On Activism: Ryann Richardson

We’ve all experienced when something clicks and our life suddenly changes in a small or big way, Ryann Richardson shares some pivotal moments that prompted her to think how she thinks, live how she lives, do what she does.


“I was an adult before I learned first-hand what it truly meant to exist as a minority in America. That was a sobering lesson.”

You in one word –

Audacious

On you –

I’m an East Coast girl. I was born and raised in the Washington, DC area, went to undergrad and effectively “grew up” in Philadelphia, and now call New York City home. I enjoyed a charmed childhood in one of the nation’s few wealthy, predominantly black communities. I needed for nothing, wanted for little, and always knew that any dream I could conjure up would be well within my grasp. It wasn’t until moving away from home to attend college that I first saw and understood real, systemic inequality and not until I began my career that I first felt the sting of marginalization. I was an adult before I learned first-hand what it truly meant to exist as a minority in America. That was a sobering lesson. I came of age professionally in the tech industry. As a marketer, I prided myself on shaping the brands of companies ranging from scrappy startups to billion-dollar unicorns to the Fortune 500. But as a woman of color, I grew to resent the industry. I knew it as a space that would exploit my talents for profit, but reject any responsibility to the culture and communities that created those talents.  

“I shifted from leading as an executive to building as a founder… We’re incubating products and startups that deliver on the promise of tech to be a great equalizer, and to break the cycle of marginalization for those who have always seemed to be on the outside looking in at the American Dream.”

Those early years of my career were rooted in a sense of cultural alienation, disempowerment, and moral conflict. My experience in big tech was decidedly negative, but set me on the path to discovering my true purpose as a champion for underrepresented voices. Today, my role in the industry has transformed. I shifted from leading as an executive to building as a founder. I created the Ellington Lafayette Co. to support the development of a more responsible, social equity-driven tech industry. We’re incubating products and startups that deliver on the promise of tech to be a great equalizer, and to break the cycle of marginalization for those who have always seemed to be on the outside looking in at the American Dream.

 

On life –  

For me, love is going to bat for people when they need it the most. Whether it was defending my little brother from the neighborhood bully or blocking for my quarterback on 4th and Goal (yep, did that too), I’ve always believed you show you care by stepping up and proving it when the stakes are highest.   

“Together, through our collaboration, we’re turning the dark, shared experience of so many marginalized Americans into a movement for unapologetic existence. Together, we take up space being our whole selves.”

On ARTICLE22-

I love the spirit of transforming something ugly and painful into something beautiful and empowering. The war’s impact on Laos has been transformed into economic mobility and tangible manifestations of hope through ARTICLE22 jewelry. Together, through our collaboration, we’re turning the dark, shared experience of so many marginalized Americans into a movement for unapologetic existence. Together, we take up space being our whole selves.


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