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Member of the Month: DJ Mercer, Justice For Greenwood

Meet DJ Mercer, the resident Community Outreach and Engagement Manager for Justice for Greenwood, and our April MOTM! This Caribbean-rooted dynamo was born in Illinois and raised in Wisconsin, but his heart belongs to the Virgin Islands, where he attended college to connect with his family’s heritage (talk about full circle!). But don’t be fooled by the island vibes—DJ’s a true Okie at heart, rocking a degree from Oklahoma State University as well. 

Before joining Justice for Greenwood, DJ used his passion for community to mentor kids as a school counselor, even building them a legendary watermelon patch. When he’s not fighting for social justice, DJ enjoys a perfectly dressed Caesar salad, tending to his oasis (the man loves to garden!), and working… but only with the lights off. So next time you see DJ, don’t be a stranger—he’s all about building connections.

Justice for Greenwood (J4G) is a network of volunteers, advocates, attorneys, academics, experts, massacre survivors, descendants, and others agitating for reparations and justice on behalf of survivors and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Their mission is to secure justice and reparations for the Greenwood community and Diaspora through direct services, public education, and advocacy. J4G’s work aims to revitalize the Greenwood community and to address the major areas of racial inequality and injustice directly caused by the massacre: Health, Education, Real Estate, and Business.

What do you do? Tell us a little bit about your work.

I am the Community Outreach and Engagement Manager at Justice for Greenwood, a nonprofit dedicated to abating the harm created by not only the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre but also urban renewal, redlining, and eminent domain that occurred in Greenwood in the 1950s and 60s. My primary duties as Community Outreach are to tell people and organizations what we do at Justice for Greenwood as well as building and fostering relationships between partnering organizations. If you would like to learn how you can partner with us, I can be contacted via email at [email protected]

We also have a huge legal hearing occurring at the Oklahoma Supreme Court on April 2nd at 1:30 PM CST. We’d love for you to join our virtual live stream.

What’s your favorite quote?

“Scared of the Future while I hop in the Delorean” by Kanye West is my favorite quote. The future can be scary, but the future is going to come whether we are prepared or not. We should embrace the future and create a future we desire rather than wait for the future to dictate how we should live. 

What would your walk-up song be?

Go DJ by Lil Wayne. It is also one of my go-to Karaoke songs.

What are your two favorite spots in Tulsa?

My two favorite spots in Tulsa are Sisserou’s Restaurant downtown and the watermelon patch at Hawthorne Elementary. Sisserou’s is my favorite restaurant in Tulsa; it reminds me of my Caribbean heritage and the time I lived in the Virgin Islands. My other favorite spot is the watermelon patch at Hawthorne Elementary. Prior to working for Justice for Greenwood, I was the school counselor at Hawthorne Elementary. I started the garden program, which included a watermelon patch. During the summer months, I grow watermelon to be juiced at Inheritance Juicery downtown. Inheritance sells the watermelon juice, and the proceeds are given back to the Hawthorne Garden program. If you ever had the pure watermelon juice from Inheritance during the summer months, the Hawthorne children and I thank you for your contributions.

What was your first big splurge?

Jewelry/chains are HUGE part of Caribbean culture where my family is from. After I finished my master’s degree and started working full time, I bought myself a Cuban link gold chain on St. Thomas. I wear it daily to remind myself you can have nice things but only if you work for them. 

What does a perfect day off look like for you?

My perfect day off looks like sleeping in during a non-tornadic thunderstorm and hearing the rainfall. I get out of bed and meditate to the sound of the rain falling. After that, I eat breakfast and drink some tea as I stream Sci-Fi or thriller movies and sitcoms the rest of the day under a warm and fluffy blanket. Also, I do not have to answer any calls, texts, or emails from anyone. 

There are now 25 hours in a day—how do you spend your extra hour?

In the summer, I would spend the extra hour working in the watermelon patch with my Goldendoodle, Ca$H, and wife, Whitney. In the winter, I’d spend the extra hour making s’mores in my fireplace with Whitney as it snows.

What do you think is the best part about being a member of The Root Coworking?

The best part of working at The Root is meeting different people working for companies I wouldn’t have interacted with. I also enjoy the periodic events The Root creates to help us convene together (Miracle on Ice Social Hour, McNellie’s Happy Hour, etc).

 

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