A Podbites on Clubhouse Conversation With Kya Johnson

Updated: Sep 22




Verna

Thank you for coming. We basically are here to talk with Kya a little bit. If you did watch her Podbites. You saw her really, really strong story about the fact that she has a multimedia company where she is working on situations just like this about representation and about having people of color, blacks and other people of color as central characters. And her company is called RainbowMe Inc. and she is just really really an advocate of trying to figure out and create spaces where people of color are seen and so that is why we kind of... I invited Kya Of course. And then I had seen different stories about, with Naomi Osaka and just was a little disheartened about the rough time that she had been getting which is nothing new you know for for folks, but it really made me want to get together and talk about it. So Kya is there anything else that you want to say to introduce yourself? I would love to let you do that yourself.


Kya  8:52  

Okay, hi, everybody. I'm Kya. Can you hear me okay?


Verna Odoom  8:56  

Yeah, you sound great.


Kya  8:57  

Can you hear me okay?


Verna Odoom  8:58  

Yes. Sounds good.


Kya  8:59  

Okay, okay. Great. Okay. Thank you for your invitation again, Verna. And yeah, you know, you you hit the nail on the head. Representation is the catalyst behind what what RainbowMe, Incorporated. RainbowMe Kids is about, especially for kids. Naomi Osaka saga. [I guess a good] way to say it is fairly recent of many that women of color, people of color, and definitely women of color, have to experience, and overcome in everyday life.


Verna Odoom  9:40  

Yeah. And I think I'm going to open... I'm going to invite you all up on the stage because it's a small room if other folks show up. You know, we'll just do what we do. But this is a recorded room, by the way. And so I'm going to just invite you up, feel free to come up. Hey, Robin, I'm inviting folks up. We're just kind of going to have a just a little bit of dialogue for a few minutes. Let me see. If I can invite and if you guys want to come up, that's great. And if you want to stay down there, you're free to do that and listen. Don't feel obligated to come up. But, we were just saying that this is recorded room, by the way, and I'm using it for the Podbites website, so that I'll be able to kind of extend some of the information. People will ask questions, or they'll send me a quick note, and I'm just like, you know what, you could hear more from this specific person about this thing. So as things come up, I just love coming to the space and having time to have more of an open conversation. And the rooms have gone from really flowing, you know, some rooms have been kind of quiet, where the, the guest is doing a lot of the talking, which is fine. So this room will become whatever it is, whatever it's meant to be. I just appreciate you all being here. And joining us. And again, Robin, just to catch you up. I know you already saw the episode, but Kya, of course, is here. She has a multimedia company that she owns, and that she started because she wanted to see more people of color as central characters. And I always talk about that, you know, in regard to even my children, I know Maika, or picture says Mrs. Maika has three girls. Angela, you have... Angie has to. and Robin has niece, you know, nephew. And so, you know, it's just one of those things that you really think about how people are able to feel good about themselves, you know, they're they're all sorts of, there's all sorts of marketing that goes on. And I think some people who are not affected, just don't get it. So some sometimes people say, Well, why is it important? You know, why is it important that we have this? Naomi Osaka Barbie? I'm like, are you? Are you kidding right now? I mean, I and for me, that's kind of where I sit in that I'm like, I think it's great that you have a cross section of Barbies, but somebody that the child who looks like, you know, Naomi, or looks like has brown skin can kind of have a good feeling like, Hey, you know, there's a doll that I might want to add to my little doll collection. I mean, I don't know. It just seems like there's such a push back with certain, I guess, groups of people. What do you think about that?


Kya  12:18  

Oh, yeah, you know...


Verna Odoom  12:31  

Your mic is breaking up. your mic is breaking up quite a bit Kya. If you can hear me I'm not sure. Can you try again?


Kya  12:37  

Oh, no.


Verna Odoom  12:40  

I can hear you now.


Kya  12:40  

Can you hear me now.


Verna Odoom  12:41  

Yep, you sound good.


