In a world that often shies away from candid discussions about race and its role in society, Darius Hicks is a force to be reckoned with. As the host of “While Black,” Hicks doesn’t pull punches, nor does he tread lightly while leading conversations that extend beyond the surface. This show is designed to give listeners the real and raw of life as a Black person: From navigating corporate America and building financial equity to personal grooming tips and thriving in creative spaces. His interviews open doors for guests to speak boldly on topics that are often kept quiet, an element that keeps listeners coming back for insights they don’t always hear in their everyday lives.
“While Black” is an unfiltered exploration of race and the influence of the African diaspora, and a resource for those who seek to become competent allies and better understand Black people. With every episode, Hicks aims to fill gaps regarding information and access, all while sparking a sense of purpose in the Black community and the belief that its potential is limitless.
“I didn’t want us left with less in a world that already told us we were not enough,” he tells REVOLT in this exclusive interview.
Go deeper with Darius Hicks and learn more about his compelling journey as the host of “While Black” below. Also, be sure to tune into new episodes via the REVOLT Podcast Network.
You’re not afraid to be real and raw in your discussions on race and its role in society. Why is it important for you to take this approach?
Race as a topic is something that we have been taught to only speak about in hushed tones and only amongst a small group of trusted individuals, but that is not how real change happens and it’s definitely not how systematic change occurs. So I decided that I wanted to be loud and free in my speech on race and topics related to Black betterment. I don’t pull my punches or my thoughts – you get it real, and raw, and full of every emotion I feel as I speak.
Can you share a personal experience that influenced you to step up and create a platform where Blackness is celebrated out loud?
I was in my grandmother’s garage in Jackson, MS and talking to my cousin. I was explaining to him that as I approached 40 (I was 38 at the time), I needed to change my retirement strategy and, in turn, wanted to update the protocols guiding my 401k. I spoke to him for 10-15 minutes and at the end of the conversation, I was expecting him to tell me something amazing or ask me the question that I most needed to hear to move in the right direction. This wasn’t just my cousin; this was my favorite cousin and I had never given thought to his education or occupation… I just knew he was wise and always had something to share that made me better.
I waited, and he was quiet for a few moments and then he said he had one question. I knew this was going to be the question that opened my mind and sent me off to build and grow wealth, but what he said instead created disappointment and anger in me. He asked me, “What is a 401k?”
I was angry at myself and sad for him. Angry that I had hundreds of thousands of dollars in mine and somewhere along the way, I forgot about him. I forgot to tell my favorite cousin about this tool and if I had not told him, then I absolutely had not told my least favorite cousin. And that meant since he was around 10 years older than me, he had done — more than likely — nothing for his own retirement. I had the information he needed, and I failed him and myself by not telling him.
I looked at my cousin as a proxy for Black America and I didn’t want him, me, you or anyone else to find themselves in a situation where the information they needed was so close in proximity but still not shared. I didn’t want us left with less than in a world that already told us we were not enough.
I started “While Black” to fill those holes, create the needed inspiration, and help us go grow and succeed.
Your guests range from esteemed sommeliers to academics and content creators. What do you hope others understand from the diversity of people you invite on the show?
That we don’t need anyone’s permission to be great or to be exactly who we are. We do not have to be limited by other people’s perceptions of who we are. Our abilities are indeed limited but only by our imagination and level of effort. Sometimes we fail, but that doesn’t mean the game is over; it means we have to alter our strategy or level of effort.
What feedback have you received that demonstrates the impact your podcast has had on listeners’ understanding of Black life?
We get [so] much positive reinforcement from our audience. But, I think that the feedback we get that makes me feel like I’m making a difference is a combination of someone who feels lost and unseen telling us that through our words, they felt seen and being seen gave them what they needed to try something that had been in their heart to do.
The second thing is that we are listed on the Harvard University website in a list of anti-racism resources.
Have there been any unexpected lessons or growth you’ve experienced as a result of hosting “While Black”?
Yes, that there are white people who tune in and learn the answers to the questions that they were too afraid to ask out loud. Gaining an understanding has allowed them to move into or closer to allyship.
What books do you recommend to people who are interested in digging further into your show’s subject matter?
Anything by James Baldwin.
In honor of your signature question, what do you love most about life “While Black”?
I love all the typical stuff about us — I love our rich skin, I love our glow, I love our power and resilience. I love our story and our triumphs, but what I really love about life while Black is that the most important things about life — the free things that make life worth living — the vast majority of them come from us… the culture we create and how it engulfs culture, [it’s] cool how it starts and leads most trends, how everyone celebrates the things we create even when they won’t celebrate us.