Awakened Convos: World Renowned Producer Derrick Ashong Chats Musical Empire


*Purposely Awakened is proud to recognize our very own La’Tanya Scott who recently received an award from The Alabama River Alliance: The Young Emerging Leaders Award for her work as The Environmental Science Educator for the Cahaba River Society in Birmingham, AL. Congratulations Queen for this special recognition, keep slaying!!!

Derrick Ashong is a producer, musician and entrepreneur known for working with major figures including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics. But more important than that, he is a phenomenal human being!

He was born in a house with no running water in Accra, Ghana in 1975. He was raised in Brooklyn, NY, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, He studied at Harvard University, where he received the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize, for the outstanding scholarly work on his senior thesis. 

His personality is larger than life but full of warmth, humility, and concern for all those who represent the African Diaspora as well as all other citizens of the world. His life’s mission is to amplify the voices of those who are not always heard but who possess the brilliance and ingenuity to help solve some of the most critical issues of our time. He believes that his generation is equipped with the technology and opportunity and he wants to do his part to magnify their voices so that as last we can be empowered to tell our stories and to “take back the mic” in order to be the change that we want to see in the world. 

In Part 1 of this electrifying interview, La’Tanya Scott gives us a brief introduction into who Derrick Ashong is and he does not disappoint in making you feel like he is your best friend, whom you have known your whole life. They discuss the meanings of their names, his journey from Africa to America and then back to Africa, how her mother is a fan of Nollywood (Nigerian Film Industry) setting us up for the meat and potatoes of this discussion which continues in Part 2, where we pick up the vibe between these 2 positive forces. He currently resides in Mauritius.

La’Tanya Scott: So, in our first interview, people were able to get a little bit of an idea of who you are but go ahead and introduce yourself and let us know about any projects that you are currently working on because I would love for our audience to get to know you personally, professionally and to learn how we can help you, help us.

Derrick Ashong: OMG! It likes a win, win, win…I love it, that’s what’s up (they both laugh). My name is Derrick N. Ashong, a.k.a. DNA. I am a musician and entrepreneur and I work at the intersection of technology and entertainment. I am originally from Accra, Ghana, raised in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, N.Y., as well as Riyadh and Doha in the Middle East. I came back to the United States in my mid-teens (every 4 years until the age of 20, he moved to a new country). My work is at the intersection of tech and entertainment and I primarily focused on how to amplify the voices of young people and to help them do and see themselves through new eyes. 

I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of luminaries in the field, people like Oprah and Steven Spielberg, BET and Al Jazeera and ABC Disney. I have a few Emmy nominations to my credit, and I have been able to really focus on how to bring interactive media to the masses. So now, my focus is on the Continent of Africa. A few years ago, I created something called, Take Back the Mic: The World Cup of Hip Hop, and it is almost like American Idol meets Anthony Bourdain (celebrity chef, author, journalist, and travel documentarian, who sadly is no longer with us) but that principal of looking at the world through culture is powerful so he did it through food and we are doing it through music. 

We took that series and we were 2-time Emmy finalists for Outstanding Interactive Program for that project, now we have scaled it up and we are doing it in Africa for the first time, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Mauritius, and South Africa. In this season you will be able to discover Nairobi, Lagos, Johannesburg and Tegali through the eyes of the hottest up and coming talents and you the audience can go directly into the “Take Back the Mic” App and help us identify and amplify the voices of a new generation. 

La’Tanya Scott: Well my goodness, I do not think that we need to continue with the rest of the interview because you just did it all (laughter), you dropped the mic. Regarding ‘Take Back the Mic,’ how did you come up with this idea and how did you get it started and what were some of the positives and the negatives along the way because we know that with any great thing, there is always going to be some shadows lurking. So tell us a little bit about that.

