I am a difficult man to figure, I admit. It does not help that I am not ‘trying’ to fit into some pre-defined stereotype or pre-defined ‘box’ of understanding. I am not trying to ‘master an existing game.’
I am genuinely trying — in my own way — to change it. Mostly for the people without a voice. The poor, the working poor, the working class, and the struggling middle class. The ‘teetering class.’
People without the resources, or the political clout maybe, to accurately represent themselves in the marketplace of aspirational attainment today. People who are seemingly invisible, in a positive sense, to capitalism and the free enterprise system. People who are only ‘seen,’ when they can be used.
People without the power, maybe, to be their own ‘best advocate’ here.
We want to be that bridge for them.
With only one agenda — helping people to reclaim themselves. To help set people free in the 21st century, though the aspirational attainment of their own ‘self-determination.’ We believe that the new, 21st century definition of freedom is self-determination.
I also have, to be clear, no political agenda — partisan, nonpartisan or otherwise. In short, I have zero political ambitions, which makes it even harder I am sure, to ‘understand me.’ Everyone I run into seems to want to run for some political office. I respect that. We need that. I do not want this for myself. respectfully, this is simply not my lane, my contribution, or my purpose. God put me here to do something else.
I am a businessman and an entrepreneur — and now I want to use any accumulated power and influence I have, to help others. I want to help open up the free enterprise system to involve and help lift more many, many more people.
Or to quote my personal hero and mentor, and the Global Spokesman for Operation HOPE, Ambassador Andrew Young, “to live in a system of free enterprise, but to not understand the ‘rules’ of free enterprise, must be the very definition of slavery.”
Many people also don’t understand why I am not more ‘angry’ at the state of things, in our community, and in our world. The answer here is simple — anger is not a strategy. Anger is an emotion, and an unhelpful one when you need to actually make really important decisions. No big decision you have ever made, was made better because you added anger to it.
I fully recognize that there are serious problems — including racism and police brutality — but I simply believe that we have to figure out what we are ‘for’ in this world. And then we must go about the business of moving on those thing. In this case, for the benefit of millions of others, here and around the world. No people, community or nation — was built based on ‘what it was against.’
The just published Rolling Out Magazine article really hit the mark, on me, my views and on this new ‘silver rights’ movement (which fully compliments, I might add, the traditional civil rights movement we all benefit from today).
One thing they printed which I said — which again will be controversial, and I am sure will be taken out of context by some — is ‘if we are not careful, we will achieve perfect justice (in the Black community), and no jobs.’
At the end of the day, jobs are what our community needs most, and we have to be careful not to scare them — and future employers — away from the brilliant minds we have throughout our community.
We must now, ‘integrate the money,’ and not just the lunch counters. To quote my friend Van Jones, who will be with us at the Annual Meeting this week, “the best way to stop a bullet, is a job.”
I commend the writer Maurice ‘Mo’ Barnes, and the Rolling Out team. You can read the piece in full here.
John Hope Bryant