Tag Archives: African American

11 Black Trade/Professional Organizations You Have Never Heard Of – But Should Join Today

“Networking has been cited as the number one unwritten rule of success in business. Who you know really impacts what you know.” – Sallie Krawcheck

Our founder and chief economist, William A. Foster, IV, has a favorite saying, “Your net worth is a reflection of your network.” If you want to ascend to greater heights you have to connect with others who are also doing so. The people we associate with and the organizations we belong to can propel us socially and financially throughout our careers. However, knowing where to find professional networks and organizations has often proved challenging for African Americans not already in ‘the know’. Some of the more well known African American professional organizations are NABE (National Association of Black Engineers), NBMBAA (National Black MBA Association), and even NABA (National Association of Black Accountants) to name a few. You also do not have to be in that specific field to join that particular organization. A psychology major is not limited to only psychology trade/professional organizations. In fact, it is very important to join organizations that have no links with your current field to give yourself a more worldly view and expanded possibilities of opportunities. An accountant joining NABE may find out about an opportunity for an accountant position at an engineering firm or find a co-founder to launch their own engineering firm. Ultimately, the networking of African American professionals, especially HBCU graduates, into our own trade/professional organizations helps to strengthen and circulate the social and intellectual capital of African America’s private sector and therefore African America itself.

NABHOOD – National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators, and Developers

“Our primary goal here at NABHOOD is to increase the number of African-Americans developing, managing, operating and owning hotels; increase vendor opportunities & executive level jobs for minorities, thereby creating wealth within the African-American community. We do this by providing information about hotel ownership, investing, supplier opportunities, employment and other resources; our Annual International African American Hotel Ownership & Investment Summit & Trade Show is our best resource to help us accomplish this.”

AABE – American Association of Blacks in Energy

“The American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) is a national association of energy professionals founded and dedicated to ensure the input of African Americans and other minorities into the discussions and developments of energy policies regulations, R&D technologies, and environmental issues.”

NBMOA – National Black McDonald’s Operators’ Association

“The National Black McDonald’s Operators Association (NBMOA) is a 47 year old Organization dedicated to ensuring that African American McDonald’s Owners are fully engaged in all of the benefits associated with owning McDonald’s restaurants. The NBMOA goal is the complete integration of NBMOA members, African American Employees and Vendors into the McDonald’s system. The NBMOA also works diligently to make sure that McDonald’s fully engage the African American community in a respectful and positive manner.”

NABFM – National Association of Black Food Manufactures

“The NABFM is a newly established nonprofit that exists to be a voice for people of African descent in food and beverage manufacturing. It was founded to address the unique needs of our community as we seek to gain further entry into the food manufacturing, supplier and related industries for our ultimate success.”

NBTEBA – National Black Tech Ecosystem Builders Association

“The National Black Tech Ecosystem Builder Association will unite black tech startup support organizations, black faith communities, K thru 12th Black STEAM educators, HBCUs, black civic tech organizations, and black technology organizations. The Association will empower on-the-ground black tech activists and black tech ecosystem builders to eradicate racial tech disparities in their cities by helping them to strengthen their local black tech ecosystems.”

OBAP – Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals

“OBAP will be a world-leading organization that changes lives by creating a pathway to success through educating youth, communities, and professionals—shaping an aerospace industry as diverse as the people we serve.”

NAAIA – National African American Insurance Association

“NAAIA is dedicated to empowering African American insurance professionals currently in the industry as well as celebrating their accomplishments. NAAIA is also committed to attracting talented individuals to the insurance industry. Through our work and affiliation with other organizations we are dedicated to increasing the awareness of opportunities and the attractiveness of careers in the insurance industry.”

OBMG – Organization of Black Maritime Graduates

“To assist and encourage by educating and increasing public awareness regarding minority involvement in the maritime and engineering industries through recruitment, mentoring, scholarships, and networking.”

