It has been a few weeks since Tavis Smiley brought his State of Black America road show to Los Angeles for its tenth year anniversary. I couldn't understand why I wasn't that excited. After all, there were some of America's greatest minds on stage talking about the problems that Black Americans face.
A few days later I was talking with a friend and it hit me. There were no business men and women on that stage except Danny Bakewell from Los Angeles, Jawanza Kunjufu from Chicago, and Cathy Hughes, owner of TV One. The rest were accomplished but all had jobs. Now don't get me wrong, a job is a great thing to have, but it's been said, "a job is simply a temporary solution to a permanent problem." Where were the business men and women...the captains of industry who are leaving a legacy for their children to take over? Black Enterprise magazine. With this, they will learn the power of transitional and generational businesses to create generational wealth.The message given out by our President is "Yes We Can" and "It's Time for Change." Let's adopt those messages for the eleventh State of the Black Union.
When the world is watching, those of us who have the microphone need to be talking about progress, economic legacy, and wealth building. We need to be talking about ownership of land and businesses. We need to be talking about how to form corporations, not just work for them. Jobs are nice but we had jobs when we were in slavery. The pay and long term rewards was just not that great.
What if when the world was watching we showed the story of Don Barden who owns Fitzgeralds' Hotels and Casinos in Las Vegas and Mississippi? What if we were highlighting Michelle Hoskins who owns a syrup company created from her great, great, great grandmother's recipe when she was a slave?
It was good to see Bakewell and Hughes who are entrepreneurs of Black newspapers, radio and television stations. It would have been nice to see more businesspeople so we could inspire young Blacks that they could be in more businesses than in the entertainment industry, rapping about negativity.
I'm calling on Tavis to turn the page and check out Black Enterprise Top 100 Businesses and bring some of those achievers to the attention of the world. It's time for a change in the national conversation. A change from what the white man has done to us, and what he owes us, to an updated version of James Brown's "Open Up the Door I'll Get it Myself" conversation, lest we lose sight of the fact that what our children see us do is what they will do. Show the power of the Sengstacke family in the newspaper business, the John Johnson family in the magazine publishing business, and the Earl Graves family.
Talk to giants like Xernona Clayton whose Trumpet Awards highlight the likes of Barden and Joe Dudley of Dudley Products which grew out of the famous Fuller products company. See others who were featured at The Trumpet Awards which airs on TV One, April 12, 2009.