To form a community, a common vision must create unity amongst people and inspire them to action.
I spent the last few days focusing my awareness on issues that affect us as Black people. I’ll be the first to admit that all my life I’ve felt powerless when it comes to creating social change. I vote, I donate, I use my skills to support business development, public health campaigns, and social justice initiatives. I share parts of my life to inspire others to pursue personal greatness, but I still feel I can do more.
Those Who Came Before Me
I’ve seen generations of people invest life, money and time into creating solutions and yet, we still have troubling outcomes. I felt if they couldn't fix it, what could I possibly do? The people in position to change policies and correct systemic wrongs (including me) haven’t been pressured enough to make change, until now.
So I ask, what role can I play? How can I use my life experiences, relationships, and skills to support solutions. This question took me back 20 years to where my love for Internet technology began.
Man in the Mirror
In 1999 I created an online directory by the name BlackEmerge. I created BlackEmerge after trying to find places to recycle my dollar in the Black community. The concept for the name was based on the meaning of the word “emerge”, which is “to come into view.”
Finding Black-owned businesses online at that time was a challenge in my local community. I started talking to business owners about why they weren’t online and found that many of them didn’t know how to get their business online. This was a barrier to utilizing each other's resourcefulness. Our lines of communication were broken. Younger generations were moving to digital, web-based communication tools for information while older generations relied on traditional media (tv, radio, print publications). Our ability to connect was being impacted by digital-divides and generational gaps. After learning this, I accepted the call and started BlackEmerge which became the catalyst for what is now WeMerge Media.
In the past week, I've been invited to a number of economic empowerment groups. There are millions of people looking to take action now. Everybody is posting links to their business but it's difficult to sort through the comments and find businesses to support in the category you’re looking for.
It felt like 1999 all over again. Again I ask, what can I do?
We are geographically decentralized, but we come together when called for a common vision. I don’t know how to tackle all of our issues, but I know how to create an online space for those who do and I know how to attract people to the space.
I’m committed to putting BlackEmerge back online. I’m looking for people who share my vision and want to support the development of an online space that informs people's decision-making and inspires them to take action.
My next step is identify people to play a leading role in choosing economic and social development topics that support improving the quality of life for our communities.
You may have more ideas and that is why I want your involvement.
Written by Michael Damond
Michael Damond is the Chief Marketing Consultant of WeMerge Media. He's helped hundreds of small business owners start, grow, and manage their business online for over 20 years.