AAAFA – Association of African American Financial Advisors

“AAAA is a non-profit membership organization for African American financial advisors and affiliated professionals. We work in alliance with academic leaders at HBCUs that support financial planning degree programs, legislative and regulatory bodies, financial services firms and consumer interest organizations. AAAA fosters the value of financial planning and advances the financial planning profession.” 

OBD – Organization of Black Designers

“OBD is a national professional organization of interior, industrial, architectural, fashion and graphic designers dedicated to promoting the visibility, empowerment, education and interaction of its membership and the understanding and value that diverse design perspectives contribute to world culture and commerce.”

RBCA – Regional Black Contractors Association

“The RBCA maintains very effective working relationship with state, municipal, and corporate leaders and their supplier diversity executives, elected and appointed officials for the support of African-American business development. Locally, statewide and in Washington, DC, we are constantly monitoring of pending legislation that might affect our member’s businesses, their growth and even their ability to conduct business. When legislation is being considered that affects our mission, the RBCA quickly mobilizes to work with key policy makers to support and ensure that every opportunity is available for the RBCA and its members.”

Black News Channel’s Chairman J.C. Watts Discusses BNC’s Deep HBCU Ties & FAMU Partnership

In a recent interview with Bold TV, Chairman of Black News Channel, J.C. Watts, discusses his plans for the coming launch of the new television channel that seeks to focus on a myriad of topics from culture, religion, politics, economics, and more that cover the diverse range of African America’s views on topics. Chairman Watts emphasizes that this will be a channel for African Americans and by African Americans. Just how far that is to go though we will discuss later on in the article.

Starting at the 8:50 mark in the video, Chairman Watts discusses with Ms. Sheffield, Founder of Bold TV, the important relationship that Black News Channel will seek to build with HBCUs and just how much content there is available within those institutions alone. A statement that should be not underappreciated given that BNC is going to attempt to be a 24/7 news channel. While the plan a few years ago was for BCN to be housed on the campus of Florida A&M University, the company has shifted its focus on making the FAMU School of Journalism a target school for BCN with internships, curriculum engagement, and employment opportunities upon graduation.

The company features a host of Rattler alumnae. Mr. Amir Windom, a rising star in media circles will be the Director of Creative Services. It also features Ms. Georgia Dawkins, who will serve as Director of HBCU Services. Lastly, the Director of Corporate Business Development is Ms. Erika Littles.

Ms. Sheffield brings up just some of the larger outlets in the landscape that currently stands in African American targeted media like The Root, Black Entertainment Television, NBC Black, OWN, TV One, and questions aloud where BCN will find its place among the field.

However, a point that was not brought up and should always be at the forefront of our minds when new products are launched that target African America is who actually is profiting from our eyeballs. We are often providing the labor and the viewership in many instances while reaping none of the economic rewards that comes with ownership and ultimately the control of the narrative. BET is owned by Viacom, NBC is owned by Comcast, The Root is owned by Univision, which itself is owned by very Eurocentric private equity firms, and even OWN, the channel beloved by Oprah followers, is majority owned by Discovery Communications. On the website for Black News Channel, while Chairman J.C. Watts is listed as a co-founder, the other co-founder is Bob Brillante. What is the potential ownership split? There are seven other owner/investors listed on the company’s website, but what each individuals stake is remains unclear. As a private company, they are certainly not required by any means to disclose this information, but it would certainly go a long way to endorsing just how much of an African American “owned” media asset this actually is.

There is a harsh reality that the majority of sizeable media assets focusing on African Americans is not in the ownership hands of African Americans. The Washington Post reported that in 2013, “African American ownership remains particularly low, hovering at less than one percent of all television properties, and less than 2 percent of radio.” This is certainly not to say that Black News Channel will not have an impact. It is projected to employ almost 100 people, many of them being HBCU alumni and students as we have already seen in key positions, but we must push the envelope further. We need more investment in publications that are owned by our community like HBCU Digest, Atlanta Black Star, HBCU Gameday and many others.  Traditional media is not dying, it is evolving (and consolidating into the hands of a few) and has already done so in major ways. Unfortunately, we are often lacking the resources to keep up despite our ingenuity.

