In honor of Black History Month, GG+A is celebrating members of our team and the ways that they, as Black Americans, enrich our community with their insights and perspectives. Today, meet Jeremy Allen, Project Associate in Consulting Resources.
Who are your greatest influences? Do you have any role models?
My greatest sources of influence have always come from the community where I’ve lived or served. I’ve always been inspired by my father to work hard and be kind, but sometimes my greatest inspirations came from the old people that always hung around outside doing nothing. They knew who I was and where I was going, and they let me know that regularly. They would literally remind me, just about every day, to stay away from negative influences and keep doing what I was doing to avoid being where they ended up. Without them being a constant reminder of “what if,” I could very well be faced with the same challenges they helped me to avoid for so many years.
What is the best advice you have ever received? What are some words of wisdom that have had the greatest impact on you?
“Look good, feel good.” While working in education as an assistant dean, this statement got me through some of my lowest moments. I would challenge myself to dress as professional as possible every day so that my students would see a professionally dressed Black man at least five days of the week. They would always ask, “Mr. Allen why you always dress like that?” or, “Why you always wearing a bow tie?” I would simply remind them, “Look good, feel good. The better you set yourself up at the beginning of the day, the better you will feel throughout.”
What do you value most about being a Black American?
I would have to say what I value most about being a Black American is the fashion. I’ve always admired how Black America has changed the trends, particularly in business casual. We have never allowed the rules to stop us from standing out in our attire.
How has being a Black American shaped you personally and professionally?
Being a Black American has created a level of excellence in professionalism that I feel a duty to live up to. The people that have come before me made it look so easy while remaining so stylish, and it isn’t until you are put in their shoes that you truly understand the level of pressure, hustle, and grind it takes to stay three steps ahead of the competition while attempting to remain level-headed at every turn.
Do you have a favorite Black author or book about the Black experience that you recommend?
The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty
How do you like to celebrate Black History Month?
I make it a point to support Black-owned businesses and restaurants all year ’round, but I try to discover a new Black-owned business or restaurant each week to support and hopefully make into a new regular shop for myself. Aside from that, I try and get in more time with family, and I like to enjoy the some of my favorite sitcoms, like “Martin” or the “Fresh Prince”!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
The journey of being Black in America is one that is not to be taken lightly. It is truly an adventure every day. Although the Black experience has not always had the best display, there is a lot of beauty in this community and the experience. It is truly one of the best kept secrets in this country, if you ask me. I can confidently say that in every Black community in America there is a beacon of hope and something special to be held sacred, and sadly it is often overshadowed by the negative stereotypes and publicity that surrounds it. This history is 365, and no 28 days can encompass the true beauty it is to be a Black American.
Learn more about Jeremy and his role at GG+A.