Scene: Pizza joint with Jordan and Rock Man discussing ideas to help get blacks off the bottom rung of the economic ladder. Initial episode for this section begins #67 “Why Do Blacks Remain at the Bottom of the Economic Ladder?”

Rock Man: “OK, let me grab the napkin write down we talked about. What were the key words? Black community is ‘vibrant,’ ‘educated,’ fun loving,’ ‘respectful and respected,’ ‘independent thinking’ and ‘supportive.’”
Jordan: “What do you think about dropping ‘fun loving’? Fun loving can be part of ‘vibrant.’ I know the words are a bit different but we want to stay away from any words that might have a negative connotation.”
Black Positioning Rock Man: “I’ll buy dropping fun loving. What else?”
Jordan: “’Respectful’ is good. ‘Respected’ is what one earns.”
Rock Man: “I thought being respected is what this whole effort was about – gaining respect.”
Jordan: “Just think what you said. Respect is earned by actions. One cannot declare ‘you must respect me.’ Respect is earned…and earned over time.”
Rock Man: “I know we are early in the process but how long do you think this rebranding effort is going to take. I don’t mean the number of our sessions but how long before there is a marked changed in the perception of the black community?”
Jordan: “You mean how many generations is it going to take.”
Rock Man: “Really?”
Jordan: “Really. But what can change quickly is beginning to earn respect for trying. I think you will be surprised how many people and groups, even groups that you might consider anti black, will start supporting a well thought-out program.”
Rock Man: “Think so?”
Jordan: “Positive. But…and this is an important but…progress by the community has to be real and continuous. People understand progress will not be easy or smooth. But the black community needs to make steady progress toward achieving its positioning.”
Rock Man: “Let me just try a more structured positioning statement. ‘The black community is vibrant, educated, supportive, respectful with independent thinking.’”
Jordan: “That’ll work for now. Let’s start to drill down and begin analyzing where the community is now. Rebranding includes a number of variables. The very first step is finding out where we are today.”
010114_1917_19RockManCo1.png Rock Man: “I know where we are. Let’s start working on solutions. Besides you said you said not to drive looking though the rearview mirror.”
Jordan: “I know about the rearview mirror. However, you are about ready to change lanes. Think you should check to see if a semi-truck is barreling down in the left lane?”
Rock Man: “OK but can we make finding out ‘where are we?’ quick? I want to get to solutions.”
Jordan: “Relax. Getting ready to begin rebranding is going to take a while. As I said, at least 4-5 sessions, maybe longer. Worse, at time the questions will seem almost confrontational.”
Rock Man: “Alright. Start firing away.”
Jordan: “What do you think the perception of the black community is today?”
Rock Man: “You talking about perception among whites or among blacks?”
Jordan: “Either one. No, start with whites.”
Rock Man: “You and I might have different views.”
Jordan: “Probably so but that is one reason for these questions. You are on stage, so let’s hear it.”
Rock Man: “Based on my experience…Jordan, this is not a pleasant task.”
Jordan: “…get to the point Rock Man.”
Rock Man: “Many whites view blacks as undereducated, unmotivated with their handout for government assistance. Plus, a high percentage are criminals. That is not a pleasant description.”
Jordan: “I think the perception is fair. Notice I did not say your description was ‘reality,’ but said what the perception was.”
Rock Man: “How do blacks view the black community? Discriminated against, disadvantaged and not respected?”
Jordan: “Alright. Now at least we have two perceptions, neither of which is good. One can argue about the exact words but I think both perceptions are reasonably close.”
shovel_ready Rock Man: “So we…the black community…have dug ourselves into a hole. A very big hole.”
Jordan: “Agreed. Now let’s talk about the product.”
Rock Man: “What do you mean by ‘product’?”
Jordan: “Normally one thinks of a product as some type of hard good – clothing, automobile, electronic equipment. In this case the product is the black community. What does the black community look like?”
Rock Man: “You mean like an area of the city where the food store is black owned and the food geared toward the black community. Is that what you mean?”
Jordan: “Yes. Describe the look and feel of the neighborhood if there is a black neighborhood. There might not be one.”
Rock Man: “Let’s start with businesses because that’s easier. A variety of black-owned businesses serving the community. I mentioned the food store. Also, clothing stores, hair salons, cleaners, restaurants, gas stations, movie theaters. Something like we had growing up only more upscale and modern.”
Jordan: “Good description.”
backwards-day Rock Man: “Question. Is what I described going backwards for blacks? We don’t want to retreat to life in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, at least what I know about that life.”
Jordan: “And what part of that life was negative…and what was positive?”
Rock Man: “The negative part was being poor with rampant discrimination.”
Jordan: “What was good?”
Rock Man: “Sense of a community – family, church and lots of friends. All poor but lots of friends.”
Jordan: “What I heard you describe for blacks going forward was a community but without the poverty.”
Rock Man: “What about discrimination?”
Jordan: “You know and I know there will be some level of discrimination for decades, even generations. The level of discrimination will decline over time but some discrimination is always going to be there.”
Rock Man: “One think I left out of product – housing. Nice houses, well maintained. Some single family, some multi-family but all look nice and people are proud to be part of the neighborhood.”
Jordan: “What about subsidized housing?”
Rock Man: “We need to get rid of what people call ‘projects.’ I know we need some low-income housing but make it attractive.”
Jordan: “What about schools?”
Rock Man: “This section might take a while. I need to take a quick break.”

To be continued

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