We appreciate that the Black News Channel makes it a point to be transparent about their ownership, hope that they will be an inclusive platform to smaller African American owned publications looking to establish themselves, and definitely continue to integrate itself within the many schools of journalism that HBCUs have and the richness that those assets can bring to the table.

The 2016-2017 HBCU Graduate Student Loan Report

There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt. – P.T. Barnum

The most recent study on HBCU student loan debt by HBCU Money shows a continued trend in this our third installment of tracking the crisis at our nation’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities. Whatever the nation thinks of the overall student loan crisis, it pales in comparison to what is happening at HBCUs. America’s student loan flu is African America’s student loan pneumonia with no insurance.

To put it mildly, the HBCU student loan crisis continues to be complicated. Overall, less HBCU students are graduating with debt as a percentage, which is a positive thing. Although the cause of why that number continues to drop is very unclear. The other piece of the puzzle though is the amount of student loan debt HBCU students are graduating with is skyrocketing. In the five years since our original report, the median student loan debt for an HBCU graduate is up twenty percent. Over that same period, median student loan debt for those graduating from a Top 50 endowed college or university is up only six percent.

The results are paired against America’s 50 largest universities by endowment which varied by geography, public and private status, and school size similar to that of HBCUs. The Project on Student Debt by The Institute for College Access and Success reports that in America overall, “New data show that the average student debt for college graduates continues to climb but at a slower pace, according to a report released by the Institute for College Access & Success. Nationally, about two in three (65 percent) college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2017 had student loan debt. These borrowers owed an average of $28,650, 1 percent higher than the 2016 average.”

Numbers in parentheses shows the comparative results from the universities of the 50 largest endowments:

Median Debt of an HBCU Graduate – $34,131 ($24,237)

Proportion of HBCU Graduates with debt – 86% (40%)

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates – 4% (26%)

Pell Grant Recipients  – 71% (15%)

Statistics show that HBCU graduates are almost 32 percent more likely to graduate with debt than the national average, this number is up from 28 percent a few years ago. As the nation continues to increase the percentage of graduates with debt, HBCUs are actually decreasing its percentage is a canary in the coal mine. Again, it is unclear what is causing the drop. HBCU graduates are an astonishing 115 percent more likely to graduate with debt than those graduating from a Top 50 endowed college or university, by far the worst number in our report’s history with the previous being 96 percent more likely three years ago and 93 percent more likely five years ago. A disturbing trend upwards if there ever was one. The percentage of HBCU graduates finishing with debt is down over four percent in the past five years, while Top 50 endowed college or university graduates have seen the percentage of graduates graduating with debt down over eleven percent.

In terms of the debt itself, as mentioned the median student loan debt is up over twenty percent since our inaugural report five years ago. Disparagingly, student loan debt for HBCU graduates is more than 40 percent greater than Top 50 endowed college and university graduates. This creates a number of socieoeconomic issues  for HBCUs themselves and for the graduates they hope will be able to benefit from education’s upward mobility in wealth accumulation.

Median Total Cost of Attendance – $22,866 ($66,623)

The cost of attending an HBCU should be an advantage for African Americans, but poor endowments and lack of familial wealth continue to negate the one primary advantage HBCUs have, cost. Despite costing almost three times more over a four year period, Top 50 endowed colleges and universities are managing to graduate those who finish with debt at about 9 percent of the total cost of attendance over that four year period. In contrast, for HBCU graduates, they are finishing with 37 percent of the total cost of attendance over the same period.

Three years ago in our second report we said this and it remains true here in our third report as well, “Unfortunately, HBCUs are caught between a rock and hard place in needing to desperately raise tuition to generate more revenue because of weak endowments, but doing so increases an already over-sized burden on their graduates long-term and making it even less likely they will become the donors that the institutions desperately need. It has become a vicious cycle and with so much of African America and America invested in the demise of HBCUs that it seems only a miracle will keep us from perishing.” Without transformative donations of the eight and nine figure variety on a more consistent basis, then it is hard to see the student loan debt load decreasing or even plateauing at this point. A somber reality in a world where education is becoming increasingly vital for upward mobility for individuals, families, and communities.

