No Flowers Without the Mud

Media Thumbnail
  • 0.5
  • 1
  • 1.25
  • 1.5
  • 1.75
  • 2
This is a podcast episode titled, No Flowers Without the Mud. The summary for this episode is: <p>We're only two episodes in, and we already blew up our own schedule. Why? Because recently, Elias led a conversation with our partners at Inner City Weightlifting that was too important not to share. In this special episode of The American Dream, you'll meet four members of the ICW team who are sharing their experiences with systemic racism and mass incarceration – and the work ICW is doing to drive change by turning suffering into solutions (and mud into flowers). </p><p><br></p><p><strong style="color: rgb(29, 28, 29);"><em>Thomas Washington - ICW Coach and Advocate:</em></strong><em style="color: rgb(29, 28, 29);">&nbsp;Thomas, M.P.H.,&nbsp;joined ICW in 2018 as a Coach &amp; Advocate who specializes in helping students achieve their ICW certification. He has been designing and leading workouts for students and clients there. </em></p><p><br></p><p><strong style="color: rgb(29, 28, 29);"><em>Jermaine Taylor - ICW Trainer and Gym Assistant:&nbsp;</em></strong><em style="color: rgb(29, 28, 29);">Jermaine was introduced to ICW in September 2012. Prior to ICW, Jermaine was a reputed leader of one of the most historically violent street gangs in Boston’s recent memory. Prior to that, he spent time with the Department of Youth Services, with the earliest incarceration being at the age of 7. The direction in which Jermaine has come from is not indicative of where he is heading. Jermaine said, "ICW is the first program I've been a part of that wholeheartedly understands this. The fact that we take the time to deal with individuals on a case by case basis, and need by need basis really separates ICW from a lot of other programs. One mountain at time, one muscle at a time!”&nbsp;</em></p><p><em style="color: rgb(29, 28, 29);">&nbsp;</em></p><p><strong style="color: rgb(29, 28, 29);"><em>Feliciano Tavares - Chief Program Officer:&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></strong><em style="color: rgb(29, 28, 29);">A Boston Native,&nbsp;Feliciano has spent the majority of his almost 20 year career working with the "proven-risk" population across the state of MA. Prior to ICW, he spent the last 7 years of his career at the Boston Public Health Commission working for the Division of Violence Prevention's Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI). Throughout his career, he has shown a dedication for the improvement of the lives of the most vulnerable people within his community.</em></p><p><br></p><p><strong style="color: rgb(29, 28, 29);"><em>Ian Kilpatrick - Head of Corporate Partnerships: </em></strong><span style="background-color: transparent;">Ian’s role at ICW is to build and create strong community relationships through its Corporate Training program.</span></p><p><br></p><p>Learn more about ICW here: </p><p><br></p><p>Be sure to hit the subscribe button to get new episodes when they drop every month.</p><p><br></p><p>In the meantime, be sure to leave a ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Elias on Twitter @eliast @DriftPodcasts.</p><p><br></p><p>For more learnings from Elias, check out his quarterly newsletter, The American Dream. You can subscribe at</p>
InnerCity Weightlifting Mission: To Amplify Voices Impacted by Mass Incarceration
01:02 MIN
How We Move Forward in the BLM Movement; Turning Mud Into Flowers
00:49 MIN
Pay Attention to Local Politics, And Vote
01:08 MIN
The Impact of ICW: Providing Family and Structure
01:04 MIN
Bringing Networks Together and Creating Connections, Not Charity and Handouts
01:23 MIN

