I would encourage any community-based program that helps Black people to re-enter
the workforce to take this column, have their leadership put on their ‘Sunday
Best’, take their annual reports and success stories and start ‘making
contacts’ with Black companies--in their own home cities.
There is nothing wrong with us coming together--to help us.
We don’t ‘need’ someone’s permission to help our own!
A few years back, I happened across an excellent piece of writing on the realities
of Black business and the Black community. The column, written by Hilliard Lackey
of the Tennessee Tribune was entitled: “The Naked Truth: Blacks Antagonize
Black Businesses”. Mr. Lackey put up some very real dilemmas faced by Black
companies. To quote him, many Black companies face the “Give Me/Let Me Have/Hook
A Brother or Sister Up” machine, where a few try to ‘get’ all
they can from a Black company. Of course, the message conveyed in the column was
the following: No matter what some manage to obtain from a Black-owned company,
it is never seen as enough.
I enjoyed that work, and could see Mr. Lackey’s point. After all, I have
worked for a few Black owned companies over the years. I’ve seen more than
a few of us from the ‘streets to the suites’ try to ‘get what
Make no mistake about it. Playing angles and using street smarts, as a means
of gaining an advantage does not end on the playground. In reality, it can also
extend into adulthood--and beyond. I have found that truly successful businessmen
and women often have a bit of that ‘hustling’ instinct--IF they want
to keep their doors open. Donald Trump has been broke a few times, but always
manages to rely on his ‘hustle’ to re-invent himself, re-open his
doors, and re-invite bankers to invest in his latest business venture. But, I
In the normal course of business, the ‘art of the deal’ is paramount.
Companies buy, sell, and show with those agencies, organizations, and institutions
that can offer the best deal. One of the earliest lessons I learned in the business
arena while a student in high school and college is pay your accounts off early,
and you will SAVE money. The textbook example was: 2/10, Net 30. Meaning, one
could get a two percent discount on their bill if it was paid within ten days.
The business owner who decided to wait to pay the full bill in thirty days would
not get a discount from that service provider.
There are truly different ways to hustle. White owned companies may call it
something different in a textbook, but Black owned companies know ‘the hustle’.
A green dollar is still just as green in a Black-owned company, or a company owned
by Hispanics. Money is still money. A good employee, though, is an asset!
In this month’s column, I’m going beyond Mr. Lackey’s commentary.
There is a better way Black business can invest in the Black community.
We need our Black businesses, companies, and publications to come together
with their purses and wallet and invest in US! In my view, because of the challenges
we face as African Americans, it is time that Black-owned companies set up their
own community-based foundations to help those ventures with a successful track
record to train (and in some cases resurrect) the education, skills, and work
aptitudes of our people.
It is NOT the church’s job to create new business and job opportunities,
but to point people to Jesus Christ, then turn them loose to succeed. It is NOT
the government’s job to create new business and job opportunities, but to
provide the least amount of government red tape to unleash the economy. It IS
the responsibility of Black business to help fund those activities to help those
of us in need to be successful in the workplace, and in general society.
If Bill Gates can put up $50 million in grants to help public schools in urban
areas to re-design themselves to turn out potential employees for HIS company
in the future; FIFTY Black owned companies can come up with a million EACH to
help re-train, re-tool, and re-enter those among us who may have dropped out of
school, been locked up, or otherwise left behind by the system.
PROGRAMS BLACK COMPANIES DO NOT SEE:
I have nothing against Black celebrities giving money to HBCUs. However, HBCUs
are only a part of the picture. There is a workforce of Black folk that has been
left behind by Black celebrities and Black business.
In my travels I have happened across some very good to excellent local programs,
run for and staffed by us, to help put young men and women back on the right track
towards success. Whether it is with helping someone get their GED, or learning
how to write a resume, many of these programs accomplish nothing short of the
miraculous--on limited budgets. There are B-L-A-C-K professionals whom I know
who work a full time job AND spend their OWN time helping troubled youth, or wayward
teen mothers, or recovering drug addicts, or those who have been released from
prison. Whatever stipends these professionals make in running and administering
these programs are microscopic in terms of the out-of-pocket expenses they pay.
One by one, these community-based programs have been drying up, downsizing,
or discontinued because of the loss of grant/foundation dollars--oftentimes supplied
by the mainstream community. Other groups are helping their own ‘left behinds’
achieve. When will MORE Black companies ‘step up’ and help our OWN?
LESS ‘PARTY’ AND MORE ‘INVESTING:’
What truly irritates me is that I have heard Black owned companies mouthing
the same lines as White owned companies: “We can’t find qualified
Black business owner--you know the answer to that one!
As a people, we are worth $700 Billion dollars in earned income EACH year,
based upon the Internet sources I check for Black financial data. We also have
some solid, well-financed Black-owned companies who could write a few checks,
and wind up putting their logo on programs that will generate MORE Black employees,
Various U. S. cities are posting unemployment rates of thirty to fifty percent
or more for Black men aged 21 to 30. The unemployment rate for Black teens is
four to five times higher than the average for other teens. Government funding--since
9/11--has been drying up for job and education programs, which means that job
and education programs attached to the justice system, the education establishment,
and the states are quickly being cut.
Black companies need to take up the slack--and train and hire BLACK.
Here’s one way to ‘find’ the money that some of our companies
‘claim’ they don’t have. In my home city of Indianapolis, Indiana,
we have several major Black events that bring out a host of Black-owned companies
every year. Not only do they have their wares displayed, they also contribute
to some of the lesser-known items of these events--from hospitality rooms to lavish
pre and post event parties. Here’s a suggestion, Black entrepreneur: Spend
less for the parties and invest in community-based programs to help our young
people--especially our young Black men.
A Black man with a job and a future will build a family. A Black man without
a job and a bleak future will help destroy a community. What are we seeing on
Black businessman; put your corporate logo and ‘party money’ into
your brothers and sisters. A party lasts but a weekend. A young brother with an
education and some job training will be able to start his employment career with
There is no BETTER party…than helping someone get their first paycheck!
MIKE RAMEY is the author of THE MANHOOD LINE. A syndicated, monthly
column written for men from a biblical, business, and common sense perspective.
It appears on fine websites around the world. Emails, Bmails and Pmails are welcomed
to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2005 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications International.
Used by permission, BlackandChristian.com, 2005.