The BlackElectorate.com “Business and Building” Weekend Is On. 'Toward A Learned Community... Connected To The Masses'
I am pleased to announce that after weeks of testing the waters, receiving viewer feedback (online and by voicemail), exploring options and negotiating deals, we can officially announce the BlackElectorate.com “Business and Building” Weekend is scheduled to take place October 28th and 29th in Washington, D.C. The weekend will consist of a tripod of events: a Mixer the night of October 28th; a ‘Coffee Talk’ Meeting the morning of October 29th; and a Private Bowling Party the afternoon of October 29th.
We are very excited about the planning and arrangements and look forward to another successful step toward the continued evolution of BlackElectorate.com from an information platform and educational vehicle into a community that leverages power in pursuit of a self-enlightened interest on behalf of Black people in America and all over the world.
I believe that this effort is inspired by an idea whose time has come. Whether or not it is we, as a community, who are blessed to be among those who successfully embody or help fulfill it - only time and our actions will tell.
The reaction, response, effect and influence of this website, over the last six years, and the early positive reaction to the idea of physically coming together leads me to believe that what we have been doing and what we want to grow to do has resonated with enough people, that there just might be a critical mass of us ready to come forward, and not only dialogue, reason and agree with one another - on the problems and solutions to the condition of Black people all over the world – but also unite and organize ourselves, to effect progressive change.
I recognize that not all of us are ready to take that step – even those who have professed forcefully that they are willing to do so. I recognize that some of us are only militant, revolutionary, progressive and entrepreneurial in rhetoric. I understand that some of us are more comfortable deconstructing problems and criticizing others than we are in constructing solutions and encouraging others. I know that some of us are bold, even thugged-out and gangster like when sitting behind a keyboard but when invited to discuss and even work out disagreement face-to-face, and participate in a real marketplace and competition of ideas – where only that which has merit prevails – we are timid and noncommittal. I hope that what we are attempting to do makes those of us in this spirit especially uncomfortable.
I and we want to encourage you to change your politics, growing it beyond reading, writing and voting. If our people are going to continue to rise we have to move beyond ‘all talk’ (or ‘all type’) and no or very little action; and certainly past voting every few years simply because someone tells us to. I also want to help stimulate a change among many sincere, hard-working activists in our community who operate on the ground in our community but who ignore, devalue or diminish the importance of strategy, leverage and negotiation in how they operate. By staying in the trenches without an air force, these fearless, progressive voices and agents of change are bombed from above.
We need both an army and an air force for the war to be won.
I must say I do recognize that there are many who sincerely don’t agree with us or our approach but who are committed to other paths of working on this same idea and serving our people. I deeply respect all such individuals, and would hope we could work together in some form down the road, as we find greater agreement and mutual respect.
But I am now ready, and hopefully we are prepared, to take the risks (and there are plenty involved) and invite all of you who have been positively affected or benefited from BlackElectorate.com, to work with like-minded people in an effort that not only improves Blackelectorate.com and self, but which serves the families, communities and people from which we all come, as well as righteous principles.
I also hope that our effort fulfills another need and helps to solve another serious problem in Black America. I have referred to it in the past as the 'New Crisis of The Negro (Black) Intellectual.'
I believe it is Nathan Hare who argued that a vanguard that is disconnected from a collective is nothing more than an elite. I know that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (who is always in our thoughts and prayers) spent much of last year, explaining the purpose, aim, and objective of the Millions More Movement as an effort to connect the learned of our people with the masses through a programmatic thrust. He said, on countless occasions, that many of the natural leaders of Black America – intellectuals, professionals, educators – are disconnected from the body of the masses, and that as a result, we all are suffering. In an October 14th Time Magazine interview the following excerpted question and answer from an interview with the Minister appeared:
TIME: The Million Man March was inspirational but critics said it didn't create any lasting change. How will the Millions More Movement differ?
