Eye on Diversity – Ramel J. Wallace

For Ramel J. Wallace, the new host of Creative Mornings San Diego, it all comes down to one thing. Tell better stories.

“Storytelling is the driver of everything I do,” he says. 

Held the last Friday of every month, the breakfast lecture series brings together 500 professionals from around the city (including 200 virtually). Creative Mornings is known for attracting makers from across industries — graphic designers, artists, marketers, writers, and photographers to name a few. As Wallace sets out to tell better stories, under his watch they’ll do more than captivate. They’ll alter human behavior.

Creative Mornings long has been popular among crafty professionals looking to network, learn and grow. There’s just one issue. Those showcased have predominantly been White. As a Black host and native San Diegan, Wallace is on a mission to “speak for the unspoken,” and he’s opening the umbrella wide.

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“I’m bringing out voices that are familiar to me, voices that attract more diversity to the organization,” he says. “The more inclusive we are, the more we can unite and thrive. By welcoming people from all backgrounds, we’re shining a light on the unseen.”

An existentialist, Wallace believes that purpose comes after existence, not the other way around. By putting the story “onto” his lived experience, it becomes a coping mechanism.

“Putting the story ‘onto’ means you can take all of the bad things in your life and turn them upside-down,” he says. “Because you have to.”

Wallace said he recently was discussing radical joy and Black joy, and why Black people are so loud. “It’s because silence creates an echo chamber where joy has to be loud to be sustained and to recalibrate,” he says. “The risk is continuing to be silenced. The risk is to listen to the voices that said you couldn’t or shouldn’t.”

Wallace has felt “imprisoned” by others’ biases, whether those biases have focused on his hip-hop culture, his way of speaking, his lack of a college degree, or his skin color. Reading and honoring the works of Audre Lorde and Sonya Renee Taylor “are but a hint of the Black Feminist philosophies that keep me afloat,” he says.

To those looking to become more aware of implicit biases within themselves, Wallace recommends building relationships in authentic ways, so it doesn’t come off as insincere. When you do reach out, he suggests, do so in a way that builds bridges.

As he seeks to create an inclusive lineup at Creative Mornings, Wallace is working to build bridges of his own. With a background in hip-hop and poetry, he believes that meeting those from opposite cultures facilitates a better understanding of our own identities, and that external stories influence internal stories.

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When he’s not working his magic as Creative Mornings host, Wallace works as the senior community manager at BAM, a marketing and communications agency where he leads research and development. Lately, he’s been working on voiceovers, putting words into the world in ways that resonate. Ninety percent of communication is non-verbal, he says, and he follows the cues that signal how people are feeling.

“Being diverse in the way I communicate with others is important to me,” he says. “It helps my internal monologue and puts me in touch with what’s going on inside. That’s worthwhile, because you may have a feeling that you haven’t articulated to yourself. Doing voiceovers and podcasts is a reminder that speaking your feelings can bring clarity to life.”

No matter what Wallace is working on, the common thread to it all is storytelling. He uses storytelling to articulate a journey, bring forth his identity, celebrate his lived experience, and acknowledge emotions.

“What’s inside springs to life outside,” he says. “That’s storytelling.”

Beth Geraci is a content strategist by day and crafts her memoir by night. Life After Lamictal chronicles Beth’s experience on (and off) the epilepsy drug, and she hopes her story can empower others. She’s a board member for AIGA San Diego and appreciates architecture and design.

Photography provided by rameljwallace.com.

By Beth Geraci
Published November 11, 2021