The Black Agenda Conference is a multi-city event designed to gather communities together and learn of examples and strategies to:
- Build our community
- Buy Back our Blocks
- Educate our Children
- Leverage our Political Power &
- Shift the Black Narrative
The conference will also be visiting Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Oakland, California to name a few stops. For more information, check out the Black Business Initiative website.
Jice Johnson, founder of the Black Business Initiative, and Mechee X are mothers, activists, entrepreneurs, wealth builders, content creators and national spokespersons for issues and solutions in the Black community. They met up, along with their crew, at the Force office on May 17th for an introduction to the Black organizing work on the ground here in the city.
The next day, The Black Agenda Tour hosted a community information and dialogue session on the north west side at local black owned business, Three Thirteen Store. They shared their mission and vision around “building relationships from City to City Across the Nation to unite ideas, skills, organizations and institutions”.
A very well-informed and fiery team of speakers inspired and challenged us on all fronts. Mechee X, Derrick Martin, Jice Johnson, and David Banner brought folks up to speed quickly on some of the major issues impacting the black community today around education, economics and mental conditioning.
What I appreciated about this event is that, even though they were breaking down very high-level, structural racism that exists within our nation and globally, they also kept it real and brought it right back home. Simple but powerful suggestions that literally make it impossible not to do something on behalf of improving ourselves, our families, our homes and ourselves.
A few of the very practical takeaways that I got from their conversation were as follows:
Talk about what’s going on!
In the community we need a lot of support. We need therapeutic healing support. Put on a pot of coffee grab a pack of cookies and invite some folks over to kick it about what is going on in their lives and let’s support one another and be shoulders to cry on and talk!
Look out for our women and children!
Looking out for our community can be as simple as making sure our women and children make it to their bus stop or destination safely. Mothers and daughters that are walking alone are more vulnerable, facing unwanted attention and harassment or worse, the threat of violence or harm. A few community members posted or riding along a route, saying, I’m just going to make sure you are okay could go a long way toward improving safety in the city.
Rearrange those withholdings!
It’s exciting to get a big tax refund. We feel like it’s a reward after working so hard. However, that is your own money that you are letting them hold. That money could be gathering interest our own bank accounts or going toward an investment that will grow over time. You may want to take a look at your W-4 and determine how your withholdings are set up in order to put the most money in your pocket. There is a sweet spot between getting a refund and owing money that we could be taking advantage of. This is a free and easy way to adjust our money flow more in our favor.
Evaluate the struggles you are a part of!
Its time to examine our “beefs” in order to move forward. We don’t have to be besties to do “the work”. It is time to release negative actions that are personally motivated that get in our own way. In order to do this, we have to define some over-arching goals that link us together no matter the day-to-day -ish. That day to day static will always be there are serve to divide us. Clear community goals can link us back to a unified force of action steps.
Seek out and support Black-owned businesses and Enterprises.
Understand that their prices may be a bit higher because they do not have access to the kind of large volume discounts that some of these big box stores have. Also, price is not the only measure for a decision. We can choose to invest our money in our communities. We can embrace our black businesses and if we find something lacking as far as service goes, take the time to speak with them in a loving way. We are given less service and face more overall economic harm in these other businesses each and every time we decide to spend a dollar with them. We have to step back and look at this. Let’s see how many times we can circulate a dollar within our community. Make a list of all of the places you can go and receive Services, products, treatment from a black owned business. And make a goal to increase this list over the next year.
Education alternatives are not as far away as we may think.
There are many homeschooling collectives that are operating right now. We could be asking our churches to open during the week to allow us to have classes there. Examine what your tithes are being used for. Make sure that the tithing is putting something meaningful and useful back into your community.
Turn off the distractions!
This is an age-old message but one that bears repeating, turn off the TV. Turn off the distractions. Yes it’s going to be difficult and maybe even painful at first to take full ownership and responsibility of your activities, your mental health, your growth and spare time. But programming is just that, programming. It teaches us to be recipients instead of taking action. It teaches us to watch for the conclusion instead of creating the conclusion. It makes us docile. It makes us look externally for all the answers. Turn off the TV, or Netflix, or Hulu, the video games and YouTube. Or at least make more discerning choices in what you feed your brain on a daily basis.
On Sunday, members of the Black Agenda tour also stayed over to help with The People’s Action annual adopt-a-block cleanup. That is a great example of not just coming into a community but making yourself a part of the community and leaving it in a better state than you found it.
In the spirit of The Black Agenda, I’d like to make note that Force Detroit hosts a few community events designed to support well being, community conversations, workshops on how to create shared goals for safer, freer city and, most importantly, how to implement those ideas.