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Monday, June 18, 2012

Time for Black America to change, yesterday

“One ever feels his twoness, -- an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose strenth alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” ― W.E.B. DuBoisThe Souls of Black Folk

Here are a few facts about the African American community that disturbs my conscience.
  • While employment and education have increased for minority populations of color, families continue to live in poverty. 
  • African American citizens experience greater unemployment than any other population group in the United States.
  • American American males average more than twice the unemployment rate of white males.
  • According to the Commercial Appeal, unemployment in the Black community is roughly 17 percent as of August last year.  A more recent report by the Memphis Daily News identifies 16.7 percent unemployment for African Americans.  That is roughly 9 percent more than white Americans.
  • In my hometown of Milwaukee, over half of African American males of working age are unemployed according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  
  • Men particularly black heads of households, strive for more education and better employment, often at the cost of extended absences or long working hours away from home and family.  
Here is my dilemma, as an African American male with a bachelors of science degree in social sciences, a master's degree in teaching, and a MBA in progress, I possess considerably strong credentials along with a detailed professional resume initiated by a career in banking at the age of 16.  However, I do not have employers beating down my door to hire me.  I present myself well online and offline, have a strong internet presence, possess a multitude of transferrable skills, and communicate well especially via written format.  I have managed and trained employees, operated my own company, and gained success in freelance writing.  If I submit a resume for an open vacancy, I usually get called in for a phone or face-to-face interview.  Only when I implemented the creative job search process orchestrated by Dan Miller did I begin to receive more interviews and prospective job offers.  Tired of working traditional full-time jobs, my focus is strictly self-employment and micro-businesses.  I yearn for flexibility as my family comes first and my writing comes second.  Earning an income through traditional means does not fit within this arraignment.  Thus, the only traditional jobs I will work will be part-time.  However, I am a rarity in the Black community and I am fed up with the job process.  So with my credentials, if I am frustrated at the lack of excellent opportunities, how do you think African American males with less education and professional experiences feel?  

The above highlighted text serves as my motivation.  My daughter is 21-months old, and I have spent a lot of time with my daughter against conventional wisdom.  For many years, I wanted the American Dream, the six-figure income, the 50-hour per week desk job, the BMW, the suburban home, and so forth until my daughter was born.  Frustrated with my boring teaching career accompanied by poor school leadership, I resigned as soon as I decided to start my own business.  My business failed but I enjoyed earning income on my own terms while scheduling my own hours.  I throughly enjoyed that experience as my work-life balance allowed me to go to the movies during the day, spend time with my daughter daily, and cook for my wife.  Although I am furthering my education by working on a MBA degree, it is a flexible program that only meets one night per week.  I know the lifestyle I want to live and will not allow work to interfere with that.  

As a Black male, I know that we as a community can do better.  First, we must be accountable for our circumstances.  If corporate America is not willing to give us an opportunity to prove ourselves, we must create our own jobs.  Remember that finding work you love may involve actually creating work that you undeniably love.  This will be done by educating ourselves through aggressively reading high quality books in our industries, attending college to gain skills not simply a piece of paper, listening to informative podcasts (like Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income podcast), watching educational informative television, and networking with professionals in our respective, desired cities and industries.  Next, we will use the creative job search process to create our own jobs.  
  • What are your three areas of competency?  
  • What industry, business, or people would you like to work for as an entrepreneur?  
  • What skills do you offer?  
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • What makes you unique?  What makes you remarkable?  
  • What makes you stand out?  What can you offer a customer that no one else can?
 It does not take a million dollars to start a business.  Base your unique selling point and micro-business (self-employment) based on your answers of the questions above.  Be honest, be trustworthy, and explore how to add value through a service or product to people's lives.  That is how you start and sustain a profitable, valuable business.  A micro-business needs only one person, you.  A micro-business only needs a product or service, a benefit your service or product brings to customers, a way of getting paid, and a customer.  For example, my online writing service has a website filled with testimonials and useful information, a Google checkout feature (to get paid), an order form, and my writing credentials.  Customers find me through word-of-mouth as I treat every essay like its my own.  I offer my clients the benefit of having more time for life and work and relieve stress by handling their academic writing challenges.  This is my micro-business with no employees; I keep what I earn.  And I plan on starting more micro-businesses.

 To put your business on auto-pilot, you can outsource administrative tasks and focus on the creative part (the fun part).  I recommend that all readers of this blog, especially within the Black community, read Tim Ferris's Four-Hour Work Week, Dan Miller's No More Mondays, and Chris Gillebeau's $100 Start Up.  Additionally readings should include Robert G. Allen, Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, Success magazine, Black Enterprise magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, and more.  Additionally readings should be the top experts in your desired career field.  My passion is writing rather that be poetry, hip-hop music, blogging or books.  Thus, I follow Dan Miller, Pat Flynn, and Chris Gillebeau.  All three guys are white males, but that does not matter.  What matters is the powerful information they are sharing with the rest of the world through blogging, podcasts, books, and media that can change anyone's life forever.  I would not care if they were green as long as they continued to teach people like me how to succeed in life without conforming.  I want my life to change forever.  I want the lives of my family to change forever.  I want the lives of Black Americans to change forever.  I want all Americans who are tired of being tired to change their lives forever.

That is why I write nonstop daily.  That is why I am working on two e-books, one focused on creative income and flexibility.  The other book is focused on domestic violence along with a new blog and possible podcast.  I am planning to purchase radio time on a local am Memphis radio station.  I am working with a hometown friend on a hip-hop podcast.  I am writing music and looking for engineers and producers to work with. I am forming my brand, because this is the type of lifestyle I want to live.  So what kind of lifestyle do you want to live?  Do you want to work entry-level jobs regardless of your degree because you were too lazy to defy the statistics?  The stats show that Black America is not appreciated or given an opportunity to succeed.  Unless you are a doctor or a professional basketball player, your skin color may limit you.  This is not the case for all African Americans but a majority of us feel the pain.  This is why I write; this is why I help others.  Let today be our last day of mediocracy.  Find your calling, and be authentic to who God made you to be.  That is how you follow your passion to reach success.  It starts with you knowing you and staying true to yourself in every aspect of life.

I am not saying that this will be easy.  Anything worth having takes a lot of hard work, diligence, intelligence, and hustling.  If we overcome slavery, sharecropping, lynching, the Civil Rights movement, then why can't we overcome high rates of unemployment and stagnation as a people?  We can.  It takes one individual to encourage another to help another to teach another and so on.  Will you join me in this cause?  Will you release the tiny paycheck that forces you to live so dependently on a company that can take your income away from you faster than you can say "unemployment"?  Be nice to people, pray to God, love your friends and family, and start a micro-business that allows you to be financially free and overcome the odds against us.

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