Elias: Welcome back to The American Dream. For my second episode, I decided to blow up my own schedule and release something totally unplanned, but super important. At Drift, we work very closely with an amazing organization. They're called InnerCity Weightlifting, right here in Roxbury. ICW's mission is to amplify the voice and agency of people who have been the most impacted by the systemic racism and mass incarceration. We recently sat down with them and had a really impactful conversation about everything we've been seeing on the news lately. I wanted to make this accessible to everyone because it's too important not to share. Enjoy, and be sure to let me know what you think by leaving a review or continuing the conversation on LinkedIn and Twitter. Welcome, Drifters, to this lunch and learn. Thank you so much for joining us today. I'm really psyched to be joined by a great team of people that belong to this amazing organization that I somehow stay close, because Ian always calls me, and John. So, it's like, I'm staying really close and I really appreciate what they do. I think they play a big part in Boston and they want to expand and do this all over the country. I think that everybody knows why we're here. We all see the media and the news every day, and there's just a lot of struggle in our society to help us understand how we should evolve and how should we grow as a society to really love and respect every single person in this country. And to really address some of these systemic issues that have been going on for many, many, many years. I'm only familiar to this country since 1993. And so, I don't have the background. I only have one of the perspectives as a Latino immigrant, and I don't have all of the perspectives, but I really have come to learn in the past year more about what the journey of blacks in this country has been and how difficult it is of a problem. And I think that David and I, you heard us. We don't want to be silent on the issue. I want to find my own balance in making sure that we create room for us to discuss this stuff. I mean, I think we want to be able to have decent conversations and learn from one another and not just argue, but really hear from others that educate us. I think that's one of the things that I set out myself to do this year, was to keep it simple. One was to educate myself, to learn more because I'm an immigrant. I wasn't born here. I'm not in every of the other races or other minority groups to understand their point of view. So, I want to hear from others so I can grow and I can drive change. But I'm really passionate about InnerCity Weightlifting and the team, what they do. I'm a big supporter. And so, today I want to introduce you to more of the team. For those of you that don't know, we're going to have Ian and crew introduce yourselves. And tell us a little bit more about yourself. Quick intro, because then I'm going to have questions for each of you.

Ian Kilpatrick: Yeah, I'll introduce myself very quickly, and I'll introduce everyone from ICW, just to basically be more efficient. So, my name is Ian Kilpatrick. I know a bunch of you on here. First of all, thank you, Elias, both for taking action when we first met a couple of years ago. You really made the workouts happen really fast, and I'm really excited to see how we evolve to come to the point where we're collaborating with something like this. I really appreciate your advocacy for our organization. So, thank you and thanks for everyone for showing up. So, I'm the head of corporate partnership. I do a little bit of everything, though, like we all do at ICW, and I've been here for three years and really what connects me and kind of everything that I care about checks all those boxes. I really have always, since growing up, have really cared about racial equity and social justice. I love fitness. I've been a personal trainer for about eight years now, and I really love creative ways of solving some of these social issues that we're going to talk about, and doing it through fitness kind of is the perfect overlap for me. So, I love working for ICW. I love our model, how we really center the voices of those that are in our program and really try to tackle the bigger picture stuff while also helping on the ground level and meeting our students and the people in our program where they are in their lives and not trying to kind of put them into a cookie cutter program, because it just doesn't work realistically for the people that we work with. So, just a really quick explanation of ICW, in case this is your first interaction with us, which I realize might be the case. We are a nonprofit organization. Our mission is to amplify the voice and agency of those most impacted by mass incarceration, and then from a bigger picture level, systemic racism in general. So, the people that we're working with are coming from the neighborhoods in Boston that, to steal a phrase from police, have been the most disinvested in, and that disinvestment over the course of decades has really led to some of the unique challenges, most specifically street violence, that those students in our program are going through or experiencing at different stages. So, we're really trying to highlight their voices because one thing that happens too often with street violence and mass incarceration is you get a lot of academic perspectives and political perspectives. And very rarely are the voices of those that are actually experiencing the trauma of street violence and the trauma of mass incarceration. Very rarely are they the ones at the table for the solution. So, we started just as kind of this fitness organization where we're including people in a certification program. And then that leads to a personal training career, which kind of culminates at our social enterprise location in Kendall Square, but really, we've evolved to sharing the stories, and the stories of our trainers are kind of what creates the action, and those stories get shared in each personal training or group fitness session that we do with a company or with our clients. We've kind of found ourselves given the opportunity, partly through COVID and being able to talk to more people at once, of really getting those stories amplified. I know Drift has been a big participant in a lot of our discussions over the past year, and we're grateful for that. So, that's where we're at right now, just sharing those stories, amplifying the voices and provide really, and we'll get to this at the end of the session, we really want to focus, as awful and urgent as responding to police brutality and mass incarceration, we also want to start talking about the solutions that we've already started to provide in communities that are kind of proactive. You know what I mean? So, I know Felice will touch on that and I know Jermaine will touch on that. I'll introduce you. Felice is our chief program officer. He spent about a decade with the commission of public health and basically spearheaded the anti- violence movement when Boston started to look at street violence as a public health issue. So, not only has he been helping the solution, but he's also been on the front lines of working with the population that we serve for the last 10 years. So, we're very grateful to have him. Thomas is one of our coaches/ advocates, which means that he is really a mentor, an advisor, a supervisor, a helper of all people that come through our program. And I know through his background, he's able to do a great job of relating to the students that we work with. And hopefully he can share some of that once we get into the conversation. And then Jermaine Taylor on here, he is currently a manager of our Kendall Square site, but he started way back, as anyone starts in our program, learning how to be a personal trainer. And just because he has an array of talents and skills, he's kind of done a little bit of everything for us in the past and has really stepped up, especially in this last year, as someone we've asked him to do all sorts of things and he does it eagerly and does it in a hardworking manner. So, we're grateful to have him on here as well. And he's going to be speaking to a lot of the program experiences from going through it, as opposed to Felice and I can kind of share the bigger picture philosophy from a outside or a staff perspective. So, that's everyone on our side.

