Where We Must Go From Here

President and COO of Black Enterprise Earl "Butch" Graves Jr. provides an outlook for the next 30 years

We have not arrived. We’ve come a long way as a magazine, as a company, and as a people over the past 30 years, but we have not arrived. And we must keep pressing forward.

It is entirely appropriate, and even necessary, to stop and celebrate milestones reached during a great journey, just as the 30th anniversary of the publishing of the first issue of black enterprise has inspired us to reflect on the triumphs and lessons of our pilgrimage toward true economic freedom and empowerment. I’m particularly proud to serve alongside my father, Earl Graves Sr., as he leads our magazine and our company into a new century.

However, we can’t afford to tarry too long in our celebrations. We have great distances to go and little time to waste. Increasingly rapid technological change is forcing us to respond to challenges with laserlike precision, and to exploit opportunities at lightning speed.

The question remains as simple as it is constant for African Americans: Where do we go from here? The answer, as always, is not so simple. In a new economy jam-packed with daunting challenges and amazing opportunities, there will be more than one route and more than a few unexpected obstacles and detours. Yet, no matter the terrain we end up covering in our quest for full and equitable participation in the global marketplace, there are at least three imperatives we must address if we are to complete the next leg of that quest successfully in the decades to come.

First, we must make multigenerational wealth building an absolute priority for all African Americans. We have to move beyond merely making money to accumulating wealth through saving and investing in mutual funds, securities, Treasuries, and other assets that appreciate in value and boost our individual and collective net worth. Despite a strong economy and incomes that have increased for most African Americans during the past 30 years, if we don’t get serious about spending less and more wisely, and saving and investing more, we will not accumulate the wealth necessary to finance higher education for ourselves and our children, provide capital for the start-up and development of more and larger black-owned companies, and support and strengthen the institutions necessary to thriving and politically powerful black communities. The difference between us joining the haves rather than the have nots — no matter how many designer labels we sport, how many luxury cars we own, or how large our paychecks — will be our ability to commit a portion of every dollar of income we earn to investing in assets that are likely to appreciate in value over time and can be passed on to future generations.

Second, we must be zealots in our pursuit of mastering technology and computer literacy for ourselves and our children. Understanding how to make current and emerging technologies work for us will be the key to our very survival. We must take full advantage of the potential of technology as a great equalizer against the racism we continue to face

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