Written by Dr. Ben Dixon, a CIN member since 2005
Chris Rock jokes about Black people not reading… “If you want to hide something from Black folk, put in a book.” (Or, blog). Bill Cosby admonishes us about the “Black culture of victimhood.” Ouch! Sometimes, the truth hurts when it’s told.
Another truth to be told is that one of the most effective barriers to progress in the Black community has been us. Yes, some say our ignorance, greed and selfishness have done more to blunt our individual achievements and our collective development than any act of discrimination or UNEQUAL opportunity. Whether conscious or unconscious, it is an attitude that we must change immediately…particularly, as more of us attain the resources and position power to make a difference. Why? Because the gaps between the “haves” and the “have-nots” are getting wider as we speak. Solutions will not magically appear without a collective effort on our part. The current economic and social crisis facing this country today requires everyone, everywhere, especially in the Black community to work toward a better community. President Barack Obama said it well:
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Some of us in the Black community are determined to do something about the mindset and attitude that results in a slowing of the social, economic, educational, and legal progress our community needs and deserves. And, we are committed to being part of the solution and not silent contributors to the perpetuation of the barriers that keep many of us marginalized and victimized. All this was made clear at the recent Community Investment Network (CIN) Summit held at the historic Penn Center, at St. Helena Island, South Carolina.
The emerging national community improvement strategy, called Giving Circles, allows us to make a difference right where we live. A Giving Circle is more than a concept. It is a demonstration of the power of collaborative effort, through individual willingness to share time, talent and treasure, to improve our own situation without relying solely on “outside” resources and good will.
Giving Circles draw strength from and provide support to CIN, thereby achieving greater legitimacy and credibility at the local level. If Local Circles do not invest in CIN, its failure or lackluster progress will become another hurtful “Truth” to be told about the Black community. Let’s not let that happen. Let’s tell the stories of Black philanthropic efforts as a way to inspire others, and then let the world (and the Black community) “Read all about it.”
Benjamin Dixon, Ed.D., retired Virginia Tech V.P., advises, guides and assists leader managers of public, non-profit, corporate and community entities committed to making their organizations more diverse, inclusive, and productive. He founded an executive coaching, training and consulting company, called Sankofa Futures Consulting, LLC. Ben is a member of CIN and the giving circle New Mountain Climbers.