VisibilityMatters.us is proud to sponsor Minnesota: Moving Forward, a series of conversations to help African American leaders come together and lead. The goal of Minnesota: Moving Forward is to inspire you to find your voice no matter where you are in your leadership journey.
If we don't change the way we lead, teach each other, and connect with our shared missions, we will find ourselves in worse conditions than we've ever seen before. It is up to us to change how we see our future moving forward.
Based on the U.S. Census, African Americans represent 6.8% of Minnesota's population. According to Minnesota Compass, people of color make up the fastest-growing segment of our community. They are twice as likely to live in poverty, are less likely to graduate from high school on time, and are less likely to own their own homes. We asked our panelist for one action step to help each of us contribute to moving Minnesota Forward by supporting community organizations, businesses, and leaders.
How can we support our community organizations?
The African American Leadership Forum is using our social and financial capital to build capacity and infrastructure so that we can be a hub for the community.
By convening, collaborating, and championing efforts to influence change in education, economics, health, and wellness, and family and culture.
The African American Leadership Forum sees four types of leaders (thought leader, influencer, builder, and ambassador) who already interact throughout the community and seeks to coordinate the efforts to have a greater impact.
In addition to providing leadership development through programs like the Josie Johnson fellowship, African American Leadership Forum is focused on changing the narrative around our history and issues through various convenings of town halls, a biweekly town hall on Facebook, and a podcast with Dr. Sylvia Bartley.
Action: Become a contributor to the forum. We help leaders apply their thought leadership community problems. Joining the African American leadership forum is a great way to figure out how to activate your specific talents and tools and how to get connected so the community knows what you do and how you can help.
How can we support small businesses?
Racism in Minnesota was challenging for African American owned businesses before COVID 19 and the destruction in North Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Systemic racism in financing and real estate exacerbates existing barriers in education limiting access to capital, mentorship, and relationships to be able to have the same opportunities as others.
Everyone has a role to play in encouraging more African Americans to start and sustain businesses here. Giving back can come in many meaningful forms including:
Challenge organizations to provide more working capital to African American owned businesses.
Building relationships so you can share opportunities and advocate for qualified organizations.
Teaching and mentoring African American business owners on how to navigate systems, expand their businesses, and make introductions to the right people to move forward.
Investing in small businesses as a consumer, advocate, or if they have the structure for investors, grants, or sponsors.
Action: To increase the longevity and profitability of African Americans, there must be collective investments following the examples of native-born Africans in our community, to create spaces we own and operate.
Connect with African American employee networks in Minnesota’s corporations and to teach how getting engaged with small businesses can help them overcome the isolation of corporate America.
Invest in a fund or community development corporation to create vehicles for investment. Check out the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce, NEON, or the Black Women’s Alliance.
How can we support our African American leaders?
The challenge with low representation is that our leaders are stretched and if they don’t sit in multiple seats, often many of them unpaid or low salaries, the African American community will potentially have no representation or perspective or influence.
Out of the 134 members in the Minnesota House of Representatives, there are 4 Black State Representatives including African Americans, Rena Moran District 65A, and Ruth Richardson 52B.
Out of the 67 members in the Minnesota State Senators, there are two African American Senators Bobby Joe Champion (D 52 DFL), Assistant Minority Leader Jeff Hayden (D 62 DFL).
The lack of representation leads to leaders being less effective and has detrimental effects on our health.
The legacy of 400 years of oppression is trauma. We need to demand and expect more than one African American leader at the table and support their effectiveness, health, and wellbeing by protecting their time and energy.
Action: Be willing to answer the call to serve yourself to take up another seat at the table. Build relationships with leaders to understand what they need and expand their support.
Engage in your community by participating in forums to become aware of opportunities to learn and build your credibility.
Advocate for lasting change, by overhauling the systems by introducing policies that support our businesses and provide access to appropriations.
We have 26 Black women running for office at all levels, what’s your commitment to support them?
What’s one action you’d like the audience to take?
Declare racism a public health and safety crisis. African Americans from cradle through careers face racism that leads to worse outcomes. We need the same coordination and immediate efforts we’ve seen the government deploy for COVID-19 to change the Anti-Black systems killing us. This is not a week-long problem, it’s going to take ongoing focus and demand that we see real changes.
Protest where you are. Demand that African Americans are treated with humanity whether it’s political, social, economic, or in the media. Stand up for justice and hold organizations and individuals accountable. It takes each of us being an activist to make a difference. If you are scared to do it alone, find a group, and do it together.
Ask yourself: what do I have to offer? Who am I, what do I bring to the table? Assess your skills and readiness so you can lock arms with our leaders and move forward. Connect with the African American Leadership Forum and find where you can contribute your time, talent, or treasure.
Action: Stay connected by texting ADVOCATE to 66866.
Stay informed about events and opportunities to engage with the African American community in the Twin Cities.
Learn how you can be intentional about how you contribute, where you shop, where you send your kids, where you seek entertainment, every decision can make a positive impact.
Reminders to vote in the Minnesota primary election on August 11, 2020, and the general election on November 3, 2020.
Minnesota: Moving Forward Resources
To learn more about the disparities facing African Americans in Minnesota visit http://www.mncompass.org/disparities/overview
To learn more about the African American Leadership Forum visit http://www.tcaalf.com/
To support AALF’s Community Healing
To support AALF’s Business Support
To join the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce: https://www.mnblackchamber.org/membership-account/membership-levels/
To learn more about the Northside Economic Opportunity Network https://www.neon-mn.org/
To learn more about the Black Women’s Alliance https://www.bwwa-us.com/
For more information on how to register to vote and find your legislative district:
To connect with State Representative Ruth Richardson http://www.ruthforhouse.com/
To learn more about Leverette, Weekes & Co., Inc. leadership development and communications https://www.leveretteweekes.com/