In this episode of Tech Intersect, I speak with Cleve Mesidor, founder of LOGOS, the first decentralized social platform exclusively for activists. Logos leverages blockchain technology to deliver a decentralized, secure, protected network - ensuring trolls and their fake profiles are barred and provocative works are not censored. This unique, peer to peer experience seeks to empower disruptors to reach contemporaries globally and make meaningful connections to support positive social evolution and equality.
Previously, Cleve served as an Obama Presidential Appointee, working as Director of Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, where she was charged with promoting White House economic programs and national public-private partnerships to advance innovation and entrepreneurship.
In this episode, we have an authentic and empowering conversation about race, crypto, and financial inclusion. We explore the importance of education in black and brown communities by dramatically reducing barriers to entry and participation. And we also explore the importance of the lessons of freedom from Juneteenth as context for the broader conversation of economic empowerment. I know you’ll learn a lot. And I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we enjoyed having it.
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welcome to Tech intersect. I'm your host, Tonya Evans and my life and work exists at the heart of law, Business and Technology. Yeah, I've earned a few fancy titles in degrees over the years. But the bottom line is I'm a writer, speaker, teacher, and lifelong learner. And I'm really excited that you've joined me on this journey. So what is tech intersect? Well, it's authentic, empowering conversations with really interesting guests to demystify complex topics to prepare you for the future, because your future is now and it exists where law business and tech intersect. Get ready to listen learn and leverage. Let's get started. In this episode of tech intersect, I speak with Cleve Mesidor, founder of logos the First decentralized social platform exclusively for activists, logos, leverages blockchain technology to deliver a decentralized, secure, protected network, ensuring trolls and their fake profiles are barred and provocative works are not censored. So it's really unique peer to peer experience that seeks to empower disruptors. And this is a really important project for such a time as this in order to reach contemporaries globally and make meaningful connections to support positive social evolution and equality previously served as an Obama Presidential appointee working as the Director of Public Affairs for the US Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, where she was charged with promoting White House economic programs and national public private partnerships to advance innovation and entrepreneurship. During this episode, we have an authentic and empowering conversation about race and cryptocurrency and financial inclusion, and we explore the importance of education in black and brown communities about blockchain and cryptocurrency by dramatically reducing barriers to entry and participation. We also explore the importance of the lessons of freedom from Juneteenth as a context for the broader conversation of economic empowerment. I know you'll learn a lot. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we enjoyed having it. And for more information about cryptocurrency and blockchain and what the heck we're talking about, please sign up for my upcoming free webinar, crypto 101, the digital cash economy on June 17, at 7pm Eastern Time, and for a deeper dive enroll into my three week live coaching course intensive from cash to crypto. All the details are available at advantage Evans calm so let's hop into the episode. Time to listen Learn and leverage. Let's get started. Today I am ridiculously excited to speak with Cliff messenger, founder of logos blockchain editor of blockchain buzz, head of National Policy Network of women of color in blockchain and former Obama appointee, so many things, all the things I'm excited for her to explain her origin story to you when we get to that she is one of my favorite people in the blockchain space and I so admire her work, her commitment, her passion for informing and empowering black and brown women in particular, in the blockchain space. So I could not think of a better person to speak with about digital and financial inclusion in blockchain and cryptocurrency as a source of empowerment. Nobody else no one better than cliff. But before we get into all of that important work, Cleve, welcome.Cleve Mesidor :
Thank you for having me on.Tonya Evans :
Absolutely. lately. All right, so let's dive in. And let's begin. You have such a beautiful and rich origin story that led you to this moment in time. So can you encapsulate that for us for the listeners about what led you to becoming involved as this impassioned leader and Trailblazer in the blockchain space, particularly in policy and legislative initiatives?Cleve Mesidor :
