Starbound612 Part 2 of a 3-part series.
His name is Ricky Collins. He goes by his artistic name of Starbound612. He's an artist, a businessman, a marketing executive, and a 26-year-old with global experience that is nothing short of phenomenal.
His name is Ricky Collins. He goes by his artistic name of Starbound612. He’s an artist, a businessman, a marketing executive, and a 26-year-old with global experience that is nothing short of phenomenal.
Joining me in the conversation with Ricky Collins, with Starbound612, is my friend and colleague Dr. Irma McClaurin.
Dr. McClaurin is an award-winning columnist for Insight News and other publications as well. She’s an activist anthropologist and consultant. Dr. McClaurin was associate vice president and founding executive director of the University of Minnesota’s first Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC).
UROC re-purposed the failing Penn-Plymouth Shopping Center and, along with Minneapolis Urban League, was precursor to the development explosion going on right now at Plymouth and Penn (Avenues) intersection, the nominal heart of Minnesota’s Black community.
She led UROC from 2007 to 2010, and from there moved on to become president of Shaw University from 2010 through 2011. She resides in Raleigh, N.C., and visits Twin Cities regularly for business and family affairs.
Al McFarlane: You’re doing a tour of several schools in Twin Cities. I was impressed with how you described the tour. You’re looking at these visits to local elementary schools as if they are 50,000-seat stadiums.
Ricky Collins: For sure.
Al McFarlane: You're bringing that kind of energy and that kind of interest in the people in the audience. These audiences tend to be 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13-year-olds and younger. But you are affording them that level of respect, and you are bringing your A-game.
Ricky Collins: We're on the “I Can Do Anything Tour,” and usually I start with, “Can't nobody stop me. I'm unstoppable. I can do anything.” The I Can Do Anything Tour is really trying to set that type of thought process into these kids. My goal with my brand and everything I'm doing, especially in Minneapolis, is to be the forefront of a culture of success. I’m trying to teach kids that idea ... Not just the kids, everybody in general, but I'm focused on the young people.
I teach them that anything is possible, no matter what your circumstance is, no matter where you come from, who your parents are, or what neighborhood you grew up in. If you believe in yourself and you put in the work and have something that you're doing it for that's bigger than yourself, and you stay in the thought process of "I can do anything no matter what," anything is possible.
I've been in that thought process since about 2013, and I've seen my life change. When I finally made up in my mind and I started working towards it every single day, my life changed. Things that I would never even imagine have happened.
I want to be a billionaire mogul. I want to be somebody that owns businesses all over the world and is a philanthropist helping people all over the world by getting my word out everywhere I go.
We've got a lot of work to do, so I'm coming here and speaking, but I'm still working. I want them to see that. I want them to continue to see me grow, so when I come back I can keep that affirmation going, saying to them "I'm still growing. You see me continuously growing, and I want you to do the same thing."
A shout-out to Houston White, at H. White Men's Room. He's doing an amazing job with the Black Excellence brand. Black Excellence is not just a clothing line. It's a real movement of people that made up their mind that no matter what, no matter what happens, we're going to continue to grow and be great.
We came through slavery. We came over here on boats and were enslaved for 300 years. We've been able to come from that to a Black president. We’ve come from that to Black people being top in different industries. That's what Black Excellence is about … coming from that type of circumstance and building up to be whatever we want to be in the world. Houston is really pushing the envelope with that.
I'm the brand ambassador for Black Excellence. I take the brand all over the world and try to get it to different celebrities and take pictures. I've been with Eric Thomas, “ET the Hip-Hop Preacher.” Floyd Mayweather took a picture with it, as has Tyson Beckford.
I came out with a song called "Black Excellence" last year, and I came back here, to shoot a music video at Harvest Prep. We had a lot of fun. The music video actually made it to BET and it was premiered on BET. This song has really made a big impact with the kids in Minneapolis.
Al McFarlane: What are you feeling as you hear yourself making that declaration about Black Excellence?
Ricky Collins: I just feel timeless. I feel like that song is going to last for the rest of my life. It's going to be something that people play for their kids and their grandkids, at events, forever, because it's something that needs to be said and something that needs to be affirmed over and over and over and over again, “We are Black and we are excellent, and we've got to strive for it." Excellence doesn't just come. Yes, you are born with it, but it's something you have to continue to work for. You have to nurture it. Everybody's born with ability, but everybody doesn't take advantage of it. Excellence is tough. We have to keep pushing that so our people strive for it. We are saying “be your personal best, and keep hustling. keep grinding. Never stop and never give up.”
