Sunday, August 16, 2009

How we came up with The Empowerment Experiment - my personal story

Last year, my life was great. Great family, career, healthy, financially blessed. But my blessings and my purpose were encompassed in what I had, not what I was or what I did. My life’s deeds were reckless and improvised, without purpose or commitment. I had developed a dangerous sense of gratification and entitlement at the risk losing my righteous sense of consciousness and connectedness.

Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s suffered from these periods of silly shallowness. So you know - it’s a awful condition. It breeds laziness, renders you idle, and robs you of the hunger, passion, humility and creativity you need in order to make a difference in this world.

And then, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was given a month to live. All that was before The Empowerment Experiment.

Then, fortunately, God gave me a moment, an instance, a teeny-tiny, fleeting yet most remarkable moment. That moment knocked me over and lifted my high…

We had just spent hundreds of dollars on an anniversary dinner at a restaurant downtown. The whole time we were there, we talked about the social crises in our community, the poverty and recidivism. We talked about doing more mentoring… and that’s when the check came and we paid the bill. And that’s when we realized that we are a part of the problem we were talking about donating time to fix. Our people needed that money. Our businesses needed that money. And all our credentials and accomplishments mean nothing if we know that and do nothing about it.

It was in that moment I learned I don’t have the luxury of giving up, or giving in. I no longer had the right to live the empty and easy life. I could not choose between Living the Dream and Fighting for the Dream anymore.

So we decided to do something meaningful with our lives. We decided to do something about the crisis in our community. We made our pledge to completely live off of Black business and talent. We decided to ground the pledge in an academic study so that we could monitor the potential of buying Black and scientifically defy negative stereotypes about Black business. We called on some leading intellectuals on Black history, sociology, economics and business to join our team. We built a website and issued a press release to announce our plans. We did this all by ourselves, right out of our basement.

That press release did not have to picked up. No one had to come to that site. I mean, so what, who cares about where a Black family decides to buy their groceries and clothes?

Seven months later we are in the midst of a national movement where we have folks registering from all over the world to make pledges to buy Black. We have twelve new EE families from across the country, who are preparing to do The Empowerment Experiment together… just like we do, in front of the cameras, so we can make history together.

Our little bootleg website has well over a million hits. We’ve done MSNBC, BET, Fox News, CNN, CBS News, you name it. And a few weeks ago, the article done by the Associated Press, not submitted to them by us, “Couple’s buy black experiment becomes a national movement” is still being featured in every major news outlet. EE is discussed in over 1000 blogs.

And my mother, who according to the doctors, should have been dead three times over, is right here with us – cancer free.

So if you think EE is going anywhere - you got another thing coming!

That's the truth. That's why we are here. This is pure. This is real.

Thank you for your support.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a wonderfully inspiring story, and I hope it can be the catalyst for change in the Black community. I look forward to the results of your study, and I do hope it sheds some light on the billions of dollars that Black people spend in this economy and how those dollars can be used to empower us as a people. Again, KUDOS ON THIS EFFORT! :)