Friday, December 07, 2012

CAAO, Commerce and Cops

I am pleased to report that my stint as consulting executive director at the Consortium of African American Organizations ended, effective November 30, 2012. It was a great position from which to gain a strong sense of the pulse of the community, particularly with respect to the improving environment for minority business. In fact, I am of the opinion that prospects for a leap forward in that arena are strong.

I believe this is true for a variety of reasons. In the first place, Cleveland is becoming a community that appreciates entrepreneurship and is developing the infrastructure to nurture and support small business growth. Second, Cleveland has a growing number of talented and educated African American businessmen and women who are staking claims throughout our regional economic ecosystem. I see in place of the attitude that black people don’t merit a place at the economic table continues to recede — albeit too slowly — a growing appreciation of the fact that the success of Northeast Ohio depends on significant contributions of all sectors in our community.

This emerging and encouraging environment is due to several factors, not least of which is our community’s generational shift. That too is a slow but unmistakable and thankfully inevitable progression, and it is impacting pretty much all sectors: public, private and nonprofit. As that poet philosopher of social change, James Brown put it so memorably, “Money won’t change you, but time will take you on.”

For my part I am looking at opportunities to hasten and support these trends. I will be writing more about the evidence I see that supports the conclusions I have advanced here. But for now, take heart that things are getting better.

Except perhaps in the Cleveland Police Department. Let us hope and pray that some of the more than half of the police officers who took part in that senselesspolice pursuit of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams but didn’t fire their weapons, will come forward across that thin blue line. They should recognize that silent complicity in the rogue behavior of their colleagues stains their whole profession.

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