Derrick Ashong: So ‘Take Back the Mic’ is actually an extension of something that we called S.M.T which was the “Sweet Mother Tour” and by Sweet Mother, it is actually a big West African hit, if you go to West Africa, it is the most popular song in history of the country. It was done by a Nigerian artist named Prince Nico Mbarga and it is sung at every wedding, child naming ceremony, it is everywhere, and it is all about the love of your mother (recognizing the way that your mother has suffered for you). In this case we expanded it to our Sweet Mother Africa. So, we are looking at how do we think about our passion, compassion, and our love for the Motherland and it was quite an experience developing that project and we wrote a song, we took the traditional vibe, wrote our rap sets on top of it and that video blew up in Ghana, it was number 4 in the country; R. Kelly, Usher, Beyonce and then us. 

This was how it all started and then we thought about how we would build a conversation across the diaspora and we realized that we are all facing a similar problem and it is not just the African diaspora. Young people around the world are living in a society where historically a small segment of people get to write the story, they create the narratives of what matters and what does not, what our values are, who is valuable and who is not…who do the police help when they show up and who do they hurt? (L. Scott comments that that is a whole other conversation and Derrick agrees but it is a topic that they will discuss later in the interview).

 Basically, at a certain point if you are looking at how the story of the hunt always glorifies the hunter and not the lion, why with Cowboys and Indians, the Cowboy is always the good guy and the Indian was there the whole time, he was not even an Indian until the Cowboy did not know what to call him except for that. Who tells the story? So, we said historically, only a few but this is the first generation with the talent and the technology to truly speak for itself…so we should ‘Take Back the Mic’ and let a generation speak for itself, that is the principle of the entire movement and we manifest that through technology and content and how you bring them together to amplify the voice of the next generation. 

La’Tanya Scott: Perfect! You got me thinking about a musical that I am addicted to and I listen to it every single day…Hamilton.

Derrick Ashong: I knew that you were going to say that “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story” my kids listen to that every day ALL day.

La’Tanya Scott: OMG when I need a pick me up and the strings are being pulled in different directions, for me to do this or to do that, sometimes it can be overwhelming and there are times when I want to be silent and I do not want to speak to anybody, I do not want to tell anybody my story and that is why I play that song because you have no control of who lives, who dies or who tells your story, you have to tell your story. Even though you may be 1 in a million, go head and tell your story (Derrick adds to these sentiments…and history has its eyes on us right now, to which L. Scott confirms how much she loves the song).

So, with ‘Taking Back the Mic’ I love the fact that you guys are creating a platform for people to tell their story, through their eyes and that is big…just like you said, everybody always amplifies the hunter and not the lion. So for people to be in a position to tell their story whether it is through music, art, poetry, dance…etc., it is something really powerful and I would just like to say thank you. On another note, with you being in the line up with people like Beyonce, we need to have our eyes on you. Now you said that ‘Take Back the Mic’ was an app, how do we go about getting it and is that an opening or a platform for us to speak, talk?

Derrick Ashong: It is awesome! It launched 2 weeks ago, so this is super timely. You can go to it is a place holder site right now, but it has the links to download to Android and to download to Google (L. Scott displays her phone to show that she is already in the process of downloading the app).

La’Tanya Scott: So, basically you are looking at other people expressing themselves through their platforms, is that right?

Derrick Ashong: Yes and what happens is that you can have content inside the app that comes from independent creators or from productions. So, what we did is that we created ‘The Mic Africa’ as a show that is running on the app that allows the audience to cast who appears in the show. So, for example when you have the app there is are a couple of links and one of them says charts, when you go to that charts link, you will see a bunch of flags, if you click a flag then you will see who are the top 5, 10 or 20 artists from that country…this week. What we did in the last 2 weeks with the soft launch, we let the artists come in and say, I want to compete in one of those 6 countries, but will start to happen in the coming weeks is that the fans will be there and you get highlighted, when you watch something then you will get points, when you share, you get points,  the algorithm is intelligent, it knows that OMG, La’Tanya was pushing number 23 to “amp” this to share to the community, if 2300, 23,000, 23 million follow, it blows up and so do you! 

Because you have so many young people that are “tasting it” because especially in our communities they are the ones that decide what is hot and then it gets co-opted by other people and they never get the credit. The app algorithmically tracks who gets the credit. That is what we mean by “Take Back the Mic” literally whether you are the creator, the curator, the fan, or the artist…we rise up and down and people get to see and discover you for your sense of taste and for that you care about. It is all about building community around great content.