Yes, yes. And again, thank you for having me on. You're one of the pioneers of this space who's doing such incredible work, and making it easier for those of us who are trying to do great things. And I think I love your story, because it's one we have to tell because a lot of people feel that they have to learn by blockchain before they get into blockchain. And for me, I use my story to tell people that I lean back on my expertise. You don't have to leave your domain. You don't have to find a new career. It's wherever you are at How can you leverage blockchain technology to solve some of the problems within your current industry company, or even community? So for me, as you mentioned, I have a political background. You know, I worked on Capitol Hill worked in the Obama administration. And you know, at some point I fell in love with the blockchain community. I first learned about Bitcoin when I was in the Obama administration. But I did not get involved intimately until 2016 when the conversation expanded beyond cryptocurrency and Bitcoin and we started talking about intellectual property protections, open source, and then we talk about the potential of blockchain beyond currency. So for me, I actually, you know, love to connect people. And so that's why I created logos blockchain to actually lean back on my activism background and create a space for activists to connect, and this wept and along the way, as I said, I mentioned I leaned back on my public policy background, that at some point, as you know, the conversation went to Washington who wanted to regulate the space was finally paying attention. But many of them were not clear on what this space was. So I connected back to some of my former colleagues made new friends like Kristen Smith at the blockchain Association. And we started talking about how do we get Washington to pay attention and to stay focused and for me it is they don't see enough people that look like them. Right or lobbying Washington were wealthy men who were making the point if you think back to the to David Marcus and that Facebook hearing talking about financial inclusion, while you know what a lot of the members of color making Wait, you're talking about financial inclusion. So I worked with a blockchain Association and others to bring women of color from all over the country to Washington to meet with the members who represent them. There's something so powerful for members of Congress to demand to see diversity, but to see geographic diversity from where they hail and see that women of color, people of color are already building in this space, and also know that we have something at stake here, that we won't be impacted. And I think you know, that has been great in terms of really fostering inclusion,Tonya Evans :
you're making such a huge difference to connect you are the bridge between so many constituencies that really do need to come together in order to affect positive change in terms of digital and financial inclusion. And so, I think of actually it was the last time I actually attended an event before COVID-19 took over the entire world. I was honored to attend the National Policy Network, women of color, blockchains fireside chat and reception on the hill, and you organize that you let it for Black History Month. You partnered with Coinbase and the blockchain Association. Could you talk about that because that room was filled to capacity. You had all of the presentations and the representatives who were available in order to connect. That was a really powerful moment, and that that room spoke volumes.Cleve Mesidor :
Oh, my goodness. And it was powerful. And I want to give props to coin base. I've worked with their team on various projects, to week, Meyers, over their leads the inclusion team and is really invested in and having a real conversation about financial inclusion. And that's what this event was, you know, we set out to Kristen and myself to talk about how do we do this event. And we wanted to make sure that, you know, we're not just focusing about Black History Month, that we're having a substantive conversation, and we're showing the diversity in this space. And you're right. It was a packed room. You know, we had four or five members of Congress speak we We had Devin Brown, who is the counsel for the Financial Services Committee, you know, participated on the fireside chat. And the feedback was was that we had the substantive conversation in a diverse and inclusive space, which is important because it's not just members of Congress who want to see diversity geographic and, and racial, but it's also other people. That is how we, you know, take down the barriers to entry people need to see themselves reflected, people need to know that blockchain is not an exclusive club. It is actually an economic revolution that empowers everyone.Tonya Evans :
Absolutely. And that is the divide or the bridge that I seek to build so that we demystify the space so that people understand this is another way, another path toward empowerment. Right? That is that we have so many lanes that will get us there. And also I'm so concerned that black and brown people will be left behind in this fourth industrial revolution in the same way that we were in the.com. Boom and any major advance forward from a technological or financial point of view, which is our communities are impacted negatively. And we're starting again, as a matter of each generation. And if the next generation has to start over, they're at an epic deficit. They're not starting in the same place, you're not going back to the starting point, you're way behind. And so the work that you're doing to educate and empower people and to demystify in the space is so important. And that leads me to the conversation I want to have about your upcoming Juneteenth celebration. And why you feel it's important to combine the message of digital and financial inclusion, with Juneteenth. And what I want to do before you talk about that, for those who don't even know what Juneteenth is I think this is a great time to give a little primer and then say DIY or do your own research ask Google Alexa. They will tell you as well. There's some movies, there's some things history comm has some information. But Juneteenth is short for June 19. And it's a holiday commemorating June 19 1865, which marked the effective end of slavery in the United States. So this is why many black Americans refer to Juneteenth and not July 4 as their true independence day because it was on June 19 in 1865, two months after the surrender of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee, so long to your statute, by the way, in Virginia that Union General Gordon Granger and approximately 1800 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. Granger