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Originally from Connecticut, Lizz Rene went to high school and college down South before making her way to the DMV after graduation.

After dismantling oppressive systems and amplifying Black stories as a Diversity Equity & Inclusion Practitioner, most recently she’s turned into a full-time entrepreneur. 

The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Rene about how and why she invented a card game that speaks the culture’s language.

“I went to the University of Georgia, which is a PWI.” Rene furthered, “And I think as a product of being in that environment, the Black students really stick together and still have a lifestyle that is the Black collegiate experience.”

As the daughter of immigrants, and a proud first-generation college graduate and alumna of the University of Georgia, Rene would create PO’ UP! Card Game.

The founder says, “I’ve played with my friends who have both gone to HBCUs and PWIs and it’s so funny to finally see a space where we’re not arguing about where you went and can agree like, ‘oh yeah, I did this too.'”

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After a decade in the DMV, Rene says PO’ UP! was an entire life’s work. “It’s weird because it was inspired by my time in college, which was in Georgia, but the idea didn’t come until being here in the DMV.”

Lizz Rene launched PO’ UP! Card Game in November of 2020.

In the midst of racial justice movements, protests and demonstrations, one motto prevailed that inspired the launch of PO’ UP! – “Black joy is a form of resistance.”

While Rene has worked for years to advance racial justice, she’s done so to the rhythms of the culture. In the spirit of Hip Hop’s 50 year anniversary, Rene gave her personal top 5 PO’ UP artists.

Lizz Rene’s top 5 artists to PO’ UP! to: Waka Flocka Flame, Travis Porter, Crime Mob, Roscoe Dash, Kendrick Lamar.

“Because I went to college between 2009 – 2013 it’s going to define a lot my answers. But I had to mention Kendrick Lamar even though he was more up-and-coming when I was in college.”

Rene recalls, “I remember he had a concert on campus and he was big, but not as big as he is now.

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The whole concept of PO’ UP!, I know it’s a phrase that the Black community has had for a long time but his song Swimming Pools literally says ‘PO’ UP!’ in it,” Rene explains.

“I love playing the game with older folks. Some young people think about not playing this game with them because they think, ‘I don’t want them to know about what I’ve been doing.’

Rene jokingly warns, “You might be surprised about what they’ve already done.”

Asked what she likes to sip while playing PO’ UP!, Rene responded, “nowadays I’m all about like the Black-owned wine and spirits. It’s summertime right now so I’m going to pull out some La Fête du Rosé which is Black-owned and created by an alum of Clark Atlanta University.”

According to the website, PO’ UP! Cards is more than a party game.

This Black-owned card game is an opportunity to contribute to the movement for racial justice by centering Black joy. 

As a result of this unapologetic commitment to celebrating Black Excellence, PO’ UP! has been highlighted by major brands including The Shade Room, Mielle, Wade Cellars, CollegeXpress, Target While Black, and more.

After drinking more freezer-frozen Smirnoff in college than she cares to remember, the Capitol Heights entrepreneur says her palette and purpose have been positively influenced by her practical peers.

“D.C. is truly Black excellence in all its forms,” Lizz Rene.

Rene explained, “Being in D.C. is what really inspired me to buy a home because a lot of my friends up here were saying ‘why wait to make that investment? Go ahead and do it now.’ And I did.”

Rene continued, “D.C., there’s just something about it. No matter what the season is it’s always a vibe, it is Black excellence.”

Look for PO’ UP! to pull up near you

“I’m planning to be at the homecomings for Howard University, Hampton University, Morgan State, and other places nearby to me also planning to pull up to the New York HBCU classic in September,” says Rene. “I’m always doing vendor events, wine festivals, any events where there’s going to be Black-owned products.”

“The best feeling is being able to play the game with people in-person or seeing people’s reaction when they see it’s Black-owned,” said Rene.

“It’s a different level of affirmation when people get it. The best feeling is when people come to the table and they’re like, ‘Oh, I’ve seen your product before on TV or social media, or I’ve played your game before.’ Because for me, I still see myself as a small business. I’m growing.”

Speaking on the encouragement from her growing community of supporters, “When you start to hear people seeing your cards and other spaces, and then they get to meet you and they’re like excited about it, and they’re just telling you that you’re doing a good job. It just makes you feel like you’re doing something right.”

Follow PO’ UP! on Instagram for their latest moves.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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