The “Other” and Success

Awake by 4:30 a.m.

Most mornings anyway. My senses are alert, my mind sharp. There are no distractions and in those hours, I treasure the stillness of the world around me.

Forty-five minutes later, I reach over for my phone. Now a habit, I surf through my favourite social media sites. News in a flash. With my interest piqued, I devote a few minutes to reading the content. Multiculturalism is the new buzz word but there are defining moments that prove the journey will be long and arduous when balancing this concept with the need to preserve cultural and racial identities.

This leads me to an interesting post by Richard Branson on his Virgin Blog. The title, “First ever Black Business Awards held in London”. Reactions to this post ranged from questioning why such an award was necessary to applause and support for an initiative that celebrates successful stories from black enterprises.

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Those who oppose the move frame their discontent with the belief that by describing the initiative as Black British Business awards, the initiative reeks of attempts to discriminate. But is that the intention of such award ceremonies? I do not believe such is the case.

People of colour are more likely to understand why this is a grand gesture. That is because their experiences have taught them and reinforced that contrary to what is desirable, (that of a level playing field), biases exist.

I want to share why I believe black-owned businesses should host events/initiatives much like this one. It is not about discrimination.

Through the black lens, the aim I dare say, coincides with the statement of Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Businesses.

“If we are to build a stronger, fairer, more modern society, we need to do more to back the achievements of the black entrepreneurs that are celebrated at these awards today.”

As much as we dream of a more inclusive culture, we are not quite there as yet. Imagine a child being exposed to business celebrities other than those who succeed in sports and entertainment. Imagine the powerful connection, like a surge of energy, when a child is able to identify with the image of someone that looks like him/her. Mainstream media continues to push images that do not reflect the composition of the world. The creation of an alternative space to reflect the contributions of those who are shunned by powerful media interests, exposes the world to other beautiful stories of resilience, courage and success.

Recognizing the efforts of the black community raises an awareness that shifts our narrative away from labels that seek to destroy than encourage black success.

© Suzette Henry Campbell 2014

Resources for additional reading

Fairlie, R. W., & Robb, A. M. (2007). Why Are Black‐Owned Businesses Less Successful than White‐Owned Businesses? The Role of Families, Inheritances, and Business Human Capital. Journal of Labor Economics, 25(2), 289-323.

John N. Ingham (2003). Building Businesses, Creating Communities: Residential Segregation and the Growth of African American Business in Southern Cities, 1880–1915. Business History Review, 77, pp 639-665. doi:10.2307/30041232.

Clarke, T. H. (2014) Bridging the Diaspora Divide

Photo Credit: SHC/2014


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