“It can feel so intimidating when you walk in that room — the wealth, the air, is different,” he said. “I had no white friends, I wasn’t around other cultures. Most people are going to assume how I am, but I didn’t get any of that. It taught me that everybody is an individual. People were so loving and welcoming. Nobody ever treated me as insignificant.”
Mr. Stone possesses a combination of self-confidence, self-awareness and empathy that permitted him to navigate unfamiliar worlds without feeling overly discouraged.
“My perception of racism is, there are different levels,” he said. “A lot of what people classify as classic racism is actually racial ignorance. If I’m in Hong Kong and don’t hand you my business card with two hands and bow my head, it might be considered disrespectful. You have to learn that. I’m going to find a way, if you look down on me, to level the playing field.”
He went out on his own in 2016, seeking flexibility to care for his mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer. In addition to consulting, he began the “Wine and Hip Hop” podcast in 2018.
“The phone started really ringing after George Floyd was murdered,” he recalled. “Making all cultures feel comfortable together, people understood I was already doing that.”
For Ms. Dubose-Woodson, the most important thing now is direct action.
“The biggest thing, I want to scream it from the mountaintops, we are spending too much time strategizing,” she said. “We don’t need to plan for 10 years, we just need to start.”
The work Mr. Stone is doing is a great example, she said, along with committed companies she cited, including Burgundy producers like Dujac, Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Domaine Roulot, Maison Joseph Drouhin and Domaine de Montille, which she said were connecting to master’s level programs at historically Black colleges and universities.