By: Kymberly Amara
“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” — John F. Kennedy
Radio show host and political commentator, Richard Fowler, has been at the forefront of advocacy and change throughout his entire career. Fowler recently sat down with Heart & Soul to talk about his illustrious career as an American media personality, storyteller, cultural change agent. Having gotten his start after a friend suggested he go into communications, Fowler found his passion. From there he had the opportunity to join a radio station as a host and cultivate an audience that eventually spawned into the nationally syndicated Fowler Show. At the same time, he was allowed to grow as a media personality and was tapped to join Megyn Kelly on The Kelly File as a progressive voice which led to him becoming a regular news contributor.
As a first-generation American, Fowler, who is Jamaican, has pulled from his lived experience to serve as a conduit of information and change. Fowler says that to uncover these “invisible boxes” that keep us divided we must require more from our news media and push them to tell better stories. “The only way we’re going to move policy and make our community better is we need to be on every platform talking about the issues that are hampering our community.” He goes on to point out the folly in a collective decision to shelve Fox News Channel, which recently marked its 20th consecutive year as the number one cable news network in both total day and primetime. “Some of the decision-makers on the issues that we care about, watch Fox News. So, if we decide that we are going to act like that particular news channel is not there, or it’s not happening, or these things aren’t real, then we leave it to other people to dictate our [the black community] fate and I just don’t believe that’s okay.”
Since 2016, Fowler has been fortunate in being able to get in front of millions of viewers to help shape the narrative that people consume daily by offering a different point of view. Part of his role on Fox News is to “push the line” and, “engage in conversation that begins in reasonability on how we move you [viewers] on the issues that I care about for people that look like me and people that love like me.” In 2021, we have edged closer and closer to reverting on policies that were hard-fought by our predecessors like John Lewis and others in the ‘50s and ‘60s it is more important than ever to allow people and policymakers the opportunity to understand that our lived experience matters. As a black gay man and proponent of both the LGBTQ community and black culture, Fowler recognizes that his very presence on the Fox News Channel is planting the seeds for change both culturally and politically. “If we truly want – as we are in this constant fight for a more fair, equitable, and just society, part of it has to be not only changing policy and policy prescriptions but it also has to be changing hearts and minds and we have to do the work of both. Because, if you change policy and you don’t change hearts and minds then what ends up happening is literally where we are now.”
Although the black community has faced many obstacles, we have been able to use the media and its many outlets to reclaim our identities so that we can better tell our stories. From Ava Duvernay to Victor Blackwell we are now represented in spaces that were once closed off to us and able to create stories that positively contribute to how we see ourselves.Moving forward, we must continue to incorporate hard work and employ both empathy and grace to move forward. “As black people, we’ve got to give each other some empathy and we’ve got to give each other some grace. We can’t say that we want to be free if we’re not willing to free the people in our own community.”
Moving forward, Fowler is committed to embarking on the “next frontier in black story-telling” by reclaiming the storyline for both black men and the LGBTQ community before it’s defined by others. “I am very laser-focused on how I show up, both on television and on social media, what is the story I’m putting out there, and how are people receiving it. This next chapter that is written by black men has to be written by black men and it has to be written by all of us collectively.” While slow-moving, the narrative surrounding black men seem to be changing but Fowler understands how critical it is for black men to be the author of their stories to dismantle the negative stereotypes.
In his spare time, Fowler uses his expertise to educate and train thousands under his co-founded company, Richard Media Company to help foundations, nonprofits, and brands tell better stories. He also uses his voice to empower the next generation of leaders to become conduits of information and change agents. Looking to the future, Fowler is not only a subject matter expert but his ability to tell stories that reach across the aisle to bridge divides is necessary.