Kya  12:42  

Can you hear me okay, now?


Verna Odoom  13:19  

Mmhm


Kya  12:44  

Okay. Okay, sorry, I hadn't moved. I've tried to stay in one place, [where my signal's good.] But there's a there's a quote, and I said, I'm gonna misquote it, but it's essentially saying that when you're used to being at the center, when you're used to being you know, at the top, equality seems to be diminishing to you. And it's not, that's not what it is at all. It's just trying to give everyone a chance. So going back to what you were saying about? Why? I think your question was, why is it? Why do certain people not recognize the importance of diversity is essentially, what what you're saying.


Verna Odoom  13:35  

Mmhm. Yes.


Kya  13:36  

I think goes back to, I think it goes back to that, quote, if you're used to, if you're used to seeing just yourself,


Verna Odoom  13:44  

Mmhm.


Kya  13:46  

you know, then you don't see any problem with you don't see the problem with with the status quo.


Verna Odoom  13:53  

Right, right.


Kya  13:54  

But now, all of a sudden, when we're just trying to get an opportunity to be seen,


Verna Odoom  13:59  

Mmhm.


Kya  13:59  

it feels as though your center is being taken away from you.


Verna Odoom  14:03  

Mm.


Kya  14:03  

And I think that's what that's where that's where the antagonistic attitude arises from.


Verna Odoom  14:11  

I would think so you know, and as I just listened to folks, and I think about, like you said, if you're in the position that you don't have to think about this, then it becomes one of those things that you kind of poopoo off, you know, it's just kind of like, Oh, what, why are you all worried? Like, don't we... I even think of Black Lives Matter.


Kya  14:28  

Mmhm


Verna Odoom  14:28  

I know that when I spoke to you Kya, we were coming out of the, I think it was the verdict for the George Floyd case. And so as I sat there, you know, and people were like, Well, why is why do black lives? Of course, Well, yeah, but what about (other lives). And it's not that other lives don't matter. The point is that because there's been so long that there's just been this, I guess, just an ignoring, you know, just kind of like you said, just kind of. Since you. are in the majority. And since you are seeing yourself everywhere, you don't notice who else you're not seeing, and maybe you do, maybe you do notice that, but it's not very important to you. And that's the thing that's concerning.  


Kya  15:11  

Mmhm.


Verna Odoom  15:11  

And it goes from the top to the bottom, it goes from the boardroom, it goes from, you know, the school system, it goes from, where are those circles, where we're able to go. people of color, and you are actually...


Kya  15:25  

Mmhmm.


Verna Odoom  15:25  

We always talking about this table this table. I mean, do we build a new table? Because, you know, many times, if you're in a situation, and you're working at a company? And are you in a position to say, Well, I'm just going to do my own thing? So that's what you did Kya, you did your own thing.


Kya  15:40  

Right, right


Verna Odoom  15:40  

Is everybody in that position? And does everybody have an opportunity to do that? And if not, should we just be satisfied with what we get?


Kya  15:51  

So the simple answer is no, everybody is not going to have the opportunity to do that. Everybody's not gonna have the opportunity to build their own table, but I don't think you should be okay with what you're given either. We have a... that's tough that's tougher, because, you know, there are people, we still have a situation where, unfortunately, for the majority, especially like the larger corporations, larger companies, were at the bottom of the totem pole, they're still there's still a lack of leadership, that reflects a lot of times the people that work under them.


Verna Odoom  16:40  

Mmhm.


Kya  16:41  

And in companies, corporations if you, a lot of times requires kind of someone up top to be on your side, when there is a concern when you're trying to voice like hey. This is this is not, this is not equitable, or this is not fair for you know, for someone who was different than the person that looks at looks, that looks like the top person, right. But if you don't have anybody at the top that can help you. It becomes hard.


Verna Odoom  17:14  

Mmh Mmhm Mmhm Mmhm


Kya  17:14  

Right? Right? I mean, you have these, these leaders, and then sometimes too and I hear this a lot, a lot more than I wish I didn't, sometimes when there is somebody at the top it's one or two people, and they're not trying to ruffle feathers either.


