I apologize for being out of touch. I know that you all know I have been busy living The Ebony Experiment. It has really been challenging. I bet you are thinking the challenge involves finding and dealing with Black businesses to meet my family's needs. Some of you believe the sacrifices include not being able to go to those restaurants, stores, and websites I've been going to all my life. Others are just wondering how tough it must be having to plan my life around the few Black businesses in my community or the others I can find via word of mouth or online research. You might be saying... What a crazy way to live!
I've never been so happy. My life is full of joy. Everyday is a victory. I love meeting new Black business owners and professionals. I love telling them what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. I love the love I receive from all kinds of people who see this project for what it is - a learning experience, a creative way to promote entrepreneurship, and a self-help economics exercise.
You know where my pain comes from? You wanna know why I really cry about this every night? OK. Sometimes I feel like I have to beg my own people to get engaged and understand the vision of EE. The larger community's perspective and opinions have been easiest to comprehend and manage. But I gotta be honest, when it comes to really just "getting it"(regardless of whether or not they support it), other folks seem to have us beat.
We went into this assuming that since our community was so engaged and alive with pride and hope, we were prime for making some special achievements happen for ourselves. We make this journey public because we want you to do it too! We want you to feel it too! We assumed you would love the idea, be excited and anxious to do your part, be obsessed with maximizing its potential, and be united about the possibility of enhancing our quality of life and showing the world how fantastic we are when we come together.
Assumptions. BIG assumptions.
I've spent most of the past two weeks traveling to promote EE. I've been fortunate enough to encounter dozens of wonderful entrepreneurs, activists, students, educators, and everyday folk. I introduce them to EE. I tell them about our vision and plan to have that Ticker on the website, growing minute by minute, showcasing all the money and love we are pouring back into Black households and businesses, empowering the entire Black business community so that they create more jobs, scholarships, and role models in underserved Black neighborhoods... I showed them all that. Some people cried. Some people hugged me.
So then I asked them to work... to connect me to the people who can really make this happen... to contribute to the Foundation so we can raise the money we need to build the database, hire the staff, plan the events, and buy the technology we need to start this national campaign. We have the media attention. The time is right. We are right there...but we need a lot of help!
That's when the hugs turned to shrugs. That's when the passion waned. Those tears dried up real quick!
I cannot do this alone. I am a mother and a wife. I am daughter, sister and auntie. I am a proud Black American woman, ready to give all I have to improve my community and thereby make my country better for everyone. And that's all I am.
I have been spending too much time beggin' Black, when I'm supposed to be out there buying Black!!
Of course, there's a happy ending. Hold on...
I woke up today sad. I woke up thinking I should give up - not on buying Black - but on using our journey to inspire millions of others to try to find and support Black businesses, professionals, and products too. I was gonna give up on the Ticker. I prayed for understanding and wisdom. I've been spending all our money trying to make this happen (printing, traveling, taking folks out to lunch and dinner, paying attorneys and other vendors...), and maybe it's time to call it quits. I prayed to make the right decision for EE.
Then a woman I met in Atlanta sent me a note. She told me she loves me. She told me, "Stay determined and focused - it is all going to work out right!...We will work hard to make this happen because it is right and it is the time! God's hand is definitely in it! " She then told me that she is going to write a check.
She's not one of the multi-millionaires I met. She isn't a bigtime politician. She doesn't own a business that will be served by EE. She is a hard-working woman who has family problems of her own, whose family has been hit hard by this economy and recent job loss. She's just another strong, proud Black American woman, trying to do what she can to help her community.
I barely know this person. I have never seen her. I talked to her yesterday for the first time, on the phone. I wanted to treat her to breakfast yesterday to present EE to her. I was going to ask her to help me meet some wealthy people who could help us raise the money the Foundation needs to start the campaign. I couldn't take her to breakfast because I needed to be with my mother (she's sick with pancreatic cancer). I called her instead, just as a courtesy. We had a nice conversation. She promised she would connect me to some people. My husband is meeting with one of them in two hours.
She is an angel. She is an angel God sent my way because He knew I needed some encouragement. She isn't going to give us much, but that she is giving is enough to keep me focused on The Ebony Experiment vision, that Ticker.
I guess my assumptions were not that far off. They were just misplaced. I now assume that God is with me, with us, and that we are doing His work through the EE Foundation.
Thank you, Angel. Thanks to all my EE angels.