What I Know For Sure: Business Ownership and Movement Intersections.
I’m writing this mostly for myself. In a world of internet quips and hollow gratitude, I felt like I needed to remember. You know how Mama’s mark your height on the wall to see if you’ve gotten taller? Something like that.
I lead a successful DC based political consulting firm called Three Point Strategies. We are two years old today. I am a lot of things, but simply stated here, I am a 30 year old Black queer feminist from Columbus, Ohio.
My Father was from Jacksonville, Florida, a musician and UPS worker for two decades. My Mother had a thick New York City accent and worked at the same polling location for 30 years. I’m made up of their southern charm and city grit. By 27, I had lost both of them to cancer and heart disease. I’m a fighter, but I never wrote “business owner” on a dream board.
Prior to Three Point Strategies, I was working at a large national political action committee, specifically working with communities of color to recruit local Democratic candidates. I genuinely liked my job and I loved my team. After catching the bug at 17 and running around on campaigns for years after, I knew I was privileged to have meaningful work where I could also make regular doctors visits.
My world shifted on August 9th, 2014. It is a day that changed me. It was the day Michael Brown was murdered and left in the street for four hours in Ferguson, Missouri.
I remember sitting in my cubicle scrolling twitter with those kind of quiet tears that wouldn’t stop. I kept looking up from my workstation to see if anyone else was watching. I still remember the way that quiet sounded.
That week I stayed up late watching familiar faces having milk poured into their eyes after tear gas. I saw bruised bodies from rubber bullets and batons. I had no f***g idea what to do.
I was soon searching for any way to feel power. On twitter, I connected with three other Black queer women interested in organizing an event and in three days we planned the first Washington, DC vigil in honor of Mike Brown. Two thousand people showed up to Malcolm X Park.
While I know this was too easy a diagnosis, at the time I felt like everyone was being brave except me. Are you doing your work unapologetically, I asked myself. Is your electoral work changing conditions? Do you have skin in this fight?
I didn’t feel unapologetic at all.
I wrote a short vision document of the work I wanted to take on and the people I wanted to work with. I dreamed about transformative electoral work that centered Black & Brown families. I made plans to quit my job.
On March 15th, 2015, two years ago, I sat down at a rickety desk from Target with barely a soft landing place in my savings account. I opened my new macbook, the first computer I ever bought for myself. “I want to work at the intersection of electoral politics and social justice” was a line in every email.
The name followed a month or so later, after a list of unfortunate puns. Three Point Strategies. Inspired by the small triangle I had tattooed on my wrist months ago in honor of me and my two brothers, Peter and David. Three Point Strategies, sure, that felt right.
My only rules: don’t do anything you don’t feel proud of, with anyone you don’t believe in. Hold on for dear life to the intersections of your work. Strive for the both/and rather than the either/or. Whatever you do, make sure you can return to your community. Within a few fast weeks I was signing contracts and taking on work.
This leap of faith is a toddler today.
Here is what I can say I know for sure about ownership and intersections:
I have walked into meetings scared shitless. I have fought that voice in my head that said people would find out that I don’t have all the answers.
I have realized that I have some answers too. And a lot of ideas.
In these two years, I have put my skin in the game for Black women. I have trusted Black women. I have defended Black women. The kind of skin in the game that gets you disinvited to events and called un-strategic on conference calls.
In these two years, I have met some of my heroes. I have questioned my heroes. I have risked arrest. I have wondered if I was problematic.
I have hugged many a candidate who deserved to win and didn’t. I have felt guilty for every loss. I have tucked the boldest elected leaders in bed. I have pulled over my rental car to take a nap in a parking lot. I have sipped champagne while dancing in a fancy dress.
I have looked people I love in the eye who were asking for more of my time and I have chosen work. I have loved more publicly than ever.
I have sat on the phone with hungry young political operatives working in hostile political environments and convinced them to stay. Or to go. I have felt guilty for asking anyone to even do this shit. I have thought about quitting myself. I have talked from a podium to a room of 500 people who cared what I think.
I have confirmed that diversity means nothing without justice. I have stopped accepting the basics of inclusion and starting talking about desegregation.
I have fought to hire the best people. I have been an absent manager.
I have felt deep and connective moments with women of color leaders. The spiritual, “this is what I was born for” type moments. I have felt deep joy. I have felt levels of tired I didn’t know existed. My tired has been tired.
I have been honest. I have written my fingers off. I have listened. I have gotten it wrong.
I have been scared to talk money and did it anyway. I have taken my family on vacation. I have confirmed that scarcity is a tool of white supremacy.
Scarcity keeps us scared. Scarcity tells us there is not enough to go around. Scarcity says that there isn’t room at the table. F**k scarcity.
From The Pathway Project and the Reflective Democracy Cohort to the We Won’t Wait Summit, to Democracy in Color, to Inclusv and Alida and to Steve and Susan and to La’Tasha and Tishaura and Donna and to Alicia and Charlene and the Movement for Black Lives and to Advance Native Political Leadership and to the BLUE Institute and every single face staring back at me in training rooms, and to Peter and David and to my Geneva and loving community whose feet are so firmly planted in my corner — what can’t we do together?
After a lot of reflection and measurement of our work, I believe there is a need for a firm like ours, in this moment. Three Point Strategies will expand it’s services this year. We want to grow our toolkit, grow our capacity, and win more for our beloved communities. We will serve Black women’s elected leadership, radical electoral programming and curate training spaces in ways like never before. We will be made up of Black, Brown, young, queer, feminist experts whose lived experiences are as important as our campaign work, and we will strive to hold both. I am taking time over the next couple of months to intentionally build the ship we need. Stay tuned on it all.
What I know for sure: I have grown. Three Point Strategies is growing.
I have a daily practice of writing down at least five things I’m grateful for in my life. For 730 days, this work, all of our work together at these intersections has been on that list.
It feels good to remember, outside of the fog of a clogged email box and the threat of 45’s incompetence. Waking up this morning, I thought about that initial question two years ago, “are you doing your work unapologetically?”
Yes. Yes, I am.
Happy Birthday, Three Point Strategies. You make me proud.
P.S. Join us right now?