If there was one thing that I learned from the Miami-Dade County Black Affairs Advisory Board's “The State of Black Miami” Forum last Thursday – it was absolutely nothing. Had this forum been planned with the community in mind, and not conducted while most people were at work, there may have been a chance for some real solution-based dialogue.
There were three panels throughout the day and looking back at it, there should have only been two. The three panels were in succession: Health, social justice, and, finally, housing and economics. These panels should have been divided into two panels with the first being health and housing and the second being social and economic justice. I'm going to explain this later in the column.
Some of the individuals on these panels appeared as though they were rehearsing on what they should say or do at the next roundtable discussion that they may be invited to, or maybe they just wanted to rush home and watch themselves on Miami-Dade TV channel or website and have a member of their team critique their performance at the show – I meant the “forum.”
To sit and listen to a few individuals having cigar bar, smoke-filled room, conversations about the Black community was a sad commentary within itself. It is painfully obvious that we, as a community, have failed our elders, our children and ourselves miserably by consistently supporting ineffective leadership and by allowing ineffective leadership to consistently abandon us.
Leadership isn't about control; it's about taking care of your people – and not just the people who are a part of your “clique,” but the community as a whole. As a community, we have been divided against each other and organized into competing factions on critical issues and it just keeps getting worse.
Of all of the conversations and dialogues that were happening at the State of Black Miami, I thought that there would be someone who was willing to address the elephant in the room – the real problems in the Black community.
The second panel should have been on social and economic justice. These are very same topics that Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. Dubois, Marcus Garvey and others spoke about long before many of us were born and we are still talking about them to this very day. If social and economic justice were afforded equally to us all, then there wouldn't be any banking, housing and financial discrimination from the lender to the borrower. There are policies and procedures that have been in place for almost 100 years that prohibit African Americans from obtaining and creating generational wealth. But the only thing that I learned from the “State of Black Miami” is that those policies and procedures continue to thrive. I could’ve told you that in five minutes and saved you the five hours of fanfare.
I know that I can come across as pessimistic in my columns but it seems as though we don’t quite get it yet: Black Miami is under attack. We can no longer go-along to get along, or go with the flow. It’s time to stand up or pack up.
The gray area has been cremated by hopelessness, disenfranchisement, poverty and gentrification. So yes, I sound the alarm every week. Not because I’m some grumpy or bitter man swimming in negativity, but because we face an enemy whose new weapons and attacks are so clever that we actually find ways to aid their campaigns against us. It’s an enemy who has divided the courageous voices of our neighborhoods and forced them into their ego-bruised corners. An enemy whose purse strings now control 95% of our leadership. The other 5% are surrounded and vilified, slandered and harassed to discredit and silence them.
In the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, the State of Black Miami forums were held in the streets of Liberty City. Those forums were also known as race riots. And as businesses started to pull away from our neighborhoods because of the riots, we learned that Black folks didn’t get smarter as the problems got worse - we gave up. Gave up when we agreed to shop in Hialeah and Aventura for the next 30 years on Black Friday; gave up because we bought into every stereotype about us; and gave our enemy the trust and commitment needed to build their economies. And today, we commend our family members and neighbors when they’re granted a section-8 voucher, get a top-paying job or start a business that pays enough to get you out of “the hood” and put some cash into their pockets. What would our enemies do without us?
The State of Black Miami is a sad state, indeed. A state of mind that’s so bad in Miami that our enemies don’t have to do much anymore. A state of apathy and broken spirit, self-enrichment and generational indifference. Who, then, is the enemy of our state? Let’s put it this way, at the next State of Black Miami forum, there’s no need for speeches, reports or public hearings. Instead, erect a 10-foot tall mirror in the chambers of the County Commission and ask every Black man, woman and child to take two minutes to stand in reflection of both the enemy – and the answer. Stand up or pack up Black Miami.