read the General Order Number three, which declared in part, the people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the executive of the United States, also known as the president, all slaves are free. Now, the interesting part for those who did not get this in your history lesson in school, more than two years before Granger's announcement, President Abraham Lincoln had already issued the Emancipation Proclamation that was on January 1 1863, which made known that all enslaved people in the Confederate States in rebellion against the union shall then henceforth but forward and forever be free. That memo did not get to people for an additional two years, and it was held to pay even after that. And so I love the fact that you have chosen Juneteenth to affirm the message that we are talking about digital financial inclusion, participating in the digital cash economy, and the empowerment that comes from and so it's Talk about the vision for this and in the plans for this and why you've done this.Cleve Mesidor :
Yes, yes. And thank you for articulating that so well, because Juneteenth is a teaching moment, right, it's a teaching opportunity. You know, for too long, we've had two Americas, where there's, you know, the one people caller knows. And then the one the, you know, majority community knows, and that is not correct, because Juneteenth is American history. As you illustrated, you know, July 4 is important, but it's important to recognize this injustice that happened that people were free for the emancipation Emancipation Proclamation, but didn't know about it till two and a half. And today we're talking about new and justices. So, so this event was one obviously, out of in the wake of the current ratio strategies that occurred, you know, Aubrey, Briana, Jordan, joy, Floyd, and now the country is enthralled and discovered conversation about equity and justice and racism, one that needs to be had. Right? And so and a lot of people ask the question of why is this different? I think COVID-19 is why it's different COVID-19 for the whole nation on pause, and just as we were thinking about opening up, the protests happened, right. And, and America was actually forced to pay attention. There were no photos, no distraction. And I was struck by so many people. It was like, it was like they would seen this for the first time when we know we've been to these protests after year. And the crypto community is not immune from what's happening in terms of this racial conversation. And we've been seeing on Twitter, a lot of folks, you know, stepping up and say, What can VCs do, you know, people axing, how do they connect with people of color? So this event, you know, we're calling it Juneteenth open mind. It's an opportunity to have a specific conversation about crypto in ways. We have some awesome, awesome speakers. There were so many people that we wanted to have, but we wanted to touch on the issues that are top of mind. Right? So the VC conversation is critical because everybody wants VCs to be more diverse. Right? jalak jobanputra is going to speak about that she's a VC of color. Isaiah Jackson, who has written the book, Bitcoin America, I believe he's been on your program and will be or will be, and he is going to talk about, you know, economic disparities. And what did we see? What do we continue to see in the protest is millennials and Zoomers Gen Z, who are leading the way calling for change, rightfully so, because their future is at stake. Fast forward, you know, 20 years. They have to deal with the consequences of what happens next. So Ruben Bona who leads to leave you know, black and white blockchain and it's really valuing millennials and Zoomers is going to talk about that. And we have, you know, shaylee, Adolphe from consensus was on talk about ally ship. So we have a pretty robust schedule because we wanted to, we wanted to talk about these issues. So these presenters will speak for no more than one minute and hear from others within the space, give them an opportunity to ask questions, make statements, and begin to brainstorm. We know they will, out of this will come various crypto projects by you know, innovators of color by others, which is wonderful. And we need to start looking at this from the lens of crypto in a collective manner. But how do we do better, right? How do we ensure that we don't repeat the problems of big tech and the crypto space becomes a space we're lacking of inclusion? So very excited about this? Call this conversation It will be only a first step.Stephanie Renee :
We hope you're enjoying this edition of tech intersect. Our conversation will continue in a moment. But first, a word on an exciting opportunity.Tonya Evans :
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And now, back to the conversation.Tonya Evans :
So that's the difference between the moment and the movement, right? This is a series of steps. This is not a linear path, but it's a process. It's an evolution. It's set within the context of a revolution. And it's critically important that we have all of the tools in the toolbox in order to affect change and to move forward. I'd love to get back to black Wall Street and black Wall Street will absolutely include cryptocurrencies, some type of digital cash in some form or fashion I know although it was not successful didn't wind up in the final version of the cares act even coming out of chair, woman waters committee to try and get a digital dollar into that bill would have meant a lot decreasing, I should say the time that it takes to get value in hand because it was such you know, we're in the middle of a crisis. Yeah. What do you think the barriers are to entry? I find them to be considerable. I'm, you know, I'm an amazingly popular nerd, but absolutely a nerd and lifelong learner at heart I have, as an educator, I like to look under the hood and tinker with things so that I can explain them in plain plain English. But there's a lot of barriers in blockchain in crypto for everyone. What are the unique and particular barriers for black and brown communities and things that you seek to alleviate and remedy?Cleve Mesidor :