La’Tanya Scott: Well, I downloaded it (she encourages everyone to download the app). See now you are going to keep me up late at night (laughter) because I am going to be playing with the app and helping folks out. 

So, tell me some good stuff and some bad stuff about everything that is going on. I want your take on Covid-19, police brutality, our youth, and the direction that they are going and how ‘Take Back the Mic’ can create a positive outlook on these topics. 

Derrick Ashong: This is a beautiful question. You are good at your job. I have been seeing a lot on-line and on social media where people are talking about how America is sliding into Autocracy, America is flirting with Fascism and I am thinking that with all do respect, when you tell me that America is sliding or creeping towards Fascism, I would ask you respectfully to inquire from a Native American when Fascism showed up on their shores. Ask an African American, when were we ever equal? People are acting as if this is all new but that is the problem it has been there from the beginning.

 The country was founded on “sinking sand” and it has never acknowledged the humanity of all people…people of all races and ethnicities, people of all genders, half the population was disenfranchised out the gate but then even more because you are talking about the people that we referred to as having rights in the constitution initially were white property owning males. That is how we started. People do not want to acknowledge that the Eugenics movement found fertile soil and grew in The United States and that the teachings (L. Scott can be heard in the background encouraging the truth to be spoken) If we are going to ‘Take Back the Mic’ we are going to speak the truth, we are not going to be speaking any nonsense! Let me get that mic, I will never drop it!

We do not recognize that the eugenics movement then inspired Nazi Germany, that a lot of the teachings that came out of what we did also inspired Apartheid in South Africa. Now all these dirty chickens has come back home to roost. Why? Not because society is thinking differently about itself but because of cell phone cameras… because now you see it and if you do not see it, nothing happens. So everyone gets lit over George Floyd but for Breonna Taylor, it takes months and months for them to then do nothing!

I would argue that this is a moment of reckoning, what kind of country does America want to be? If America still wants to ride off of old school propaganda (we are great, we are the land of freedom, we are not as bad as The Soviets) ok cool. But the problem is…I keep thinking why did people buy the propaganda so hard? It’s because The Soviets did not have good clothes man. Those cats were not fly (wearing all gray) they had dope ballet and amazing vodka but when you look at the Soviet marketing (he says in a Russian accent) it was very red and gray, it was not cool. But we were like…I wish they all could be California girls (singing a line from the Beach Boys hit California Girls as L. Scott laughs in the background). We had Earth, Wind and Fire. We had all kinds of dope stuff…we were interesting, exciting, and sexy. We had Rock n’ Roll, all of these cultural elements that came out of Black culture helped to market American culture to the world without carrying with it the story of the burden of Blackness in America. Because of technology, we see that today and the whole world is watching and we as a nation have to decide who do we really want to be.

La’Tanya Scott: Listening to you speak there is so much passion, there is more passion in what you are talking about then I have ever felt from anybody else and with that I would like to say, you know we were talking about cell phones and tech (well you were talking about that) and I am going to call you a “tekkie” you are using ‘Take Back the Mic’ for a positive spin but what are some of the other things that you are doing to help uplift the communities, to change the present and the future of “our great nation?”

Derrick Ashong: This is a big question for maybe not the reasons that you are asking. I will be honest with you I think that the U.S. is ceding its place on the global stage, at least its leadership position. So my focus now, I used to be super activist around how do I support the community and build it up…etc., I have not lost the passion or commitment to that, but I have shifted my focus. Part of the reason that I decided to do ‘The Mic Africa’ and not the ‘The Mic America’ is because I believed that we needed to hear from some other places. Malcolm X said maybe 50 years ago, that at the end of the day Black people no matter where they are would be disrespected, diminished, and downgraded so long as Africa was downgraded. Because if your “mother” is nobody then you ain’t nobody. That is the way that this society operates. 

