Orville Wright of OH YEAH BEATS: 5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society
It takes a great leader to acknowledge the presence of others for inclusion. We as people desire to be seen.
As part of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’ I had the pleasure to interview Orville “OH YEAH” Wright.
OH YEAH is an incredible singer, songwriter, and music producer who makes sure to highlight numerous communities. He uplifts and promotes diverse individuals with his Theme Songs. OH YEAH believes in creating opportunities for everyone regardless of race, religion, size, or culture.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado as a kid described as somewhat of an outcast. I am a person of color who grew up with a Mexican family that lived in a predominately white area. I went to school and saw very few kids that looked like me. Despite the differences, my aunt Kris helped me to fit in more around more of the family who mostly spoke Spanish. My cousin, Marcelino (Marc) and I were as close as brothers. We stood up for each other. Still, when in school I often fought bullies for myself and others around me. In my reflection, I realize that I often fought with the similar reason in the desire to fit in and make others feel that they fit in. I immediately gravitated to others with similar conflicts. Growing up while being diagnosed with ADHD, I did not let that cloud the teachings from my parents or my legal guardians. The teachings revolved around respect for others. I would immediately show respect towards others and respect my elders. In time I discovered my passion for music as I sang with friends and family. I knew that music was going to be as impactful on my life as my Mexican family members. Knowing that my family and myself are minorities, I always consider others in the community.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
One book from my library very impactful and memorable is “Seize The Time” by Bobby Seale. If readers can get past their prejudice and his political controversy, they will understand what I am about to tell you. One story in his book illustrates his dreadful experience when kidnapped in the Chicago Court. Bobby Seale speaks on moments of frustration when being blatantly ignored and even gagged by court order. I was very frustrated and upset during this segment. Bobby Seale then calmed himself and the court case was later called as a mistrial after too many injustices of racism, obvious to the entire courtroom. I learned with that moment that with our struggles and emotions, the only real change takes place within ourselves. This even regards our perspectives of others. My take on the book is to take initiative and plan strategically with self-discipline. I believe that we all need to do this in our daily practices for success as we think of others.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
A life lesson quote I have recently grown attached to is “Do what you love, love what you do, and with your heart give yourself to it” from Roy T Bennett.
It is relevant to exactly what I am doing now. The saying applies to all that I am when I create music for others in these theme songs. I give all of my heart when I am researching, writing, and creating specific melodies to fit perfect for the individual highlighted. I feel that I was born to create music for others and I find the greatest joy in all of the process of making a song to elevate another individual and community. With that being said, I certainly am doing what I love, loving what I do, and giving myself to the art.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is representation in a respectable form of a person or a group. I define leadership as the authority to orchestrate and execute a well-thought plan. An example that I have for leadership is the demonstration of “picking up the pieces” with Theme Songs that I create for others. Many of the individuals have great importance but are not seen as much on different platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube outside their own audience. I recognize that their footprints can be observed more abroad with a projection of their work and voices. As I mentioned standing up and speaking out for others in my youth, I carry this on as an adult when I create songs for others. Many are talented in music but fail to truly make music for their audiences. I want to lead by example with how humanity can be improved with the skills and talents that we already possess.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. In the summer of 2020, the United States faced a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on what made the events of 2020 different from racial reckonings in the past?
Great topic indeed. Many of us in the BIPOC, Latin, and Arabic, and Jewish community remember the historic murder that took place in may with George Floyd. This was very symbolic to me of the racial prejudice and injustice that still exists in the world with minorities. Honestly, I don’t feel that much progression has taken place from past events regarding historical racism in the world that include Central and South America, Iran, Palestine and more. What made this injustice stand out was the fact that many of us were already in the house and in front of our televisions thanks to the global pandemic. This time, there would not be a way to blatantly ignore a man losing his life in public with his last words to remember. The tragic incident was broadcast on TV and across most social media apps.
Amidst all of the racism, sexism, and inequality, we as people just want freedom and peace. Children and women in Afghanistan deserve the right to grow and learn. My Jewish friends and family deserve recognition for their endurance during oppression. We all are still fighting and protesting for the same rights and equalities. One thing for certain is it is more apparent how much we all are the same.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?
Yes. I love initiatives from others that promote Diversity and Inclusion. I have two leaders that I want to mention and what exactly they do. Cheryl Bedford and Evette Vargas are two phenomenal and empowering women who lead organizations that bring underrepresented communities to the forefront.
Cheryl made sure to create a platform for marginalized women who have been disregarded based on ageism, size-ism, sexism, racism, and physical ability. Cheryl stated that she was tired of asking for a seat at a table that was not designed for her and others like her. She created the JTC List and Women Of Color Unite to help create opportunities for those who were once marginalized. For that reason, I created a Theme Song entitled “All Power” (available everywhere) as a dedication to her, women like her, and the organization. It was my pleasure and honor to create this theme song that many reached out and personally thanked me.
Evette Vargas created the New Hollywood Movement which is an organization to help correct the misrepresentation of many ethnicities in Television and Film. Over decades, we have witnessed roles being cast incorrectly and, as a result, audience numbers dwindle to less than the projected numbers expected. She also helped to create a platform where discussion can be held on misrepresentation and our paths of correction. Evette makes sure everyone can be a part of the community and conversation. She certainly filled a vacancy that is greatly needed and appreciated. She earned an award as an “Icon” for her work. This sparked a thought in mind for me to echo in a song. I created a theme song called “Icon” to salute this Puerto Rican sister and her community.
