Overcoming Racism to Become Successful with Mario Armstrong
Mario Armstrong is a two-time Emmy Award-winner, lifestyle entrepreneur, creator, and motivational speaker with Daymond John’s Shark Group. Mario’s mission is to provide advice and tools to help you hustle mindfully and pursue your passions. He is also an NBC TODAY Show Contributor, appears on Dr. Oz, NPR, Inside Edition & hosts the podcast “Wake Up and Level Up”.
I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my podcast to learn about his struggles as a teenager, his story on overcoming racism and biases and creating media opportunities for himself.
Mario shared lessons about overcoming racism and other tips on how to become successful.
Mario’s People-Pleasing Behaviors
Mario used to be the biggest people pleaser. He didn’t realize that he had the power to switch schools. Mario always was a kid that was looking to be accepted. People teased him a lot. He was thin, short, and had curly hair.
His only chance of finding an identity was basketball. He was pretty good, but this other kid on that team was also recruited. That other kid gave him more of a challenge, so Mario saw that as a threat and started acting out, which wasn’t a good look on the coaches. Mario ended up not being recruited. He was upset because that was his one chance of feeling accepted.
There were thoughts of suicide that crossed his mind because he just wanted attention but then quickly realized there was always a solution to a problem. He started having more faith and became more aware of his gifts. Mario shifted his negative energy to something more positive.
Overcoming Racism as a Black Teenager and Man
Mario experienced covert racism, got called the N-word, got fights over it, got looked at differently, was questioned while walking in neighborhoods, got a gun pulled on him by a police officer, and was maced in a different instance.
Mario provided three tips everyone should consider when overcoming racism (from his experience).
- Patience – He said, “If a non-black person asks you how they can educate themselves on how they can support and are genuine about them, guide them in the right direction. It’s hard to do that, especially after what we’ve been through and the years of carrying the burden. It takes time. If you spend time educating someone sincere, that person will educate ten others, and it will be a slow ripple effect.”
- Commitment – “I think this is a long-term process that we must stay committed to.” Don’t take your eye off the ball even though the media is showing less of the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Take action – This can include voting, taking time to educate people, go out and be in the grassroots, joining local movements in the neighborhood, and volunteering. It’s not going to take one thing to help with overcoming racism. It’s going to take multiple little steps combined to make a massive change.
How Mario Survived When Being in Unfair Situations with the Police
Mario: “When I found myself in a situation where I have been pulled over or in a situation that could have been quickly escalated, my immediate mode isn’t to talk back. My instinct is, how can I get out of it? I can always take the officers name and badge number if I want to get serious about filing a lawsuit.
What I can’t do is come around to it if I am angry and letting my anger do the talking, which will get me in deeper trouble. Even when I received disrespect, I wouldn’t show the police respect back, but I would show them that their disrespect didn’t automatically throw me into an aggressive state of mind.
I am trying to avoid the police having the ability to say that I am resisting arrest. I prepare as much as possible. If the cops pull me over, I automatically have my license and registration out with the windows out.
I shouldn’t have to do that because we shouldn’t be scared to feel in danger, which is why the protest is going on.
If I am in those unfair situations now, I wouldn’t be aggressive but more forceful in holding my ground because of today’s climate. I would express my concern without seeming like I am disrespectful. If I still feel like I am being mistreated, I will go after them through another avenue to avoid the altercation (knowing I have a family back home I need to go back to).
Be smart about it.”
How to Create Opportunities as a Black Teenager with Racism and Biases
- Understand your skill set. What are you great at or have the potential to be great at? Each one of us has unique abilities and gifts. We need to recognize what is natural to us. It can separate you from others.
- Collaborate with others where you can elevate each other. By understanding what you are skilled at, you can collaborate with people who supplement your weaknesses.
- Identify a necessity that is bigger than you. Know why you are doing what you are doing. Find something positive that ignites you. When times get tough or don’t feel like it, you have a WHY to fall back on.
Other Lessons Learned from the Interview:
- The one thing you have been bullied for is what becomes your uniqueness and your superpower in your future. How can you turn your pain into a positive one?
- Start with small steps of action. Build up small wins, and it will add up to big wins.
- There is always a solution to a problem.
- Shift your negative energy to pursue your gifts.
- Use fear to focus.
- Replace the word “Fail” with “Learn.”
- Go all-in on a topic you are curious about learning. Find mentors and do your research. Then take action on it.
His Personal Website: https://www.marioarmstrong.com/
His YouTube Channel: Mario Armstrong: Never Settle Network
Never Settle Network Website: https://www.neversettle.tv/