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The "Business and Building" Mixer, October 2006 in Washington, D.C.

With the help of some in our informal planning committee and the members of our Dialogue Room, we have decided to test the level of interest in having our proposed “Business and Building” Mixer in Washington D.C. The district has come up more than any other as a nominee for our ‘host city,’ and for a variety of reasons, it seems. To name a few, America’s capitol is selected because it is a compromise location between our Southeast and Northeast viewers; a strategic location for any political character the event might take; and because, while supplies last, D.C. is still "Chocolate City," with more Black-owned locations per square inch, than the average city.

Of course, I know how our West Coast, South West, Mid-West and North West viewers might feel - that their favorite website has been taken over by an East Coast establishment. I hear you and always have been sensitive to concerns about an abuse of power by those living in EST (Elite Standard Time.)

Not to fear, if we are able to pull this event off, we would be wide open to a tour through the other regions, all of whom have significant numbers of viewers.

Now, over the last few days, on the humble, I have been scouting out a few possible locations for our 1) evening mixer/dinner and 2) our morning ‘coffee talk’ the following day. While enjoying yourself at your favorite location be on the look out, I’m the Brother in the corner drinking cranberry juice and ginger ale and getting a headache from second hand smoke inhalation.

There do seem to be some promising possibilities that could serve as host to our desired intimate setting of anywhere from between 100 to 250 people. What I would like to see is a Friday night/Saturday morning or Saturday night/Sunday morning event where on one day, beginning in the evening, we have a dinner with 1 to 3 special invited speakers. These speakers would cover topics of a business, political, and cultural nature. There would be live music and the mandatory DJ and of course there would be a master of ceremonies (not me) to guide the event. The evening, if my preference were accepted, would also allow for an ‘open mic’ of sorts where all of those in attendance could speak whatever is on their mind and heart (Warning: the BEC crew will bum rush the stage if we find out you are a frustrated preacher or struggling spoken word artist trying to use our event to shine.) The purpose of the mixer event would be for us to hear words of wisdom, guidance and inspiration in a setting that allows us to socialize and get to know one another.

The following morning would be a coffee talk – a roll up our sleeves type of setting, perhaps with a facilitator or two who would guide us through an open dialogue, an exercise or two, and a decision-making process that would have us walking out of that meeting with action steps and something like a three-item agenda that we could pursue and lead the effort in enlisting the support of the wider community. The purpose of the coffee talk would be to handle some serious business, have a lawful dialogue and make ourselves accountable to take action as a united community.

There will be no press allowed at either event and attendance would be limited to those who purchased tickets in advance through the website.

Now, having stated my personal preferences I want to make it clear that this event will only take place if there is a high enough level of interest from among our viewers and if the event can be put together in a way that is consistent with the values of the website and our viewers.

From my vantage point what has made this website stand the test of time, so to speak, and appeal to an authentic cross section of the global Black Electorate is that we are respectful of each other’s differing ideologies, belief systems, professions, income levels, consciousness and activism. There is no litmus test that we impose and although we have an editorial direction and are guided by a mission to see unity among Black people all over the world in pursuit of an enlightened self-interest, we try to do so in a manner that respects people wherever they may be when we find them (or when they find us.) Everyone matters and as a matter of fact, the newest or least informed member of our community, is the most important person in the room, in my estimation, because they lack or need what we offer the most. They deserve respect and adherence to the golden rule.

I want the event to embody that spirit - whereby anyone who would attend would feel welcome and comfortable. If you are a member of the Hip-Hop community and embody that culture and fashion, please come through to represent; if you are a Muslim and prefer stylish and elegant modesty, bless us accordingly; if you love business casual attire please come as if it were ‘dress-down Friday’ at work; if you want to rock a brand new suit and tie, please come through as crisply as possible; if you have some new Capri pants, I don’t think most will mind seeing you in them; if you are from Africa or from an indigenous nation and would like to wear the clothing that reflects your roots and heritage you should do so and feel relaxed.

If you are married and would like to bring your spouse; if you are single and would like to keep an eye open; if you are on another mission and could care less – you should feel at home.

Come as you are with clear intentions.

And oh yeah, I can’t forget....if you are a proud conservative Republican; or a member of a grassroots street organization; if you are a Pan Africanist; maybe a business person or entrepreneur about ‘gettin money’; or a Democratic Party loyalist; or an atheist or agnostic you can be at ease. You aren’t being invited to be followed nor to be beat up on. You may feel free to take a stand on the principles and values that you hold close. We are only asking that you apply the best of your personality, character and background to supporting something that can make a difference in America and all over the world. You are all part of our family and I really want you all to be there.

Keep in mind the person who founded this website and whose words you are reading loves Allah (God), believes Jesus to be the Messiah; respects the Jewish Phenomenon; managed Wu-Tang Clan, has voted for Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and Green party candidates; reads the Wall St. Journal, flips in between C-SPAN and CNBC every day; can’t wait for the return of Star and Buc Wild; advocates reparations; desperately wants to live to see a “United States of Africa” with one currency backed by gold, and thinks Dirk Nowitzki is the nicest basketball player in the professional world.

Either I am hopelessly confused, an authentic eclectic like you, or maybe, just maybe, I am on to something.

I don’t want a room full of narrow-minded folk already in lock step who want to take action without having engaged in creative or critical thinking. Nor do I want a house full of ‘contrarians’ who love to argue and intellectually pontificate without ever trying to execute or do something.

I want a community in agreement and unity, but at the right time after we have gotten to know one another better, been enlightened further by others, and had lawful dialogue.

If we can get enough of us in the room I am tempted to think we can create a formidable and balanced force the likes of which our people have never seen, ready to get things done, and quickly.

If you agree, let’s do it in D.C. sometime around the third or fourth week of October.

I won’t move ahead without a critical mass of you.

I want to hear from you, either way.


Cedric Muhammad

P.S. In addition to gauging your level of interest before making a final decision, our most immediate pressing concern is identifying a location or two in D.C., preferably Black-owned that can host our mixer and coffee talk.

If you have a suggestion and want to offer it publicly or privately please place your comment in our Dialogue Room or on our BEC voicemail (856)-964-4664.

Monday, July 10, 2006

To discuss this article further enter The Deeper Look Dialogue Room

The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of or Black Electorate Communications.

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