business meeting, at a networking reception, during an industry conference, or in the course of a job interview. On the other hand, knowing the who, what, when, where, and, most important, why, can distinguish you as a person primed for opportunity. In the quest for economic and political power, whether you are perceived as informed or not can be the difference between being a player and being played.
“We live in an information society where information is power,” says NABJ Executive Director Samuel. “Whether you’re looking to buy a house, want to know who to support politically, or where to send your kids to school, you need information to make those decisions.”
In fact, you can’t effectively implement any of the 30 keys to empowerment mentioned in our editors’ stories unless you are committed to becoming as informed as you can on the news, trends, and changes that will impact your present and shape prospects for your future. Evidence of all of the above can and will be broadcast, printed, and spoken about in a news medium.
Rev. Al Sharpton, president, national action network on activism in the 21st century
Activism will be extremely important in the 21st century. We have the double burden now of not only continuing our march toward em-powerment — both economic and political — but also of protecting the gains made in the 20th century. Without that, major corporations will not be held accountable, nor will major political parties or officeholders, nor will we be able to galvanize our community to support our own businesses. Take, for example, things like the Madison Avenue Initiative, where we hold the advertising industry accountable, and things like the political movements surrounding voter registration, and trying to empower our people by getting ourselves into office: these things will not happen without community activism. They never have and they never will.
Politically, we must register our people [to vote], but more important, we must give them reasons to register, and candidates who will stand up for those reasons. They must be aware that everything from racial profiling to the awarding of contracts — every decision made in their life — is made from some public policy. Therefore, we must be involved in the process that will make those decisions. The question is not whether we’re going to be involved, it’s about when we’re going to have a say-so.
For those who say that political action will not solve our problems, consider that everything — from your birth certificate to your death certificate, where you work, where you live, what kind of school you go to — is the result of some policy decision. By thinking that, you are really saying that you concede to letting someone else make the decisions for you, that your self-esteem is so low and that your confidence is so bankrupt, that you don’t think you can be a part of the process and make decisions for yourself. We must not tell ourselves that because we are in a new millennium, white America is [operating] in a