Beyoncé and Rev. Jesse Jackson have so much in common. The two motivate all of us to think about things. The songs that Beyoncé sings have us thinking she’s the queen, reigning supreme – musically and lyrically – sharing stories about what it means to be young, gifted, African American and talented. But it is in song, dance and performance only.
She says if you like it, “put a ring on it,” and the women go wild imagining what it would be like to be married to a successful entertainer, husband and businessman. She sets quite an example, an advocate for being a mother, an advocate for being very in tune with her mother and sister, to being involved with issues that include attendance at fundraisers with her husband and President Barack Obama.
Yet, there are those who must advocate like Rev. Jesse Jackson for other individual causes. The fact that not one billion or two billion, but several billion dollars worth of bonds were purchased by Verizon without including any African American investment bankers raises ears. How is this possible? In this day and time, a major corporation and even the individual investment bankers wouldn’t want African Americans to participate in a guaranteed deal. But Rev. Jackson is advocating for African American investment bankers to have a presence.
When we think about the fact that social media vehicles like Facebook are going public, are we thinking about following Beyoncé? Or are we thinking about who will advocate for a seat at the table for African Americans to participate in the IPO [Initial Public Offering] of Twitter and who participated in the past of the IPO of Facebook?
Advocacy has to be something that we do without shame. Just like Beyoncé is happy to place her face on a soda can that will help many to enjoy a refreshing drink. It will also help many to decide if obesity is a path they should choose based on their own individual discipline. It is these factors that we have to take into account … advocacy for the poor, advocacy for African American ad agencies to participate at auto summit. It is at this year’s conference, the 13th Annual Global Automotive & Energy Summit, that Rev. Jackson, and the CEOs of Toyota USA and GM all sat down to discuss the urgency and importance of doing business with African Americans. These conversations and this level of advocacy isn’t taking place on the music industry forefront. We’re not advocating for modern, economic reparations through our participation and increasing shareholder value by being unconscious consumers.
When we sing these songs, we must also take the songs to heart about the truth of the state of the African American economic community and understand the name and the reason that Rev. Jackson named his organization PUSH, pushing forward an agenda in favor of those who wouldn’t otherwise have health care, pushing forward for those who might be hungry and need an extension on their Food Stamps. Pushing forward so that African Americans can be a part of a major stage when it was not popular for African Americans to fill arenas, African Americans to be pictured on soda cans. These progresses and effective marketing are due to advocating inclusion, including individuals like Beyoncé, before she was born, and the naming of the organization that dealt with pushing forward, not falling back.
We must think about these things, because as a community, being united and understanding the journey that Rev. Jackson has taken, should not polarize us against him.
It is here that we understand the difference between celebrity and advocacy. It is here that we think of the collective progress versus the individual progress consistent with celebrity. Inclusion and collective success need to be more commonplace. It should be used to measure participation in our community and how our advancement serves as a barometer that shows how we can move forward an agenda that is inclusive of the entire community.
The high school dropout rate in our community is too high. Those who are advocating for better school systems aren’t typically the Top 40 music stars. We’re not challenging others; we’re only challenging ourselves. We’re not challenging just the popular, we should challenge the community as a whole who can look at itself and say, “we are somebody.”
The sayings spoken by Rev. Jesse Jackson, when we needed to hear them like, “I am somebody.” It was important for him to say it then and it’s important for us to repeat it now and respect those who have been on the battlefield. Our humanity is in understanding not everyone’s perfect, but they are advocating for those of us whose voices can’t be heard on the radio, video and popular screen – TV. Rev. Jackson is saying it loud. He even tells CEOs that we deserve to participate in the trillion-dollar economy that we are often omitted from, particularly those of us in business for ourselves.
Say it loud, Beyoncé we’re proud but say it loud and understand that Rev. Jackson is motivated to help and discuss things that are not on everyone’s lips or heard on the radio.