Jamie Coleman | Detroit, Michigan
Former Alabama State University Volleyball Player
Written by Malik Brown
I've always been involved in sports. I've always been involved in so many things. I was going from here to there every single weekend, and that's literally what I am doing now. I played every sport except for softball, and I haven't been in any dance classes. I was a skater, swimmer, and a bowler. I played basketball, ran track, and then I settled on volleyball, which almost did not happen, but shout out to my mom for getting my dad into making me.
I’m a coach’s kid. My dad played football at a local high school and was an All-American, then he went on to Michigan State and played in the league. Once he finished his career he started a whole bunch of like 7-on-7 programs and football camps, so I used to run the ladders, and jump the bags at Michigan State every summer. I wanted to play football, but he would not let me, unfortunately.
Sports for me was a default. I had no option, and you just got thrown into it. I'm forever thankful for what sports has done for me because they taught me a lot of things around teamwork, commitment, and discipline. I think a lot of it is delayed gratification as well, which is a big part of my story, but it teaches you how to stay committed, even when things are really rough. I think the pressures you get, and the highs you feel when things are great, but the pressure and the lows you feel when things are just going really bad is what I learned. I tore my leg at one point in my career, I got rejected from a team I have been playing on for years at one point, but I overcame all of that stuff.
It was a very strategic play of how I got into Google. I saw the movie The Internship, and that was what first put Google on my radar. I had no idea what I'd be doing, but the perks in the movie sold me. That was my freshman year of college. So I applied for the internship, and a recruiter got back to me and said, “You're far too young, but here's a program for sophomores that you may be interested in.” I applied for their Bold Immersion program, got into that, and went to Google's headquarters for 10 days. That kickstarted the internship interview. I did three interviews for the internship, got that, and then that became a full-time offer. I did not start out wanting to go into tech. I just wanted to work at Google. Prior to Google, I wanted to be a news reporter.
We built 7th Ave in the time of the pandemic. We wanted it to be the Black Clubhouse, so purely a social audio space, but for people of color, because when the pandemic happened, we had no safe spaces digitally. We raised just under $4 million to start this project, which was phenomenal for all Black investors outside of Twitter. We were very proud of what we were doing, but we quickly realized that was just something that people really did not want. We completely pivoted to something, which now functions towards the creative economy. That's for anybody that creates TikToks, newsletters, podcasts, and things like that. What we have provided is an end-to-end solution for creators that will allow them to consolidate their digital identity, deepen their relationships with their current followers, and then sell directly to them.
It's very important for me to empower and feel like I can create a space for Black folks, just because I understand a lot of the privileges that I've been able to acquire over the years. Even with me being a full-time athlete, I was able to still have internships and study abroad and even work at Google. It was only fair that, given the space that I'm able to walk into, I'm only able to open the door for others that come in behind me. I've always believed that we as Black folks are not dumb, stupid, or lazy, we just typically lack the resources and exposure, so if I'm able to provide that in any capacity, I'm always willing and wanting to do that.
I created culture therapy as a way to create a vulnerable, safe space for people of color, or really just anyone that comes across it to say, “Hey, this is my story, this is my truth. And because of that, I'm able to heal and kill these curses and create new cycles of wealth.” That could be mental wealth, financial wealth, freedom, or whatever. It really just started from me making a podcast. I was telling my story, and I'm having some great conversations with friends. I was seeing that we were all going through the same things where our family were not our biggest fans but our biggest kryptonite. That was because we could not talk about certain things in public and realized that I was really trying to seek therapy. My mind goes into the point of killing Black ignorance and providing voices for people who may not have the language to say how they feel, and this is the outlet for them to know they are not alone.
Traveling for me has always been an exciting part of my life. I played club ball, so it was always really exciting when you got to go to the different states and play at the different tournaments. When I was in elementary school, I was always in the multicultural classrooms, which means foreign exchange students or people that came from different countries got placed in my classroom. When I was in first and second grade, my best friends were Chinese. Then you move into third or fourth grade, my best friends were Indian, Chinese, and Korean. I was very fascinated with Asian culture overall, and that's where it started. I had these books, and I was learning Mandarin. I got to college and I knew I wanted to travel abroad. My first international trip was to Barcelona where I studied abroad. I was there for two months, and I came back and had to do spring volleyball. Since then, I've been to about 22 countries.
I've always enjoyed proving people wrong and that might be a bad thing. I've always enjoyed showing people that the impossible is possible. For me being at Google, people were like “If you go to an HBCU you won't get into big tech.” I was like, “Okay, watch me.” It was the same way with volleyball. All the different internships I was doing or me studying abroad and missing a couple of weeks of camp and things like that, they told me it would affect my play. I had an agreement with my coach where as long as I showed up, I balled out, and I knew what I was supposed to do, let me go do what I need to do because for me, I always understood volleyball was a means to an end, and I will be damned if I did all this work and then at the end I ask myself “What am I going to do?” I saw that happen to so many of my teammates, friends, and other people. They make you prioritize the sport. I can't harp on it enough the importance of athletes being able to advocate for themselves and find ways in which they can allow all these things to exist now.
I live my best life now, and it was well worth it. It's a matter of priorities and balance, and really just reaching out to these companies and being very proactive. I wanted Google since my freshman year, and it was a plan to get it. It wasn't like I just woke up one day and was like “Oh, I want to go work for Google.” It was literally four years in the making. My biggest thing is to learn how to advocate for yourself against all odds, because they do not care about you the way that you think they do. Advocate for yourself, be very proactive and realize what priorities you have.
I probably have a different perspective on purpose finding. I don't believe I've found my purpose just yet, and I'm not necessarily looking for it at the moment to be very transparent. I think once you found purpose, you no longer serve your purpose here and it's time to go home. While I'm here, I'm walking in purpose, but I haven't necessarily found the entire purpose of why I exist just yet. I think it's a journey. I can tell you the things that I enjoy doing and why I think I've been gifted with different skill sets, but for me to say I am in purpose will be a misleading statement on my behalf. I don't know my purpose, but I know what I enjoy doing.
Creative Direction: Nia Symone / Tyrone McClendon
Director of Photography: Scoot Took It
GFX & Video Edits by: Ethan Garner
Story Written by: Malik Brown