This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
A business or organization should have diverse executive teams for real representation and perspective of diverse audiences. To be inclusive of other diverse cultures and their individuals, it makes the most sense to get the voice of that respective group. So many groups will get a face of a diverse group for their brand but the authenticity can be detected in the tonality of the message as well as the message itself. A few clothing line companies were exposed for their racism and insensitivity towards BIPOC even though that community was the primary funding source of the companies growth. Shortly after, I believe they got the perspective and understanding of BIPOC individuals and began to recreate commercial and runway promotion that was more inclusive and representative. I’m sure we can think of a few brands, whether we wear them on our feet or our backs. Sales will increase and the communities are satisfied with the newfound representation and inclusion. I commend more companies for doing this with more diversity. That is how everyone really wins.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. You are an influential business leader. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”? Kindly share a story or example for each.
1. Be Aware
It takes a great leader to acknowledge the presence of others for inclusion. We as people desire to be seen. A few people from other communities do that for me. My friend Jin (MC JIN) has been very aware of his friends and fans. It was nice to be recognized as both to him. I really enjoy his whole career in music. He made sure to engage with others who are from other cultures and communities. He connected with others first through his music and is adding comedy also. He even held a quick class to teach us who are Black, Latin, White, or mixed some Mandarin. The translations were involving some of our different slang phrases. Jin, I appreciate you beyond words for just the love you show in your awareness.
2. Be Understanding
Understanding takes time to interpret a perspective or emotion and then process internally. The result from the two is understanding. I used to work close with a music producer who is white. I consider him a brother. We did however have a fall out as the result of a failed project. The main factor in the early end was the time constituent. During our project, I had a lot on my plate and relayed the information to him. Briefly, he responded with okay but I don’t believe he understood just how much slower I was going to be able to work then. A result after an email of some vocals sent to him was his frustration and slight anger.
Since then we have spoken and I was able to explain in more depth my limitations with time and space. It was then that he completely understood the situation at hand. We are still brothers but this was one time family and business certainly would not mix again. To that producer… I love you and I understand your frustration. I hope we can think of other ways to work or even collaborate on a podcast episode… I know the world would want to hear from us both.
3. Be Inviting
When you extend an open invitation to everyone without reservation, you let everyone know that you want them to be present. I reflect on my Arab-American friend Hamzah Saman, who welcomes everyone (impartial to race, gender, religion, political stance, or size) to join his casting call group. Though he has created a platform to highlight his cultural friends and family in the film industry, he welcomes everyone to join. I joined his group, accepting his invitation and I consider him a brother. It is a great way to introduce yourself to the community and help your friends find job opportunities. Hamzah also makes personal profile pictures for everyone and for that reason, I even created a theme song to honor him with. The song is called “PTR KING”.
4. Be Humble
I read in Tyler Perry’s Book “Higher is Waiting” about a moment that he encountered an angel in the form of a homeless woman. Many hold reservations in helping someone homeless out. Tyler Perry did not and humbled himself to go above and beyond for that woman. That moment was inspiring and a reminder to see others in similarity to yourself always. We all know that Tyler Perry has worked his way to fame and fortune but did not let his status cloud his conscience to step up and help out. I will remember to stay humble and look at everyone as my equal.
5. Be Considerate
Consideration involves thinking about others in everything that we do daily. From my experiences in life, women do this effortlessly. I think of my mother, my aunts, my grandmothers, my sister, my female friends, and my wife. All of them are so generous subconsciously, that they always include others in their thought process in actions. My mom, in our humble growing times, took me to a flee market for gifts. She was able to find great items for friends and family that I was able to help pick out. I didn’t help much as an inconsiderate kid. At the end, she found a plane for me to have and asked if I would like it. In my reflection now, I really understand how giving she is. I was this kid who just wanted to play but I know that life and gifting in life should not be about myself. My mother taught me that and so much more. My wife is extremely giving too. While we were dating, she was sick one day when I tried to take her to see the Cherry Blossoms in D.C. Half-way there, she asked me to take her back home. Once we arrived, she wanted just to lay down and told me to go hang out with my friends. Realizing her consideration for myself and the whole day ahead was what caused my final destination to be the Kay Jewelers in the local mall, getting her engagement ring. It took me a while to organize when I would propose but that is still one of her favorite days. I can say I learned to be more considerate.
We are going through a rough period now. What makes you optimistic about the future of the US? Can you please explain?
The future of the US looks brighter in my eyes. The main reason I say so is because of education. For decades, truths were hidden from the mass while only the more privileged had the knowledge and tools to advance. Thanks to technology, opportunity knocks at several household doors for more to become wiser. Self-education is taking place more frequently and that reduces the room for ignorance. With greater education comes deeper understanding. I feel confident that many are revealing truths that were not spoken of regarding oppression on several races. The understanding helps to create a wider and strong foundation of commonality among multiple communities. It is important to remember that one injustice may not be the same as other to a race. It is important to hold back on your opinions of someone else’s history and truths. The sensitivity is looking a lot better and the future is bright for more to come together.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
One powerful figure I would love to sit down with is Melba Farquhar and her husband, Ralph. Ralph helped to create Disney’s “The Proud Family”. The show brings out culture and diversity in depth from perspectives of our elders, our youth, the neighborhood, and education systems. I would love to connect more with them and get to know more of who they are. If that isn’t possible, I want to extend a “Thank You” for all of the inclusion that you both display and incorporate in life.
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin “@ohyeahbeats”. The name is trademarked so it is not difficult to find me. I engage with my audiences and appreciate the love and support. I also reciprocate that support by often sharing accounts and engagement to my stories. I will see you all soon!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Thank you! Let’s all win!
Orville Wright of OH YEAH BEATS: 5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.