Elias: Thank you, Ian. And I'm a mentor of Ian, so I speak with tough love. You got to describe ICW more substantively than that, right? I want to tell you what ICW is to me. ICW is changing lives. It's really taking action. It's really focusing on doing and really being with people where it matters most. It's not about just talking about it, it's doing it, and you guys do it with love. I think it's what I love best. And I think many of us are looking for ways to help. And that's why I wanted to bring you here, for people to see, how do we actually do things? How can we actually get dirty with our own hands? So, I'm going to go ask the first question, two of you, I'm going to ask this to Thomas and Jermaine. Tell me a little bit about your story. Remember, we got to be mindful of time. We got to keep it short. How did you first get connected? Tell us a little bit about your personal story. Not about ICW, but how did you come across? Who are you? What was that moment in time and how has this impacted your life? And my question here is said positively, just tell us either way. Thomas, first.

Thomas: Hello, everybody. I'm Thomas, for those who don't know me, and for those who have worked out with me, I say thank you for logging on. I know it's a difficult time right now, working from home and having no exercise equipment, different things like that. I just want to thank you for being patient with me. I'm originally from Miami, Florida. I was a sports player, played sports all my life, football, basketball, ran track, had all types of offers, scholarships to go to different places. And I led that journey. Got hurt in the end of my year, had to make a decision what I was going to do, how I was going to live my life. Decided to really focus on education, and from education to streets to sports. It led me to Boston. I was a coach, coaching high school football and girls basketball in Boston. And I wanted to go a different avenue where I was with Boston public schools and I wanted to do something different. And I ran across ICW, met a couple of guys that through the program and they told me about it. And I felt like this is something that I want to be a part of. I wasn't always a good kid. I had trouble. I got incarcerated, selling drugs, house got raided, got guns drawn on me, different things like that. So, I lived the lifestyle a lot of these young men are doing now and it kind of led me to it. And I've been here for three years, and it's also mine and I love it. I love just being able to be here for them when they need somebody to talk to, asking different questions about things going on in their life. And it is special to me because I feel like I'm helping somebody with their life every day.

Elias: Amazing story. Thank you, Thomas. A question, simple one. Having had that record growing up, having had made those choices, did that affect where you could get a job, and was ICW different?

Thomas: Yes, it was. It was difficult because it's kind of tough to get jobs when you have criminal backgrounds and different things like that. ICW overlooks that and they try to figure out a way to how they can help them get on their feet. And that's something that drawed me to wanting to work for them, because it's like you giving somebody a second chance.

Elias: And just a quick thing to add to the succinct version of Elias for ICW, how do they change lives? They create a space for them to work out, to have a safe space. And then they teach them to be trainers, to have their own profession, so they can actually have a job and run their own business. So, there's a path for them to graduate out of it. And they take a lot of the crime, most of the crime is in the inner city in Boston. They can actually change all of that if they have the right resources. It's manageable. We could do it if we had the right support from both the government and the community. Jermaine, same question to you. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and how'd you come to meet ICW, and the impact that it has had in your life.