Al McFarlane: Don't be scared.
Ricky Collins: Don't be "scurred."
Al McFarlane: Let me bring my colleague, my friend, Dr. Irma McClaurin into the conversation.
Irma McClaurin: I'm enjoying the conversation.
Al McFarlane: I so enjoy talking to this young brother. He reminds me of me in so many ways. He's 26. I probably started Insight when I was 26. So, it's been a grind, and it remains a grind, but I love what I do and I'm grateful for the opportunity, and from my point of view, I'm simply at the beginning of my work right now. It takes that much time sometimes. Irma, as you hear this conversation, what's your thought? What are you feeling? What are you thinking?
Irma McClaurin: Well, part of what I'm struck by is the amount of positive affirmation. So much of what is conveyed and captured in the news media and mostly everything we watch highlights the negative aspects of Black life and Black humanity.
I think what we're observing is someone who is going forward with such a positive and forceful message of affirmation, making the linkages between a history of people who not only survived slavery, but who walked from the cotton fields of slavery into building Black institutions, which we forget about sometimes.
I've taught at Fisk (University) and Bennett (College), and been president at Shaw University in North Carolina. Every time I step on a college campus like Fisk University, or Morehouse (College), Clark University and Spelman (College) in Atlanta, I am literally filled with chill bumps and my hair standing on end because I am walking on sacred ground. I know what went into building those institutions. Just walking these campuses and seeing young Black men and women engaged and thinking about the future and representing excellence is something that is so powerful.
It is such a total contrast to what we've been seeing in the media of young Black men who are losing their lives because of what I call the "angry white man syndrome." We really have I would consider it a malady, that there is in fact an infection that is going on in this country, and white supremacy has been replaced by angry white men syndrome. Women can have it, men can have it, but what it represents is people reacting to the loss of power and privilege. As a result of that, they're angry, and that anger is dangerous.
It's dangerous to us, because these are the same police, law enforcement officers who can ask a man knowingly carrying arms who has walked into a school and killed 10 people to actually give up themselves, and then turn around and take people who are either unarmed or if they're armed they're trying to help people, and shoot them before they ask what they're doing.
There's something wrong with that picture.
So, we need to see more positive messages. Our children are being exposed to such violence and trauma that having someone like you into the schools with them is so important. What you're demonstrating is that getting to where you are was a process. It didn't just happen overnight. It wasn't magical. There's no magic Harry Potter wand that you can wave and make it happen.
It's important that you had the vision early on, that you maintained that vision, but you also did the hard work.
That's certainly what my life has represented. I grew up in the projects of Chicago, and my father had a second-grade education. My mother graduated from high school from night school. She went back, she had dropped out. So for me to achieve what I've achieved in terms of becoming the president of a university, working for the federal government, teaching leadership education to people from the Director of the CIA to people from NASA is really an accomplishment.
So, it does say to us that your zip code and where you were born and the circumstances of your birth do not have to dictate what your future and present are going to be.
Ricky Collins: 100 percent.
Irma McClaurin: But you also have to take responsibility and you have to have determination to change that direction.
Al McFarlane: What I like about young people and what I like about you, Ricky Collins … Starbound612 ... is that you represent a generation of young people that are focused on creating, owning and on delivering the promise of entrepreneurship to our people.
Ricky Collins: I see myself as trying to build a culture of success within the next generations and hopefully generations to come. That will be from me coming and speaking directly to the kids, getting them to follow my journey and see it with their own eyes.
We have a lot of amazing people from Minneapolis that we can look up to, but nobody on the level of a Floyd Mayweather, P. Diddy, Jay-Z, for kids to see that mental part of how far you can come from where we are right now. I want to be that person to show who we can be and where we can go. That's where I see myself fitting in, as an example of growth for all kids and people from Minneapolis in general. Adults see what I'm trying to do and they feel inspired. We need the parents to be inspired so they can put that positive energy into their kids and their families. We can continue to be excellent and grow our community into something unlike any other in the world. That’s where I want to fit in.