Last month, Adobe launched its series “Create Change,” and on a a day like election day, it’s important to advocate for systemic barriers to be shattered in order for Black and Brown creators to succeed. “We don’t just see that conversation. We live that conversation. But, things are starting to change,” Cleo Wade tells ESSENCE.
The Community Builder and Author was featured on Episode 2 of the Adobe project to chat with with Destinee Ross-Sutton, Art Curator, Manager, and Advisor. “I can’t believe my daughter gets to grow up in a world with role models like her,” Wade says while gushing over her conversation with Sutton. In the minute conversation the two spoke about the power in creating community. “As a Black women in this political climate, it’s really about how can we connect and how we can support each other,” Sutton said in their conversation.
ESSENCE got a chance to chat with Wade about how she is handling election season, her latest Adobe project, and what she is hopeful for in 2020.
ESSENCE: In light of the election season how are you staying motivated and taking care of yourself these days?
Wade: I am just taking everything one day at a time, knowing that the work I must do on myself and in my community may be different from one day to the next. About five years ago, I read the words from Coretta Scott King: “Freedom is never really won. you earn it and win it in every generation.” I remember this sense of relief washing over me as I recognized that the good fight is a lifelong fight. Your life is a life, not a moment. A commitment to liberation for all people involves taking care of yourself because a free, just, equitable society requires the imagination of your best self. During this time, I have doubled down on self-care, whether it’s by taking time to be with my family, long baths, deep breaths, or walks to clear my head. Because I know from personal experience, that the only time I feel hopeless or without the energy I need to participate is when I feel burnt out.
We’ve seen the conversation about Black creators not feeling like they see themselves represented in the tech space. How was it working with Adobe?
We just need to make sure that the change is meaningful, systemic, and sustainable. While I am a long time fan of Adobe, I am not sure I would have worked with them if they wanted me to just kind of highlight a product of theirs. They didn’t want a photo of Destinee and I together, they wanted a conversation between the two of us, one that was completely unfiltered. They wanted to share our stories. They wanted to center our stories in their community. That is important and it is meaningful. There are some teenagers in my family, who, the other day were like, “I saw you on Tik Tok!”. I don’t have a Tik Tok account (yet!) so I wondered what they were talking about, and it was a clip of this video. I thought to myself, wow, Adobe made sure a conversation between two Black women discussing art, activism, and justice made its way into your algorithm. That has more impact than we think it does.
“I want to live in a world where Black people can live freely within Black bodies without fear of violence from white supremacist and government employees like the police.” – Cleo Wade
In many brand partnerships that you do, you are tapped as a thought leader. Being that we are in such a critical time, how do you carry that sort of honor? Do you feel any pressure at all?
Wade: I have a post-it note on my computer that says, “To do: Everything I can”. My day is so consumed with doing whatever I can do to support others and build the world I feel is possible in my heart, I am not sure I leave a lot of space to feel the pressure. That said, I feel so lucky that I get to be heard. I know that is a privilege and it is something I never take for granted. So much of what fuels my work ethic is probably my desire to let my readers and my community know that the time, energy, and space they let me take up in their lives is a gift.
For this Adobe project, you were able to speak with Destinee Ross Sutton, what were the feelings walking away from that conversation?
Wade: I fully gushed over Destinee after our talk. I was so moved by her brilliance. integrity, and passion.
The project is titled, “Create Change,” what are some things you would like to see change socially in this world?
I want to live in a world where Black people can live freely within Black bodies without fear of violence from white supremacist and government employees like the police.
Watch episode above.