Jermaine Taylor: Good afternoon. My name is Jermaine Taylor. I came in contact with ICW in 2012. I was recently inaudible removed from a eight- year federal sentence. Prior to ICW, prior to the jail sentence, I grew up in inner city Boston, Dorchester. I was a reputed gang leader. Eventually, the federal government kind of took us down and that was the cause of me going in. While I was in, ICW was in its more infantile stages. It was like a newborn. And a lot of my younger guys were a part of the core group that started with them. And when I came home in 2012, John was very persistent. He got my number from somebody else and he just didn't stop calling me until I finally decided to come in. When I came in, I instantly, it's so genuine, you can feel it. It's almost tangible. Like someone mentioned before, they teach with love. I believe it was you. And that's an understatement. For me, the fact that they individualized and dealt with everyone on a case by case basis, as opposed to having some universal metric, which is pretty much the general approach, it lit this sense of purpose in me that I felt Thomas just spoke about. It's like you have a sense of purpose. It's like, whoa, this influence I have, I would much rather use it to steer people in a better direction. I came in, I was a trainer. I was still, even though I wanted to do the right things mentally, I still lived in the neighborhood. I still had the same issues in regards to safety and such. I carried a firearm every day. I came to the gym with a firearm. I eventually got caught with that firearm and went upstate for three years. So, then I came home with federal probation, upstate probation. Throughout all of that, ICW maintained its relationship with me. They visited me in jail, sent me books, pictures, comfort, and provided me with the hope of, hey, when you go home, we're not giving up on you. That was very imperative along my journey to becoming who I am today. Since then, this is my longest tenure home since my first time ever incarcerated. This is the highest position I've ever held at any type of employment. To succinctly put it, ICW is, I won't say single- handedly, but it's up there as far as how much responsibility and weight it holds in regards to the transition from me being an inmate, a gang member, to me being a member of society. Without it, I don't even think I'd be able to make the transition.

Elias: Beautiful. I love to be able to hear this and get to work with you guys and be able to help just trying to give this to our company and to our people. I'll wait to hear the stories. So, it's been a crazy year. Crazy year. I don't know how many months anymore. It's more than a year. We've talked about how this pandemic, talked about a little bit, I don't know if everybody really knows and understands it. And I'm going to say it outright, we in tech are spoiled. We're truly, truly spoiled. We go, we keep our jobs, we keep our salaries. We go to work from home. We order groceries. That is just the fucking truth. I mean, I can't hide that. And I have to watch my mouth when I complain about me being home and stuff like that, compared to how it has affected the minority groups. So, let's put that out there. I don't want to disregard that. I want to hear how it has impacted you. Maybe Felice, maybe Thomas, how this has affected, both having a pandemic, and just the climax I think of BLM, of the suffering and the pain, the double pain that you have to suffer, of pandemic, health, safety, jobs. And on top of that, the mistreatment of blacks out in their communities. Thomas, you want to go first? How has this affected you?

Thomas: It affected me a lot, especially living day by day having to go different places in different neighborhoods, just always watching my back and just making sure that I'm not saying the wrong things to different people. It really hits home, but it also realized with what you're doing and you pay attention and try not to make mistakes. Nobody's perfect. So, you just try to do the best you can to not make a mistake and not get put in a predicament where somebody is coming towards you or anything like that. I try to just mind my business and just go what I got to do and just be around the people that I have to be around for a job wise, and I just try to limit myself from touching different peoples when I'm teaching classes and different things like that.

Elias: Thomas, I don't get what you're saying.

Thomas: For as the pandemic.

Elias: You've seen some stuff. I think you're speaking in code words. You're like," I can't do this. Not be careful what I say." Can you be more concrete of, what do you feel you're at risk? What do you think that you crosstalk.

Thomas: When I get pulled over by a cop for running a red light or I didn't make a complete stop at a stop sign, and it's not trying to," Sir, why did you pull me over?" And just try to make sure I don't say the wrong thing to make him try to come at me, to feel like I'm trying to be a threat to him. Or not just cops, just guys in the streets. You can't walk by somebody and somebody say" what's up?" to you and you don't say what's back. Different things like that. You just don't know your surroundings, for as living in Dorchester and so much stuff going around in the neighborhoods. And I live in Mattapan and that's one of the worst neighborhoods in Dorchester, or in Boston, where there's a lot of violence that take place.

Elias: Yeah, it is. I wrote about a story, I got pulled over with my sons and the cop came and yelled at me," Put your hands where I can see them." And I just watched 13th, Ian, that we talked about it. And it was like, holy shit, this is what it feels like. You say the wrong thing. And now you're telling me about Mattapan. My daughter is dating a guy in Mattapan, and she goes out there and drives to visit. So, I'm going to have to go with her. So, in case somebody says" what's up?" to her. This is real. I'm getting the goosebumps right now of, I know what that feels like to be in the street. And somebody comes to you and says," What's up?" And you're like, I don't know what to say right now, because this could break out into a fight any minute. And you could be on the losing end of that for many reasons. Felice, tell me a little bit about what's it been like for you, the pandemic, BLM, being out there, what do you feel for your safety?

