By Farrah Gray
I was recently introduced to the a singer named Eugene McDaniel’s, who once sang a song later to be made famous by Less McCann and Eddie Harris which was entitled “Trying To Make It Real, Compared To What?”
Many may have seen the breaking headlines about how rap mogul, 50 Cent became the “Four Hundred Million Dollar Man!”
While many may not agree with what “50” (as many call him) often represents in his music and his videos, we can all appreciate on some level the struggle he had in front of him as a young man. To go from the violence and strife of the South Jamaica section of Queens, NY (his well publicized history of drug dealing and having survived being shot 9 times) to owning a 10% share in a company which was recently bought out for an estimated $4.1 billion took grit, focus and determination. He truly lives up to the caveat put forth as the title of his popular film: “Get Rich or Die Tryin.”
As a youth, 50 Cent (a.k.a. Curtis Jackson) represented legions of urban youth, who see their circumstance as their all-encompassing reality and realm of possibility. The urban environment is an island in and of itself. There are walls all around this island with mirrors on the inside. People therein are typically only growing up to understand that they can be only what they can see. My mission as well as concerned stakeholders should be to break down those walls and shatter those mirrors so that the people once trapped can then see ALL of what they can be!
I humbly request that everyone demonstrate your support by making a special commitment within your power to promote the vision of a society in which this generation of urban youth achieve the confidence and skills they will need to become healthy, confident, competent and productive contributors to the social fabric of our communities and the world at large as successful adults.
The youth can gain height by standing on the shoulders of historical examples of successful African-Americans and can truly benefit from them.
One may look to 3 historical Black figures (Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, and Booker T. Washington) as brilliant men who took different paths to the same goal: Economic empowerment for the masses of Black people in America.
One may take pride in George Washington Carver, Benjamin Banneker and Charles Drew, who were the forefathers of African-American ingenuity by virtue of their inventions and contributions.
For those who aren’t entertainers or athletes and may not have the chance to draw from the rewards that those stations in life may often bring, there have to be other options. The possibility of success abounds wherever we are able to define our area of excellence and flourish accordingly.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that people in the isolated urban landscape are not being armed with the tools they need to be given a genuine chance of building a sense of dignity, self-worth, emotional and psychological well-being by being involved in the excitement and challenge of creating and taking non-traditional paths—one of those being self-employment/entrepreneurship.
One can look at a phenomenal woman like Janice Bryant-Howroyd, who founded Act-1 Group Staffing and Professional Services in 1978, with $718 Million in sales revenues in 2006. She exemplifies the strong entrepreneurial tradition in African-American society.
Up you mighty nation…You can accomplish what you will…by “Raising Intelligent Strong Economics” through financial literacy and economic empowerment…and all that it entails.
To quote a famous Louis Armstrong lyric I was inspired by from his song, “On The Sunny Side Of The Street,” which echoes my eternal motto on inner richness:
“I used to walk in the shade with them blues on parade
Now I’m not afraid… this rover has crossed over”
Entrepreneur, philanthropist and bestselling author and award-winning fashion designer Farrah Gray has inspired millions around the world through motivational speaking, economic evangelism and the strength of his example. Gray is also an agent of social change. His partnerships include the Kauffman Foundation, the Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation, National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Marrow Donor Program, among others.w