Farrakhan: The economic condition of the black community has worsened. We don't feel we need another march, but we need to create a movement that ties the talented tenth that W.E.B. Dubois spoke of to the mass poor…
Many of us who could help to provide servant-leadership and who represent a vanguard for our people are locked in ‘elite’ status not because we don’t care or love our people, or because we are unaware of their (and our) suffering but because we are trapped in the cycle of laboring for others – whether in academia, government offices or corporate America. A decapitation of sorts has occurred in the Black body (in America and Africa as well) because we don’t know how or lack the faith to step out of the ‘post’ that we hold, laboring for others. And yes, some of us have absolutely made a deal with the devil, selling our spirit, talent, time and energy for a ‘steady’ paycheck.
Then, there are still more of us who fulfill aspects of the parable of the sower written of in Matthew 13:18-23, as told by Jesus. We are like either the seed that falls by the wayside and hard beaten track – our attention to worldly, social and business affairs rendering us less receptive and sensitive to the Truth and call to action than we should be; or, we are like the seed that falls in the thorns – unable to respond because we are trying to serve two masters. Our double mind and conflicted value system has left us lukewarm and in a state of inertia.
I believe all of us – whether professional, student, artist, entrepreneur, preacher, politician or educator – have been there at one time or another.
And then, still yet, some of us are like those written of in Surah 11 and verse 12 of the Holy Qur’an who are unable to look past the poverty and lack of status of the person inviting us to Truth and right action, saying in response to the one making the call, “Why is not a treasure sent down unto him, or why does not an angel come down with him?” The ‘him’ referred to in these verses is the Muhammad of the Qur’an. Even he, viewed as the most faithful and steadfast of human beings by even his staunchest critics (like Sir William Muir, author of Life of Mahomet) was faced with those moments of anxiety – not doubtful in his Lord or the veracity of his call, but affected by the negative response of the people whom he loved. Out of concern for them, and desirous of their acceptance, even Muhammad might have considered ‘watering down’ or omitting part of his Divine message to make it easier for the people he loved so ardently.
In a footnote to this verse of the Holy Qur’an, Yusef Ali writes, “Every Prophet of Allah, when he not only encounters opposition, but is actually accused of falsehood and those very evils which he is protesting against, may feel inclined, in his human weakness, to ask himself the question, “Supposing I omit this little point, will Allah’s Truth then be accepted more readily? Or he may think to himself. ‘If I had only more money to organize my campaign, or something which will draw people’s attention, like the company of an angel, how much better can I push my Message?’ He is told that truth must be delivered as it is revealed, even though portions of it may be unpalatable, and that resources and other means to draw people to him are beside the point. He must use just the resources and opportunities as he has, and leave the rest to Allah.”
Although we are not Prophets, of course, I, like many of you, know the pain of receiving suspicion, doubt and rejection from those close to you, in response to an invitation or call to action – not because that call is not sound or just, but because of an apparent lack of material wealth or status.
Well, I say we can’t let even our loved ones off of the hook, anymore, in this increasingly dark hour. For if they do not make a change to do something for themselves they are increasingly in danger of losing whatever wealth, status and false sense of security they have earned as a laborer under the prevailing system, which is rapidly spiraling out of control, headed for revolution.
So those of us who can’t endure the disconnection between the vanguard and the collective; who can no longer allow the bureaucratic structures of academia, government and corporate institutions to keep us from the struggle of our people; and who aren’t willing to soften the message or omit its harshest truths, for the sake of ‘getting along’ or not offending some of our loved ones caught up in ‘this world,’; it is we who have got to step up and find ways to become more relevant and powerful on behalf of the whole and what is right. That will require us to not only become smarter and more vocal and articulate, but it also will require that we work more than ever with others, properly organized, outside of the intellectual, spiritual, and structural confines of an academic institution, government office, political party or corporation.
We can no longer serve two masters and be at peace with ourselves. And by master I do not necessarily mean a non-Black one. I am referring primarily to our paymasters - those, even Black, who through money, lifestyle, and station have seduced us or redirected our will power away from doing for self. Now is the time to break free and encourage some of them, ‘caught up,’ to come with us. We have to bet on a new idea or one that is forgotten or so old that it is buried in dust on our shelves, or even underneath a landfill of superficial approaches that treat symptoms and not causes.
