, because their art can inspire so much emotion. Nobody should be put on a pedestal.

I have admired Oprah for decades. She’s only human too. People we love and admire will eventually disappoint us. Nobody is perfect.

So I cannot speculate about what Oprah will do next. All is know for sure is that her speech last night was a moment to remember.

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Screenshot: YouTube

Boston Sunsets & Bitter Cold


Last night I walked home from the train like most days. It was probably the coldest temperature I’ve ever felt. My face hurt. It took hours to warm up and I kept shivering.

Between that walk and shoveling out my car in the morning, I’ve caught a cold. So this weekend I’m resting and trying to get my strength back.

Even though this winter is far from over, I’m looking forward to a warm-up that’s supposed to be here by Tuesday. Yay for the January thaw!

Also, the sunsets are getting later. More sunlight each day. I’ll take it.

Happy weekend to you!