Discover more from Sounds Like Impact
🎤 Interview: Chris Colbert & Adell Coleman
DCP Entertainment is your destination for the underrepresented voice. We share stories you won't find anywhere else. Giving a platform to People of Color, Women and LGBTQ+ communities, as well as highlighting stories around mental health, disability and overcoming adversity, DCP presents stories that we can all relate to. With a focus on improving the world around us, DCP’s podcasts and video series go beyond entertainment and provide perspectives and lessons that can create positive movements.
It was an absolute pleasure to speak to Chris and Adell. To run a podcast company on top of hosting a show with such difficult subject matter should be commended.
This interview is publishing around the 10-year anniversary of the founding of Black Lives Matter (7/13/13), so in our conversation we talk about how they came to know about the movement that grew out of a hashtag, where they think things are now with reporting on police brutality and what progress has been made toward sharing the stories of Black women that have been affected.
This write-up will only include condensed and edited excerpts, because I hope you can make time to listen* to Adell and Chris share their experiences.
In the full conversation you will be able to learn why Chris founded DCP Entertainment, how Adell and Chris balance their production and C-suite responsibilities, their approaches to handling reporting on traumatic stories, what changes they made to season two, and their advice for managing a production company that focuses on social issues.
Content Warning: Conversation discusses police brutality, violence, racial trauma.
Say Their Name is a show that “focuses on the assault and killing of Black people by police and in ‘Stand Your Ground’ states, highlighting incidents throughout the United States” while at the same time, “offer[ing] solutions, spread[ing] awareness and support[ing] the families and communities” impacted by these incidents.
We are going to be talking about Say Their Name, a podcast for which you both have shared hosting duties. Though before going in-depth about the show, I want to acknowledge that this interview is publishing around the 10-year anniversary of the founding of Black Lives Matter (7/13/13), which was in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin.
Can either or both of you take us back to where you were when you first heard or read #BlackLivesMatter? How did it make you feel to see this become a trending topic on social media?
Adell: I think for me, the first place I ever saw it was Twitter. The first time I ever saw it in response to the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case, I had an emotional response because I remember exactly where I was. I was at work as Sirius hiding out in the studio just to get my head clear, do some work and watching the verdict come down.
And I just felt so defeated. I felt like just so upset. I felt helpless. I felt frustrated. I wanted to do something. I wanted to have some type of community. I wanted to hear that I wasn't alone in that. So that's kind of why I started like going on social media because I'll go and be like, am I tripping? Like it can't be just me that feels this.
That man literally stalked Trayvon Martin. Like, what is this? How did we get here? And so that's the first place I ever saw it kind of like trending and seeing people like have the same thoughts and wanting to gather. And I appreciated it because, you know, no knock against our historical figures and even the civil rights movement, but I didn't want to just do something that was like, okay, let's just march.
I wanted to see an action plan. How can I support from where I am in Washington, DC, you know, something that's going on somewhere else in the world, how can we continue to amplify not just this story, but others like it. And, you know, it'd be all of us from wherever we are and hearing that, I could see that, okay, here's the community.
I want to see what they're doing, how I can support it. And it made me feel not so crazy, I guess, in a way. Like, we all feel the same things. And I more connected to a community that was willing to speak out about, you know, what happened was wrong. And here are some things that can be put in place to have your voice be heard.
Chris: I'll echo a lot of what Adell says, you know, even starting with the fact that, I wasn't–and I still am not personally–on Twitter. So I think I heard about it just through word of mouth, to be honest, and in conjunction, like you said, with Trayvon Martin and with Mike Brown, you know, the interesting thing about my entry into into this, particularly the social activism space around police brutality was Trayvon Martin.
At the time, I was running Jamie Foxx's radio station, The Foxhole. And with my work with Jamie Foxx, he very much was tied into the Trayvon Martin family. And so we would go down the first couple of years to the Trayvon Martin Peace Walk that they would do. And that's where I met Ben Crump and eventually became friends with him. And, you know, that was my entry into this space and is where even as we started to Say Their Name is where I got the permission, you know, from Ben to do something like this, you know, along with Adell and our team, um, and also met a lot of these families.
And so, you know, having those integral moments early on with the Trayvon Martin family, I really got to understand media versus the perception of media versus what the families are actually going through and what they actually need. We are not actually listening to them. A lot of times we are trying to control their narrative for them, even in the best intentioned ways.