So, at a certain point, we have to look to the source and think about why are people proud to be… where are you from? Oh, I am from Paris, but they are not proud to be from Lagos (as a matter of fact, people from Lagos are hella proud) but the rest of the world does not recognize the power of it, they do not recognize the value of it and then they will have all of these ideas, oh you want to go to Africa, oh my God, you moved to Africa? I am speaking to you from Africa right now, I am on an island called Mauritius, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I moved back; I moved my family out of The United States because I did not want my little Brown girls to grow up thinking that they were less than. I was like, I am not having it, I was not raised like that and I do not want them feeling that. 

At the same time, we cannot forget our communities back in the U.S., there is a diasporic dialogue happening here and there are communities that are not necessarily rooted in Africa over the last 500 years but at the end of the day humanity comes from there. So we have to look and seek and understand the humanity of other people. One of the dangers of white supremacy, one of the things that makes it so insidious is that it is built on fear…fear that we will visit the cruelty upon some that they have visited upon others. 

But when you look at the cultures that we come from that is not what is there. There is a lot of love and a lot of compassion. There is a lot of comfort in oneself. So what I am trying to do now…if you are asking what we are doing to impact the world, we have a campaign called ‘70 by 25’ and it is very simple, when the lockdown happened (Due to Covid-19) internet usage worldwide went up 70%. In Africa, the 4G internet, the mobile internet was at 7%. That is because Africa has the highest mobile internet costs than anywhere on the planet, to this day.

If you look at a country like Rwanda, they have something like 90-95% 4G penetration in terms of access, you can get it all over the country. They have better coverage country wide than we have in the U.S., but they have 10% 4G usage. So, what we said is, why did television blow up, why did radio blow up, why does everybody have that? Because all you had to do was buy the “box” but when it comes to mobile, you buy the “box” then you have to buy the band-width, then you have to buy the Netflix subscription to get the content with the best band-width that you paid for on the “box” that was already expensive, like this is crazy and by that time you done you are still hungry and you do not know what you are going to eat. 

So we thought, let’s flip the script a little bit, just like television worked off of ad support and radio worked off of ad support, why can’t we have ad supported mobile. 70 by 25 is a campaign to take Africa from 7% 4G penetration to 70% 4G penetration by 2025 and we doing it with mobile companies, handset manufactures, telecoms, advertisers and inside that ‘Take Back the Mic’ app, when you watch and when you share, you get points (You may want to know what are the points for, what are the points for…I will tell you what the points are for, L. Scott laughs). Starting in January, depending on what country you are in if the mobile companies have partnered with us, you can translate those points into data. So the more that you are in the app, the more you discover and amplify the voices of the next generation of creators, you will earn your phone minutes, you will not have to pay for it anymore, because there is a currency to our culture, there is a value in culture, that is what we do at ‘Take Back the Mic’. 

La’Tanya Scott: You guys are working! That entrepreneur knowledge coming through right there…I am blown away! I did not know that this was happening, and I am embarrassed that I did not know that this was happening and very grateful that you are letting our wonderful viewers/readers know this information, that is some intense stuff (L. Scott encourages everyone to get on that app and help people get those minutes). 

Derrick Ashong: Get on the app and we have a bunch of DOPE partners, big players that have decided that they want to help and support and be a part of this campaign. So over the next few months, you are going to see things accelerate and December 1, 2020, we are going to launch, ‘The Mic Africa’ and you are going to be able to watch in that mobile phone and starting in January, again, it will not be everywhere at first, it depends on the companies in your region. But you will be able to win data package from companies like Coca-Cola or whatever the case may be. That is where this is going and all of a sudden, the brands get to reach the audience, they get to understand the audience and the audience get rewarded for their taste and for being the curators of culture. 

La’Tanya Scott: So, seriously, I am trying to sign in (laughter) but every time I am trying to look at the number, I am trying to look at you and not be rude (they both laugh). That is perfect! You have literally blown my mind. We have been talking for a little while now, not only did you come to the U.S., you…wait let’s go back now that I am thinking about it. Tell me some stories, we are about to get into the personal part of you so that we can make it all come together in the end. When you were in school, something happened where you helped one of your classmates out and if you all do not know this story, then you need to google it. Now, we do not know the ethnicity of this classmate…no one knows, we just know that you helped a classmate. You have come a long way and I would really love for you to touch on that, I feel like we are best friends, that we have been knowing each other since childhood (Derrick is smiling) I want people to know your story, I have become passionate about your story. 

