Two-time Emmy Award winner Emmanuel Acho reflects on the benefits he has received from ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man’.
George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020. At the time of this writing that was 500 days ago. It was nine days after Floyd’s murder that Emmanuel Acho posted his first-ever ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man’ on YouTube.
Acho has since won two Emmy Awards and has sat down with Matthew McConaughey, Oprah, Lil Wayne and the Petaluma Police department along the way. Acho’s conversations are exactly as advertised — uncomfortable and impactful across different groups, couples, families, individuals.
“The most rewarding part is when people come up to me and this just happened,” Acho told FanSided. “It was a black guy dating a white girl and he just said, ‘me and my fiancé are about to get married, but I am having rifts with her family and we just sat down and watched your video.’ A guy came up to me at breakfast a week ago today and he was like, ‘hey, I am a pastor at church out in Pasadena and we have a men’s group every Sunday and we use our men’s group to watch your videos and discuss.’ That’s the most rewarding part. The Emmys are cool but the reward comes in the journey.”
As Acho reflects back on the journey and how far the world has changed since May 25, 2020 he is a realist, far from satisfied. Patient, but in a hurry.
“I think we have made progress as a country, I think we have made progress as a community, I think we have made progress with companies but ultimately you have to keep making progress and look back and see how far you have gone,” Acho said. “The issue isn’t so much are we headed in the right direction but rather what velocity are we headed there at? If you are looking for black and white no pun intended you are not going to see that we are just progressing through shades of gray.”
Acho’s velocity in getting prominent people like Oprah, McConaughey and Lil Wayne to reach out to him for a conversation was rapid. The way he is having conversations resonated.
Emmanuel Acho is working to increase the pace of change
“I think the why is just when you show that you are a gentile spirit, then people are willing to dialogue,” Acho said. “I had never talked to Lil Wayne. He calls me and says, Emmanuel, I want to tell the story of how I tried to kill myself when I was 12, people up to this point just thought I was playing with a gun. I asked him two questions, I said why now and why me? He said now because of the temperature of the world in regards to mental health and why you because of the nature in which you have conversations.”
Acho is not looking for a “gotcha moment” in his conversations. No guest is put under the microscope. And the conversation is meant to be uncomfortable. That skill set is rare.
“I want to be considered one of the most creative people in the industry when it is all said and done,” Acho said. “If you want to change an industry you have to be first, you have to best or you have to be different. Uncomfortable conversations, it was different.”
Being on the front lines of one of the most hot-button topics has a cost. Some think Acho has gone too far, others not far enough.
“On a very small scale so many people in the black community have reached out to me highly critical cause they are like you are the spokesperson for black people now,” Acho said. “I’m like whoa whoa whoa, Emmanuel Acho did not sign up for that, all I did was sit in a room and start talking. But I have realized criticism is the cost of praise.”
Sitting in a room and talking. Creating space for the world to be a better place.
Emmanuel Acho is working with Allstate who is pledging $1 million to honor the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, as well as their non-profits of choice, for their remarkable commitment to community service. This initiative was made possible by new NCAA Name Image Likeness (NIL) rules, Allstate took the opportunity to financially empower athletes who serve their communities.