Felice: Well, there's a couple of different things. I think for the pandemic, I've lost six people just personally myself from the pandemic itself, from COVID. So, I think one thing that the pandemics usually do is expose long- standing inequities, and this is no different. We deal with a vulnerable population. I'm from Roxbury, born and raised. And so, when we talk about Boston, it's pretty much one of the most segregated cities in the country. And so, when you're talking about the population that we serve and vulnerable people in the city, you really talk about Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan. And in terms of the Black Lives Matter movement, for me, it's always been the lives part that's important in that statement. For me, it's not about when we're gunned down by the police, but actually, how the quality of life while we're living. How do people live and how does institutional brutality deal with us on a daily basis? Not just about police brutality, but our access to healthcare. Do we work 40 hours and not getting paid a livable wage in a city that's very expensive to live in. And so, those are the things that ICW, one of the big reasons why I came to ICW was because it was an opportunity to do the ground level work with our people in the community, but also this parallel strategy, fighting against the longstanding institutional disenfranchisement and disinvestment of my people. And so, for me, it's been about obviously a lot of loss, a lot of change, but then it's also been about how we move forward and how we figure this thing out and how we make people feel responsible, not just when they see George Floyd get killed by the police, but how do we explain to people that their vote matters and who they support in these local elections and federal elections and how they support organizations that do real ground level actionable work, how they can actually make a change that way. So, it's always been about no flowers without the mud. That's what it's always been for black people, no flowers without the mud. And we've been through a lot of mud. And so, now it's a point where we're really trying to turn that into some flowers, turn that suffering into solutions and trying to figure that thing out. So, for me, that's kind of what has been in a nutshell is really about quality of life for the people, not only just that I have been working for my whole career, but people that I've grown up around, my friends, my family. So, yeah, that's kind of what has been, for me in a nutshell, has been a lot of pain, but it's been a lot of good things, a lot of solutions. And just trying to be about action, showing people what I believe, not telling people what I believe, but actually showing them.

Ian Kilpatrick: I don't think Felice is going to give himself some of these props, so I'll do it for him. But one thing Felice has done an incredible job of as far as taking the challenges of a pandemic and turning it into an opportunity is he's used this kind of remote world that we're in now to be able to reach out to potential program participants that we haven't been able to work with in the past. We can only have certain groups in our physical space because of safety issues, but because Felice both has connections on that ground level, and because he's innovative, we've been actually able to grow the amount of groups in Boston that we work with through the opportunities that the pandemic has brought up. And that's not something that's going to stop once we're back to normal, because it's an effective way to do it. So, just wanted to give him quick props.

Elias: Correct me if I'm wrong, just want to give more context to the team on what you're talking about. 80% of the violence in Boston comes from 400 individuals in the inner city, as roughly, am I...

Ian Kilpatrick: Right. I mean, these are rough stats.

Elias: Rough stats, just to give people context, we're talking about, you guys are mentoring and working with 25 of them, probably have waitlisted 75.

Ian Kilpatrick: We probably can work with 150 safely in person, and then, Felice, correct me if I'm wrong, but then there's probably another 300 that we're working to get creative on working with.

Elias: And what you're talking about, what Felice is doing is that you can't bring people from different gangs at the same time into the gym.

Ian Kilpatrick: Correct.

Elias: But through remote, you've been able to now work and develop relationships with multiple of those groups that you couldn't.

Felice: And also trying to create little satellites, little smaller ICW satellites around the city using other gyms, using other spaces, using community centers. So, really just trying to be creative about spreading the offense a little bit. And we're trying to figure out a safe way to double our impact within the city.

Elias: And how long have you been with ICW? It's less than a year, right, Felice?

Felice: Yeah. It's been a year and some change now. I left the commission kind of right before the pandemic really set in.

Elias: Yeah, I know. I was talking to John and when he was like," I need Felice", and I was like," You go get him, you go get him." I do recruiting a little bit here. And thank you for joining him. I'm going to ask you, I'm a little bit removed. I see what happens, Derek, on April 20th, what happened. On Instagram, I see what everybody's saying, but it's different for me. I'm removed. I want to hear it from you. I want to hear from you. Jermaine, tell me, how does it feel to you, that verdict? What does it feel to you, that moment on that day? Tell us about what does it mean to you? Because I want to learn from you.

