For Jumail Blount, basketball was his first love. He was thrilled to be able to play college ball in California but his college career came to a halt when he developed knee problems. After moving back to North Carolina, Jumail underwent surgeries on his heart, arms, and legs and almost lost his life to an infection.
After he healed and was cleared to return to basketball, Jumail felt different and began to question who he was on and off the court. He realized that he was much more than just a basketball player so he set out to combine his love of both business and art. Working at his Mom’s kitchen table, Jumail’s first business, Havknot, was born. “Every business you see me involved in now started from my mother’s kitchen in the hood painting on her kitchen table.”
While building his successful brands, Jumail also took an active role within his community. His goal was to inspire confidence in the youth of the community to break stereotypes and become more than just a product of their environment. He now sits on various community boards where he mentors and makes lasting impacts.
“It’s crazy to be able to grow up in the projects and end up sitting on the board that governs the projects. And to even become the Vice-Chair and the Chairman of the Housing Development and Real Estate division. I was able to reach certain heights that I didn’t even know existed or opportunities that I didn’t even know existed for someone from where I came from. The difference with me was, even though I was in the hood, my mother always kept me with a good mentality. She kept instilling greatness inside of me…my environment really didn’t influence me. I influenced my environment”.
Through his active role in the community, Jumail sees Black members struggle to overcome poverty and systematic racism.
“Racism in America is so much bigger, so much vaster. It’s a vast problem because there’s a lot of hidden racism that we don’t understand. It’s hidden in paperwork. It’s hidden in interest rates. It is hidden by not being qualified to move in certain neighborhoods. It’s hidden in the fact that if you get on Section 8 as a female, you can’t have a man live with you.
There are not many couples grown in public housing. There are not many couples in certain areas, because it’s against the rules. If you don’t have a chance at love, then what is the chances of that child getting raised around the right amount of love is slim.”
Along with policy reform, Jumail believes that continued community unity is necessary to make a lasting positive impact. “One of the things that opens the door for [people] to disrespect us and mistreat us so badly is because we disrespect and mistreat each other.
So what I want to see also is not just reform from police brutality, but reform within our own communities of how we interact and treat and support one another. We’re not taking responsibility for holding each other back. From hating on one another. From not supporting one another.
Jumail Blount continues to show the world just how Substantial he is and how so many others that share a similar story can succeed if given a chance, as long as they themselves have the will to succeed. His work in the community and his commitment to the youth in his city has proven to create change that has only reached the tip of the iceberg.
“Racism in America is so much bigger, so much more vast. It’s a vast problem, because there’s a lot of hidden racism that we don’t understand.”