By: Mericel Mirabal
From a young age, Tyrone Russell couldn’t keep still. Change was a constant in his life especially since he moved around to 12 different schools in 11 years. That’s why he knew he couldn’t work a regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job. At 9 years old, he started cutting hair, and at 10, he started DJ-ing. These jobs followed him even into college, although Russell would have never defined himself as an entrepreneur then.
After he obtained his Masters in Counseling, he worked at Lehigh University in Residence Life with UMOJA, Taylor and Warren Square. He later held the position of director of multicultural affairs, where he helped start up DanceFest, MOCA and LUSSI. Although these positions gave him a bit more freedom than a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., he still wanted to feel like he was more in control, so he left to start his own marketing firm because he felt that marketing shows where companies’ priorities are. In addition, he became the director for a school of cannabis in Ohio, which led to his passion for educating others.
While he has had many accomplishments in life, Russell struggles between finding a balance with working hard but also not overdoing it. He believes he must never be complacent. He never thinks that he “made it” so that he doesn’t work hard, but he also knows where and when to stop so that it doesn’t have a negative impact.
Many of the business owners and entrepreneurs we’ve asked have said that inclusivity to them was a sense of belonging and feeling welcomed. Most even responded ‘yes’ when we asked them if they felt South Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley were inclusive, although many hinted at still having some sort of privilege over others. Russell, however, commented how as a man of color, “the Lehigh Valley is a cold, cold place.” He noted how much easier it would have been if he were a white male or if he had grown up in the Lehigh Valley because the natives or friends of the natives are now the ones running the Lehigh Valley.
For Russell, the way to improve this is to be consistent. It is something that has to be continuously worked on. We need to break down the barriers by being aware of others’ demographics and not succumbing to people’s negativity. People in positions of power must grow culturally aware and appreciate people’s differences. More people of color and minorities in positions of power will help spread that power and encourage and increase inclusivity.