Jermaine Taylor: When you say the verdict, it's the Chauvin verdict?

Elias: Yeah.

Jermaine Taylor: It's a rather personal question, but let's inaudible for the sake of sparking conversation. I don't think I have a typical viewpoint. I do feel, everyone has some sense of elation. There's this joy there's a conviction. It's finally a step in the right direction. But me as an individual, there's no joy involved in, there's no joy in justice for me. I've been on the other side, I've created victims and I've been the victim. There's no joy in any part of the process. So, I think it's like a mirage. It's kind of this false sense of just security in the moment that things are trending towards the right direction. Because if I recall correctly, within hours, someone else was, unarmed black man was killed. No, excuse me. It was a 15- year- old girl who had a knife who was killed by a police officer. Details are pretty sketchy about the situation, but it was like, while people were in this celebratory mode, it instantly was dragged back down by the reality of, hey, we're still dying by the hands of police, by law enforcement. So, for me, rather than ride the peaks and valleys, which is very emotionally draining and taxing, I'm kind of numb at this point. And it's just like, with all due respect, I hold everyone's life in high regard, but it's just another one and another one and another one and another one. I have a fiance, I have two children at home. That is my focus at this point. It's like I create a shell around them and I try to insulate them and I try to educate them. That's the best I can do. That's my contribution to the world. What comes from me and what I send out, it's going to be better than what is currently going on. As far as my opinion, I don't think having an opinion, but a better word, it's very non- effective. Everyone has one. It's like a asshole at this point. I'm tired of the gossip. I'm tired of the... It's been going on since Trayvon for me. That's when I kind of got aware. It's a long time.

Elias: No, I appreciate it. Don't worry about having a non- standard opinion. This is a safe space. You can say anything you want. And if anyone hear complaints from Drift, I got your back. Don't worry. I'll let them deal with me. Felice, Thomas, you want to add to that? It's really sad, right? It's really hard that a lot of people have lots of opinions, but you are just numb. You just don't see a solution, right? And that's your perspective from your side of it. And you have to protect your family. Right now, it's your top priority. And that's all you see within your grasp. And what we're hoping is, how do we see the opportunity? How do we see the light at the end of the tunnel that we can do more than just what you're trying to do right now? So, Felice, Thomas, anything you want to add to that?

Felice: Yes. So, for me, not to get too dark, but I actually watched the whole footage, and there's one point in the footage, this is when the officer has his knee on George Floyd's neck. And at one point in the footage, it's around the seven minute mark, he's literally picking rocks out of the tire while he has his knee on his neck. In legal terms, that's wanton indifference. It's like, man, it's like you have no care about this individual. And for me, that was just a powerful moment because I'm like, man, this dude is literally killing this man and picking rocks out of the tire that he was facing. It's a small thing, but these small things add up for the black community. It's like, for me, once again, like Jermaine said so eloquently, and for black people, this is more of the same. This is from Emmett Till, this is consistent throughout the history of the country. And when you get into lynching and you get into that part, and then you get into how it's done institutionally through Jim Crow laws. One of the first things that Jim Crow laws did off the rip was if you don't have property, you can't vote. And so, that just disenfranchised every free black person in the country. And so, when we see progress and then we see this backlash, like now, and I've said to a lot of my friends and family, I thought black people saved democracy in this last election. The way we voted and flipped a state like Georgia that's been red forever, and then what do we get for that? We get these new laws, these new Jim Crow laws, trying to disenfranchise folks in that same area that came out and participated in democracy. So, it's tough being a person from the community because we just give and give and give. And literally in my opinion, saved democracy this last time around, and what do we get for it? We get new Jim Crow laws. And so, my thought for everybody out there that's listening is just pay attention as these issues get a little closer to your home. Black kids should be able to walk to good schools and enable it, not have to go to a program like METCO and get bused out to Western and Walton. They should be able to walk to good schools. And so, when you vote and you think about how you vote, think about those things too, because it's not just about watching George Floyd die. That's easy to say that wrong. When this starts getting closer to your home, make sure you have that same level of energy when you're thinking about these things and when you have the conversations with your family and friends and coworkers. These are the things that we need to be thinking about, because this is what adds up to this crescendo that we're in now. It's all this injustice. So, I don't want to go on too long. Just building off what Jermaine said, that's kind of where I think we're at as a community. And we just want to see more actions.

