Radio Host Tracy G On Changing Careers 3 Times: "I've Never Been A Slave To A Job Title"


The sweltering sun is playing hide-and-seek in lower Manhattan this afternoon as Tracy G. approaches a makeshift bench in front of her alma mater Pace University.

In this moment, the on-air edutainer fuses seamlessly with scattering students swinging doors to and fro as they make their way around the city campus. The average passerby doesn't speculate that the woman clad in all black fitness attire is Tracy G., the woman who lends her voice to the masses every weekday morning beside radio giant Sway Calloway and hip-hop aficionado Heather B. on SiriusXM.

"A lot of times in radio, people think you are a full-time extrovert, but I don't want to talk all the time," the Sway In The Morning co-host admits with respect to her incognito outfit of the day. Yet, before sneaking in a few lone hours to work on her wellness brand She's Beauty And The Beast, Tracy G. graciously scribbles me into her schedule to take a trip down memory lane.

Before stepping foot on Pace University's campus as a freshman, the one-time aspiring fashion designer loosened her grip on fleeting runway dreams during a trial-and-error semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She suddenly realized--as many young adults do--that her mother's reservations were not out of sync with the truth. This was not her calling. "I literally hollered at Google as my life coach at the time, and I put in 'writing, entertainment industry, sales and talking,' and I came up with this term 'public relations,'" she recalls of the first of three career changes to unfold in her life.

The Brooklyn native got to work immediately after transferring to Pace, landing a myriad of internships in her field throughout the breadth of her collegiate journey. Then, the summer before her senior year, a New York Women in Communications panel threw a dart in her unsuspecting plans. A full-time job offer at a renowned PR firm was on the table, but a burgeoning fervor for journalism relentlessly vied for her attention, prompting her to reevaluate her next move. "When I was literally holding a tangible piece of my dream in my hands, I realized this is not it," Tracy G. reflects. "I wanted my loyalty to be to the people rather than to the product."

Tommy T Photography

As graduation day loomed ahead, Tracy incorporated journalism courses including a graduate class with former ESSENCE Managing Editor Denolyn Carroll, fittingly titled "Writing for Magazines," into her scheme while closing the deal on a spring internship with VIBE after her friend, who completed the program in the fall, put in a good word for her.

"VIBE was very intense," she says, accentuating each word. “This boss a** lady Shirea [Carroll] remolded you into someone of use." The respect for her former internship coordinator, then the executive assistant to former VIBE Editor-in-Chief Danyel Smith, is evident as she gushes with a smile and good-hearted laughter at the flashback.

While she managed to win Carroll over, Tracy understood that she couldn't delude herself into thinking one favorable impression was enough to turn her internship into a promising career. "I'm always just looking at how I can maximize the opportunity that's been presented to me," she begins. "I literally had informationals with everyone there because I was like if I'm ever going to get a job, it can't just be one person vouching for me."

As she collected a grand jar of gems from top-dog journalists within and outside of VIBE (for the first time on record, she discloses she once compiled a list of her favorite writers' email addresses when left to assume assistant duties at Caroll's desk for an hour), she didn't neglect to build relationships with the hopeful scribes she rubbed shoulders with every day. "Often when we're in the infancy stages of our career, we forget that our peers and the people we're interning with are probably going to make it into positions alongside us."

Though her revelation certainly would assist her on the cusp of a career shift to radio years later, a semester at VIBE didn't result in a hiring opportunity as quickly as the spirited intern had hoped. "I was devastated. I melted into a sour puddle of shame," she proclaims as she transports back in time to rehash her immediate reaction to the disheartening news. In a meteoric flash, she re-enters her charismatic, self-assured realm of being.

Tommy T Photography

"What kind of biography would it be if everything went my way?" she asks, shutting the door on the recollection. "It's not going to resonate."

Instead of shriveling in defeat, the rising writer, once exclusively known as Tracy Garraud, tirelessly pushed her pen and landed bylines in Honey, Complex and XXL before returning to her home base. "Eventually, because the universe has a hell of a sense of humor, it turns into me getting a position at VIBE full circle." The former full-time editor describes her relationship with writing as a monogamous one during her tenure under Editor-in-Chief Jermaine Hall. "I wake up to find myself cuddling with my freaking MacBook," she confesses. “Writing was my everything."

It's not hard to think what happened as Tracy details the untainted love she once had for her craft. "I was around so many f**king brilliant brains," she says of her team as she flips through the highs of her work environment before answering my unexpressed inquiry about the hurdles that got in the way. "I felt like I was a leg on the clickbait monster," she muses without a hint of animosity in her tone. "We all evolve. I've never been a slave to a job title because if anything happens to that title, your whole identity can crumble."