Verna Odoom  17:31  

And that's where it gets complicated, because you're right. Sometimes when we get to that position, it's like you feel I guess, so... I hate to say fortunate


Kya  17:40  

Mmhm.


Verna Odoom  17:40  

or you feel so you just don't have the support.


Kya  17:43  

Yeah.


Verna Odoom  17:43  

And so you're there and it's like, yes, I can't do but so much like I can't help you, man,


Kya  17:48  

Right.


Verna Odoom  17:49  

because I'm trying to stay afloat myself.


Kya  17:51  

Right!


Verna Odoom  17:51  

And that's, you know, that's an unfortunate situation to be and I wanted to let folks know as well, Kya, in addition to having that that company RainbowMe Incorporated. And RainbowMe kids. She also is an attorney. And she is in. She practices law at a law firm with her father and her sister. And you told me on Podbites about a situation that I thought was just... oh my gosh, I'm just like, Are you for real? But tell tell that situation? Again, we were talking about when you went into... you were working a case? Can you tell us about that?


Kya  18:28  

It was, I think a reference to just a case that we had with one of my first one of my first cases I had in front of a jury and opposing counsel. [It was] one of those cases where opposing counsel would like a group of older white males. And it was an arrogance. It was just an arrogance that they were... that there was no competition.


Verna Odoom  18:58  

Mmm.


Kya  18:59  

And this was going to be an easy case that okay, she's.... and you know, I had kind of the trifecta. The trifecta of stereotypes with me, right? I was that was black. I was young, and I was a woman. That was you know, it could be one or all three.


Verna Odoom  19:14  

Oh wow.


Kya  19:18  

You know, as as not a threat... And ended up winning the case with a record breaking jury verdict,


Verna Odoom  19:26  

Oh wow. Oh wow.


Kya  19:27  

and the time for that type of case.


Verna Odoom  19:30  

Mmhm


Kya  19:30  

But and they were they were flabbergasted. I mean, it was you could tell just the whole time. They just were not anticipating [my] preparation. They were not anticipating my defense. That was undervalued and underestimated as soon as I walked in the door.


Verna Odoom  19:51  

Mmhm Yeah, and that's the story that you hear so often. Maybe not that specific one. But in so many cases, people just aren't expecting what they they many times get. And then there's also the thing of what pool are people, you know, kind of fishing in


Kya  20:08  

Mhm


Verna Odoom  20:08  

or, you know, you're just trying to figure out, there's always that conversation. And I'm going to actually encourage folks down in the audience to come up, because I know especially, you know, Robin, John, Angela, Maika, all of you, I'm sure have something that you could offer to the conversation, if you want, of course, there's no pressure, like I said, but as I talk to folks, you know, there's this whole concept of just, we are kind of made, sometimes people are made to feel as if you are just, like we said, fortunate to be there, and there's no place that you can find qualified folks. So, like, I don't know where to find... You know, but those are the kinds of conversations that you might hear. And again, you know, folks that work in corporate America, I don't, I did work, you know, outside of the house in a television station for a bit. And there's, I mean, that place is just, you know, I could go on for days about just how that system works. And you know, how people come in, and, you know, you're the, you're kind of a test person,


Kya  20:38  

Mm


Verna Odoom  21:13  

let's say sometimes, now, sometimes, you know you can, you can get in there and get a foothold, and people are, are allowing, but if you look at even today, if you look at the news, you are not seeing people of color, in roles and hours, think of the times that you see folks


Kya  21:29  

Yeah.


Verna Odoom  21:29  

think of the shows that you see, think of how they are used during political races, the big stories, I remember one time I was on a story, and police officer had been had gone to a domestic case, and he had gotten shot at point blank range. And for whatever reason, you know, we all try to approach the family. And for whatever reason, they took a hankering to me. And so they really, really, you know, would only tell me their story. And so for my station, that was a problem. And I remember them coming to me and saying to me that they wanted me to give now they say why.


