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Jad-Évangelo is not your typical diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) specialist. At a time when powerful forces from within the halls of Congress to the United States Supreme Court are shrinking DEI efforts, he wants to expand them to a global perspective.
The Lebanon-born multicultural marketing specialist and global inclusion entrepreneur, who also holds partial Palestinian roots and discovered his cultural intersection with Haiti, remains on a mission to become a global representative for bridging cultural connections. He’s determined to unleash the power of marginalized communities.
Through his company J-É Cultural Consulting, Jad educates companies, organizations and brands on how to have authentic relationships with their target audience, and the inspiring immigrant is unapologetic about it.
“Everybody has different narratives,” Jad told The Black Wall Street Times near the end of June, during Immigrant Heritage Month.
“For me, actions speak louder than words. I can say I’m Arab and proud while doing nothing for the Arab community. We have shared experiences, but there is no ‘people of color’ experience,” Jad-Évangelo added, highlighting the need to move beyond superficial labels to pierce the heart of intrinsic experiences and backgrounds that make us unique.
For instance, he helps inform brands that the economic solutions for Black women, who’ve been uniquely disenfranchised, look different than those for white, Asian or non-Black Latina women, whose ancestors never endured U.S. chattel slavery.
For Jad-Évangelo, a self-described globalist who speaks five languages (English, Arabic, French, Spanish and Haitian Creole), American DEI initiatives often superficially focus only on the few largest racial ethnic groups in the U.S, ignoring larger perspectives that cut across each other in an intersectional way.
Gaining a global perspective on DEI
Owing his work to people like Kimberlé Crenshaw, a renowned Black woman author and pioneering scholar on critical race theory, Jad believes in empowering communities to understand the similarities in their experiences and to not shy away from understanding their differences. The danger in failing to do so, he says, leads some groups to become ostracized.
For instance, some people may only have heard about the nation of Lebanon after learning about a debilitating explosion that took place at the port of Beirut in 2020, a blast that killed 218 people, according to Human Rights Watch. When Jad-Évangelo, who was working for an advertising agency at the time, tried to take off work to mourn with his fellow countrymen, his employer didn’t care.
“There’s no understanding of the immigrant experience,” Jad-Évangelo said. “Most immigrants come from oppressed narratives, and we bring a lot to the table. Even within Black communities there are multiple intersections. America and corporations categorize people into boxes, and that lacks the understanding of cultural connections.”
From teaching as an adjunct professor with West Virginia University, University of North Texas and Post University to moonlighting as a DEI Consultant, he seeks to give others the global perspective he gained through learning about cultural intersections, such as Arabness and Blackness within the diaspora world, and the similarities in languages and global resilience between distant countries.
Nasser expresses how his lived experience integrating with multiple communities has allowed him to both amplify cultural connections and address cultural conflicts within social environments in the U.S. to enhance human relationships within DEI practices by giving an example:
“I learned Spanish and Haitian Creole by learning, appreciating and just naturally being welcomed within LatinX and Caribbean communities but also how I was different and that allowed me to forge powerful relationships and friendships within my circle.”
He produced a film titled “Once Upon a Color” currently on Amazon Prime that illuminates the perspectives of eight different people of cultures while showing the unity behind their efforts to navigate white-dominated spaces.
Moving beyond “people of color”
Ultimately, Jad’s work goes back to educating a culturally ignorant sector of society in the ways that expanding to a global perspective helps them build more genuine partnerships with the communities they seek to support.
“A company wanted to support Pride Month,” Jad said, giving an example. “My approach: What’s going on is a lot of Black and brown trans and nonbinary folx are being killed in the U.S. correct? Now, imagine those similar identities living in countries where LGBTQ+ rights are not supported and these lives are in much more danger. Many queer immigrants come to the U.S. bringing these intersectional identities, lived experiences and narratives, and they are often not so understood or familiar within the normative American experiences due to linguistic barriers, cultural and even liberal-thinking differences. We need to bring those experiences to the forefront as well,” Jad told the company.
“Let’s think about intersectionality and how it can help us acknowledge cultural connections to amplify our experiences.”
As a lover of cross-cultural communication, Jad is also keenly aware of the criticism many Black people have for the term “person of color,” an academic term that generalizes the experiences of uniquely distinct groups. Jad prefers the term “person of culture” when discussing non-white people, but nothing is better than being as specific as possible.
“When I say Black people deserve reparations, I mean Black people deserve reparations. I’m not talking about every person of culture,” Jad said. “These are terms I would use and hope companies can leverage into their vocab.”