Learning to Fish: What to Do Versus How to Do It
"If you give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you will feed him for a lifetime." Unknown Proverb
There is a huge difference between telling a hungry man that all he needs to do to alleviate his hunger is to go and catch a fish, and teaching him how to provide for himself. This difference is the subtle, yet significant difference between my position and that of a poster I was interacting with online.
I really didn't plan for this to happen this way. This all started as a simple comment made in response to a Facebook post. But, in going back and forth, I realized that maybe, just maybe, Facebook as a forum for serious in-depth discussion has its limitations.
As such, I decided to utilize a more effective method for addressing a complex, multifaceted situation. The catalyst for this article can be found in this Facebook exchange with the Black Economic Think Tank.
It began as a simple difference of opinion that morphed into a larger scaled discussion about community building, the role entrepreneurship can play in providing for one's family, and what role policy can play, if any, in addressing some of the issues we face.
I am of the belief that the quote by Elizabeth Warren about WHY people oppose an increase in the minimum wage is an accurate representation of the position of those who are against raising the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. I don't necessarily believe that simply raising the minimum wage will solve many of the issues we face as a nation with regards to income inequity (More about that Here), but I do believe that it can be a part of the solution to the overall problem of the rich getting extremely wealthy, while everyone else falls behind.
First off, I'll begin by stating that I actually agree with the poster in most of what he is saying. I firmly believe that the true power of the Black community will only be fully realized once we develop TRUE economic empowerment. I agree that we, as the "masses" need to start looking to create our own jobs, both for ourselves as well as for those in our communities. And I agree that when your back is pressed against the wall, you do what you need to do in order to provide for you and yours.
I am well aware of the numbers. The Black community, as an economic block, possesses $1.1 Trillion of consumer resources. Unfortunately, a majority of that "power" flows right out of our communities because we own few to none of the businesses that actually "serve" our communities. A Black dollar leaves the Black community almost as quickly as it comes into the Black community.
Even though we comprise approximately 13 percent of the population, Black businesses comprise a mere 7% of all businesses in the nation. Our businesses tend to generate less revenue and hire fewer employees than their white owned counterparts. Ultimately, our businesses tend to be less successful overall. And that is to the detriment of our entire community. The Black unemployment rate is officially TWICE that of the general population. And alarmingly, it is significantly higher for young Black men ages 16 - 24.