“Real change happens when those who need it, lead it.” –Rickey Aiken
Tiffany has an unfiltered conversation with Rickey, the founder of Inner City Innovators. They dive deep into his upbringing living in the inner-city and the catalyst that took him from drug dealing to hope dealing. His story will shed light on how any of us can go from hopeless to helpful–how we all have it in us no matter how cliche it sounds be the change we want to see in the world.
From WTF to Joy-filled Days
Being forced to form relationships contrary to his introverted nature has brought Rickey a season of WTF moments. Transversely, being able to do what he loves is what keeps him going.
“Real change happens when those who need it lead it.”
Rickey breaks down the story behind this quote given at one of his speaking engagements, from recognizing the struggles in his childhood that brought him to his grandmother following into the footsteps of his brothers the realization that a drastic change in his life would be the only way to save it.
Getting Back Right
Continuing his story, Rickey’s trajectory is now headed in a different direction as he embraces mentorship and dedicates his work to changing the culture of inner-city West Palm Beach. Even still, it took realizing that the change he wanted to see come to West Palm Beach was not going to come by hoping others see the problem as well—instead, it was going to come by Rickey taking action himself.
The Right Kind of Clique
Having been in operation for a little over two years, Rickey and his organization aim to target young men within the inner cities by relating to and recognizing the everyday challenges they face, but instead of trying to throw blanket solutions at one or two “savable” souls, adopt a group a young men to mentor and put them on towards a better life together through teachings based on community and emotional intelligence. The goal is to change the way the group (or clique) think collectively.
Hope Dealers on Every Corner
The future for Hope Dealers, according to Rickey’s aspirations, is to have ambassadors and mentors all throughout southern Florida, and eventually the country. Because this problem of inner city youth idolizing dope dealers is nationwide, Rickey believes that through his work and the work of the men who advocate alongside him, they will be able to positively influence the young men who would be looking up to them anyway—but this time, for reasons that can bring them out of the struggle.
To the Loud and Uninformed
For the people who always have an opinion on what happens in the lives of inner city kids and the struggles they face (but have never actually stepped foot into the area they speak on so much), Rickey encourages them to embrace empathy. People on the outside looking in should try to put themselves in these young people’s shoes and ask themselves, “If I were in these people’s shoes, would I be able to do any different.”
Luck, Not Bootstraps.
While proud of the work he has been able to do through coming out of the communities that he focuses on, Rickey acknowledges that much of his success is attributed to luck. There have been many instances in his life that could have set him back, or chances for him to be in the same boat as some of his friends, but luck played a large role in Rickey being able to do the work his does.
Rickey Defines AMV. Wrapping up his conversation with Tiffany, Rickey defines a Modern Visionary as someone who sees the world as something that is could be, and to have the courage of bringing those dreams to fruition.
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