But I think the most obvious barrier that we've all spoken about is the fact that this thing is hard to explain. Right? took me two years to try to figure it out before I could say I understood it, right. And and then I I run a newsletter weekly newsletter, and it goes out to thousands. But it's been my way of keeping up and staying up to date. So you mentioned earlier demystifying crypto, we have to find a way to simplify it. Because right now people don't get it and right. And those of us who are in crypto crypto loves crypto, we protect crypto, but we underestimate that our protectiveness is keeping people out like many of us forget, it wasn't not not that long ago that we weren't meetups, not knowing what this was asking people for help. And now we expect people to know about it, understand it. So I think one of the barriers is, you know, the fact that is difficult and the fact that sometimes, you know, the crypto community is not as welcoming as it can be, which is one of the reasons I'm so thrilled that you are doing your courses, because people again, people want to learn from people who are like them whether it be learn from a woman learn from a woman of color, But also people want to learn and comfortable setting. So right, the the the cost that you're offering, we need more of that, right? Because people, the access points are clear to us within the crypto community. But they're not clear if you're just sitting in Philadelphia or Ohio somewhere, Cleveland. So that's a clear, you know, that's an easy barrier. Well, I shouldn't say that's an easy to identify barrier. There's, there's also others you mentioned, you know, the fourth industrial revolution, and this fusion of all these technologies, and people of color are being left out. Because there was there are barriers to access for big tech. And now we actually never to coalesce around a space that we say is an economic revolution, but they don't understand how to get there. So I think, you know, in the conversations that we're having about the innovation economy and where we're going, we need to make sure that we're intentional about including people of color and we're we also Went back to what you're doing in the academic space, you and folks like Chris Brahma are great in terms of making sure your academic institutions have people who are expertise in this space who are teaching the next generation.Tonya Evans :
Right? It's so important because, you know, I'm so committed to ensuring that the next wave of lawyers are, and it's a part of our professional responsibility to be technologically competent. But you always want a lawyer to be in an active process while these web three builds are occurring, not to have the build occur and then send it up to legal so they can tell you everything that's wrong and why you can't do it like we were past that. That's so 20th century, we're about solutions problem solving. Nobody wants a 50 page Legal Brief. We need to have answers in this space move so quickly and so rapid. You have to immerse yourself now I love what you said earlier. You don't abandoned the expertise that you've spent your life building? Yes, I've, you know, I graduated from law school in 1998. I've practiced a long time I've been in academia for over 13 years. I don't abandon that, because there's a new technology, I figure out my lane. I learned enough across the board to have some competence generally. And then I take a deep dive in my particular area. What does it mean for intellectual property? What does it mean for entertainment? How is it going to change REITs and the transfer of REITs real property, the tokenization of real world assets so you can find your lane and you don't have to be a technologist. You don't have to have a stem background in order to fully embrace it. And you can't wait for that because this is where we are, right? It's just, this is where we are and in order to participate fully, and to be ready, like stay ready so you don't have to get ready is to continue to educate yourself in bite size pieces. But it's also important that people can get multiple opportunities because as you said, the rabbit hole is real.Cleve Mesidor :
It's a rabbit hole is real. Yes. And, and we need resources. So and that's why, you know, the work that I'm doing on Capitol Hill working with, again, is actually an association and biotechnology foundation and coin base and others, because we need to keep bringing people of color to Washington. I'm excited that we're going to do the congressional briefing again in March of 2021. This time, we're hoping to bring 100 women to Capitol Hill, there was such a huge excitement and enthusiasm and so much even members offices and their staff followed up to, to ask about how they can be involved, how they can do follow up events. So in March 2021, we hope to ban delegation of 100 we want people to see people of color. We want to promote the people of color who are doing it credible, incredible work and building such strong products. But we also want to make sure that, you know, we're communicating to folks how diverse this space is. I tell people all the time that women of color are the fastest growing demographic within the crypto space, essentially people of color. And so when and when you think about the innovation economy, people tend to be huge consumers. And so we're building these products. And we want to make sure that Congress is not just implementing smart legislation, but we sources are getting to these communities as well. One of the legislative proposals that I put forth is for Congress to direct the Small Business Administration to create a pilot, a pilot where there's a seven a loan for blockchain entrepreneurs. And as you know, it would have to be tweaked to because many of those stuff we're building they are you know, proof of concept projects in beta form and also they will require me Time to actually yield the return. So this would require, you know, working with lenders and to have a different approach to seven a loan. But Congress is in a position to get the SBA to create economic opportunities, especially as they see so many people of color already building in this space, we need to get their products and their services to the marketplace.Tonya Evans :