Elias: I think you're in the vein of action that we can take. Can you tell us, big picture, what ICW's approach to create a positive change and an impact in those lives and how we can take part in that? Both through Drift and personal, we don't want to hold anyone back, It's like, you can go directly, anyone that is listening to this can go contact Ian, Felice, everybody, and go join and take part. They need a lot of help. So, tell us a little bit about that, please.

Felice: What we're doing is day to day work with individuals. Like Jermaine said, it's real personalized. We're not trying to tell anybody what they need. We're trying to figure out what they want and then try to help them get there, whether that's workforce development or whether that's just baseline case management stuff, like do you have health insurance? When's the last time you got a physical? From the baseline all the way up to where Jermaine is right now, we're trying to figure out how he makes his next million bucks. And so, that's going from the baseline all the way to the other. That's what we're trying to do on a day- to- day basis. And I'd say in terms of support of the organization, it's about telling your friends to work out with us. It's about giving opportunities to our trainers to train you. It's about making donations. It's about standing up when you hear our name called and really saying," I know this organization, they're for real." As we grow, I think a big part, I know you said at the beginning about expansion, we're looking at expansion, but I think one thing that we talked about internally, and Jermaine's been a part of that conversation, Thomas, Ian, all of us, how do we do it better here? How do we double our impact here? Before we start thinking about going to other cities, how do we actually pull that off? Because that's a undertaking within itself. And so, one thing that we're trying to stress, and one thing I've stressed to guys that I work in my whole career, and I've worked with opposite sides and opposite factions, is there's a shared suffering going on. And so, if guys sat down and really explained to each other the days, how the day plays out, it's very similar. Regardless if they're enemies or not, they're still from this community, and this community is under another kind of violence and oppression. And so, that's what we're trying to really galvanize guys around the idea of changing their lives. But definitely need all the help we can get and definitely train with us, get other corporations to train with us, definitely log on, stay in tune with what we're doing, be part of the civic discussions. And then change the conversation at your dinner table too, because that's really what's going to change things, is really bringing it home to people. And as it gets a little closer, and do you still support the same way? So, I think those are the ways that people can jump in and help and be a part of what we're trying to do.

Elias: Yeah. You guys, everybody at Drift, and other people in other companies, any introductions that you want to make to other companies to channel them through Ian, Ian is out there, want to talk to other companies that want to run the program like they do with Drift. So, please send referrals. Those are big, big, make huge impact because then this propagates to another entire company. One of the things, I want to get some time for questions. Anything else you want to maybe teach, Jermaine, want to talk a little bit about the impact on your personal level on ICW? I think you already touched a little bit. Anything you want to add?

Jermaine Taylor: I think ICW is family and structure. I grew up in the system. My family is immigrants and stuff. For the most part, I was lost in the streets. I always got my structure, usually came inadvertently through prison, which I learned later in life. And my family was who was the most genuine with me. It wasn't who had the best intent for me, but who was the most genuine, and as I've matured and as I've reached the place I am currently, ICW definitely provided both, structure as well as family. And then so, with that, there's this unparalleled level of support that I have from here. During the day, I'm a personal trainer/ general manager of this place. Every evening though, I'm a dad of two and I'm a recording artist. This place has helped me tremendously with my music, with stuff that has nothing to do with this place in particular. I've gotten other jobs through this place. I've gotten job opportunities where it's been down to a contingency letter and it's upon my hearing back on my query. That is one of the most disappointing things ever, but through ICW, literally the car I'm driving now, there's a limitless amount of resources and it's just like, you have to tap in. And there's so many, it's just everywhere. Yeah. A lot of my success, if not damn near all of it, is a credit to the resources that I've made through ICW, partnered with my will and the ability to exercise such, because that's imperative as well. That will, everyone doesn't necessarily have it. Sometimes, something has to happen to wake it up. And I'm just fortunate for mine to be thriving right now.

Elias: Thank you. Thank you. We have a growing team, and it's really hard to communicate our culture and our principles and the way that we work, especially when we're remote. And so, that structure and the love, we're here to grow the value of the careers and the personal purpose of the people that join Drift. I understand the struggle of how to do that. And that ICW has been able to give that to you in replace person is just a big testament to ICW.

