Sanaa. French. Trending Leadership
Trill or Not Trill?



French talking on a fake phone made of money

What’s trending isn’t always what’s most important. The hottest story doesn’t necessarily mean most meaningful. Earlier this week Sanaa Lathan’s name was buzzing on black Twitter and elsewhere on social media. I automatically assumed it was because her film the Perfect Guy had reached the top of the box office, last weekend. This feat marked the 5th week in a row in which a movie with a predominantly black cast ended atop North American charts.  Instead I ended up getting caught in a trick bag. Replacing the movie chatter were tweets sung in the key of Pop That. Reports stated, (and by reports I mean Black Twitter, Gossip sites and my reliable Facebook friends) Sanaa was dating French Montana. Yup, that guy.

Let me make this clear, their alleged relationship has nothing to do with her success as an actor. This conversation is a testament to our current generation. People were always talking about less important things, but with today’s social media and countless communication techniques, everything spreads faster. When I was a student leader, some indiscretions or personal relationships were definitely kept under the rug. Today, nearly  everything sees the light. With the distractions coming in at a higher rate, it becomes that more important for leaders to emphasize on the pertinent projects and leadership movements.

This is also about perceived reputations. When French was dating the tallest Kardashian sister,who is now dating James Harden, who was previously married to Lamar Odom, there wasn’t much shock. In large part, it was because of expectation levels. One of my boys said, “I held Sanaa on a pedestal and now she’s been knocked off and is tip toeing on marble floors.” Metaphorical brilliance, if you ask me.  That’s not fair to Sanaa Lathan, but heavy who wears the crown. The crown might be one of prestige and respect and it may also be one of leadership. As a leader, the microscope is on you and it’s constantly magnifying your positive reputation. I once worked with a student who delivered an empowering speech about Black activism at a dinner. Later that evening his girlfriend, whom no one knew about posted a picture on Instagram to display her pride in his address. She happened to be of Asian descent and subsequently, a fantastic speech was barely talked about. All everyone could comment on was an interracial couple.

I asked a group of friends to give me their thoughts on how to defeat a trending topic. My boy Soye said, to defeat it, something has to out trend it. That’s the thing with trending topics, they don’t last. By next week, we’ll be talking about something else.  If The Perfect Guy isn’t number 1 again next week though, an opportunity was squandered. A moment to showcase a tremendous accomplishment was covered up by the gaudiest of Morrocan cloths. Which brings me back to leadership. As student leaders and leaders in general, it is imperative that we make the important content the most talked about content. Find the mouthpieces and make sure they’re telling right story. The narratives need to be about advancement and development, not sex, love and rock and roll. Well, at least not always.

The time is now to out trend juicy trends. As leaders it’s time to step up and make the good news the hot news. One way to do such a thing is to redefine the concept of cool. Leadership and involvement needs to be the priority and needs to be what’s popping. If you overwhelm them with excellence, nonsense or personal stories won’t be told as wildly. When I tell my student leaders to embody leadership at all times. This advice isn’t given because I expect them to be on at every step. What I do expect is that consistent leadership will breed other leaders.  

We all can do better. Maybe I’ll go see The Perfect Guy this weekend. I’ll certainly listen to French record before next weekend. Thanks, Spotify Ratchet playlist


Stay trill, folks