What can actively be done by us to improve the economic, educational and social conditions of our community? How do we organize and plan to ensure that these ideas are properly executed?
How might we overcome assumptions that equates success to white culture? For example, the Grammy’s is greater than the BET Awards; owning a Mercedes Benz means you are wealthy; willingly paying for a section in the club but hesitant to purchase life insurance or make a financial investment.
How do we fight the stigmas that are placed on Black men? Example, Black men don’t value Black women, Black men are uninterested in marriage or Black men are unwilling take care of their children etc.?
Those were questions posed to panelists at The Sound of Victory: The Past, Present & Future of Sharing Our Stories, a panel discussion I had the pleasure of hosting and moderating in commemoration of Black History Month — an opportunity to not only celebrate the contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history, but also a chance to discuss solutions to current issues that are prevalent within our community today.
The event was held at Nubian Hueman‘s global diaspora inspired studio and boutique on February 21, 2018. It featured skilled African American influencers and thought leaders who pave the way for present and future generations to come. This very necessary conversation spotlighted the following panelists: Anika Hobbs, Owner and Lead Curator of Nubian Hueman, a social enterprise that specializes in sourcing and curating unique goods, fashion, and art by designers representing the global Diaspora; Damien Thaddeus Jones, CEO of Dame Thad & Co., a strategy, policy, and community engagement firm committed to empowering America’s next generation of leaders; Dr. Janice Berry Edwards, Clinical Social Worker & Associate Professor of the School of Social Work — Howard University; Jason Kelley, CEO and Co-Founder of The Wave USA, an events production company that uses social media to connect Black professionals and build perennial relationships.
Collectively, we discussed cultural diversity, mental health in the Black community, the importance of sharing our truth and what it means to be Black in America today. The central solution recommended by the panelists was to change our narrative — disassociate ourselves from stereotypes that are often perpetuated by the Black community — focus on the messages that our ancestors left behind and let those messages be a testament to the power that we possess as we participate in the growth and development of future generations. Here are a few clips from the discussion!
People and systems count on our silence to keep us exactly where we are. That’s why it is paramount that we share our stories, not only for ourselves but as a gift of power to future generations to build truthful bridges to common ground. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics Report, out of 4 million public school educators only 7% are African American. Meanwhile, out of the 50 million public school children 51% of them are children of color. This is why we cannot exclusively rely on the scarce amount of African American educators to teach our future Presidents, doctors, policy makers their historical truth. It is our job, it is our duty, it is our obligation and it is our purpose to bridge the gap by sharing our truths of power within the community and holding each other accountable not just when it’s difficult but ESPECIALLY when it’s difficult! Purpose doesn’t care who you are, it will chase you down until you face it and if you’re hanging out in the comfort zone, guess what…growth isn’t happening there! So get out there and SERVE! Our community desperately needs you.