I didn't receive much feedback for my last post. Was I too brute? Too honest? I pray I did not offend anyone. That was not the intent. Besides hoping I would encourage folks out there (with means) to contribute to the Foundation, I wrote all that to show that EE is not just love and dreamy days and power-pushing all the time! It's a beautiful thang though.
So I guess I should say something special and deep because today is the last day of Black History Month. Hmmmm...
I'm kinda sad because I had hoped our national campaign could have started by now. And then I remembered that there is no special, designated, pre-ordained, scheduled point in time and life for change to come and for movements to begin. It hit me that for all my planning and pitching and so called movement-making... the revolution, the empowerment, the increased ownership of and respect for Black businesses, Black entrepreneurs being able to claim a halfway decent share of the Black consumer and investor dollar, the growing sense of love and pride for ourselves... all that is going to happen when we make it happen. That's why we have the 'What if?' motto on the website.
What if Karriem Beyah, the corporate executive turned grocer, the owner of the store where I get almost everything I need for my family, Farmers Best (http://www.farmersbestchicago.com/), whose store actually feels fresh... suffocating with gorgeous produce, best quality, unblemished and beautifully displayed... brimming with quality meats and fish, that don't smell or look funny, with perfect prices... employing at-risk youth, ex-offenders, young mothers from the struggling community the store is situated in and mentoring them, caring for them, helping them turn their lives and encouraging them to pursue a higher education... symbolizing a new way of doing business in da hood because he actually spends time in the store getting to know his customers and showing them the respect... What if Karriem owned a chain of stores? What if, after being here for 400 years, we finally had that choice in America? What if there came a time when we couldn't name all of the Black success stories or count them with our fingers? What if we were that much closer to proving that our inalienable right to "the pursuit of happiness" is more than our country's catchy mission statement?
We have to start claiming that vision of America where the thought of being able to buy an air-conditioner from a department store owned by a Black family is not insane. We need to start envisioning, believing, asserting and proving another reality.
Almost every person, young or old, who walks into Karriems's wonderful store (Farmers Best, 1424 West 47th Street, http://www.farmersbestchicago.com/) looking for a job or career opportunity, who sees him emerge from the back office in a tailored blazer and button down shirt, walks up to him and says, "Do you know where the owner is?"
I AM THE OWNER! I OWN THIS STORE! I employ and care about these people. I respect, serve and offer this community the best there is and the best I can give, and at a fair price.
I AM THE OWNER.
Can you see it?
Do you see?
I am the O-W-N-E-R. I am the ow-to-da-ner! Yeah. I am the Black Future. And that's why I am the new Black History Month.
Yes you are, Karriem. I won't let them forget you either. We're gonna remember you all year.
So yeah, the all-powerful, all-exciting all-educating (and oftentimes, all-erasing) Black History Month came and went and we aint all come together yet to infuse millions into our own community by just trying a little harder to find and support the millions of quality Black businesses and professionals out there. Boo-hoo.
C'mon now. Y'all should know me better than that!
It's February 28th and I'm soooo hopeful and empowered. You know why? Because we made our own history. Karriem, my grocer, is making history at Farmers Best (http://www.farmersbestchicago.com/). And that's a fact, even if you didn't see it on the TV! That store has changed my life and is changing lives everyday by giving people jobs and providing healthy, quality foods to a community where the concept of fresh, clean produce is the essence of whimsy.
All of us made history because this thing is still alive, still real and still meaningful.
March is coming. Happy Black Future Month to all of you.