Kya  22:06  

Yeah.


Verna Odoom  22:07  

You know, of course, this is a senior anchor, you know, and they want me to give her my contact and give her the story so that she could get the story. And I wouldn't have the story. I'm sitting here like, why would I do that? I'm like No, no, I can't do that I'm sorry. No I'm not sorry, I didn't say that. But you know, I'm not gonna do that. And this was a it was a very interesting... and so actually, they called the officer and this was after, I mean, he's going through his recovery. I mean, I followed it from beginning to middle to end. And, you know, they called him and he's like. I'm not talking to anybody. If you don't send Varna you won't get the story.


Kya  22:40  

Wow.


Verna Odoom  22:40  

And literally the the basis and that the annoyance that I was going to be doing the story. That I again, I covered from the beginning. But once it you know, now that we see the guys talking and he's he's willing to now we want to take it and give it to our... and if you look at like I said, if you look at any any of the stations, you'll see that that's the case that when the story gets, quote on quote, 'good', is going to the folks that they you know, that are deemed to be people that they want to cover the story.


Kya  23:10  

Mm.


Verna Odoom  23:10  

So I always found it interesting. I'm going to ask, I'm going to reset the room. Oh, Angie's come up. And I just want to remind people that we are in a recorded room. And this is just going to be used for the Podbites show that I do the podcast so you'll be able to hear more content over there. Angela, thank you. I keep calling the Angela because I see your name is Angela, though I call you Angie. Thank you for coming to the stage. Yeah. Do you have something. I would love to hear from you?


Angie  23:38  

Hi, guys. Yeah, I think Verna, when you mentioned. Hi, I'm sorry, Kaya, is that right?


Kya  23:46  

Kya. It's Kya like the car.


Angie  23:48  

Kya. Okay, sorry.


Kya  23:50  

Its ok.


Angie  23:50  

My daughter has, a friend and she spells it the same way.


Kya  23:53  

That's ok.


Angie  23:53  

And so I always make the distinctions.


Kya  23:57  

No prob.


Angie  23:57  

But just to you ladies talk about the idea. I guess there not being a pool in which to choose from, for a lot of companies and different things when they make those comments. We're actually dealing with that. In my company. They are constantly telling us that they would like to have more diverse hires, but they're just not able to find a lot. And it's very interesting to hear that when we're an AG company.


Kya  24:41  

Mmm.


Angie  24:41  

And we happen to reside in a city that houses a university that is an agricultural and technical State University. And so for them to say that, you know, we can't find people Color is, it just doesn't ring true. And so we've been going through the process of challenging that, and trying to work with the people within the company that are in charge of those kinds of things, and get in their ear and help them understand first, just the optics of it,


Kya  25:23  

Right.


Angie  25:23  

and how bad that looks when you're going to Iowa State or to Purdue, or wherever. But these are places where I'm not saying we we would not be. But I think you all know, I think they know that we're not going to be there in the same numbers that we would be at an HBCU or other schools possibly. And so that that is a is a frustration, I guess and Verna knows I can I can go on and on about the many frustrations that you encounter. But this is one that just kind of hits close to home because to what you were saying as well about having certain faces in places that you would think there would be some influence and some opportunity to make inroads, you're getting the same responses from them as well. So it's disheartening, and I guess you don't want to lose heart. But when you see it happening as often as it does, it just tends to be frustrating. And so opportunities like this, to talk about it and at least give it a voice it maybe in I don't know, give some new energy to the fight and all of that, because that's essentially what it is. We can't stop pursuing what should be, but it does get it does get very tiring, trying to make it happen.


Verna Odoom  26:59  

And that is a word.


Kya  27:01  

That's so interesting.


Oh I'm sorry.


Verna Odoom  27:02  

No, you go ahead Kya.


