13 Jan Black Economic Empowerment Cannot Occur in a Vacuum

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There is a growing clarion call for young Blacks to become entrepreneurs if they want to control their economic destinies. The reality is that Black businesses are started at a rate that far exceeds that of white businesses already. However, in our economic system more than 80% of all businesses FAIL WITHIN 5 YEARS -- WHITE OR BLACK. Is there some alternative reality where a different outcome can be achieved for Black entrepreneurs?

The reality is that everyone works for less than 20% of the successful business owners in the USA (and probably so for the rest of the world). What are the other 80% of the population to do while their peers are failing at starting businesses? They must go to work for someone. Can the 20% of black-owned sucessful businesses employ the entire Black population? No. Can they disproportionately influence outcomes for the rest of the Black population? Probably not.

The message we must convey to our children is that they live in a global society, like it or not. There is no evidence that we can create a unique Black economic system that makes us all independent of the global economic system. The key differentiators for success in the 21st century are "SKILLS" -- business skills, information technology skills, communications skills, decision-making skills, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, LIFELONG LEARNING SKILLS.

Our efforts must prepare us to compete and improve the existing systems. There is no way we can drop out and hope to overcome the disadvantages we already suffer from. We cannot create physics different from that which is sending space probes to Mars. We cannot create a separate information network while the whole world is leveraging the Internet for competitive advantage. We cannot ignore the advancements in business management, financial markets, logistics, science, and information technology -- just because they were developed by our oppressors. We are not participating in a zero sum game. This is a win-win scenario for the planet. There are bigger winners than others. And then there are losers. The losers are those without skills.

There is no way a person who cannot read, write, master mathematics, understand information technology, solve problems with critical thinking, and collaborate with everyone else on this planet -- can hope to be successful in life. That is why so many fail at trying to start their own businesses. You have to be smarter, work harder, and develop collaborative relationships with other successful people to succeed in economic activity in the 21st century.

Yes, we have been historically oppressed and excluded from the current economic system. But that doesn't mean we don't use computers or the Internet because we didn't invent them. Some of us have advanced to a level of prosperity that we don't have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. Most of that progress has taken place within currently advancing global economic systems. Some of us have our own destinies in our hands, but 98% of the population of the world works for the other 
2%. We just have to choose who among that 2% we want to work for to survive today and dream about tomorrow. Our choices are limited -- in whom we work for, and how we prepare ourselves for that work. But our dreams are unlimited -- while we work.

What we have uniquely is our heritage, and our self-esteem. If someone has robbed you of your self-esteem and your heritage, that is too bad. In the Information Age, you can remedy that deficit quickly. Information is truly power. The burden to convey Black self-esteem to our children is on us. We must lead the way to overcome historical deficits. Then we can approach any system of work, or learning, or economic commerce -- and learn what we need to learn to pass on to our children a better life. We must not indulge ourselves in fantasy while doing so. As someone once said, "Life is what happens while you are making other plans."

We must prepare our children for the life they are living, and not the life they are dreaming. Yes, they must dream. But they must show up every day and compete on the field where the game is being played today. The best of those who compete will be able to lift others. That choice is ours. Others will not lift us from our deficits.

Our task in the current generation is to ensure that more of our Black children are willing to stand up for their heritage shoulder to shoulder with all other high achievers. Not assimilation -- where one denies his or her heritage; but true ollaboration -- where everyone comes to the table with the skills to make a difference. We can do that with pride in our heritage, with self-confidence, with results from our efforts. But we cannot do it without skills or extraordinary effort.

I am unwilling to concede that every job is "working for white folks." We 
have to feed our children too. I am unwilling to concede that others can 
always achieve more that we can. No one can work harder than I can. I 
am also unwilling to concede the progress that we have made. Some of us 
have done well, and we should do all we can to help others. Our HBCUs 
may have been established by so-called well-meaning white folks who 
really didn't mean us any good. But in the Information Age, we can take 
our destinies in our hands through collaborative efforts.

The times we are living in are different than those of W.E.B. Du Bois, or 
Garvey, or Carter G. Woodson. But the "mis-education of the Negro" was 
not that which was perpetrated against us by white folks. Woodson was 
talking about the actions of Black folks. Let us not repeat the mistakes of 
the past while the world moves forward at a quickening pace.

My understanding of physics indicates that if one body is moving ahead of 
another, the trailing body must speed up (or the leading body must slow 
down) if they are to ever to close the gap between them. The same is true for the pace of information and its impact on our global society. If we determine that people of African descent are behind the progress of others, it is not realistic to expect them to slow down. Nor is it realistic to expect that separating ourselves from global progress to create a system of our own will make things better. For those of us who are behind, there is one certain tactic to achieve parity -- SPEED UP!

We may have to fight some other battles along the way. There will 
certainly be opposition. But one thing for sure is that we must work harder 
at realizing our dreams. High achievement is not for the fainthearted.

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Last modified on Sunday, 02 October 2016 23:55