Political research strategist and partner of HIT Strategies
Delivers insight on the impact of the millennial vote, the ever-evolving world of politics, and the 2020 presidential campaign.
What exactly is HIT Strategies, and what is its purpose?
HIT Strategies is a polling and messaging firm that researches the millennial and minority communities that are driving rapid diversification in America. Politicians, companies, and institutions make decisions every day that impact the communities that I come from without understanding those communities. So if you ever watch a commercial and say, “They must not have talked to anybody black before they made that,” then they probably haven’t. HIT Strategies conducts focus groups and polls in these communities to fix that.
What are your thoughts on the current democratic lineup, and who do you think would be the most effective candidate?
Democrats have the most diverse class of candidates that have ever run for president, and I think it’s about damn time. People need to see themselves represented in politics in order to feel like it is an arena that includes people like them. But that is also causing a real backlash of white voters that are hell-bent on “Making America Great Again” and reversing the progress that has been made.
The candidate that is able to appeal to a very diverse electorate while also relieving the anxiety that white voters have toward diversity is going to be the best candidate to defeat Trump. It seems like a tough needle to thread. But a black man did it in 2008 and 2012, so they should check his notes.
Have you watched the Showtime series The Loudest Voice, which places a spotlight on Roger Ailes? It’s a great show that reveals the programming that went into Fox News laying the groundwork for our current president Donald Trump. After watching this, one would have to wonder where viewers can go to receive fair and honest news. Can you suggest a few outlets?
I love shows that expose how the sausage is made. We knew Fox News was not exactly making fair and balanced journalism. But to actually see how news is manipulated to change public opinion on everything from supporting a bogus war to who we vote for should make us all very uncomfortable. Couple that with a president that invented “alternative facts” [that was literally not a thing before 2016], and fake news being spoon-fed to us on social media from foreign intervention, and we are running out of places to go just to know what the hell is happening in society.
That’s why I have collected a bunch of podcasts from a few rational people that I trust and a few newspapers that are still committed to balanced reporting. That is really where I get my news.
What do you think the future of politics will look like?
Millennials make me really excited about the future of politics, and I’ll tell you why. We have become the largest voting bloc in America. We are starting to run for office up and down the ballot—we even have the first millennial candidate running for president right now, shout-out to Mayor Pete. And we are seizing the levers of power to reshape the body politic as we want it to be. That means politics will be more inclusive, more accessible, and more equitable the more we remove the old guard that is trying to block progress.
What are your thoughts on the recent alignment of Jay-Z and the NFL?
In complete transparency, I am a huge fan of Beyoncé’s husband. Jay-Z has had a profound impact on the communities that matter most to me and I honor the work that he has done. That also means that I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, that whatever he is doing will not hurt my community and will likely help it.
That said, as a messenger that helps politicians, corporations, and institutions shape their narratives, his narrative is terrible. The optics are bad. He has one of the biggest platforms in the world and should have shaped this narrative to protect his brand and reputation. If he needs help with that he should call us up at www.hitstrat.com.
Who are some of the political contributors or social activists that you admire or are inspired by?
I am so inspired by the work that my friends are doing that it makes me wake up everyday to work hard enough to be worthy of calling them my friends. People like Angela Rye, DeRay McKesson, and Quentin James remind me to center my identity and the people that look and love like me in all of my work. People like Councilman Shannon Hardin (Columbus), Councilman Antonio Brown (Atlanta), and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes teach me not to wait my turn but to take my turn. And people like Rashad Robinson, Tanya Lombard, and Adrianne Shropshire that have taught me what I do is not work, it is a purpose that comes with tremendous responsibility.
How closely linked should politics and social activism be aligned for the African American voter?
Listen, I believe the pain and power of the African American experience is the most beautiful expression of patriotism in America. Our daily ability to confront a society that was built by us but not for us, to spend centuries demanding progress for ourselves and others—to believe that America can live up to the promises that she made four-score years ago “that all men are created equal”—is an example by which all activism can be measured.