Folks are buzzing about the BET Awards, the red carpet, the performances, the styles and the tribute to the late Michael Jackson.
Yet there is an important question to ask–did the energy and excitement enhance the economic development of the black community?
At a time of record unemployment, it is an appropriate question to ask, even if the purpose was to highlight some outstanding performances and performers.
It’s going to take the same kind of passion and creativity to create jobs and build businesses to revive places like Gary, IN, Detroit, MI and New Orleans.
During National Black Business Month in August, there is a concerted effort to identify the businesses which are owned by African-Americans, which are much more likely to employ other blacks and to contribute back to non-profits and other causes in our communities. It does require looking past the surface to see which firms are making those investments.
A couple other networks are providing a broader slice of black life, in large part because they are still owned and controlled by African-Americans. The Africa Channel is providing 24/7 programming from networks across the African continent, including dramas, sports and news. TVOne is also reaching out past the music video focus of BET. Part of its game plan is the revival of the Howard Theater corridor in Washington, D.C. as a production hub.
During August, consumers can refer to the calendar at the National Black Business Month web site to get suggestions for 31 ways to patronize black businesses on the 31 days of the month. Policy makers can use the analysis and benchmarking in Walls Come Tumbling Down: State of Black Business, sixth edition to design programs which support the intense entrepreneural aspirations of more than 1 million African-American self-employed.
When you make informed choices, you can provide the leverage to give venues to your favorite performers every day, instead of once per year. That’s the kind of tribute which can give more meaning to the talent of superstars such as Michael Jackson.