Hidden History, a conversation with Vaney Hariri

Eye on KELOLAND

Every year, in honor of Black History month, KELOLAND News shows you the Hidden History of the impact African Americans have had in the United States. Many of those stories may take us back in time, but here’s a story about a man who is living his life for the future. If you live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, you have probably met Vaney Hariri. Hariri’s resume goes on and on, and he’s done a little bit of everything. He’s using his lift to teach young people of color there’s no end to what someone can accomplish.

You never have to worry about hearing Vaney Hariri. If it’s his podcast or anything else, he makes sure to turn up the volume.

“I’m a product of other people and so for me, when I step out, I step out with pride. Not because I think I’m so special, but because I had teachers who were brilliant,” Hariri said.

Hariri is a teacher of sorts. The co-founder of a company Think 3D Solutions, he aims to help individuals and companies create their best selves. He’s also an author, singer, has served on diversity councils, human relation commissions, is a public speaker, and above all, a creator. Hariri says part of his drive comes from not seeing enough content created by people of color for people of color.

“For me, it’s less about lamenting why it’s not there. For me it’s more about putting it there. It’s not just us doing it, it’s also teaching people how to do it,” Hariri said.

Stepping into the spotlight and putting himself out there is easy. Hariri says he grew up in a family of entertainers and put on plays as a kid.

“You had to kind of work for your food almost, know what I mean? You always had to perform,” Hariri said.

As an adult, he’s channeling that energy into everything he does, because he noticed younger people are starving for role models.

“It important for me they understand somebody went first so they wouldn’t have to go through some of the things that I did,” Hariri said.

Hariri says black historical figures and teachers of his own inspired him to do his best. That’s why he says people who have a place at the table right now need to step up and give back to their communities, not only to create diversity but to normalize it.

“If we become that city of mentors, if we become that community, when you come here, we’re going to put our arms around you. We’re going to give you the skills to upward mobilize to help other people do the same, what type of community would we have?” Hariri said.

You never have to worry about seeing Vaney Hariri. He’s one of the most visible community leaders in South Dakota. Whether you look at his books, teachings, message, or podcast, you’ll find out he’s trying be a positive force for future generations. This man wants to make history, and he’s making sure it doesn’t stay hidden.

“Leaders go first. They don’t wait for other people do the thing and that’s what it’s about; going first. It’s about having a vision for how we see the community. How we see this world. And saying what do we want to do about it? What imprint do we want to put on it? I’m not about life happening to me. I want to happen to life,” Hariri said.

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