By Brianna McAdoo, Special to the AFRO

The Hustler’s Guild is using a hustler’s mentality to break down stigmas about mental health in the Black community and empower D.C. Youth.

Established in 2017 by Obama Administration alumni Yasmin Salina, Jason Spear and Kevin Beckford, the trio created the Hustler’s Guild with a commitment to serve underrepresented youth in the D.C. community. The organization’s team is a diverse array of Black and Brown powerhouses from various fields that are unified by their own individual hustles and commitment to their community.

The Hustler’s Guild team and panelists after the panel, “State of the Culture: Tech in Hip Hop & Mental Health in the Black youth community” at Roosevelt High School in Northwest, D.C. (Courtesy Photo)

The non-profit offers programs to assist youth in developing skills in STEM (Science, Math, Engineering and Technology) while simultaneously infusing hip hop in their methodology. They are redefining the popularized term, Hustler and a what having “Hustler’s Values” entails. The goal is to teach young people that,  “Complacency is not an option; never settle and always have the mentality of a hustler, which is defined as a dedication to hard work and the highest standards of productivity and excellence.”

The Hustlers Guild debuted their “Hustler Talks,” a series of interactive conversations giving D.C. youth an opportunity to engage with working professionals in a variety of fields. On September 10 at Roosevelt Senior High School, the Hustlers Guild hosted a two part panel discussion entitled, “State of the Culture: Tech in Hip Hop & Mental Health in the Black Youth Community” at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Northwest, Washington, D.C. True to the organization’s purpose of community development, this interactive panel provided an empowering space for students to engage on mental health matters, hip hop and technology.

Founder of, Panama Jackson, moderated the panel discussion. which was divided into two parts. The first panel featured urban millennial expert and educator, Carson Byrd and Dr. Jessica Clemmons, NYU psychiatrist resident and founder of the #ServingMyself workshop series. Stigmas surrounding trauma and mental health in the Black community were key topics of discussion in the mental health panel. But, the discussion didn’t end at the issues, there was a high level of engagement between the panelist and the students and an emphasis on finding solutions to the problems at hand.

“I think that’s what we gotta start making uncool things cool again, like, going to a therapist…that has to start being cool. Like telling your friends or your family, ‘Yo I gotta go to therapy,’ and making it the norm,” Carson Byrd said. “Once we make stuff the norm in the Black community or in the hip hop community then we can overcome it.”

The music and technology panel focused on careers in the entertainment industry, branding and utilizing technology to one’s benefit in the digital age. The panelists were Lawrence “Law” Parker (A&R at Roc Nation), Little Bacon Bear (DJ & 93.9 WKYS Radio Personality) and Tony Redz (DJ & Radio Personality 95.5 WPGC).

“In most of these realms, there is like an overgrowth of information…we have Instagram, we have Facebook, we got Twitter, we got Snapchat. Everybody’s an artist, everybody can rap, everybody’s pretty, everybody’s a model, everybody can sing, everybody can do something,” said DJ Little Bacon Bear.   “We get it cool, but what makes you different than everybody else? What makes you different than the girl that is sitting next to you and what should make an employer give you that job and what should make me give you that record deal?  Being different than somebody else is where I say you succeed,” the radio personality told the crowd.

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