Kya  27:04  

Ok, I was going to sat say that. That's so interesting to me, especially in an advertising environment, where and I say that because I mean, you look at statistics as regarding who are the consumers. And [when] you look at the majority of the consumers and, not only the majority of consumers now but where the numbers are going. And this is consuming pretty much everything. It's people of color. But I don't... it's interesting how they how it's justified, Angela that they can't find they can't find this talent, I guess to fill the fill the spaces. But I think to me, it seems like it would be a bottom line question. Like you're about to you're talking to a group of people in advertising, as consumers that, you know, are not reflecting the people who are talking. And they're going to recognize that especially now with social media. I think people get new here. You see companies can call out about that all the time now. That's interesting.


Angie  28:16  

Absolutely. And I think I may have misspoken because I know I've, I've kind of been in a bubble all day to day, but I'm actually in the agricultural industry. And so...


Kya  28:30  

Oh okay.


Angie  28:30  

but I completely agree, because I do know, people in the advertising industry that are


Kya  28:37  

Yeah


Angie  28:38  

hearing the same thing. So the I guess the sad part of it is you can find it in any string.


Kya  28:46  

Yeah, right.


Angie  28:47  

you just... and that's sad,


Kya  28:48  

Yeah.


Angie  28:49  

because it should be because we do everything.


Kya  28:53  

Right


Angie  28:53  

There's nothing, we don't do.


Kya  28:55  

Exaclty.


Angie  28:55  

So to say you can't find us. It's because you're not being intentional. And I personally think you just don't want to look for us,


Kya  29:05  

Yeah


Angie  29:05  

because it's not comfortable. You're going to have to step outside of your comfort zone. And you're going to have to think about who you truly are. Because when you're in an environment where you're able to speak freely, and do you as they say, you don't have to think about what you say what jokes you tell and those kinds of things. But when you're in an atmosphere where you've got... [or an] environment where you've got many different ethnicities represented,


Kya  29:40  

Mmhm


Angie  29:40  

you're going to have to be a bit more careful about what you say, when you are not who you present yourself to be in select instances, I guess. So you just have... it's just more work for many.


Kya  29:59  

Right


Angie  30:00  

And it's unfortunate that we're still dealing with it. But I'm in a place now that I'm not here to make you comfortable.


Kya  30:10  

Right.


Angie  30:10  

I'm going to let you know, when you are saying or doing something that is out of order, and something that shows your ignorance, and hopefully I can help educate you. But I'm not going to be made to feel uncomfortable in those situations any longer, that's not going to happen.


Kya  30:32  

[I love it]


Angie  30:32  

So I don't know if there's an age thing or wisdom thing but maybe its a combination. I don't know


Verna Odoom  30:39  

No I think it's great. I mean, the whole point is, you know, there's all this conversation, I think, from what I understand about people coming as their authentic selves. But I don't know that anybody really, who was in the managerial level really means that because as you are speaking about this, you know, we're still talking about these closed tables, these closed rooms, places and spaces where people that don't look like us might be in decision making positions, and maybe there's one or maybe there are two, but definitely not enough. Another thing that you had brought up here that I was thinking about was when you talked a little bit about consumers, and that were consumers, and the sad thing to me, is, it almost becomes one of those things of how can you not be a consumer. I'll give you a for instance, my daughter, I talked to Angie about this, John Of course knows, because that's, you know, their dad, but, I talk about this that, you know, Makaila loves baking. And I cannot for the life of me find, you know, a little girl who's doing a baking show or doing something you know, so I get online, I'm looking looking looking that looks like her? And so do I keep her from reading these books do I keep her from... So no, I'm not keeping her from that. That, to me is the challenge because you end up doing what you do, you're consuming.


Kya  32:03  

Mmhm


Verna Odoom  32:04  

Because you don't have an option. And I know that Kya, you are working on those options, but you can't work by yourself.


Kya  32:10  

Right


Verna Odoom  32:10  

I mean, you cannot feel every stage. And that's right. And...