The Charge (MLK, Jr. Day 2018)

“We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know we will win. But I have come to believe that we are integrating into a burning house.” — Rev. Bro. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This quote is of the Dr. King, Jr. that I have come to love even more than the “I Have a Dream” M.L.K., Jr. It takes a mature person to take a step back and say, “Though my heart was in the right place, I was wrong.”

Segregation was a struggle because of a lack of equal resources combined with an abundance of white people who looked to stand in the way of our self-sufficiency. Integration, however, has been a struggle of epic proportion because many of those who would be our strongest leaders divested from our communities in hopes of separating themselves from the negative stigma America had placed on our communities. White America gave them jobs and titles and affirmative action on predominantly white college campuses and athletic scholarships and, before we knew it, our community was devoid of its greatest resource: leadership.

As they moved the Talented Tenth out, and subsequently their offsprings, we saw the illicit drug industry thrive, single-parent households increase, a spike in black-on-black crime, and the value of education decrease in more impoverished black communities. Miseducation and distractions in the form of substances and soulless entertainment had replaced much of the pride that once defined the exclusively black community. And, on the other side of town, those blacks who had “successfully” integrated themselves and their families into white society felt accomplished and that their mere existence (even if from a distance) serves as an example to those with whom they never come in contact. It is sad to feel uncomfortable walking into a community that is one you should be taking ownership of, only to realize that, in actuality, it is owned predominantly by WASPs, Jewish people, and Asians.

On this Dr. Martin Luther Luther King, Jr. Day of 2018, I charge you to embrace these next few years as a resurrected Harlem Renaissance. Creatives, create. Business leaders, develop. Educators, educate. Investors, invest. But do all of this in our communities.

And, lastly, put your money where your mouth is. This past weekend, I placed a decent amount of money into Mechanics & Farmers Bank, a black-owned bank out of Durham, NC. When I look to secure my home loan, I will be doing so with a black-owned bank. I work out at a black-owned gym (Prime Athletic Training & Fitness Institute). My tailor shop is a black-owned tailor shop (Levi’s Tailor Shop). My graphic designer is black (Charity Coleman). My photographer is black (Reko Daye). My financial advisor is black (George Acheampong). My go to artist is black (Tatiana Camice). Sadly, my grocer is not (though I hope to start growing my own vegetables next year) and my black dentist recently retired and sold her practice but I’ll be back in the market soon.

Self-preservation is not racist. I’m not saying we need to segregate again. I’m saying reinvest in the growth of your own communities. Ironically, for those who think it’s unsafe, we know for a fact that, where money flows, safety becomes a priority. We can no longer return to the times of an untainted Black Wall Street. What has been done is done. But we can take what we’ve learned in these decades since realizing the watered down version of Dr. King’s dream and use it to build our own communities back up and to fortify them.

Feature image by Ernest Camel. Click here to follow him on Instagram.

 

Make a well-rounded community a priority.

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Very Important Premium

A couple weeks ago, I received an invitation to take advantage of a trial membership of LinkedIn Premium for a month. Since my invitation expires on Thursday, I’ve decided that today would be a great time to sign up. While LinkedIn is a great network without all the bells and whistles, Premium is worth the $29/month investment for serious job seekers or just individuals looking to strengthen their network. In addition to InMail, you get to see who has been viewing your profile, connect with recruiters more quickly, and take advantage of LinkedIn Learning courses.

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I’ve used LinkedIn Premium before, to the point of paying for it during times of employment seeking, and I would certainly say that it is worth the $30/month subscription if you have the disposable income. I’ll definitely be taking full advantage of all its features over the next thirty days and, come November 23, I just might renew my paid subscription.

 

Make investing in yourself a priority.