Derrick Ashong: This is going to sound crazy but which classmate because I have helped a few in different ways. 

La’Tanya Scott:  Boom…the story about the gas mask. 

Derrick Ashong: Oh that story. That was when I was a kid and I actually did not help them…I did not, this is a crazy story (L. Scott suggests that she go back and write the editor because it is in his story) I will tell you what happened because it is heavy. I was 15 years old; I was living in the Middle East in Doha, I was actually in Jersey the summer before and we heard about the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein and everyone recognized that stuff was about to go down and my family had to decide what to do. My dad was back in the Middle East in Doha and we were in Jersey. The decision was made that it would be better if we were all together, so while everyone was figuring out how they were going to leave, we went to the Middle East. 

Six months later, Dessert Shield was going into Dessert Storm and they evacuated half of my school, the people went to other countries and were scared, those of us who stayed, we had to stop sleeping in our bedrooms…every night the family sleeping in the same room and we had to seal all the doors and the windows with cellophane, similar to saran wrap and tape to make sure that no gas could come into the house while you were sleeping. My mother and my sister would sleep in my parent’s room, and my dad and I would sleep on an air mattress on the floor and right next to you…you have your gas mask.

 So what happened and this changed my life, is that I was at school, you know every day you go to school with your bookbag and you would have your gas mask with you (which was recommended to be carried with you) I saw photos of my sister and I wearing our gas masks…it was crazy. So one day we are in class and the school is half empty, if you think about a school where 50% of the people are gone, everything is quiet and the whole energy is different. We are sitting there in chemistry class or maybe physics and all of a sudden, we hear this HUGE explosion and the whole building shakes and so I reach down, and I grab my gas mask and I put it on ( I was not heroic in this moment) I was awakened in this moment. Because I looked up and for the first time, I noticed which of the kids in my class had a gas mask and which ones did not have a gas mask. 

Then you ask yourself, oh if the gas were to “hit the fan” do I give you my gas mask? Because if we get bombed liked that, one of us is going to die and some of us are going to watch our friends die and that just transformed my life. That was the moment where I was petrified, I did not know what to do and all of us are sitting there in shock. I remember that I did a gig in Berkeley a few years back and we did a ‘Take Back the Mic’ event there and basically one of my sister’s friends came and we were talking and she said you know you talk about that story about those gas masks, she was like I know exactly what you are talking about because I was one of the kids that did not have one and we were not in the same class because we were not in the same grade but we talked about what it meant because it all depended on the country that you came from as to whether or not they had the resources for you to get a gas mask.

People were out there making big decisions that impact people’s lives on a very tactical level and they are making decisions that do not account for the humanity of people and why would children have to ask themselves these questions, which of us will live and which of us would die? “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story” (reference to Hamilton). So I just decided that I was going to tell a different kind of story one that would enable people to see themselves eyes that reflect the actual power that people have, not well I don’t this or I don’t know that, no…you bring something to the table and if you can find other people that can recognize what you bring to the table and work with each other in mutual respect and collaboration, you can build tactile, tangible power. It is not a theory, it has been done since the dawn of time, it just that now we have better tools to understand and organize.

So when you ask me are you an activist, I am like no, not really because I think of an activist as someone who has committed their life to advancing a specific cause. What I have done is committed my life to amplifying the voices of other people helping them to understand their power. If they become an entrepreneur or an activist or an artist, so be it, but I want to use my skills to enhance and amplify the skills of others. 

La’Tanya Scott: I am about to cry because you have reminded me of some of the things that I am trying to do over here in Birmingham, AL, as far as protecting our watershed and being able to fight for residents who do not have clean, pristine water. I work for the Cahaba River Society and the Cahaba River supplies about 85 million gallons of water in the summertime to Birmingham residents but if you live in certain areas, you will not get water that is as clean…which reminds me of Flint, MI. 

