BE Smart recently sat down with Deanna Hamilton, a vice president at the National Black MBA Association. Concerned about the apathy she’s encountering in some students, we discussed issues in the black community and possible solutions.
Here is Part 2 of that discussion, edited below. To read Part 1, go here.
BlackEnterprise.com: What about gentrification? Why isn’t gentrification, which is raising the tax base, improving urban schools?
Hamilton: Because the gentrifiers are not attending those schools, so the city council president is not demanding that more dollars go toward the education system vs., for example, roads. Voting matters. Whom you put in office determines what you will see in your community.
If my child isn’t in the schools, I may be more concerned with a candidate who will ensure that the roads I drive on are safe and in good repair.
What do we need to do to turn things around?
Ultimately, we need to decide who is going to address the needs in the black community. NBMBAA has a network that can assist in that process, but it’s going to take a coalition of us to do it. We need to see a change in the value system and the mindset about the importance of education in the black community. It has to be a coordinated effort and very intentional. We need to move back into and invest in black communities.
African American women in particular are building million-dollar businesses at a rate never before seen in history. If we can do that in our own community and employ black people to start rebuilding our communities, and get back to that environment that was pre-60s and 70s—then we will start to take ownership of and place value in the community, and begin to help the schools and families, and create programs that take a holistic approach, that invest in the community and encourage economic development.
We also need to get private industry to invest in community building. That will strengthen the working class in those communities. But the one thing we must all know for sure: Education is the great equalizer and the only thing that can never be taken away from you. It is the only thing that will move the needle forward.