Maintaining Relationships

This past weekend, I had nothing to do and no one to hang out with (Desirée and her sorority sisters took a road trip), so I left work on Friday and hit the road for Charlotte. On my way there, I was posting periodically to my Instagram story and one of my friends of almost a decade, Bianca Payton of S&S Associates, shot me a message letting me know that one of her clients, Opera Carolina, would be having an early screening of “The Girl Of The West” that evening and she invited me to come as a “Tweet Seater” (blogger). I haven’t been to the opera in years but it is always nice to immerse yourself in settings that you aren’t regularly in. Not only did I get to see an awesome performance with spectacular music in an amazing venue (get tickets by clicking here), I was also able to meet some movers and shakers in the entrepreneurial and creative sphere, like photographer and re-branding consultant Josh Galloway and footwear designer La’Cario Sellers, owner of Customs by Cario. After the opera, my LB, author Brady S. Moore and I connected with our college friend, marketing specialist Brittany Maul.  Bianca and Josh met up with us there a bit later and we closed the bar.

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The next morning, after a 2+ mile run on the south side of Charlotte, I went to visit family and then took some time to catch up with my friend and the best barber in North Carolina, Tim Doe of No Grease Exclusive in uptown Charlotte. I had about 30 minutes to kill so I took my camera bag and shot around downtown before grabbing an awesome brunch w/ Brittany at Mimosa Grill. I closed out my trip by trying to catch an NBA playoff game with Sean Johnson of Toshiba Business Solutions, Cory Bennett of XChange NC, Branden Reid of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, and Tony McNeal of Bank of America (I say “trying” because we spent the time catching up and missed the game in its entirety).

Thing is, the game was just wishful thinking. That last chill session with friends is what the trip was about one thing: catching up. As those of you who’ve been rocking with me for a while know, I lived in Charlotte for four years after graduating from UNCG. I loved the city but ended up moving back to Durham to be closer to family. Though the Triangle will always have a place in my heart and it is great for Desirée and me right now, eventually, I hope we get the opportunity to move back to the greater Charlotte area. That being said, though it is years away, maintaining relationships in Charlotte will be key to my success as an entrepreneur. And, though phone calls and text messages are nice, there’s nothing like taking some time to go hang out with those in your circle who are in the physical area that you’re looking to be in. When I came to Charlotte the first time, I had an aesthetically appealing résumé with no experience and I was still developing my network. If I return, I will come with a network that opens doors and experience that closes deals. But to have those doors opened, you have to invest in your relationships on the front end.

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Make professional development a priority.

How Does Your Wealth Management Measure Up?

As the year closes, it is almost time to start making those 2015 resolutions.  But if you wait until January 1 to start a good habit, you’ll be well into February before it starts to take root in your life.  So I strongly recommend reading this Black Enterprise article about managing wealth and using it to set some goals for yourself now.  That way, 2015 will really start with you being financially responsible.  And, if you click on the link at the bottom of the article, it’ll take to you a page where you can download a report on the financial state of the American family.  Great foundation for your own wealth planning.

by Sheiresa Ngo

As the economy rebounds, millions of families have been engaged in the long, challenging process of restoring their household’s financial health. For many, however, the persistence of unemployment, underemployment, and shrinking wages have caused the delay and derailment of such efforts. African American families represent the group hit hardest in this environment but most remain optimistic about their financial future.

That was among the findings of a recent national SOAAF survey of American families conducted by Massachusetts Mutual Life Company (MassMutual) which took an in-depth look at the finances of African American households to determine their unique challenges. The objective of the study was to understand the changing landscape of financial security of American families, including that of African American families.

The following are survey highlights:

African Americans remain positive about their financial future and desire to put their family’s needs in the foreground:

African Americans still believe in the American Dream. About 28% of respondents say they believe the American Dream is disappearing compared with 40% of the general population who believe the American dream is harder to achieve–a reversal of 2011 survey results.
Family comes first. Three-quarters of African American households base financial decisions on their family’s best interest, compared to two-thirds of the general population. In addition, nearly 7 in 10 do not want to burden their children with having to take care of them during their golden years.

Debt remains an obstacle:

Close to one-half of African Americans have less than three months of emergency expenses.
Three-quarters have a mortgage that is underwater, with nearly 30% owing more on their home than it is worth.
The study concludes that even though many African American families face enormous financial challenges, they’re making efforts to overcome them by assuming an increased role in planning and decision-making. Moreover, parents ensure their children gain access to financial education.

By answering the following survey questions, you will share your views on key topics covered in the research. Black Enterprise and MassMutual would like to hear from you.

Source: Black Enterprise