The National Urban League recently released their annual “State of Black America” report 2014 and the findings were not good to say the least. According to the study, the unemployment rate for Blacks was twice that for Whites with the Black unemployment rate at 12% and the White unemployment rate at 5.8%. We all know that the economy has still not rebounded to the levels that we saw in the early 2000’s, but it has made a marked improvement since President Obama took office. Now I know I may get some backlash from that last statement but let’s be fair, the President inherited a mess from the previous republican administrations and he is doing his best to get the country back on track.
Herein lies the key to many of our problems in the Black community; the lack of an economic base. This economic base is a base of wealth based on Black entrepreneurship. Without Black entrepreneurs providing jobs and opportunities for our own brothers and sisters, we are always going to be at a disadvantage based purely on the fact that we control absolutely nothing from a standpoint of economics, education, and media. The civil rights era protests were funded by Black America’s small businesses and other Black organizations. With the advent of integration, we have now lost our economic power base because we are not forced to start our own businesses; we can now work in corporate America; we can now freely shop and spend our money anywhere we like. And believe you me, we do spend money. The problem is we spend it in other peoples communities and not in our own. I’m not going to go too deep on that topic right now because there is enough information for a whole book. Getting back to my point; we need to start to really embrace and support Black entrepreneurship throughout the country. I’m not asking for other people to help us; I’m asking us to help ourselves by supporting and helping prospective entrepreneurs to start, build, and grow their own businesses. There is a large population of Blacks who are what I call “unemployable”; and I am one of those people.
The unemployable person falls into several categories.
- They can be life-long entrepreneurs or persons who haven’t worked in corporate America in many years thereby rendering themselves unlikely to find a well-paying corporate job because they have not climbed the corporate ladder. (That’s where I fall in).
- They may be less skilled. We are in the information age, we must be well skilled and educated in the technology sector. We are no longer in the industrial revolution where we could come out of high school and work at GM for 30 years and support a family. Those jobs no longer exist for unskilled labor; they have been outsourced to Asia.
- They can be former convicts. Unfortunately, those prospective job hunters who have a criminal record find it much harder to find ample employment that will enable them to support themselves let alone a family. It’s a shame, but the facts are what they are.
We have to start teaching our children how to create their own money and not rely on others to feed us. The best way to create money is to be an entrepreneur and create your own income and wealth based on your personal talents or skills. I’m not saying that we all need to strive to become a Bob Johnson, or an Oprah Winfrey (even though those are great people to admire for their business success), but creating your own money could be as simple as starting a small window cleaning business that supports you and your family and provides jobs for others. What most people fail to realize is that entrepreneurship is a profession, very few people are successful without gaining an education in their desired field and entrepreneurship is no different.
Our first goal is to help teach those who want to learn to become entrepreneurs by providing mentor ship, classroom learning, and hands-on experience by working with other successful entrepreneurs. If we really want to make a difference in our community and help get these kids off the streets, lets give them other options like gainful employment. When we own the businesses we can hire who we want to hire, not saying that we are only going to hire other Blacks in our business, but now at least we have the option. When you go into a Chinese food take out spot in the hood, do you see any brothers or sisters working there? I doubt it. And guess what; the owner of that business has the right to hire anyone he or she wants. So don’t get mad because immigrants have come into your neighborhood and taken over all the commerce, that our fault. Let’s do something about it and start building our own businesses in our community and other communities. When we go spend our hard earned cash in that Chinese take out, that money flies right out of our neighborhood and I guaranty you that money ends up in the hands of another Chinese merchant that sells products or services to the Chinese people. We can’t wait to get paid so we can go spend our money at somebody’s mall on Friday night after payday. It’s sad, and it’s the truth. We won’t get anywhere until we start building our economic base, without an economic base to effect change, we have absolutely nothing!