An Untapped Opportunity: African American Women’s Absence In The Craft Beer Industry

By Della Fain

There was a time when you thought of beer, it was a beverage to accompany you to picnics and ballparks. No one was doing anything innovative or creative with beer. Fast forward to now and crafted beer makes up 98 percent of all breweries in the U.S. This in no small part is due to the support of craft beer lovers. But who are these craft beer lovers?

In an industry that nets 107.6 billion dollars annually a 2014 survey conducted by Neilsen found that African Americans rank a minute 3.7 percent of all craft beer. And of that 3.7 percent, how many are Black women? To quote 702’s song “Where my girls at?” Now do not get me wrong, we are not non- existent and there are Black women in the industry as brewers, bloggers, owners, culture and lifestyle branders, but the numbers are minute. With society and lifestyle brands like Dope & Dank co-founded by a Black woman Beny Ashburn, who advocates diversity in the dank world of craft beer.

But in a decade of sustained growth, the craft industry has largely ignored minorities and in the past, diversity meant white women. And even today it only in a small part means men of color. So, where do we (African American women) fit in?

In 2017, Craftbeer.com listed 8 women in craft beer who are making a mark, and none were Black. No mention of Celeste Beatty, founder of The Harlem Brewing Company, or the fact that her beers are available in 39 Wal-marts across New York. In April of this year The Brewers Association, an organization dedicated to small and independent American brewers, named a Black woman J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham their first diversity ambassador. I tried unsuccessfully to interview Dr. Beckham about what a diversity ambassador does. Hopefully future dialogue about what diversity means in craft beer and what’s missing.

While recently watching a video of Alisa Bowens-Mercado the first African American woman brewing beer in Connecticut canning her own unfiltered lager named Rhythm I noticed she was the only woman of color present in the video. She is quoted as saying she would like to “see more women in the industry, more brewing, more women canning.”

Since craft beer has mainly been a white man’s game and only recently included men of color and even more recently white women, black women have a few hurdles to leap before we can be acknowledged and respected. The predominately boys club has also made it clear that they are not interested in our taste or opinions on beer unless a pair of breasts accompany it. So first we have to overcome sexism seals then race.

A lot of breweries do not even consider African American women as their consumer because Black women are not being seen drinking or purchasing craft beer. When I am in line for a can release I’m one of few women and the only Black woman in line. We do not feel included so we do not show our love for it and our opinion isn’t largely sought after because we aren’t present.

And finally, an issue I’ve seen with my growing presence on social media is lack of support to one another. I see our white counterparts trade, share, follow, repost and support one another on their craft beer journeys, but a huge lack of support amongst each other. Women are often pitted against each other in every facet and culture of life and the craft beer community is no different. I especially see it among black women. I say this having experienced more support, follows, shares, trades and paid appearances through white men. I see black men get together and have a guys weekend of comradery, fellowship and mutual love of craft beer. I know there are Black women who love craft beer, so how about we show the industry what we have to offer it. Cheers Black Women and if you see me, next rounds on me.

Della Fain is an Chitown native Arizona resident. Married mother of 3. She’s also a contributor to Bourbon Zeppelin giving bourbon barrel aged beer reviews. You can follow her on Instagram at @sixfeetofdynamite. 

The Vernon Johns Story: Money Is Power Scene

In the Vernon Johns story, this powerful scene shows Reverend Johns trying to explain to his congregation the economic power they can wield in building a strong and vibrant community if they build and own their own institutions. A sentiment that would later be echoed by Martin Luther King, Jr. as he directed African American to move its money into African American owned banks. He also points out the disdain that many communities had (and continue) to have for African Americans, but have no disdain in taking our money. Can we become a self-sufficient people? Just how many things can we not purchase from an African American (Diaspora) company? The scene is powerful and the message still rings as true today as it did then.