"I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008, but it didn't happen overnight. It took me 30 years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me, but they want to achieve it overnight. It is not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, the tenacity of purpose is supreme."
― Aliko Dangote, Nigerian Businessman | April 10, 1957 (age 63 years)
This “Black Empowerment Manifesto” is the brainchild of me (Errol A. Gibbs). I penned it after 50 years (1970 – 2020) of observing the challenges that blacks face in the North American Diaspora, and worldwide. More importantly, observing and participating in the past 25 years (1995 – 2020) celebration of Black History Month (BHM) inspired the manifesto. The narratives should compel the reader to look towards the next 30 years (2020 – 2050) beyond aspiration to “collective action.”
The manifesto’s goal is to highlight this pivotal moment in history and to interrogate black status in the Canadian Diaspora. It proposes 15 Innovative Suggestions to augment some of the black empowerment strategies of yesteryear. The manifesto introduces new approaches to engender permanent solutions to unresolved problems of the past and current, and new and emerging challenges on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), or Industry 4.0. THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION IS HERE (4IR) - ARE YOU READY? (https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/08/13/the-4th-industrial-revolution-is-here-are-you-ready/#1800bd9c628b).
The manifesto proffers that the black community needs a Black History Month Scorecard (BHMSC) ―synonymous to a “dashboard,” with sufficient critical indicators to measure its progress in a broad spectrum of endeavours. Like the “dashboard” in an automobile and an aircraft, we need to understand the “internal” and “external” circumstances that impede and or promote black progress. It is not sufficient to know that we are making progress. We must know critically, by observation, and prescribed metrics ―on a continuum.
Black empowerment is the aggregate of all forms of progress. We have explored the nature of the challenges for decades; hence, the manifesto’s foci are “root cause,” and permanent macro-level solution initiatives. It does not examine reports in the archives of community organizations or commissioned reports by governments (past and present). One can think of the manifesto as a “big” picture, cogent “call-to-action,” underpinned by “forward-looking” ―deep philosophical thoughts about things that we may have overlooked, that demands great attention (Reference: A Black Empowerment Manifesto, p. 9.).
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
—Robert F. Kennedy (1925 – 1968)
WHAT IS EMPOWERMENT?
Empowerment is twofold. It exists in our “spiritual nature,” and our “physical nature.” The highest form of empowerment is “spiritual empowerment.” Spiritual empowerment makes other forms of empowerment in the physical realm, viable and lasting. Therefore, to attain, sustain, and maintain black empowerment, we must begin with lives of worship, service, obedience, care, unity, love, peace, hope, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, patience, non–discrimination, visitation, and charity.
The root word “power” adds complexity to the meaning of empowerment because antonyms such as powerlessness, weakness, and incapacity are not laudable human attributes. Hence, individuals, street gangs, and racially inspired groups pursue a socially, economically, and physically destructive concept of empowerment. Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) observed, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Empowerment has the moral and mental capacity to resist others dissecting humankind into different “agencies” such as race, colour, culture, gender, religion, education, or social and economic status. It is about “collective agency,” having the right information, and courage to take the right action to imbue peaceful “moral co-existence” and not acting against others, because one assumes power over them ―constitutional, legal, economic, or political.
WHAT IS COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT?
“Community Empowerment1 refers to enabling communities to increase control over their lives.” Communities are groups of people that may or may not be spatially connected; but share common interests, concerns, or identities. These communities could be local, national, or international, with specific or broad interests. 'Empowerment' refers to the process by which people gain control over the factors and decisions that shape their lives.
It is the process by which they increase their assets and attributes to build capacities to gain access, partners, networks, and or a voice to gain control. “Enabling” implies that people cannot “be empowered” by others; they can only empower themselves by acquiring more of power's different forms (Laverack, 2008). It assumes that people are their assets, and the role of the external agent is to catalyse, facilitate, or “accompany” the community in acquiring power.”
Can communities be empowered as a unified body in a multicultural society? The black community wrestles with this crucial question more so than other people of colour. The history of racial, social, cultural, and economic dislocation inhibits full inclusion as a unified community with others.
Where is our authentic homeland? Could it be Continental Africa, the countries of the Caribbean, North America, or Europe? Community empowerment begins with a sense of civilization, not just culture. Hence, divisions within cultures pose additional challenges that fragment the more definite focus of our community.
1WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) Track 1: Community Empowerment 7th Global Conference on Health Promotion: Track themes (https://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/7gchp/track1/en/).
WHY BLACK COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT?
Why, black community empowerment, you might ask? Should there be white community empowerment, brown empowerment, or other colours of empowerment? The answer is yes! This “Black Empowerment Manifesto” puts forward that people who experience a lack of empowerment should examine (judiciously) the preponderance of the evidence that they believe is impeding their progress. People should come together to create a vision, mission, and objectives to repurpose their existence relative to the “human ecosystem,”1 they find themselves in, either by choice or good and bad circumstances.
Black empowerment is not about exclusion. It is about the “bigger” goal of community empowerment, inclusive of black empowerment. Only empowered people can make their highest contribution to their community, the wider community, society, and nation, but empowerment demands empirical measures. Herein are fifteen practical measures of black empowerment that undergirds ―a compelling “call-to-action.”
1HUMAN ECOSYSTEM: GIBBS’ PERSPECTIVE: A viable “human ecosystem” nurtures human development (spiritual and social, educational and intellectual, safety and security, economic and ownership, and legal and political) to live “optimal” lives, rising to one’s fullest potential as participating human beings. Hence, the design of a viable HUMAN ECOSYSTEM to achieve these objectives must begin with the constitutions of countries that inform secular human laws. Likewise, the laws in principle and practice are the first principles of “moral elevation.” Hence, only a new and enlightened twenty-first-century constitution could begin the process of elevating all of humankind.