Success as a whole requires a look at the big picture. This means we focus more on becoming owners than participants. In order to do that we need to make the transition from highly educated workers to industry owners.
My favorite example is the NFL. It is not odd in our community to find parents who rest their children’s future in their ability to play a sport well. I’ve seen everything from gifting infants balls to push around, to dragging elementary school aged children from state to state to participate in specialized camps. On a few occasions, with the right combination of efforts, the child becomes an NFL player, maybe even the best and highest paid player. This represents “making it” or “success” to many people. We are so busy grooming the athlete that we forgot to groom the businessman who has the ability to write that hefty check that the player is receiving.
As a whole, we’re missing the big picture. We worry more about what the American dream looks like than what it actually is.
Leveraging capital and intellect in a concerted effort to gain access and power is what this game is all about. We have to operate knowing that equality is taken, not given. We’ve marched and protested since slavery began and still all these years later, are begging for someone to give us equality when it’s not something that will be given at any time in the near or far future.
A major distraction to ownership is behavior. We live in a society in which social and economic problems are often compounded by organized handouts that dilute and often destroy the value of a meaningful work ethic and worthwhile goals. It results in complacency and entitlement. The US is an expert on how to groom/pacify/control /condition (or what ever adjective you want to use) people just enough to stop them from becoming a threat. What appears to be an opportunity to level the playing field, is frequently nothing more than a control mechanism. They pay people just enough to stop them from being a threat and educate them enough to work but not enough to compete.
We were most competitive when we focused on education and economics collectively and we pursued both with equal valor. The most recognized result of this occurred in Tulsa, OK, otherwise known as Black Wall Street. Now that we are largely focused on education, we miss out on the bigger picture. Vertical ownership. (this paragraph needs to cover assimilating or being like them; status quo) We’ve been conditioned to believe that we are superior or have arrived if we obtain higher education and especially if they attach Ph. D. to our names. The result is that it keeps us complacent with the status quo and creates division rather than unity among us. Even during and shortly after slavery, they differentiated us by a black person who could read and a black person who could not. If we were educated we were different than other blacks. It is no surprise that we’ve come to value education so highly, we want the perks such as higher pay and more respect that are associated with the title.
It seems as though the fight for real equality is an internal fight to see who can outdo each other at our lowly level. People of other nationalities compete for global share while we fight to see who can be the best “nigga”. We behave as if our fight isn’t a global fight or that we shouldn’t be concerned with issues on a higher level just as long as we are better than the nigga sitting next to us and we receive accolades or recognition for being the H.N.I.C. All things we feel society value and will make us more “equal “to them. But, are we really striving for equality or acceptance?
Once upon a time we asked for equality, we marched, sat, fought, etc. for equality. Now, “equality” dangles over our heads and we run to catch it, never realizing that the pole it’s dangling from is attached to our backsides. No matter how far or fast we move, it remains just outside of our reach.
This same “equality” that’s being dangled over our heads was what eventually destroyed Black Wall Street. We easily forgot about the greatness we built, then recreated after it was burned down, once segregation laws were lifted. We treated it as if it made us equal or we somehow benefit from it. In the process, Black Wall Street faded away and is now a historically preserved landmark. A preserved memory of what unity, actual equality, hard work and no distractions can do for a community.
The thing I noticed over the years is that most minute achievements were received with much celebration, when in actuality, they were very small steps in a much larger picture. I recall receiving achievement awards from various organizations including MCC and RIT. These were celebrated in grandiose fashion. I’ve seen huge celebrations thrown for children’s high school graduations and even Kindergarten moving up ceremonies. We make a big deal out of things that are to be expected and are only a small part of the bigger picture.
We will also rejoice and sing high praise for menial projects such as school giveaways, scholarships (mainly athletic) and degree achievements, especially the esteemed Ph. D. Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against higher education, I am a college graduate and will someday continue to sharpen the saw with more education via JD/MBA and potentially a doctorate. I also encourage my kids to do the same. What I am against, is the degree being the focus, or the institution that you graduated from being the biggest achievement or “perceived” achievement. I’ve heard too many times “Oh my son graduated from Harvard and is working in Washington D.C.”. Well, that may be true but he is working right next to someone who graduated from a state college getting paid the same salary.
In order to drive home the point, I must also share this, the excitement wasn’t the same when I opened my first business. The same people showed a level of support but nothing on the level of my previous achievements that to me,, were very nominal and personal gains. In my opinion, the same exuberance or even more, should be showed when the actual achievement is made. Positive reinforcement via small celebrations and support is a thing everyone needs to get along their journey for continued encouragement to reach the end goal but by no means should be the focus or the goal itself. Another phrase I hear often is “She made it without getting pregnant” or “I’m so proud he or she actually finished high school”. These things are or should be normal behavior. Because many of us don’t see it that way college becomes the pinnacle of success.
Statistically black people are more likely to try and start their own businesses. They’re also more likely to fail. There are many reasons including finance but the most hard hitting, is lack of support from their own community. If you notice, there’s always a reason to NOT support a local black owned business. The same flaws you gripe about and accept from a white owned business will be immediately shunned in the black owned business. Not only that but we will tell everyone willing to listen how horrible the business is. Meanwhile, how many have returned to Walmart or Mcdonald’s? Both are huge businesses that have inconvenienced us at some point but we return. The support of black owned businesses by our community has always been lower than any other race. Our intentional disconnect has taken us out of the game and then we complain that we can’t win.
We can win but we need to change our mindset. We need to define what victory really means for us as a whole. From there, we can determine what our actual goals should be. This will be the road to building better communities. The “Black Wall Street” was an example of what the goal should be, wealth without the compromise of integrity. They used ownership of land and business as well as education to build a thriving, completely self-sufficient community. At the individual level, the goal should be to be as wealthy and educated as possible in your field. However, the main objective should be to be a successful individual that is a part of a successful community with specific ties to true equality on EVERY LEVEL. We should own industries for ourselves and not just work in them.