top of page
  • Writer's pictureClouds and Colors Clothing

Chapter 1: The Men of Color Alliance

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

To kick us off we have a very special story here! The Men of Color Alliance share their journey and gives us insights on how and why they are making moves in the community. I was excited to publish this story because this group of men lives what they preach which is excellence and empowerment. Keep on reading to learn a little bit more about this organization and all the great things that they have going on!


Brock, Mike, Naledge photo by @powwar_shot - 2023

Lately I've been seeing MOCA on social media and in the community constantly making big moves! Before we get into what you have going on now and your plans for the future, I want you to take me back to 5 years ago when it all started.

What was going through your mind when you first decided to start this organization? What was the vision?


Mike:

Reflecting on the journey is truly empowering because in the mind of 18 year-old Mike, I was really thinking how a kid who was never super active in clubs and leadership would create an entire organization from scratch at a school that I had no stain at. I knew that it would be a lot of work, but I really just trained my mind to make this project bigger than just myself. I would be lying if I told you that I did not have any doubt, but through the support of a great team and mentors, I was able to continue with my vision of creating an interconnected system within collegiate spaces that would help Men of Color achieve ultimate success in whatever they choose to do. I simply just wanted to see my community shine and put people on game about creating and sustaining an organizational structure. Making our success a standard in the community and creating a model template for how Men of Color should carry themselves, despite what the media portrayed us as. I simply just knew if this was going to work, I needed a great team of leaders and I truly searched for them. I approached it as a business even at 18 because I knew that we would only be as strong as the team that we had. 


Brock:

I was a year ahead of most of the guys that I co founded MOCA with, so back in my freshman year “Black Rowan” wasn’t developed yet so I had to mix my friend groups and adapt to different people. I found myself wanting to be included in a group that would allow me to push myself and exceed boundaries while also giving Rowan a space where minority men can come together in a positive setting. Fast forward to my sophomore year, when Mike approached me with the idea to start this, my first thought was let’s run the play, thus MOCA was born.  I’ve always been told by family & friends that I carried myself differently (professionally) so this was sort of my way of venturing outside of my comfort zone & giving back to the younger guys under me. I always knew that when MOCA was formed 5 years ago that it would be so much bigger than just a campus organization. My younger brother is currently a junior at Lenape and he always tells me he is motivated by MOCA so much that he wants to go to Rowan post high school so that he can be the president of it. That is the impact and that's my “why”.


It's always good to remember why you started. Now here we are 5 years later and you guys are clearly ending 2023 strong. I heard from multiple people that MOCA hosted an excellent Speed Networking event back in November. How did that happen? For the people that missed this one, what can they expect to see in the next event?


Mike & Brock:

So the networking event came to light after my team and I made the decision to take MOCA to the next level. Throughout our own interactions in the professional space, we noticed that most corporate events were targeting communities that did not look like us, particularly young, professionals of color, which we were. Like college, we wanted to curate an environment that spoke to the true definition of excellence in our community and bring together individuals who wanted to grow and expand their personal network with individuals that were on the same journey as them. At a young age, I was blessed with opportunity to learn the game of networking through various positions that I held in local politics and now, higher education. I simply took my observations and applied them with the help of my team, who also have expertise in areas that I lack, which led to us having a well-versed networking event that targeted individuals from a variety of backgrounds, which was our goal. Creating a community conducive to growth and change. 

From the first event, we really learned a lot about having events and took a lot of insight from our attendees from surveys and such, so now people can expect an even larger turnout and a higher level of community engagement and impact. Our main goal is to tap in with anyone who is doing great work and create an environment for us to colloborate, partner, and strengthen our own personal/brand value. 


Building connections is definetly important! At this point you guys have some years in the game. People usually notice the wins and the successful times but every story has its challenges. Can you tell me about a time when things got rough but you persevered anyways? What motivated you during this?


Mike:

I would say the most difficult time we face as an organization is in front of us, but if we are reflecting, it would definitely be during the period of us scaling up in 2020 and then coming to a halt because of COVID-19. During that time, I took a break from MOCA and treated it like a club rather than a movement. I took a hiatus from school and started exploring some of my options. I really invested my time into entrepreneurship and during that time, it was hard for us to have programs, build our brand, and even explain what we did because we were still in the mindset of operating like a club, rather than an organization. Being 19, hindsight is 20:20, but we did not know anything! We were running an organization based off friendships and cutting a lot of corners with our policies and the way we conducted operations. But this is also one of the pinnacle moments in our history because it showed me what you should not do in your organization to create sustainability–you must become a master of criticism and an expert on solutions. Tough times never last in less time for them too. I always knew MOCA had the opportunity to be larger than what it was, but we tried to do it in a way that was not conducive to growth and built around just putting people on, for the sake of putting people on. We changed our approach during this time because we remembered the mission and purpose behind what we were doing. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in tough times, but as wild as it sounds, we never thought of stopping, MOCA was home for us, even with our other ventures going on. 


