Friday, May 17th I had the pleasure of attending an event that benefitted me in more ways than one. Not only were South Florida’s most powerful Black businessmen and women in attendance at the Say It Loud Power Party hosted by Legacy Magazine and Circle Of One Marketing, but the most beautiful and accomplished.
The Bonaventure Resort & Spa in Weston, Florida served as the perfect backdrop for what turned out to be an evening of mixing, mingling and dancing. The weather behaved, the pool sparkled, the birds sang and all was picture perfect from the moment I arrived until the time I left.
The caliber of the event, the professionals in attendance and the accommodations were first class all the way, and as I drifted from person to person putting faces to the names I see online and in the media regularly I couldn’t help but think, “A year and a half ago when I arrived in South Florida, who would have thought I’d be in such esteemed company.”
Neither did I imagine I’d capture the attention of the American Black Film Festival and be selected as their first South Florida Delegate. Heck, I had never even heard of the ABFF! But I digress.
I entitled this article We Are One not because of the unity I observed that evening but because of the conversation I had with Mr. Basil M. Bernard, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Apricot Office Interiors. I had anticipated evenings and events like this when I thought about relocating here but I had no idea about the diversity among the Black South Floridians.
On the West Coast, if you are “Black” you’re either African-American or African for the most part. Here, on the other hand, if you’re “Black” you might be either Cuban, Haitian, Jamaican or African-American, for the most part. That came as a total surprise. But Mr. Bernard put it all in perspective for me when he said something to the effect of “The police don’t care where you’re from, if you’re Black, you’re Black.” (I hate quoting folks, please correct me if you read this, Mr. Bernard!)
That being said, being a child of the Sixties, I’ve always been more concerned with our similarities and common destiny than our differences and that’s been my perspective since the day I arrived. When I formed South Florida’s Black Professionals, I had no idea or concern that it would attract such a diverse group of Black Professionals and entrepreneurs. To me, if you were Black, you were Black.
That doesnt mean I haven’t come to gain an enormous appreciation for the distinct cultures among us. On the contrary, I admire greatly the history and accomplishments of each. But as Black people in America, we are far less of a force in our own personal ethnic enclaves or building our own personal kingdoms.
African-Americans know all too well that what keeps us weak is us embracing our differences and the “crabs in a barrel” mentality. So this has become one of my prime objectives as CEO of South Florida’s Black Professionals: to encourage and promote unity among us all. It is reflected in our leadership as well as in our membership.
As the Scriptures say, we are no respecter of persons and we appreciate each and every person’s humanity and gift. If you are ambitious, entrepreneurial and accomplished, you are part of the solution that Black America is desperately in need of and we salute you. Again, be proud of your history, culture and native country, but never ever forget .. in America, We Are One.