And this is just a side personal note, but if you see a headshots of me or see me out in public, a lot of times I wear a hoodie…I wear that specifically because of Trayvon Martin.
That actually made me begin wearing hoodies again because I realized I'm not going to allow this whole narrative of, “oh, he had his hood up, and that's what he shouldn't have had on, and he wouldn't have gotten killed.” Like, no, I shouldn't be dictated to about what I get to wear just because someone is scared.
And so I started wearing my hoodie because of that, and now it almost it feels like my armor. If I don't have my hoodie on, I don't know, I feel naked. I feel like I'm not protected. And so, like, my hoodie has now become my protection. But that all came from Trayvon Martin.
So, yeah, that whole situation is I think, what really amplified these conversations again. But, as I'm sure as we'll get into, they continue, unfortunately.
As we know, it was really 2014’s protest in Ferguson, Missouri, related to the murder of Mike Brown, that really put #BlackLivesMatter on the map in the US. And then the murder of George Floyd in 2020 sparked more movements outside of North America.
Where do you think things are today when it comes to reporting on police brutality? And with social movements related to this issue?
Chris: Well actually I'll start on this one real quick just because I think there's another correlation with 2014 in terms of what we do with Say Their Name. So when Mike Brown was killed, four days earlier, John Crawford was killed in a Walmart in Ohio. And, you know, if you go back and listen to our episodes on John Crawford, an interesting thing is that that was a really big situation. But because five days later, Mike Brown got killed, everybody stopped talking about John Crawford and that's what happens in these situations.
You know, we jump from story to story and it doesn't matter how big the one was before. Like either we forget or we feel like something is resolved and we move on. I think that was a big impetus around how we treated our Say Their Name series, which is let's go back and talk about some of these stories that maybe you've heard, but also the ones that you haven't heard about that are just as important to understand and get the full context of what's going on.
And to your point about the coverage itself, you know, I kind of mentioned it a second ago, which is even the best intention platforms a lot of times don't let the family fully speak and talk about what is it that they need. What is it that they are actually fighting for. They want to take sound bites. And, you know, again, I don't fully fault them because you only have so much time in a news segment, but when you're only taking these snippets, you're not getting the full story and getting the full understanding of how to help.
And then to go another step beyond that, one of the things that Adell and I have been very intentional about with Say Their Name is going beyond focusing too much on the tragedy. And I think that's what [the media] continue to do a lot of at this point is focusing on the tragedy, and not talking about the human beings. They don't talk about the lives that were lived that are no longer here or the lives that have been changed forever.
You know, what was this person's sense of humor like? What was their family dynamic like? You know, what was their life trajectory before it was snuffed out? And so like that's an important memorialization piece that we try to do in Say Their Name. And I know that it's very valuable for the families.
Adell: I kind of paused when you asked that question, because I think about how things were covered then versus covered now. And it feels like overall, we heard about Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. And then to me, it felt like it was like a snowball effect.
And the question was, are these occurrences happening more or are we just kind of seeing them more, you know? I felt like overall the media coverage wasn't coverage. Like Chris said, I understand you have a small cycle to kind of go through and unfortunately these incidents are happening way more than they should. But if you have a four-hour news cycle and you're dedicating all of like a 60-second segment to say, “oh, hey, someone was shot in the streets,” that's not coverage. We don't really get a full picture of what happens. We don't really get a full picture, like Chris said, of who the person was.
And one thing I used to always say is like, it's like a drop in a bucket. You drop water in a bucket, it's a ripple effect. We don't think or talk about how the community, the families, the loved ones, the friends. You think about someone like Philando Castile, he worked in a school, his community was impacted severely by what happened to him, but we don't hear about that and then it becomes these hashtags.
It becomes these temporary moments when people are changing their profile pictures, but you have to ask yourself, “at the end of the day, as much as we want to do social media justice, what type of justice are we really doing?” If we're not really getting to the question or the bottom of what we try to cover and say their name of what these families really need.
I think the biggest eye opener for me was realizing that these cases go on for years and years and years. Families are still fighting. Families have to pay out money to these lawyers. Families have to survive. When you think of John Crawford, he was a dad who was taking care of his children. They need help.
You, we, don't think about all the pieces that kind of come into play because we don't see it. All we see is a moment in time where there's a hashtag or in the case of John Crawford, him walking through the Walmart. That's literally it. And I think if, if the news cycles or even other entities would kind of focus more on having that continual conversation of like updates of what's been going on...You have families that have been fighting for over 10 years to get justice, like that's ridiculous. But because it's not spoken about and it's not covered, we don't hear about it. So it feels like it's just like a moment in time and onto the next one, onto the next story, onto the next hashtag, onto the next news cycle.