Absolutely. And that's the the important part about when when we're referring to the space listeners, there's a lot of space within the space. There are sometimes people who are investors, maybe you are earning crypto, maybe you are building at the protocol level, meaning you're actively involved in coding blockchains. Maybe you're building decentralized applications on top, and I have an upcoming free webinar. I'll talk through some of these things because my hope is to speak at a plain English level two not use any of the jargon, no jargon, no jargon one One webinar, what are you talking about? Like I'm talking to my mom and her friends on Friday nights when I set them up on my zoom? Yes, what can I tell them in 15 minutes that will make sense that will be the webinar and certainly not to dumb it down but to, to make it plain, so that people and oftentimes speak, speak first about the problem that Satoshi intended to solve. And then from that go to some of the problems that this type of technology can actually make better, faster, cheaper, people love better, faster, cheaper, let's start with the use cases. And then I tell people all the time, I know that you've heard this or said this yourself. I don't have to know everything that's under the hood of my Volvo. I really don't. I'm not going to work on it. I'm not going to take it apart. The car drives, it goes from a to b. This is a good thing, right? And so, but for those who do want to get into coding and coding for blockchain, there's so many many jobs, you know, where I'm always talking to people about the jobs of the future, the ones that don't exist yet, because think of all of the web three Oh, jobs and in artificial intelligence, machine learning, drones, VR, you know, and obviously, blockchain and crypto assets that did not exist three years ago, let alone 10. Right. So it's about refreshing your skills. Being a lifelong learner, having a growth mindset, and really being about the agency and freedom that comes from multiple ways. And participating in this space will be one of the most important ones that you participate in. And that's why your work on the hill is so important.Cleve Mesidor :
Yeah, no, and I love this space because most people understand the pay gap. They understand the wealth gap, the understand of the problems of banking, and all we're saying is that they are blockchain protocols that can help to solve some of the problems and if you understand the problems, we can help you understand some of the points calls, we can find solutions.Tonya Evans :
Perfect. That's a perfect way to tie this up. I see we are short on time, I want to get you back to your next 17 engagements and calendar items in your day. So please share with the listeners how they can connect with you and your work and also remind them of your upcoming event.Cleve Mesidor :
Yes, Twitter's The best way to access me and at SEMA z at cm e si. The event is coming up June 19, which is June 10. We're doing the call from 1230 to 130. Eastern 12:30pm to 1:30pm. Eastern, it will be done via zoom. You can go on my Twitter page at CMS E and there'll be a link for an event bright link to register. We want as many people to participate as possible. We want to hear from you. We want to connect and we want to begin a conversation So please join us. And my website is WWE, my logos that I Oh, my logos that I Oh,Tonya Evans :
perfect. I will drop all of those in the show notes. I will be there on June 10. And I wish you continued success. I'm your partner and power. You know where I live on the twitterverse. Anything you do? I'm a fan. Anything you need you let me know.Cleve Mesidor :
Likewise, thank you so much for having me on.Tonya Evans :
If there's one takeaway, I want to reaffirm from this really engaging conversation, it's that blockchain is not an exclusive club that is out of your reach, as Cliff so accurately described, blockchain, which is the technology infrastructure that powers cryptocurrencies, is an economic revolution that has the potential to level the playing field and empower everyone, not just the wealthy or technologically and financially savvy. You don't get left behind. We've created a safe and affirming space and place for you to learn in a way that's accessible and supportive. financial freedom in the new digital cash economy is within your reach and economic empowerment is within your grasp. The future black Wall Streets of the country and world are possible, and it begins with you. So as a reminder, if you'd like to learn more about how to participate in the new digital cash economy, visit advantage Evans. com, sign up for the free webinar, enroll in a course empower yourself take that step forward. From cash to crypto will teach you everything you need to know about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, how to buy, invest, earn and protect in a way that's safe, legal and empowering. And mentioned tech intersect for a discount and bonus crypto tax session. Let's wait Let's do this together. That's all for now. Until next time, continue to shine.Stephanie Renee :
Stay in touch with host Tonya Evans via your favorite social media, on Twitter at at Tech intersect and on Instagram via the handle tech intersect. This podcast has been produced by Stephanie Renee for soul sanctuary incorporated Transcribed by https://otter.ai