Brown doesn’t yet talk about racism with his kids, and in some settings, he’s careful about sharing specific details about his own experiences with racism and his past. But he chooses his spots. In the right place and for the right reason, he’ll talk about the harder parts of his life.
Earlier this year, Brown began to partner with Charles Foltz, co-founder of SA Heals, a local nonprofit on the East Side, to engage in hard-hitting conversations about race and inequity with a wide range of San Antonio church leaders, police officers, business owners, and other community members.
Together, Brown and Foltz hold meetings they call “immersions” at the SA Heals headquarters, located a short walk from Tank’s Pizza. The goal is to encourage people across the city to overcome the distance between their differences while learning to appreciate humanity in one another.
“The common stereotype is you’re either a victim [or] a villain,” says Foltz. “That’s the false narrative. You have to be willing to sit in a room, have a conversation, and stick it out with a posture of humility.
“Sitting down with Mike, we’ve had great conversations about the East Side and the strong sense of community in this neighborhood,” says Foltz.
For Brown, being a business owner means modeling leadership—not just for his kids, but for every person in his neighborhood. Instead of relocating to a different part of town, he remains rooted so people can see what it looks like for business owners to stay on the East Side and be successful.
“I can remember growing up and how important someone like me would’ve been in my community as a young Black man,” says Brown. “It makes a huge difference.”