31 Ways 31 Days is just training camp

As we reach the 31st day of August, the seventh annual National Black Business Month, there are many cultural festivals to enjoy over the next weekend.
That helps make my point that the end of the month is not a conclusion, but a beginning. To use a football metaphor, 31 Ways 31 Days has been training camp for the work, education and shopping season ahead. Like training camp, we’ve built in a lot of repetition by encouraging you to visit at least one black business per day. We’ve given you a playbook to study through Where’s Our Stimulus: State of Black Business, seventh edition and FIND IT FAST: Local Guide to Business Inclusion.Cheerleaders like Steve Harvey, who graciously acknowledged National Black Business Month on his radio program, and Izania’s Roger Madison who has pinpointed The Face of Black Business and National Alliance of Market Developers’ Norm Bond, who has alerted the extended marketing community have pumped up the volume.
I particularly appreciate Harvey’s 8th annual Hoodie Awards, which unlike the lily-white Emmys this weekend, celebrated the everyday heroes in restaurants, barber shops and schools around the nation with their patrons doing the nominating. He drew 8,000 to Las Vegas to celebrate their success. Harvey deserves a special Hoodie Award for himself just for having his priorities straight.
It is a model that we all can follow, because the pre-season for what may be the most important 60 days in African-American history is over.
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-FL, let us know in Boca Raton at the South Florida State of Black Business Forum that the days of depending just on elected officials to carry our agenda are over.
As the last question of the forum, I asked him what black voters should do to make sure that such unmet issues as the $1.1 billion for the Pigford 2 settlement, still unappropriated by the Senate; summer jobs, and the low numbers of black businesses receiving contracts through the Gulf Spill, Katrina Recovery and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are addressed.
He replied that everyone with a voice needed to contact their representatives, register everyone they could touch and turn out in November. As the low turnout in last Tuesday’s Florida primary indicated, many folks are still holding out from training camp.
But it isn’t too late.
African-American shoppers can turn around the gloomy unemployment figures with just two percent of their income for the remainder of the year by strategically visiting black-owned businesses. The $20 billion infusion can generate close to half a million entry-level jobs and give the impetus for similar investments from outside our community.
As another panelist, Jerome Hutchinson, said, “No one is going to help us but ourselves.”
At the local level, the data from the State of Black Business month series provides the impetus to insure that disparity studies are done across the nation, as 20 cities and states have already done in the past year.
On our part, National Black Business Month is creating tools for progress. We’ll give more details about the Catapult Innovation competition in Washington Sept. 17 to generate more technology companies which can create large numbers of jobs.
Already online is blackrestaurant.net where one can find their feast everyday of the year. Soon we’ll be adding discount and loyalty programs to encourage you to visit places like Frederick’s Island Cuisine in West Palm Beach, where I had a great tilapia dinner Saturday, or Culinary Flair, which hosted a reception in my honor Thursday night.
Food and how it is created are an important starting point. There has been almost no coverage of the delay in appropriating the Pigford 2 settlement, which addresses discrimination found in federal farm support programs going back decades. Although a federal judge approved the settlement more than a decade ago, many of the farmers were not able to meet the first deadline and a new round has been agreed to. Senate Republicans blocked the appropriation from several bills in August. That is a tangible reason to call every member of the Senate begining now to bring that long-overdue justice into black rural families.
This outrage explains why the advocacy and policy forum we stress in August is so important. It was a message that Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Barbara Lee, D-CA, also emphasized earlier in the month in San Francisco.
The metaphor of radicals like Glenn Beck using the locale of the Lincoln Memorial to suggest turning back the clock should alarm everyone.
Our response, to be effective, must be with our pocketbooks, by supporting the institutions which undergird our communities every day.
That’s the year-round objective of National Black Business Month.

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