We have to look again at who we are really communing with the most or in a community with, in terms of time, energy and emotional commitment.
Again, in the Holy Qur’an in Surah 2 verse 60 it reads (in the Maulana Muhammad Ali translation): “And when Moses prayed for water for his people, We said: March on to the rock with thy staff…” In his footnote on this verse Maulana Muhammad Ali states, “…’Asa ordinarily means staff or rod, but its primary significance is a state of combination and the word is metaphorically used to speak of community…Hence the words may mean strike the rock with thy staff, or march on to the mountain with thy staff or thy community.
Look deeper at that concept “a state of combination,” embodied by this Arabic word ’Asa. That is what we are looking for in our community, people who are in a right state of combination – their talents, skills, and interests in alignment with the mission of raising our people – morally, politically, economically and culturally – all over the world.
The BlackElectorate.com community is one that has fed on over 10,000 articles and 1,500 editorials over 6 years, all provided free of charge. You all have taken it in from over 45 countries throughout the planet Earth. It is a community that has learned a certain perspective available at Black Electorate Economics University (BEEU) for three years, for a nominal fee. Now, we are moving deeper from that firm foundation of information and education into community action. Our premise is that self-improvement – primarily through information and education - is the basis for community development. And, that community development is building people, and linking people with people, as one beautiful Black man said, almost exactly 20 years ago, in an historic speech made in Phoenix, Arizona.
The next step in this process is getting us altogether in person and developing familiarity, camaraderie and agreement through comfortable and enjoyable interaction but serious dialogue, in order to arrive at a right combination of organization and operation. We know you can’t rush the process of unity and team success. It takes time and the right environment. Then the five-step process naturally occurs: Contact, then Knowledge, then Respect, then Unity, then Love.
That is what the BlackElectorate.com “Business and Building” Weekend is all about.
And with that introduction let’s look at the particulars: our Venues, Itinerary and Agenda.
Venues: We are pleased to have reached agreements with three very fine institutions that will serve as the venues for our three major activities: The Mixer, ‘Coffee Talk,’ and Bowling Party. Here is a brief description of each, along with information you will need, to enjoy participating fully in what we have planned with our venue partners:
The Frederick Douglass Museum (Venue For The ‘Building and Business Mixer’)
Address: 320 A. Street NE; Washington, D.C. 20002
Event Description: The Frederick Douglass Museum is the host to our five hour event of networking featuring BlackElectorate.com viewers, guest speakers, and special invited guests. Catered hors d’oeuvres, beverages (non-alcoholic), live music, and open microphone all in the setting of the first home to the statesman and abolitionist Frederick Douglass who moved to Washington, D.C. in the mid-1870’s and occupied the building, in which we will be gathering, for over seven years.
Homewood Suites (Host Hotel and Venue For The ‘Coffee Talk’)
Address: 1475 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, District of Columbia, 20005
Event Description: The hotel owned by Robert Johnson of Black Entertainment Television (BET) is our official home, where every room is a full suite with a kitchen, amenities, pull-out sofa and cozy single or double bedroom lay out. And they have a special rate for our Conference Attendees. Hint: You can get three in a room (smile). The hotel is also the location of our ‘Coffee Talk’ sessions on the morning of Sunday, October 29, 2006.
Reservations: Call 1-202-265-8000 and mention that you are with the BlackElectorate.com Group to receive a favorable rate.
Note: You must make reservations by October 6th to qualify for our rate.
Lucky Strike Lanes
Address: 701 Seventh St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Event Description: First, please visit the website and check out the plush and jiggy 6-lane private room we will be enjoying for three hours of unlimited food, beverages (non-alcoholic) and bowling the afternoon of Sunday, October 29th. But don’t get too comfortable, the first annual “Cedric Muhammad Invitational” is serious business. There will be prizes awarded to both the bowler with the highest score and the team that survives our tournament. Yes, the elite BlackElectorate.com All-Star bowling team will be in contention. The event is private, catered and an opportunity to mingle in a comfortable and intimate setting.
