(Readers: Please note the blog is constructed as a story. While not all chapters are linked, after reading a few recent entries, you might want to start at the beginning. More about the blog and about the author. )

Jordan and Rock Man have been 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?”

Scene: Jordan, early morning, sitting alone outside at a coffee shop.

Jordan’s thoughts. “What have I gotten myself into? Where is this project to rebrand the black community really going? Trying to rebrand sounds good in theory but can it really happen?”
Male    Jordan, my man, this is a 40-50 year project, maybe longer. Why do you think little old you can make any difference?
You have all the wrong characteristics – white, not young by most standards, no real experience similar to the lives of many people who will be involved…and a personality profile that suggests you are more akin to a scientist than someone comfortable in front of the public.
Besides, what’s the payback? A lot of frustrated people? But then again, this is the kind of project you have always taken on – complex, longer range, difficult to implement and a lot of resistance.
Reminds me of the woodworking class you started in Connecticut many years ago. The first night students were to bring a piece of wood to make something out of. What do you bring? A big hunk of wood from a maple tree that had been cut down recently. The instructor said the wood and my proposed project were too complicated. I never went to the second class. Why did I remember that after all these years?
blank-paper Same situation when assigned to the GM EV1 (electric vehicle). The interview consisted of being asked to develop demand for electric vehicles worldwide and put the staff together to support the effort. When I asked for guidelines, I was given a blank piece of paper.
And so it has gone over the years. Many projects have started with blank pieces of paper. Some were successful, some were not. The lack of clarity for this project is no different.
But, really, why this project? I have no real skin in the game. In fact I’m not sure the guy I think should run the project (Rock Man) has any real skin in the game. Great background but it has been years since he was living the life of many in the black community. He might have lost his credibility, or even worse, his desire to get involved. Life is very comfortable for him.
If I just let this idea fade away…I mean, who will really know other than Rock Man? Of course, I will have to look at myself in the mirror. But over time most of us are able to overlook or rationalize our faults.
I know the project feels like a mitzvah but what an undertaking. And what’s my involvement supposed to be?
Am I more effective at putting out the idea and letting others, like Rock Man, run with it. Should I increase exposure to the idea by promoting it more? I really do not want to get sucked into a no-win project. At the same time, as best I can tell, no one else is making a similar effort.
Is this project such an uphill battle that it is impossible? The culture in part of the black community is so different that I have a hard time understanding certain behavior. One real head scratcher is the response to aggravation. Why would you destroy something in your own neighborhood as revenge?
The riots 50+ years ago in Newark, LA and Detroit had similar patterns of behavior – blacks looted and burned stores in the neighborhood. Why? I understand being frustrated, even angry, but why destroy something in your own neighborhood?
The pattern continues today. The protests in a suburb outside St. Louis showed blacks looting and burning neighborhood stores.
Connecting Dots Doesn’t anyone think about the consequences? What merchant, especially a large national chain, is going to invest in a neighborhood where residents will loot and/or burn the store if they become angry? If the community cannot connect the dots with something this simple, then how are they going to support the proposed positioning?
Maybe this project should be more about teaching common sense and making sure people understand actions have consequences. Trying to reposition the black community may be way too advanced for what’s required to begin making change.
I need to think about this project some more.” (Voice) “Excuse me, Jordan, may I join you?”