by Ryan Mack
If we are real with ourselves, there has to be a time when we confront the disconnect that exists in Black America between those who have become “successful” and those who continue to struggle in impoverished conditions. If you talk to anyone living in a public housing community, prison, or shelter, I am willing to bet they will tell you it is a rarity to see an individual from Corporate Black America volunteer their time in the facility to give back and impart knowledge. I have done many financial literacy workshops in all venues and the level of surprise I receive when I initially contact them to set up workshops is usually one of shock, disbelief, or the infamous “What’s the catch?”
Why is this so? Why do so many within Corporate Black America seem to turn a blind eye to the struggles that exist within the impoverished African American communities even if they themselves grew up in those very conditions? I have done no official research but certainly have opinions and below are listed a few of my thoughts. I dare not make sweeping generalizations about the entire Black community, but I have to say I have met too many that fit the characteristics listed below:
Selfish – There are those in the Black community who feel if they give back they are sacrificing something they need for themselves. They have the notion that there is only so much pie to slice and if I help you get a piece that will be less to eat for me.
Neglectful – Many take notice of the struggles in the Black community but get so wrapped up in their daily lives they forget those who are less fortunate.
Apathetic – These are those who could care less and feel that since it has no relevance to their own lives there is no need to assist.
Ignorant – Hard to believe, but some are truly not aware of the high rates of poverty that exist in the Black community.
Egotistical (Arrogant) – This gets me the most upset when I encounter this trait. These are the ones who feel "their crap doesn’t stink." This is the most dangerous trait because many in this category tend to use any position of an elevated status to oppress others who they feel are beneath them…especially of their own kind.
Lazy – I have heard this argument many times before, “I want to give back but just don’t know how nor feel I have the time.” This is the primary reason I created my nonprofit – to accommodate and provide a conduit of benevolence for those who have a desire to make a change but want it handed to them on a plate of convenience. I actually don’t mind this as much because as long as someone is only lazy, and not lazy and selfish, if you are able to assist them with guidance and a plan of action they are likely to follow through and make a difference.
Shortsighted – This is the most common trait I come across. These are individuals who feel their “small and lowly” contribution will never make a difference. I myself have even been discouraged from my efforts by others because in their perspective there is no possibility that one person can make a difference. The problem with this perspective is that it is the most contagious amongst others.
Again…this doesn’t represent all those in the Black community, but it does represent many that I have personally met. I can name many in the community who “get it” and understand the need to create a tangible change for those who are less fortunate. Stephen Powell, David Banks, Shawn Dove, George Mitchell, Kenneth Braswell, Kareem Hertzog, Manyell Akinfe, Erike Mayo, Richard Mack, Dominic Stokes, Dominique Reese, Tonya Lewis and the list can go on and on of those I personally know who are fighting for the impoverished every day. However, the sad part about it is I have met many more who fit within one of the categories above.
As I continue on this “Less Talk…More Action” Empowerment Tour (www.LessTalkMoreAction.Info) we meet many people in Black and Hispanic communities from all demographics. I want to leave you with a personal plea from Darrell Coles. We met Mr. Coles working at the Salvation Army shelter in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a product of the shelter as he was once homeless and had to work his way back from the deepest depths of poverty. He is very candid and will tell you he has much more work to do but he is finding God, has a job, and continuously seeks positive progress for himself AND those around him each day.
When Mr. Coles first met us and he found out why we had come to the shelter tears came to his eyes. He was so touched that some people from Corporate Black America would come to the shelter to give back…something that rarely happens. His words of appreciation moved me so much and I felt there was no better advocate for reaching out to Corporate Black America for support than he. So I took out my flip cam and asked him a question, “If you could say something to Corporate Black America about the importance of giving back to places like this shelter…what would you say?” His words moved me almost to tears. Black America, I beg you to watch this video and please find a way to make a difference in your community. Mr. Coles eloquently laid out what information those who are in the shelter would love to hear from you…are you willing to give the time to be the voice to fulfill that need?
Formerly homeless Darrell Coles sends a message to Corporate Black America…
The Bible says, "If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother." (Deuteronomy 15:7) The “Less Talk…More Action” Tour is all about tangible solutions. This verse clearly states a tangible solution to help the poor in our communities. So soften your heart to show love and open your hands to give to those less fortunate. No more excuses as to why you can’t, no more selfish reasons why you shouldn’t…love is one of most tangible solutions we have!
Join the movement at www.LessTalkMoreAction.info
Ryan Mack, President of Optimum and Author of "Living in the Village"
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Great speeches are great…but in these hard economic times we need tangible solutions. Ryan Mack gives inspiring speeches, but his economic empowerment programming through his 501(c)3 is even better! Talk with him about putting something together programming for your organization, city, or community! See him in action by clicking either of the links below…