THE BLOG
01/03/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Banish the Black Box

As we celebrate the Christmas holiday this year, we also wait with bated breath for Barack Obama to be sworn in to the highest office in the land.

This is the best of times and the worst of times for the country. The best is that we have a new caring and intelligent president waiting to take the reigns at the White House who will address the nation's problems with new approaches that will bring about sensible solutions. This is the change we've waited for. It's the best of times for black America in that the lid on the Black Box has been lifted as Barack Obama has advanced race relations.

It's the worst of times for some of our children who are living in a drug- and violence-infested culture that seems to promote jail stays more than schools. It's the worst of times in that the country is in a depressed state and we are all living witnesses to situations that we have never seen before. This Christmas is joyous because of the season, but the reality of the first of the year is frightening.

Where will we go from here?

I sincerely hope that America's Black Box is destroyed when Obama takes office. Part of the tears from past generations is the thinking that this Inauguration Day we're planning for--one of the most celebrated to ever happen--would have never happened. As we listen to hard working, intelligent people who lived aborted dreams rather than fulfilled ones, you can't help but to wonder if the Black Box will ever be eliminated.

Inside the Black Box

Those who lived in what Tom Brokaw labels The Greatest Generation--the WWII era--also lived in the day of segregation where race defined everything according to the Black Box.

The Black Box limited career choices, housing, education, economics and even marriage. The Black Box dictated that your professional height could only reach that of a teacher, nurse, social worker or a government employee. The only free and unlimited career choices in the black community were the minister, barber, funeral home owner, the numbers man and other very limited businesses. The Black Box has been the box of challenges. Be smart but not too smart. Get promoted in the ranks of the company but never to the very top. Be a nurse but not a doctor. Be an entrepreneur, but don't cross over.

The Black Box has confined many. Black people, at large, have lost because of the Black Box, but America has lost the most. Can you imagine telling someone they could not do something because of their skin color? Racism. This is the sin of America. What did America's human capital lose because of the limitations? What greatness have we missed?

We will never really know, but the spoken then unspoken rules of the country restricted black people to the Black Box. What brilliance was overlooked? It has been America's reality creed. These "hold back" syndromes, I hope, will be eliminated with the Obama reign and will change the world forever. This is the importance of his win. This is why we cried as we recalled Dr. King's 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech, when we witnessed Barack exactly 40 years later to the day at the Democratic National Convention. And on inauguration day, we mark King's birthday, the first black man to ever be celebrated with a national holiday. The ironies of history are poetic.

One of my measures for Barack Obama will be the success of minority businesses. I know he will end the war. I know he will fix the economy. I know he will trim the government where all benefit. I trust his appointments. I think he will put brilliant people in place to produce brilliant things. The country will rise under his leadership. So the real measure? In 2002, on average, black-owned businesses made $0.43 for every $1.00 that a white business made.

The average minority business firm in 2002 made $167,000 compared to $438,000 made by a non-minority business. Only 1 percent of minority businesses received loans from the government.

It will be interesting to check these business statistics, from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012 and see what change has taken place. Black American businesses must come up to par with its white counterparts for real change to occur. This means access to capital. This means crossover. This means scale. This means growth. This means the Black Box with all of its tricks has to be eliminated.

As we consider the bailout for the large businesses, my concern is what happens to the small businesses that will be challenged during these economically depressed times. I hope part of the change will close the economic gap, because that is the only way America becomes one. Change. The challenge is to remove the Black Box from American society so that we all move forward. It will be meaningful for all Americans to be able to live our full measure.