Brock:

For me, I’d say 2018 things were rough for us. We were a newly formed organization that just randomly popped up on campus on a cold December day and most didn’t know who we were or what we were about. The hardest part was getting people to buy into the vision and come out to our first event. Many of the people and organizations we were looking to co-sponsor programs with weren’t necessarily moved to work with us. This taught me that oftentimes you have to let the work speak for you and leave feelings out of it. We worked tirelessly to build our organization, even going as far as to host one of the largest Black History Month events in school history. If you would have told me that 5 years later we would have expanded our reach this far, I’d say I told you so, that’s how invested I am into making sure future generations are positively impacted by MOCA.


Thank you for sharing that. Despite everything you kept pressing on and expanding! I believe thats where real growth and change happens. Next I want to talk a little bit about the future. What do you have planned for 2024? What do you have planned for the next 3-5 years?


Mike & Brock:

So we have a lot planned for the next 3-5 years.

We are not going to release all the sauce, but we are looking forward to launching our MOCA Shop in 2024 which will mark the return of our merchandise and create a one-stop shop for all MOCA branded merchandise, including t-shirts, hats, notebooks, pens, etc! This project is being designed to spread awareness regarding MOCA and our mission. We know we are fighting a multi-faceted issue so we are looking to diversify our reach. Additionally, we are working on bringing some financial and economic driven programs to local townships and spreading awareness about the power of networking and information. 


We're also looking forward to inducting our next class of MOCA Men in 2024 and expanding our causes throughout the state of New Jersey, while continuing to hold sound and quality networking events throughout the area. 


By the end of our 5 years, we truly have a goal to be throughout the East Coast and curate a space that offers a variety of resources for Men of Color, produced by those who are apart of one of the most underperforming groups in a variety of areas. We are just dedicated to the work and jumping at opportunities that benefit who we are as MOCA and reflect the legacy that we want to leave behind. 


Okay so I see there are a lot of great things in the works! I’m sure everybody is working hard and uplifting each other during this movement. Is there anybody you want to give a shout out to or recognize for their efforts?


Mike:

Definitely want to shout out my team on both the executive and collegiate level. I always say that this vision supports everyones dreams and no one here is above or below anyone, we just play the role that best suits us in our efforts to create resources for those after us. 


I want to also shout out our mentors and our parents. Throughout the growth of this, my team and I have really become a family and a major reason for our success is the fact that our family, particularly our mothers support us tremendously. They keep us tight and motivate each of us to keep up the great work, I often say that the backbone of MOCA are our moms. They keep us focused. 


Lastly, shout out to the motivation behind this movement. My cousin Yah Yah and our first advisor, Dean Jones, who was the first one to teach us the values of manhood and creating a standard as a man of color in these spaces. 






Having people you can lean on and trust is always a great thing. The motivation is shared and in the end everyone wins together. Speaking about motivation, Clouds and Colors is all about changing your mind and in turn changing your world. Can you tell me about how changing your mind about a certain situation changed the outcome for the better? 


Mike:

I learned that nothing happens to you, it happens for you. When you change your mind, it opens up the door to becoming who you want to be. More often than not, the inability to innovate, change, and move forward prevents progression and without progression, you are stagnant. Many people struggle with the idea of stagnation of the mind. When you are trapped in your own world and understandings, you will only reach the heights that your mind will allow you to reach. 


The day that I ventured outside my comfort zone and made a decision to learn different material and understand situations from a more cerebral and concise viewpoint, I empowered myself to progress. MOCA leadership has taught me the true importance of being a servant leader and learning to become a solution driven person and not let my current circumstances shape where I want to be–only I can decide where I want to be. 


Brock:

Since grade school I’ve always been told that I am usually the logical one in any group I have been a part of. The one who doesn’t think or act off emotion but faces challenges by evaluating both sides of the situation before coming to a decision. I credit this to my love of reading. Whether I am listening to an audiobook on finance or reading a book on growth, these reading choices have helped shape the person I am today. One of my mentors, my uncle, had told me that he views many situations like a business and ever since then I have changed the way I approach certain problems.



"Nothing happens to you , it happens for you." I wholeheartedly agree with this way of thinking! That's what empowerment looks like. You guys dropped some gems in this interview. We definitely want to stay connected and learn more about everything the Men of Color Alliance is doing! Can you plug in your socials and tell us how else we can interact with you?


Brock:

My instagram is @ ayobrock, follow me and stay up to date with some of the projects I have rolling out next, and big shout out to Brandon and Clouds & Colors. I have my own brand, Stability Worldwide that I am eager to relaunch. I saw the moves Brandon was making with his brand and that really inspired me to really lock in and start my own. Also, follow our official instagram @ themenofcoloralliance, there we will post updates regarding the brunch and the moves we will be making post grad.





85 views

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page