October 20, 2010
Black Expo South - Jacksonville Florida
Strength and Unity
The presence of strength and unity for minority businesses in
Northeast Florida was once again displayed at the Black Expo in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Prime Osborn was filled with heart thumping R&B music that permeated
the atmosphere. The electrifying energy was so contagious that young
adults in attendance minds were filled with the entrepreneurial spirit
that business owners at the Black Expo have already embraced.
Exposure and Empowerment
The Black Expo exposes businesses to opportunities to collaborate with
each other and expand their presence in other business networks and the
potential for joint ventures. Providing an occasion to put a face to the
name of their business for the public. Black Enterprise magazine, to
solidify the mission of the Expo, “that as businesses minorities with a
business mindset can bring power to the African American community.”
Not only was economic power displayed, but dispelling myths of the
minority community having a “crab mentality or slave mentality” of
pulling each other down as each works towards economic success. The
opposite was shown with businesses not only helping each other, but
sharing successful business ideologies, networking tips, future project collaboration and increasing the awareness of business to the youth/teens
that will be the future business owners of Northeast Florida.
The physical and vocal presence of up and coming E3 Business Group, Inc.
whose Executive Director Anthony Butler, Sr. established history at this
years Expo being the first entrepreneurial entity to have 6 vendor booths
under the E3 umbrella. The exposure of this type of presence allows E3
Business Group to show not only the business aspects of sharing knowledge,
resources and economic empowerment, but how businesses must embrace the
concept of participating more on the grassroots level of participation
in community endeavors. That being said, E3 made it known that their
presence is growing in Northeast Florida and inviting the public to the upcoming “Are You Living Color” forum that will be held on Thursday,
January 27th 2010, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Northeast
Florida and other local businesses. RTRC II is an opportunity for fortune
500 companies, small businesses, churches, educational institutions, and
community oriented organizations to show their commitment to racial equity,
cultural competency, and economic diversity.
Importance of Minority Businesses
The importance of minority businesses is sometimes down played or not
addressed at all and is not fully realized by the public at large nor
some of the current political candidates that are running for the Mayoral
title. The only candidate that has been consistently recognized is Alvin
White whose presence at the Black Expo events, business forums and
participation has set him above others because of his understanding and
commitment to the growth and expansion of all businesses even embracing
minority businesses. Those business entrepreneurs that have a presence
in the African American community, the Hispanic, Latino, Haitian, Mexican,
and other diverse peoples of the Northeast Florida consortium of business
owners. Their voices should be heard because of the monies they contribute
to the City of Jacksonville, Florida. The current administration sometimes
turns a deaf ear to diverse organizations, down playing their influence in
our growing diversifying community.
Healthy Living Addressed
Blue Cross and Blue Shield brought to light the health aspects of healthy
living and awareness of being proactive to health concerns. Testing for
various health related conditions were available; on a personal note I
appreciated the dedication, hard work, and professionalism of the doctors,
nurses and other health professionals of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Northeast Florida, encouraging me to avail myself to their services to be tested for
high blood pressure, diabetes and prostate cancer. Being in the age range
of 45 to 55, and the changes that occur during the aging process,
minorities need to be proactive in their health awareness.
Our (minority men and women) chances of high blood pressure, colon cancer,
breast cancer, visual degeneration, and diabetes increases with age.
Cheryl Williams, RN states that minorities need to be proactive with their
health concerns. Even if they do not have complete insurance coverage,
the costs will be significantly higher if there is a
serious illness that needs to be addressed later. Ms. Williams has been
a professional nurse for over 20 years and has seen a decline in minorities particularly seniors and those in their early 20s and 30s going to the
doctors for routine checkups that can allow for early detection and early
treatment. Early detection lowers the cost of health care because of the
preventive aspects. The presence of the Department of Health reminded us
that testing for HIV/AIDS is imperative to protect oneself and loved ones.
The DEEN Fitness Center works to promote physical fitness in the community,
their diabetes classes being offered by Melinda Henry extends the
understanding of the personal treatment of diabetes.
The workshops available were relevant to technology and business.
William Jackson of DCPS and E3 addressed Social Media and Social Networks;
The issues of Sexting, Texting and Cyberbullying. So well received and
needed for the community that Mr. Jackson has offered this workshop to
community groups, churches, schools and other entities that feel the
need to address this growing issue locally and nationally.
Blacksonville of Jacksonville, Florida as well presented a powerful
workshop in how businesses are using social media, social networking
to create avenues of partnership and collaboration.
The additional workshops addressed finance, Human Resource,
insurance, and obtaining capital to start or operate a business.
Diversity and Forward Thinking
The conclusion of the Black Expo should not be the end of business
connectivity, on the contrary it should be the start and continuation
of collaborative networking. The spark to increase business joint
ventures within the minority and non-minority community, to
encourage the connection of grassroots entrepreneurialship and
growing into mainstream enterprises.
Parents have a responsibility to encourage their children to dream
beyond just being involved in sports, but to foster a business
mindset early. The statistics show that the majority of athletes
do not make it into the professional realm so must fall back on
education and alternative career aspirations. To many minority
youth have tunnel vision in their careers for sports, when the
vision of business and entrepreneurial potential
should be made a priority. The need for students and job seekers
to redefine their careers according to values and passion is
important for growth in communities. The passion for sports needs
to be extended for education and business and recognized the
necessity for diversity in its ranks at all levels of age
Quotes from notable African American such as W.E.B. DuBois'
states that “the most gifted 30% of the black population will
lead the rest”; as I feel as an educator, business consultant,
and mentor. If we can bring money to bear in our communities
and employ it with the right ideas and talent, we can build
businesses, create jobs and provide returns for investors either
Black, Hispanic, Latino, White, Asian, Haitian, or other ethnic
groups. We must all embrace each others vision so collectively we
can bring economic prosperity to the community as a WHOLE not
allowing parts to decay, decline and die. Ultimately this decay
affects the whole community, when one community hurts the whole
community hurts. ”I would tell young people to start where they
are with what they have and that the secret of a big success is
starting with a small success and dreaming bigger and bigger
dreams, I would tell them also that a young Black woman
or a young Black man can't dream too much today or dare too much
if he or she works hard, perseveres and dedicates themselves to
John Johnson, Johnson Publishing Company founder.