Honoring Black History Month at Rokt

This Black History Month, we’d like to thank our employee resource group, Blak’stars, for creating programming that celebrates the contributions of Black leaders at Rokt and beyond. Blak’stars provides a platform for our Black employees to bring meaningful change within Rokt and the tech community at large. 

In celebration of Black History Month, Blak’stars are honoring 2023’s  theme “Black Resistance.” by hosting an employee led panel amplifying the voices of some of our Black employees. The panel is designed to invoke conversation and a discussion around “Questions you’re afraid to ask” –  an opportunity to listen, to learn and to activate the role we all play in bringing about real, meaningful change.

The panel will be moderated by Jo Marzett, Learning Manager at Rokt and will feature Diane Pierre-Louis (People team), Khrys Solano (Business Development), Ahmad Allen (Customer Success), Marlie Massena (Marketing), and JaCory Myers (Business Development).

The panel will provide a platform for Rokt’stars to be able to ask questions to their Black colleagues about their everyday life experiences. Through this panel, Jo will aim to approach this conversation with challenging questions including driving a conversation around historical injustices, current trends of change, and how we can create a fairer, more inclusive environment for everyone. “Actively listening to our teams, tackling tough questions that may be uncomfortable to ask, and taking intentional and thought-out action is the first step to not only growing our teams and organizations – but may transcend and create a tipping point that affects others in the future in ways we cannot know,” said Jo Marzett, Learning Manager and panelist moderator.

The panelists will give Rokt a wider-view of what Black History Month means to them and how each of us have an opportunity to pay homage and celebrate the Black community. “Black history means celebrating and honoring the achievements of Black people around the world. This includes activists, civil rights pioneers, revolutionaries, leaders in politics, medicine, science, tech, and more. It’s recognizing the doors our ancestors kicked down for us and what our current and future leaders are doing to make the world a better place not just for us but for everyone,” said Diane Pierre-Louis from the People team. 

Commemorating Black History Month is something we all can do as individuals, this can mean supporting Black-owned businesses, donating to a cause, celebrating Black artists and arts, and more. This is something that goes beyond the month of February, celebrating Black communities is evergreen. “2.4% of small businesses are Black-owned, there should be more. Support Black-owned businesses, and not just during Black History Month,” said Khrys Solano of the Business Development  team. 

Blak’stars have been a vital community within Rokt that give our Black employees a safe space to share their experiences and bring new ideas to the table. “I feel like I’m part of a family, knowing I have colleagues who may have similar experiences as an African-American in tech is comforting,” said Ahmad Allen, of the Customer Success team. Blak’stars has given a space for action to be taken within our organization as we continue to try and make Rokt more inclusive to all.  “My second week here, I spoke with Bruce Buchanan, Rokt’s Founder & CEO, about my real experiences and the opportunities I saw to integrate certain initiatives into our standard processes at Rokt. Rather than focussing on EDI in a vacuum, which is a trap that companies can sometimes fall into, I walked away from that discussion feeling very empowered to enact certain changes and initiatives,” said Marlie Massena of the Marketing Team. 

Commemorating Black History Month in the office

We’re also celebrating in the office by:

  • Celebrating Black musical artists over the past 100 years. We will be playing some hits from some of our favorite eras all day long every Friday.
  • Announcing a new partnership to help in our effort to recruit more black employees.
  • Inviting special Black-Owned Restaurant lunches on the 1st day of BHM and every Friday with spotlights on where they came from. So far we’ve enjoyed delicious meals from:

Grandchamps – a Haitian restaurant owned by Sabrina Brockman and her husband Shawn, is a market with a curated selection of specialty products from Haitian and Haitian-American companies. Sabrina and Shawn have been running the Bed-Stuy neighborhood restaurant for 7+ years and work overtime to make the space bustling, multi-purpose and community centered. 

Teranga –  this West African restaurant founded by Executive Chef Pierre Thiam. Best known for bringing West African cuisine to the global fine-dining world, Pierre Thiam is a social activist, author, and executive chef at Teranga. It’s a fine-casual chain from NYC that introduces healthy fare directly sourced from farmers in West Africa. 

Berber Street Food – Afro-fusion street food founded and owned by Diana Tandia. Diana’s food was featured in the Michelin guide in 2019, 2020, and 2021. She has also been featured in top publications like the New York Times, the New Yorker, Eater, and more.  

Coming up…

Sylvia’s – a historical soul food institution founded by Sylvia Woods in 1962. Sylvia Woods, dubbed “the Queen of Soul Food”, opened this Harlem institution with her husband Herbert over 50 years ago and since her passing in 2012, it’s now a generational legacy. The restaurant is run by several of her family members who are serving southern comfort foods and have been featured in publications like the New York Times Style Magazine and the Infatuation.

FieldTrip – Harlem rice bowls founded by a James Beard Award winner, Chef JJ Johnson. He believes that rice is the cornerstone to every culture’s cuisine. FieldTrip’s rice bowls include ethically-sourced vegetables and proteins with freshly milled rice, and the restaurant incorporates sustainable products in its cuisine. 

We look forward to seeing all of these moments unfold throughout February and the impact of our conversations and commitments come to life in 2023 and beyond.