For us to fight for basic needs and necessities for life or to have to question that if I live in this area, I continue to be supplied water, it touched me when you talked about the students that did not have gas masks. That weighs heavy on me because there are students that I serve, that I take out on the river that do not have lunch, so it is emotional. 

Derrick Ashong: What you are talking about is mad real. In a world where food goes to waste on a daily basis, some people go hungry and folks will look at the work that we do and you are an entrepreneur, you talk to venture capitalists, how are you then talking about food insecurity and that fact that everyone should have more, that sounds like socialism. People allow themselves to get caught up in these stupid boxes that other people have created that mean nothing. Capitalism, Socialism, Communism it is meaningless. What we are talking about is humanity and what are the ways that human beings can have the opportunity to fulfill themselves and their potential, to live in harmony and to grow. 

As soon as people can put you in a specific box, whether it is by politics, ideology, religion, gender, identity…whatever it is, then they can control you because they can make you feel like you are in opposition to this other party and while you all are squabbling amongst yourselves, someone else is reaping the benefits of that disorder. We see a lot of that in The United States today, this is one of the things that The U.S. has to decide what kind of country do we want to be and the rest of the world has to ask if we are the kind of country that they want to follow? I think that for people like us who have a vision that we think that the world can be better, we have to move beyond those old labels because it is all manufactured, it is stuff that is 100 years old.

 People just made it up so that they could promote the ideas that they thought were in their best interest. We need to start looking at how do we build bridges to get people access to the resources that they need so that they can flourish. Not just to survive, to flourish as human beings, there is more than enough, and it does not mean that you have to take from other people. it does mean that we have to start being honest about what is humanity and how do we put a value on it. 

La’Tanya Scott: Well you have to define that on your own terms because…oh my goodness, the government runs everything (that is a whole other conversation). So, before I let you go, you grew up in a house with no running water, you experience this life changing event, you have traveled and now you are back in Africa, how do you do what you do, how does it all work…what continues to motivate you?

Derrick Ashong: You know, I am sitting here next to a picture of my mom, who passed away 2 years ago. An African woman who grew up with a very clear and proud sense of self. She was a powerful, powerful woman. She taught me a lot and she kind of gave me a bit of a mandate of understanding my place in the world. When I was a kid growing up my mother used to say to me, you are special, you are not better than anybody else but you are special and I always thought of that in terms of maybe it is not just me as an individual that is special but that everybody is special. That everybody has the ability to not compare themselves to somebody else but recognize that you came into this world formed as a unique gift unto to the planet, if you choose to be a gift, you could always choose to be a poison but that is on you.

I think that the legacy that my mother left, requires me to contribute something while I am here and because I believe that Africa has been for a long time underestimated and undervalued, I have decided to make a contribution to the uplifting of African people both at home and around the world. I think that the lessons that I learn in that process enable me to look at other places and say what can I do for people India or in Indonesia, Philippines, what can I do for people in Brazil or Colombia and then how do you bring that circle back and say what can I do in Flint, in Paris, London or in L.A., I want to start by amplifying the voices of the people that we never hear from or we do not hear enough from them, somebody is always out here telling their story on their behalf and yet these are some of the most amazing and powerful, beautiful and articulate people on the planet. What happens when you give them the mic and let them speak for themselves? That is what we are doing right now but we have not lost the connection or the commitment to our people back in the States and around the world. I think that right now for the sake of my own mother, I am serving my Motherland and that is what motivates me. 

La’Tanya Scott: You are amazing! To not only honor your mother but to give to others you are giving people the opportunity to express themselves on whatever level they need to and I can be told in the way that they need to tell it, without having to be concerned with being uniformed in the telling of their stories. So for you to open the door for people to be better for themselves and to be themselves that is powerful within itself. I just want to say thank you for that. I know that as I am currently seeking a fellowship one of the things that was required that you speak about yourself and I have a very hard time doing that…it is hard. But I also had to ask for reference letters and the things that people said about me made me wonder why is it that I am not able to see the same things that they see in me. I know that there are a lot of people who struggle with that. I know that there will be a lot of people that will go on this app and go out on a limb deciding to tell their story the best way that they can.

