Dr. Rassheedah Watts was recently interviewed by TheCelebrity.Online Magazine and below is the Q&A session we had with Dr. Rassheedah.
Dr. Rassheedah Watts As Cover Story Interview Feature – TheCelebrity.Online March 2023 Edition
How do you introduce yourself?
Dr. Rassheedah Watts: Dr. Rassheedah Watts, The Inclusive Community Architect is an award-winning Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, educator, international speaker and author of the book How To Be An Ally And Create Inclusion Using The A.C.A. Pillars: A 3-Step Approach. She is also producer of the Diversity Minute televised series.
How was the transition from your childhood into adulthood/teenage and what good and bad things do you remember?
Dr. Rassheedah Watts: My passion for designing equity and diversity-focused programs in higher education stems from my background as the daughter of a refugee, growing up in a single-parent household where I faced economic insecurity regularly – to put it plainly, we were poor. I also saw the societal discrimination my mother faced in the United States because of her accented English. This made me starkly aware of the different forms of discrimination that humans across the spectrum of identity groups were capable of. However, being born in the beautiful metropolitan city of San Francisco, California, an extremely diverse and culturally rich community, gave me a love for the arts intertwined with activism for human justice.
As an academically inclined student, my hobbies were reading and writing (this was before the internet!), and I received a scholarship to attend the university which was a struggle for me because I had a lot of barriers to overcome, such as working full time and going to school, but I finished! All of these experiences have given me the fuel I have for the work of diversity, inclusion and human justice.
Struggle – What hardships have you faced during your life?
Dr. Rassheedah Watts: As an adult, when my mother was still alive I asked her about a favorite food memory when I was about 10 years old, which involved delicious homemade tortilla chips and the most flavorful sauce topping you could imagine for dinner. I recall her response like it was yesterday because she paused, then stated that the reason she prepared homemade chips and salsa was because we were out of food.
She told me that she prayed, asking God for help on how she could feed her child, and she opened up the refrigerator and saw a pack of $1 dollar tortillas and a can of tomato sauce, and began her creation. I was around 30 years old when I learned the reality behind that meal which still brings me to tears. But these pieces of life have taught me a lot about resilience which is critical to have, even in my life today as a Black woman in leadership because although the hardships may look different for me now, breaking glass ceilings and navigating barriers is not easy. I have stories for days!
What things people usually do not know about you?
Dr. Rassheedah Watts: My life story. I took a theater workshop over 20 years ago now, and the goal of the workshop was for everyone to make assumptions about each other simply based on their look. I was in shock when people assumptions about me was that I came from a wealthy background, and that things were easy. It was at that moment that I realized the importance of sharing my story. People will always assume when they don’t know something about us, but I believe that our truths are powerful!
What make you unique from your competitors in the industry and life?
Dr. Rassheedah Watts: What makes me successful is a combination of things: I am a bridge-builder who believes in the power of relationships to bring about systemic change, and I also bring both my research background which is also informed by my multi-layered lived experience. There are many of us who do this work effectively, but we each bring our own lens and approach. This is why I wrote my book on allyship and inclusion, because I wanted to share my system with a broader audience of change makers.
What are your major upcoming events?
Dr. Rassheedah Watts: When I speak to groups, I love inspiring courageous leaders and breaking self-limiting beliefs, and I had the opportunity to do just that when I was recently invited by the U.S. consulate to speak to audiences in Pakistan. For everyone committed to diversity and inclusion, I am gifting a chapter of my book available at www.actgiant.com
What are your diet preference and physical measurements?
Dr. Rassheedah Watts: Non-pork, no shell-fish, 5’8, medium curvy build, size large.
What expert advice would you like to share?
Dr. Rassheedah Watts: Change your mindset, rather than looking at your hardships as barriers, look at your barriers as stepping stones to success – which is the title of one of my keynotes, but I firmly believe in that truth!
Tariq Riaz is the owner, writer and editor in chief of TheCelebrity.Online – Read more on our About Us page.
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