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People of Barkley:
Keonté Carter

People of Barkley:<br> Keonté Carter

Keonté Carter | Sr. Brand Manager

“Everything I’m not, made me everything I am” - Kanye West

I remember hearing that quote when Kanye dropped his Graduation album in 2007 … instant classic by the way! But that quote has stuck with me ever since. 

I was born in Tulsa, OK, home of the Black Wall Street (look it up if you’re not familiar), to teen parents. I think these two events helped mold me into the person I am today. Hearing stories of how successful African Americans were before the massacre, inspires me to be a better version of myself. Outside of working at Barkley, I own my photography business, Ke Concepts, and I like to think of African Americans during that time and how they were able to still be successful despite adversity. It's an inspiration to never give up on goals even when they seem insane.

My parents having me at a young age also is the fuel that keeps me going. I remember as a teen, I would always hear quotes about what children of teen parents likely would be in life, more so not be, with the goal of lowering the percent of teenage pregnancy. A quick Google search will show you “we find that children born to teen mothers have cognitive test scores that are 13% of a standard deviation lower, complete half a year less of schooling, have four percent lower earnings at age 30, and are three percentage points more likely to have a teen birth themselves.” For me, this information used to piss me off because no one can tell me what I’ll do but me. My friends and family know, if you want to see me succeed, tell me I can’t do something. I’m petty enough to accomplish everything you said I can’t just to shut you up. 

I like to be a role model to minority youth to show that no matter what society says, you can simply do you. Despite what statistics say about children of teen parents, I’ve graduated with my MBA (my mom has also graduated with her masters), I’m super close with my parents,  I own my own business, etc. etc. etc. (in the most humble way of course). I’ve mentored a now teen, Tristan, back home for the last 6 years and participate in any youth mentorship program I can with Barkley. I didn’t see “me” in my college classes and a lot of the business that I’ve worked for over the years. I like to step up to show other minorities to go after what they want, even if they don’t see themselves in that space. 

To bring it back to the Kanye quote, everything society says I’m not, made me everything I am. 100% authentically Ke and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Five Questions with Keonté Carter

What is one thing you can’t live without?

Since the question is a thing and not a person (hands down would be my wife if it was a person), one thing I can’t live without is music. If you see me in the office, 90% of the time I have AirPods in my ears. I collect vinyls so when I’m at home, I usually have one playing. I focus better when I have noise. My brain starts to think about 1,000 other things in silence.

What’s one belief or mantra you wished everyone held?

“I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I’m not” - Kurt Cobain 

I remember after I graduated from Oklahoma State University and started my career, I always felt like I had to “turn it on” all the time when working and not be 100% me, so that I don’t fall into stereotypes of an African American man since I was one of a few at a majority of my employers. That life was boring, mentally draining, 1 out of 5 stars would not recommend. As I’ve gotten older, and currently in my 30s, I’ve stopped trying to be anything that wasn’t 100% authentically Ke. So you’ll these get these facial expressions, jokes and all of this extroverted enneagram #8 personality. 

What's an unpopular opinion you feel strongly about?

Any Barkley partners, and clients,  I’ve worked with will tell you I’m always laughing. It doesn’t take much. But one thing that’s never made me laugh is Saturday Night Live. It’s not funny at all to me and I’ve tried to watch it a few times! 

Who or what is your creative muse?

Right now, I’m really into art by Kehinde Wiley. He’s mostly known for his painting of former President Barack Obama. He has a piece in the Philbrook Museum back home in Tulsa and one here at Nelson-Atkins. 

When it comes to my photography, I would like to take images that are outside of the box and dope like his. Not quite there yet. 

What is something you never thought you'd be able to do, until you actually did it?

Nothing. I’m amazing and I can do everything. Just joking. In all seriousness, I’ve never put limitations on myself. Like I mentioned before, if I want to do something I’m going to figure it out and do it. That’s not to say things haven’t come without failure, but I know failure isn’t final and I’ve learned to look for the lessons when failing. I stay committed and adjust accordingly to meet my desired goals. 

Anything else we forgot to ask you?

I hate talking about myself, unless I need to prove how dope I am, so this was hard! 

For more on the People of Barkley, check us out on Instagram: @barkleyus.

Barkley US

May 11, 2022

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People of Barkley


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