And I feel like we may have saw it more like coverage then because we got to see the whole trial, the whole case with George Zimmerman or whatever. But we don't even really see that now. We just kind of hear updates, you know. We saw what happened with Breonna Taylor in that we didn't really get to see what happened.
It just kind of popped up. They're like, “oh none of the arrested officers will really face anything. Only one for shooting through a drywall and endangering a neighbor.” You know, we don't really get to know what kind of happened, so that people can really understand why they're protesting. Why we are so angry.You know, why? Why are we calling for justice? Why are we demanding certain things of police officers? You know to get to the to the bottom of it.
So I feel like as time goes on honestly coverage has gotten less less and less. And as Chris said, that's why we try to continuously have the conversations with families, check in with them, see what they're working on, see what they may need for support, see how we can amplify whatever it is they're doing, because this is their lives now.
None of them, I'm sure, didn't wake up and decide like, okay, now I'm going to be an activist because I lost a loved one. They didn't, they didn't ask for that, but they felt like that's the only way they can get through by forcing the media or forcing us to pay attention to them in a way that the media is not optimistically trying to seek out and cover.
Chris: You have all these stories that go out, it's like, “oh, the family won X amount of money,” and so back to your question about the media coverage, we quickly want to just wipe our hands and say, “okay, case done.” Well, what people don't realize, and there were less stories put out about this, is the fact that the judge [in the case of Corinne Gaines] came back–and this was a jury that awarded the money–and said, “Nope, you're wrong, I'm actually not awarding that money.” And now the family had to continue to fight to get that money back.
And so that family's still trying to get the money that all the press said that they got. Well, If you're not reporting on this, then the thought process to everybody else is, okay, we got it. We got to win. We got a resolution here, but that's not actually the case. And that's not the only family that has gone through something like that.
So that's why it's important as Adell said for us to continue to have that media coverage, continue to check in with these families to see what is actually happening.
Adell: I was just thinking about Val Carey. So her sister, Miriam Carey, was shot here in the D. C. area. Val was just here last week trying to petition and turning in a bunch of signatures to reopen her sister's case.
Because when the insurrection happened and they stormed the Capitol, you know, it was nothing. But when her sister accidentally took a wrong turn, she lost her life. And so where was the media coverage when she's turning in over 6,000 signatures demanding more information on a case that is mostly redacted or blacked out when you search about what's happened to her sister.
She deserves to be covered. We deserve to understand and to know what the quote-unquote offense was. You know, Val deserves justice for her sister, and Val was a police officer. Yeah. Like, that's a story in itself. A police officer lost her sister to police violence in, in D. C. and then January 6th happened, and nothing, nothing remotely close happened to them that happened to her sister. It's, it's frustrating, admittedly. It really is.
One of the biggest changes was that season 2 included stories of women impacted by police brutality. #SayHerName was another big hashtag that picked up usage in 2014 around the murder of Sandra Bland. Do you think we have become more conscious of the ways that police brutality has impacted Black women–cis and trans, or do you think there is still more work to be done to amplify these stories on par with those of male victims and cultivate support?
Adell: I think that more work has been done, like we are hearing those stories more, but I do think that there's still more work that needs to be done. I think that there's an overall understanding that police brutality is existing and happening. We see these stories all the time, unfortunately; we're aware as people of color, especially.
And then trying to get others like white folk and everyone else to really understand what's happening to get actual change and have us gather in a way that gets it to stop. I think that's a big piece of it. But I also feel like with the women's stories, I do feel like that does need a little more amplification. I do think that we need to speak on that more.
I do think that, beyond our male counterparts, that we do need to hear these stories because, women are also getting killed. Women are also facing so many different [forms of] police brutality. Like literally when I was in Chicago, there was a big case going on about police storming into this woman's bedroom.
They had the wrong apartment and she was getting out the shower and they refused to let her get dressed. Like they just rushed into her apartment. So we hear about these incidents happening but I feel like sometimes the stories of women go away even faster than we hear the stories of men. And I feel like there does need to be more of a concerted effort for us to work collaboratively to be able to tell those stories as well because they are as important and it's just really necessary in order for us to really get actual change and get justice for these families.
For more of our interview, please listen. Also, make sure to follow @DCPOfficial to find out when they release their plans for season three!