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While we continue to wait for our 40 Acres and a Mule and for Ice Cube’s Contract with Black America to be signed, a coalition of 35 corporate executives have pledged one million jobs for Black Americans over the next 10 years, through a newly minted non-profit, OneTen. The organization's leaders recently announced their promise to invest 100 million dollars in “upskilling, hiring, and advancing Black Americans.”

This is one of many pledges to advocate for and become allies with the Black community that we have seen in 2020. Throughout the pandemic and since the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, legions of corporate leaders have publicly pledged to increase diversity in their companies and have declared their solidarity with the Black community, taking a stand against racial injustice. For the first time that I can remember, Juneteenth was even recognized globally.

It appears that we are finally making progress at assuaging underrepresentation. Although, I cannot help but wonder if there is an underlying agenda. Are these public proclamations of advocacy and alliance nothing more than a preemptive measure to ensure that these corporations stay on the “right” side of the narrative in this boycott/cancel culture that we currently live in? After all, we may be underrepresented in the workplace, but we are not underrepresented in the marketplace. No doubt some of these corporations felt the effects of Blackout Day 2020. There is power in the Black dollar.

There is only one way to know for sure if these leaders are sincere in their efforts to eradicate underrepresentation in corporate America. We must hold them accountable. However, to hold them accountable we must first hold ourselves accountable. You see, they may have pledged to create opportunities for one million jobs over the next 10 years, but they did not say they were giving one million jobs away. Do not let the news headlines fool you. We will need to earn these jobs.

In fact, on the OneTen.org website it clearly states, “OneTen is committed to ensuring that Black Americans with the skills and aptitude to earn success, also have the opportunity to achieve it.” That means we must do the work today, so we do not get denied tomorrow.

Although, the initiative is deemphasizing the requirement for a four-year degree and instead “focusing on skills-first,” there are still things we must do now to ensure that we are ready for these opportunities.