Simone Jennifer Smith - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Tell us a little bit more about yourself?
My full name is Simone Jennifer Smith. I like going by my full name because not a lot of people do so. I am 34 years old, and I still feel like I have a lot more to learn about life. I am one of the most rebellious individuals I know, and this is one of the key reasons for me starting my company Hear 2 Help. I am motivated by learning. I believe that knowledge is truly power. When people first meet me, they are instantly intrigued by how I look. I say this not because I think people see me as attractive, but I think it has to do with my body art. Body art (piercings, tattoo's) may seem abnormal to some, but I know that it is just another way that individuals express themselves. When people begin speaking to me, they see how intense I become when discussing topics that interest me. I have been told more then once that I should run for a political position. I would if I believed in our political system.
Tell us something not many people know about you?
I spent six years in university working as a bartender at an adult entertainment bar. I ended up conducting research there on gender stereotypes and wrote my thesis on how society views female and male adult entertainers. I presented this thesis at the University of Toronto for their Annual Undergraduate Thesis Presentations.
What's your inspiration or how do you get motivated?
I at inspired the most when I am going through rough times in my life. I usually end up catastrophizing the situation; but once I have gotten over myself, I begin to look at what can be learned from my situation. This learning is what motivates me. I learn to do what I need to do to get past this situation and excel. I am motivated by tragedy. It makes me push myself past my limits. Life is painful, only the strong survive.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
I believe that I have gotten this far because of my parents prayer, my friends support, God, and some good old fashion hard work. I am that person who will work until 4:00 a.m. and then get up for 8:00 a.m. only to work until 5:00 p.m. The sky is the limit for me. All of my setbacks have pushed me this far. Now that I have found stable ground, the only direction for me is up!
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for just being myself - not playing a role, not conforming to societal pressures, not limiting my beliefs; just being me. I do what I can for people. There are users and givers. I am a giver. I want people to know that I am available and will do what I need to do to help them out!
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
I have stopped believing that I can do this. I allow my work, family and friends to balance me. If someone who cares about me see's that I am not doing my thing, they will let me know. This is why it is important to have a strong, dependable and loyal team around you. They will balance you out when you do not know how to!
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
My favorite food is my fiancé, Marcus Taylor's, fried fish. He fries it with cornmeal and flour. It tastes amazing. My favorite book is "The Road Less Traveled," by Scott Peck M.D. It has allowed me to look at life out of new lenses. You will find mostly neo soul and underground Hip-Hop on my playlist: Musiq Soulchild, Frank and Dank, Slum Village, Dwele, Vivian Green, Marsha Ambrosia. My favorite movie is 300. Yes, I must admit that I enjoyed seeing muscular bodies for two hours, but it was the idea of working together that really struck me. 300 men working together and defeated army after army. Can you imagine if more black businesses in Canada worked together? We would be unstoppable.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
I can only speak of my experience as a black woman in Canada. Overall my experiences have been learning lessons. I have learned by others reactions to me how black woman are viewed in general. I hear many negative things and I also see how we are portrayed in the media, in books, on stage and in the news. I take this negative perspective and I use it to my advantage. If black women are seen as being difficult, I use this to establish my platform. After all, who wants to argue with an angry black woman.
The Black challenge:
The challenge I see in Canada is how black students are treated when it comes to education. I work with predominantly black families, and I am angered every time a parent tells me that a teacher has suggested that their child take applied courses in high school. When you do this, you are telling this child that they are unable to do more. I believe that all of our children need to be pushed to their capacity. Give them topics that are of interest to them. I believe in letting the students decide on what they want to learn. Let them develop their own interests. I am concerned that Toronto's high school drop out rate is at 60 per cent. Majority of this statistic is black students. Scary!
What is the Black community doing right or wrong in Canada?
I am not one to judge what others are doing, but what I do not see is unity amongst blacks in Canada. This has affected our economic structure. We will allow other cultural groups to open up business in our communities and spend all of our money in their business ventures. Once again, can you imagine if black Canadians actually worked together. We could grow business, establish strong communities, open schools, and develop programs for our black young people that would teach them how to become financially stable in an unstable world. Once again it goes back to education. Teaching others how to live better lives. I am working towards getting this done. Maybe I should run for a political position in Canada and change what needs to be changed.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada compared to the US?
The worst thing about it is I believe we have more opportunities here in Canada. We have a system that supports all cultures here. Our government provides grants and loans for small business owners. It is all about doing some research and paying your dues. I could be a lot further than I am, but I spent a lot of time complaining instead of working. With the right hard work, black business owners can be very successful here in Canada.