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Sunday, March 3, 2024

The million-dollar questions

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With February coming to a close, we see the end of the month in which we officially celebrate love and romance.

However, that does not keep us from showing appreciation to the special people in our lives throughout the year.

In my previous column, I noted how strong relationships can lead to strong marriages, and how strong marriages lead to strong families that build stronger communities. I also announced I was working on a survey about the thoughts of local single, married and divorced individuals, and would publish the results this month.

However, I want to give participants time to consider their responses and see if any of their answers would change over a period of time. After all, our view of some parts in life may change as circumstances change. Therefore I will publish the survey results in the next column. They are worth waiting for, as I have already received responses that may surprise some people.

What we want from candidates

Many people in our local community were upset recently when Carrier announced it will be shipping about 1,400 high-wage jobs from the Indianapolis area to Mexico. In a recorded meeting between company officials and angry workers, corporate brass struggled to explain the decision in a way that did not seem patently self-serving. Cussing, jeers and shouts of disapproval could be heard from the crowd on the recording, which was aired recently on WTLC-FM’s afternoon community talk show, which was skillfully hosted by Pastor Michael Jones of Progressive Baptist Church.

Gov. Mike Pence, Congressman Andre Carson, Mayor Joe Hogsett and other local officials put up a good effort to convince Carrier to stay here. However, the company appears to have made up its mind to place profits above people.

This situation shows why it is important for more African-Americans to launch and support our own businesses. Entrepreneurship is the key to growth throughout America in general and particularly among African-Americans, who have dealt with higher-than-average rates of unemployment for decades. (In certain metropolitan areas, the rate is as high as 15 to 20 percent, while the national average rate rarely exceeds 10 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.)

As I mentioned on the radio program as a caller, having more of our own businesses will give us more control of our own economic destinies as a people and as individuals. Fewer lives and families would be at the mercy of a fickle economy and companies that ship jobs away or can fire or layoff employees at will.

In short, those of us in the workforce and people who are unemployed could take our gifts and skills and market them with our own businesses. At the same time, we should educate our youth about the benefits of entrepreneurship and get them as excited about being a business owner as they would be as an athlete or entertainer.

The Recorder’s sister publication Indiana Minority Business Magazine has always been an excellent source for information on how to start and grow a business. The current issue, which focuses on Indiana’s bicentennial, is especially worth picking up or ordering for past and present insight into entrepreneurship.

During this election year, it is also important our community speaks as one strong voice in asking candidates the tough questions about where they stand on urban economic issues.

For example, what will Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do to help foster a better climate for business growth in the Black community? Clinton can talk about how much she loves Black people all she wants, but how would she use her foreign policy expertise to help secure export and trade opportunities for minority-owned and women-owned enterprises? For all his tough talk about foreign governments, what would Trump do to curtail the trend of companies like Carrier taking our jobs to other countries? How can Trump use his own experience as a businessman to encourage entrepreneurship?

And for God’s sake, maybe they can say if they would ever appoint a person of color to the financially powerful positions of Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Interior, Secretary of Defense, the Securities and Exchange Commission or chair of the Federal Reserve.

Locally, what do our candidates for Congress and governor (incumbent Mike Pence and challenger John Gregg) have to say about issues such as skills training, job opportunities for reformed ex-offenders, summer jobs for our youth and opportunities for people over 50 who are increasingly being pushed out of the workforce?

These are all literally “the million-dollar questions,” and the answers to them will help determine which candidates are most dedicated to a bright economic future for everyone.

Brandon Perry is a freelance journalist and political activist. He can be reached at perryforindiana@gmail.com.

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