She began toying with the idea of closing her chapter at the legacy publication, a decision she made official in November 2011, once an untapped passion crept out of the shadows of her comfort zone. "I love the art of communication and humanizing people. I like finding the thread that connects me to you and us to the width of the world so radio started calling me."

The year that followed proved to be arduous, however, as she attempted to transfer her skills to the microphone. "It's not like I had Sway Calloway's number on speed dial," she says of her start in radio business, which took form when she co-hosted a short-lived podcast for clothing brand LRG with fellow Pace graduate Shine Travis. She admits the venture was a gamble at the time, considering podcasts had yet to reach their spike in popularity. "I'm not hard on myself if I did my best. If I did my best, and it doesn't work out, that's when I really have to lean on my faith because my life is a collaboration with God."

Tommy T Photography

A chance encounter with music industry insider Amber Ravenel at a Carol Daughter's event fueled her efforts before she could get trapped in a web of uncertainty. "I never told her anything about radio," she reveals in reference to the woman who connected her with SiriusXM Program Director Reggie Hawkins. This was her shot, but the winning buzzer didn't sound off until October 2012, when she finally landed her gig at Sway In The Morning after months of pitching ideas, auditioning and following up.

"You have to humble yourself and say I'm at the bottom of the totem pole so it's my responsibility to keep up this relationship because they're at the top of my to-do list. I'm not at the top of theirs," she says of her unshakable go-getter mindset.

On the day of our meeting, Tracy G. is gearing up to release #TeamYesSleep, a "turn down alarm" for the millennial woman who needs a gentle but firm reminder to indulge in necessary me-time before going to bed at night. It's one of the many good-for-the-soul finds on She's Beauty And The Beast.

Since its inception last year, the brand has been crossing the bridge from passion project to entrepreneurial business, but Tracy G. clarifies that she didn't set out to create a side hustle for the mere sake of having something to call her own. "My brain was in a really f**king cloudy place, and I needed to figure out how to perform self-therapy."

She immersed herself in the healing force of audio vision boards after tuning into a Joel Osteen sermon where the acclaimed televangelist challenged his congregation to craft 10 empowering affirmations that would renew their psyches.

Tommy T Photography

"I don't write basic sh*t," the self-proclaimed personal development junkie reminds me. "I write as if something is going to be plastered on somebody's wall."

Her first EP Love, Light and That Good Sh*t, chock full of affirmations like her personal favorite, “I will not forget my blessings when faced with my burdens," is not only a testament to her unfailing, yet ever-evolving relationship with her pen, but also a reflection of her decision to embrace the power of her voice. "I've been able to understand my voice as an instrument and as a match to light someone's fire," she says when staring at the sum of her career trajectory's various parts.

It's the reason why, weeks after our sit down, she launched She's Beauty And The Beast: The Podcast with Tracy G. "I'm still flesh, bones and blood," she tells me of her initial reservations to add her weekly series to a mounting pile of podcasts on the Internet. "I'm not going to escape certain feelings so when me and these feelings meet on the block, it's just a matter of do I invite them in or do I keep it moving?"

In the name of emotional empowerment, she drops new episodes every Tuesday that unveil her life theories, experiences and conversations with guest voices. "So many people go through similar events in life, but they tell the story differently," she adds. "There's so many more topics I want to explore, and there's so many more opinions, ideas and expertise that I want to share from other dope a** humans that's not necessarily coming from my own lens on life."

Although Tracy G. is far beyond her wide-eyed intern days at VIBE, she's in no hurry to quit being a student in the world of entertainment.

“You're fighting your own expiration date of relevancy when you are focused more on quantity versus quality," she says while addressing alternative--and often quick--roads to success in an era where social media and reality TV prevail.

“People have different agendas, and they're allowed to have that."

As far as her story goes, she's content with not taking shortcuts to lasting influence. "I'm doing the best in the role that I'm in, but I can't even begin to act as if I'm on the same level as a Sway Calloway. Me saying that would be saying I don't have any more to learn."

While we prepare to part ways, I finally decipher the tattoo etched on Tracy G.'s left wrist--Carpe Diem. It's a principle--seize the day--that she has unarguably weaved throughout her approach to life's fluctuating winds. "I don't want to be in a state of perfection because you don't grow there," she says, twisting the lid on our hour-long conversation. “I want to be a partner in progression with people."

For more Tracy G., find her here, here, & here.

Shanice Davis is a proud alumna of Howard University who earned her BA in English in May 2016. The emerging writer currently contributes to VIBE Magazine. Follow her on Instagram & Twitter: @alwayshanice

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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