As I look around the world today, I am troubled by the atrocities that have plagued our communities. At the same time, I am inspired and encouraged to see incredible examples of excellence that are blazing new trails across diverse industries. I truly believe that we are hitting a tipping-point moment in the world. We are awakening to our greatness as a community, and I am glad to see examples of us uniting together for such important causes. I believe this is the only way to see our community advance. We must have a vested interest as shareholders in the progression and prosperity of our communities.
Now, more than ever, I believe that we have started to make big strides and that we are renewing our commitment to excellence. We have a rich heritage and audacious examples that have gone before us. In essence, we have the prophetic blueprint and now it is time to build at a brand-new level. Here are four ways we can continue to move forward:
1. Continue to use the power of our collective voices to make a difference.
One thing I know for sure is that we have tremendous power as a community. When we come together on important issues we can affect real change. The beauty of the civil rights movement was its powerful illustration of the beauty of unity. We must continue to do the important work, facilitate environments for meaningful dialogue, challenge norms and biases and hold leaders accountable. Unity demands that we have shared vision and shared values. It is not ignoring the concerns of others. Ultimately, it is continuing to work to find common ground. When we are undivided we are truly unstoppable.
2. Create opportunities and bridge gaps.
As an entrepreneur, I discovered years ago that some doors were not going to open unless I opened them myself. It was one of the reasons that I started my business years ago. I have worked tirelessly to break down walls, shatter ceilings and create bridges that those coming behind me can walk across. We are in a renaissance era for African American entrepreneurs. Now, more than ever before, we are rising up as a people and understanding how incredibly powerful we are. We must continue to be innovative and create spaces for our genius to flourish. I believe over the next 10 years we will see exponential growth and acceleration of black businesses.
More importantly, as we create businesses, we create opportunities for the advancement of our communities. I am proud to be an entrepreneur and I know this is an incredible vehicle with unlimited potential. I have made a commitment to use my voice, relationships and resources to elevate our communities. In addition, I have vowed to use my influence to empower others to follow their dreams.
3. Demonstrate the incredible buying power of our communities.
I am so proud of the progress we have made as a community. However, I know that there is so much more work to do. The reality is that the world has started to see the buying power of the African American community. It is something I have known for years, but I am glad to see that the world is paying attention. We need more black businesses and more trailblazers. We need these businesses in our communities and we need to give them our full support. It is important that we make a strong stand and that we challenge the assumptions and misconceptions about us. For example, I have vowed not to support businesses that promote inequality, racism and inequity in their practices. One thing I know as an entrepreneur is that money talks. When we refuse to support those that undervalue and dishonor our communities, we show the world just how much power we have as a community.
It is important that we send a strong signal to organizations and leaders that seek to be condescending and callous towards our communities. Money is a powerful tool. Money gives you a voice and the power to make a difference. Let’s continue to pour money into places that celebrate and honor our contributions.
4. Never lose the resilient spirit that makes us great.
I can remember sitting and talking with my great-grandmother years ago. She would tell me the stories of injustice that she encountered growing up in the south. It was a difficult time in American history. She was denied access and opportunities because of the color of her skin. However, she did not allow any of those experiences to stop her. I often pause and appreciate the sacrifices of my grandmother and others like her. While I know it was not easy, they remained resilient in the face of great resistance. Thankfully, the civil rights movement came and we saw some progress made. Obviously, everything is not perfect and we still have lots of work to do, but the same time, I look at my parents and I can see progress. Then, I look at my own life and I see more progress.
I am very aware that we still face inequities and inequalities, however, I am also aware of the privileges and opportunities that we have. I have been blessed to earn two college degrees, start a business and experience some success in my life. None of this would have been possible without the sacrifices of our forefathers. We owe it to them and future generations to continue to raise the bar. As we rise, we must commit to continuing to lift each other up. May we all model excellence and rise together!