If someone else if telling your story, they are going to leave a lot of key elements out of your story. So you have to be the one to tell your story. I appreciate you and you are like the coolest cat on the planet and your mother was right, you are special, and you are amazing, and you just continue doing what you are doing. So before we go, I just want to say that if you have any closing remarks please let Purposely Awakened know…I am so glad that I had this opportunity to interview you Derrick, to learn more about you and what it is that you are doing and to get your insight about the things that are going on in our society.

Derrick Ashong: Thank you La’Tanya for inviting me to be here with you, it is an honor to speak with someone of your caliber, you are not only an excellent interviewer, but you are also an inspiring person and I appreciate you. I love your humility and your openness in sharing that you have a hard time talking about yourself. I think that we need to encourage more of our people, especially Black women to do just that, our stories matter, your story matters, and it will help other people to understand themselves better too. 

If I was going to leave one message, I have been talking to a lot of people lately and everyone is stressed out about what is going on in the world and there is so much pain and trauma, it’s Covid-19, it’s about race and it’s about the cops and all that nonsense and trauma, pure foolishness and some deep levels of wickedness at the same time. I think that it can really be depressing and make you feel small, hurt, and afraid. We cannot even go outside or hug each other anymore, I think that it is in moments like this where the world seems to lack in hope, that people who believe in something greater than themselves, something that can bridge the gap between people, that is the moment that people like you shine. 

Sometimes you are out there shining but there is a lot going on, a lot happening, and it is bright out here and you do not know what’s going on, nobody can see it, it is in the darkness that we can see the light. It is in the darkness that we see that candle, that flame. It is in the darkness that we find all the small flames that can come together to create a bonfire where the sun is shining, and we do not even notice it. This is the moment! Do not let the fact that it is dark outside make you feel like all the demons are out… yes, they are out and so are all of us who are shining. It is time to light it up! I think that the world will be far better off for it. 

La’Tanya Scott: Thank you Derrick (he smiles) you are so inspirational. Where can we contact you, follow you? 

Derrick Ashong: Holla at me on twitter, you are going to see me talking politics all day, @DNATV on Twitter and also on the website,, download the app hit that charts button and see what is happening in various countries we are in BETA you can help us build this bad boy, send us comments and feedback. December 1, 2020 is the official launch so come in and help us to amplify these stories. 

La’Tanya Scott: Thank you D and they end the interview with a virtual fist pump.


  • La’Tanya Scott

    La’Tanya is a skilled outdoor educator and role model who focuses on outreach and service to urban schools and youth of color. Her intense interest in nature, her skills and knowledge, and especially her boundless enthusiasm will help many additional area individuals understand the importance, and the wonders, of the outdoors. She holds a degree in Environmental Science from Miles College. Even before her graduation, La’Tanya knew that she wanted to work in nature and to inspire people to love the outdoors as much as she does. From childhood, she has always had a passion for being outdoors and helping people, and she credits her family with strengthening that passion. La’Tanya serves on the Junior Board of the Alabama Rivers Alliance and has helped to form the active and dynamic junior board of the Cahaba River Society, for which she serves as staff liaison. She has been the keynote speaker at a variety of events including the Color the Crag Climbing Festival and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Conference. 

La’Tanya Scott

La’Tanya is a skilled outdoor educator and role model who focuses on outreach and service to urban schools and youth of color. Her intense interest in nature, her skills and knowledge, and especially her boundless enthusiasm will help many additional area individuals understand the importance, and the wonders, of the outdoors.

She holds a degree in Environmental Science from Miles College. Even before her graduation, La’Tanya knew that she wanted to work in nature and to inspire people to love the outdoors as much as she does. From childhood, she has always had a passion for being outdoors and helping people, and she credits her family with strengthening that passion.

La’Tanya serves on the Junior Board of the Alabama Rivers Alliance and has helped to form the active and dynamic junior board of the Cahaba River Society, for which she serves as staff liaison. She has been the keynote speaker at a variety of events including the Color the Crag Climbing Festival and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Conference. 

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