Itinerary and Agenda:
The BlackElectorate.com Mixer: The itinerary is to purchase an advance ticket (no walk ups will be permitted) and come dressed appropriately and comfortably ready to build and network with viewers, speakers and special invited guests. We will have an MC, opening remarks from Cedric Muhammad, three guest speakers from culture, politics and business (who will take a few questions), a live band and DJ, and open microphone. You will have more than enough time over hors d’oeuvres to be seen and heard. Let’s get to know one another, hear words of wisdom, cut a few deals and enjoy a wonderful atmosphere. In other words, let's build and do business.
Coffee Talk: There Are Four back-to-back Sessions. Attendees will be asked to select two to attend and participate in. There will be no panel discussions, here. Only BlackElectorate.com “Building and Business” Attendees will be allowed to participate. Each session will have a facilitator who will make a very brief presentation and who will have the responsibility of organizing and moderating the group discussions. The goal of each session is to 1) have serious discussion and preliminary exploration of initiatives, 2) establish a team (not a committee) to continue and coordinate the dialogue after the event, and 3) at a time certain, announce and present the initiative at BlackElectorate.com.
Here are the working themes for each of the sessions, followed by possible topics and Cedric Muhammad’s suggested initiative (“CM's Suggested initiative”). That suggestion is provided only to provide a clear example and food for thought. In dialogue, my suggestion carries only as much weight as anyone else who attends. Nothing has been pre-determined. Reasoning, persuasion and a critical mass of agreement will determine what is accepted and what we move forward on.
A. International. “Diaspora, Globalization and Foreign Policy.”
Should there be dual citizenship in Africa for the Diaspora? Where does the Global Black electorate fit in a world of American hegemony and a global economy that is integrated in many respects but often found leaving Black and indigenous people behind? What Should Be Our Analysis And Level Of Activism On Sudan and Congo? How Can We Consider American Immigration In A Global Context? Are Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez Friends of Black America? What Do We Think Of The Alliance Between Asia, Latin America, the Islamic World and Africa as Proposed By Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Can Black Leadership Address And Critique International Trade, Monetary and Fiscal Policies Intellectually Independent Of Union, Partisan Or Corporate Influence And Financial Support? How Can Black American, Caribbean and African Economists Be Organized In Analysis Of the African Union and Caribbean Community? Where Do We Fit In An Economy Soon To Be Dominated By Genomics and Nanotechnology?
- CM’s Suggestion: Establish An Advocacy Group That Will Advocate Informed and Thoroughly Researched Policy Positions And Monitor, Support, Challenge And Report On The Progress Of The African Union And Its Relationship To Blacks And Original People In The Western Hemisphere
B. Community. “Culture, Family And The Streets.”
Black Teenage Unemployment. Community Policing. Identifying Role Models And Organizing Mentors. Adoption In The Black Community. A Failing Education System. What Is Behind The Apparent Rise In Alternative Lifestyles? Health Disparities and Mental Well-Being. ‘Broken’ Families. ‘Blended’ Families. The Male To Female Ratio. ‘Gang’ Violence. The Influence Of Hip-Hop Culture. The Criminal Justice System. The Critique Of Bill Cosby vs. that of Michael Eric Dyson. The Role of The Black Church, Mosques and Masjids and Grassroots Organizations. How Can We Influence Black Images In Media? Can We Develop A Moral Covenant And 'Golden Rule' To Guide Behavior In The Black Community That Draws From Spiritual Teachings, Ethics, and 'Codes' Of The Street?
- CM’s Suggestion: Support An Existing Organization Or Two Who Are Mentoring Young People And Resolving Conflict Among Street Organizations (‘Gangs’)
C. Political. “Chess Playing and Power Moves: In Pursuit Of A Self-Enlightened Electorate”
Is There Too Much Or Too Little Emphasis On Voting In The Black Community? Blacks And The Democratic Party. Blacks and The Republican Party. Blacks and Third Parties. Is A Synthesis Between The Thesis Of W.E.B. Du Bois and the Thesis Of Booker T. Washington Possible? Can Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and Poor Whites Form A Political Alliance? The Relevance of The Congressional Black Caucus. Are We Placing Too Much Emphasis On Federal Elections Rather Than State And Local? What Political Movements Abroad Can Inform Black Voters in America? Why Is The Reparations Movement Languishing, Politically? Is There A Black Agenda – If So Where? If Not, Why Not? Where Is Tavis Smiley’s Covenant With Black America Headed In 2008? Is The “Third Force” Described At The Million Man March Viable?
