Last week, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd. Justice was finally served for George Floyd, but he didn't sacrifice his life for the black community, it was taken from him, against his will.
George Floyd's death, brought the black community together in a way it hasn’t been for decades. It fuelled the Black Lives Matter movement and brought to light once more, the social injustice being faced by the black community.
The world knows the social injustice perpetuated against black people. They have always known, but chose to turn a blind eye. I remember instances in previous places of work where it was clear I was being targeted. No matter who you spoke to, everyone turned a blind eye. What hurt the most wasn't being discriminated against, it was the way members of the black and ethnic community reacted to it. They did nothing, they were concerned about their own jobs, their own wellbeing, and that is their prerogative.
I am in full support of the Black Lives Matters movement, but we have been so concerned with the enemy outside that we fail to see the enemies within ourselves, and within our community. How truly united are the black community at the moment? Are we just milking the death of George Floyd, or do we really care about a united black community? I find it perturbing when I see members of the black community and organisations trying to build a social media presence and following, on the death of other black people. They repeat the same thing over and over again on social media, targeting the police and the white community, but to what end?
They don’t proffer any solutions, all they do is say what we already know, which is, the black community are suffering from social injustice perpetuated by people who racially profiled us, stereotype us and kill us.
If there is one thing to learn from the BLM movement, it’s that it isn't one organisation or a group of people, it is majority of the black community coming together to fight against racial injustice. So why can't we do the same in business, in entrepreneurship, in networking and everything else. Racism isn't the only problem in the black community. People are still dying of hunger and poverty in some parts of Africa. There are unemployment issues, especially in Africa where people have travel restrictions. This limits globalisation to remote communication in Africa.
Look at UK and America, you have got gang related issues and unemployment issues impacting the black community there. It is easy to put the blame on racism and other forms of social injustice, but the biggest problem in the black community is a lack of cooperation and unity. We only seem to unite behind a cause, when someone dies and that really has to stop.
Entrepreneurship can solve a lot of problems in the black community, especially in Africa. But if the black community can't unite to tackle these problems, then we will continue being classed as an ethnic minority, instead of being classed as an equal.
Two things I would like the black community to address:
People looking at the black community through the eyes and behaviours of one or more black people;
Black people who allow corporate organisations take advantage of their reach and influence;
People looking at the black community through the eyes and behaviours of one or more black people
I was in a conversation with a former colleague and she said, "Who do you model yourself after, who do you aspires to be?" My response was simple, "No one". She continued, and said, "What about Barack Obama?" Again, I said "No one". I told her and I am telling you now, you don't have to aspire to be anyone else but yourself.
People inspire me and may influence me, but I wish to be no one else. I do not wish to be seen through the eyes of Obama, or any other influential black man. Choose your own path, you don't need to copy someone else's nor do you need to reinvent the wheel. You do however need to choose your path and be judged on that choice, not someone else's.
Black people who allow corporate organisations take advantage of their reach and influence
It is now a trend, for corporate organisations to target member of the black community or networks in the black community, that have reach and influence within the black community. Some of these organisations genuinely want to help. They want to change their ways and biases, but some of them are only taking advantage of us as a public relations stunt.
So we need to look past profit and popularity, we need to ensure these organisations have our best interests at heart, and that we are not just a numbers game to them, or a means to meet their diversity quota.
I truly hope that one day the black community will understand that the only way forward is to work together. You can't do it on your own, collaborating with other networks or individuals in the black community might not generate you any revenue, but you will have a greater impact on the black community. It should not always be about getting that corporate sponsor or partner that pays. It does help, but working in unison with other members and networks in the black community will provide a larger and more sustainable impact on the black community.
On that note, we plan on launching a platform called BOP Network, which stands for the Black Opportunity Network. It is a social enterprise focused on connecting the black community with entrepreneurial opportunities globally, such as Mentors, Investors, Jobs, Events, Accelerators, Incubators, Training and Learning materials, Venture Builders and Black professional networks.
We have no intention of reinventing the wheel. We are going to partner with existing networks, organisations, business leaders and entrepreneurs, already offering these value propositions. We will create forums where you can connect with them and where they post opportunities for you to access.
We intend to launch in August and we are currently building our website. But if you are interested in sharing your opportunities on our forum for the black community to access please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joining us as a partner is free, as we are not a profit driven platform. We just want to do our part and help our community, not by creating a new value proposition but by uniting existing ones.