Ian Kilpatrick: I want to just chime in, because Jermaine, we spoke of what a credit to ICW, but it's really not necessarily a program. A program is how everything gets started and it's crucial. But it's really, and this is the term you might see on our website and some of our materials, bridging social capital. So, a lot of the benefits that Jermaine just mentioned is basically just doing, because ICW facilitated a relationship between him and a client or him and a board member, and then these discussions. We've had discussions and someone like Jermaine might mention something, he's having trouble with the job, and then I'll get a bunch of emails the next day, like," Hey, I have a connection at XYZ. I can help Jermaine out." It's not necessarily even as complicated as one might think. Sometimes, it's really just the fact that our society is kind of set up in a segregated way, especially with resources and network. And when we can bring those networks together, I think natural intuition is to help someone out, especially if they are struggling, but we have to create the scenarios where those connections can happen. So, we utilize and leverage the gym and fitness and discussions like this to do that. But I would encourage other people to think about talking about being an ally or whatever. It's like, how do you facilitate the bridging of social capital or the connection between people? And it's not about charity or lending, giving a handout. It's just about connection. And the reason why I work at ICW is because our trainers are put in the position of expertise and of power with their knowledge of training. And that immediately brings down that historical system that we've always had. Right in that moment, that is temporarily gone for that training session. So, that's when real change happens. When you keep those structures in place in different scenarios, then it's going to kind of keep repeating, no matter how good people's intentions are. So, I would be, I know you all can be creative, but how can you flip those dynamics or how can you create situations like this one in the real world, where you're connecting with other people that are completely different?

Elias: Appreciate you all. Thank you, ICW. Thank you, Jermaine, Felice, T, Ian, thank you for being here with us. We want to keep working with you, and please team, you'll have direct access to them. Take advantage of it and help out. Thank you so much.

Ian Kilpatrick: Thanks, Elias.

Thomas: Thank you. Looking to see more of y'all in the workout next week.

Elias: Exactly, that's right, T. Doing some boxing. Thanks for listening to The American Dream. Let me know what you thought of this episode by tweeting me @ eliast. Be sure to hit subscribe and leave a five- star review, por favor. If you're looking for more leadership insights and stories like the ones you just heard, sign up for my series, The American Dream, at drift. com/ american- dream. Every quarter, you'll learn how Drift is progressing towards our mission of remaking the face of corporate America. And you will get insights from amazing Latin American and entrepreneurs of color, and leaders like Manny Medina of Outreach, Maria Martinez of Cisco and many others, along with curated content, news, events and ideas delivered straight to your inbox. Muchos gracias and don't forget to sign up.


We're only two episodes in, and we already blew up our own schedule. Why? Because recently, Elias led a conversation with our partners at Inner City Weightlifting that was too important not to share. In this special episode of The American Dream, you'll meet four members of the ICW team who are sharing their experiences with systemic racism and mass incarceration – and the work ICW is doing to drive change by turning suffering into solutions (and mud into flowers).

Thomas Washington - ICW Coach and Advocate: Thomas, M.P.H., joined ICW in 2018 as a Coach & Advocate who specializes in helping students achieve their ICW certification. He has been designing and leading workouts for students and clients there.

Jermaine Taylor - ICW Trainer and Gym Assistant: Jermaine was introduced to ICW in September 2012. Prior to ICW, Jermaine was a reputed leader of one of the most historically violent street gangs in Boston’s recent memory. Prior to that, he spent time with the Department of Youth Services, with the earliest incarceration being at the age of 7. The direction in which Jermaine has come from is not indicative of where he is heading. Jermaine said, "ICW is the first program I've been a part of that wholeheartedly understands this. The fact that we take the time to deal with individuals on a case by case basis, and need by need basis really separates ICW from a lot of other programs. One mountain at time, one muscle at a time!” 


Feliciano Tavares - Chief Program Officer:  A Boston Native, Feliciano has spent the majority of his almost 20 year career working with the "proven-risk" population across the state of MA. Prior to ICW, he spent the last 7 years of his career at the Boston Public Health Commission working for the Division of Violence Prevention's Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI). Throughout his career, he has shown a dedication for the improvement of the lives of the most vulnerable people within his community.

Ian Kilpatrick - Head of Corporate Partnerships: Ian’s role at ICW is to build and create strong community relationships through its Corporate Training program.

Learn more about ICW here:

Be sure to hit the subscribe button to get new episodes when they drop every month.

In the meantime, be sure to leave a ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Elias on Twitter @eliast @DriftPodcasts.

For more learnings from Elias, check out his quarterly newsletter, The American Dream. You can subscribe at