- CM’s Suggestion: Identify Three To Five Congressional Black Caucus Members Apply Pressure And Negotiate A Relationship Of Accountability Where Public Support (Intellectual, Financial and Electoral) Is Provided When Warranted As Well As Resistance. Demonstrate How Power Works For and Against the Black Electorate From Inside Congress.
D. Business and Investment. “Pooling Resources For Economic Development and Wealth.”
Where Is The Real Estate Investment Boom Headed? What Forms Of Community Development Can Come From Various Housing Strategies? Are Blacks Missing The Boat On The Rise In Commodity Prices? What Could Be Done With The Million March Economic Development Fund? What Did The Effort To Establish "Africatown" in Detroit Illustrate? What Fiscal Policy Should Black Investors Seek? What Can Be Done To Provide Greater Access To Capital For Black Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners? What Are The Legal Forms Of Organizing Community-Based Financial Groups and Wealth Creation Institutions? What Do Black People Do If The Stock Market Crashes Or America Goes Into A Deep Recession or Depression? What Economic Lessons Can Blacks Take From Ethnic Enclaves Like Jewish, Chinese, Korean and Cuban Communities In America?
- CM’s Suggestion: Establish An Investment Club With Its Deposits At A Black-Owned Bank Where Monthly Contributions Are Made By Its Members And At A Time Certain Investments Are Made In Businesses, Gold, Financial Markets And Land.
The BlackElectorate.com Think Tank. We initially thought this might be a Session, but upon further review, it is apparent there must be a Think Tank to strengthen each of the four areas: International, Community, Political and Business and Investment. Research, advocacy and information dissemination is necessary to formulate strategy, test proposals and popularize positions taken and initiatives advanced.
So, interest in participating in a Think Tank will be discussed in as wide a context as possible.
The Nine –Step Process: The means by which the community will be formed around initiatives is the foundation of 1) Information 2) Education 3) Dialogue and 4) Personal Familiarity Through Interaction. From there we will move into 5) Agreement, 6) Operational Organization, 7) External Negotiation, 8) Public Information and 9) Mobilization.
We are not interested in organizing people at this early stage to work on initiatives who do not know one another. We have to take the time to get to know one another and respect and appreciate what each of us brings to the table in order to grow and expand. We also have to gain a level of comfort in dialogue with one another, and work out areas of disagreement.
That will be the guiding measure of success for the Weekend: How well did we get to know one another? If we can’t do this properly, everything else will eventually fall apart or be destroyed by internal weakness and external enemies.
Black Electorate.com “Business and Building” Successful Outcome: Success is that by the end of the weekend we would have gotten to know one another better, discussed four areas and possible initiatives, and organized ourselves into teams that will be held accountable on the basis of performance and results and responsible for making signed announcements and presentations to the entire BlackElectorate.com community via the website.
Guarantee: There are no guarantees. If we are to be a community it will not be because we had a weekend and three events, it will be because a critical mass of informed and educated individuals have arrived at the right state of combination and are united in pursuit of an enlightened self-interest. To accomplish what is necessary we will have to continue to communicate and gather after this event. This must be accepted up front. We are in a process.
So above all, please remember that BlackElectorate.com and Cedric Muhammad can provide a catalyst provide the forum, make the call, and create an atmosphere, but only a critical mass of viewers and attendees can make this a success, and the community a reality.
Let’s make it happen.
Register And Purchase Your Tickets Today: http://www.blackelectorate.com/mixer.asp
Monday, September 25, 2006
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The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of BlackElectorate.com or Black Electorate Communications.