by Fabiola Fleuranvil for MDEAT

Article republished from MDEAT Annual Magazine: Urgency of Now https://issuu.com/mdeat/docs/mdeat_2020_annual_magazine

Every Black generation before us has walked away with receipts of how the protests of their time moved the needle forward. This generation — every one of us included — has the same responsibility, and whatever we are going to demand from America, and locally from the State of Florida and Miami-Dade County, must happen with urgency, boldness, and the unwillingness to not take no or crumbs for an answer. As they say in popular culture, it is time to get the bag because this momentum may not last, and the outpouring of funding will eventually come to an end.

AS A COMMUNITY, WHAT WILL WE ASK FOR AND DEMAND?
It was 40 years ago on May 18, 1980 when Miami erupted into riots lasting three days following the acquittal of the White police officers who beat Arthur McDuffie, a Black man, to death after a traffic stop. And forty years later, not much has changed, because as of the time of this writing, the white police officers who senselessly killed Breona Taylor in her Kentucky home have been acquitted with a slap on the wrist.

When MDEAT’s predecessor, Miami Metro Action Plan (MMAP), was established in 1983 to address socioeconomic disparities in response to the McDuffie riots, many successes came as a result, including the funding of the first Black-owned Denny’s in the Southeast U.S. and the development of the Sailboat Cove community in Opa-locka, among others.

However, Black businesses in Miami-Dade County have not seen the level of success that it will take to create generational wealth.

There is a Black momentum around the country that may not last long but is perhaps our greatest opportunity to make demands of a racialized system and to effectuate policy change. More corporate funding is pouring into social justice programs and towards Black businesses than ever before. We have never seen institutions from every branch of corporate America publicly support racial justice like we are seeing today. And whether it is the pressure of protestors, who are also as diverse as ever, the guilt from 401 years of systemic oppression, or the consciousness of America finally making amends with its dark past, what we are seeing today is the charge that we need to change our trajectory for Black Americans from this point forward.

By comparison, when the mayors of Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Detroit intentionally decided that local contracts were going to be set aside for Black businesses, those communities saw more Black entrepreneurs flourish and more Black wealth be created. And today, those same cities and countless others have done a far better job of attracting our Black talent than we have done of keeping them here.

Miami has not been a place where Black businesses and entrepreneurs can thrive, but it does not have to be that way. We are in the perfect position to change the system and no longer accept that only two percent of local government contracts are awarded to Black businesses. Whatever needs to be done to move that number to reflect at least our 17.7 percent representation in the county — whether that be the establishment of a mentor protege program or set asides specifically for Black businesses — we are due it.

MDEAT has been responsible for helping to create more than 3,000 new Black
homeowners in the county, but that is still not enough because MDEAT alone
cannot solve the macroenvironment issues that persist. Little Haiti is aggressively changing ownership and pricing Black people out of their home and from their businesses, and it is also already happening in Liberty City. Gentrification, over development, and investor greed is encroaching on our Black communities that have historically been a safe haven for where Black people have congregated and created community. Our millennials cannot afford to buy a home here, and more Black families continue to be pushed north just to afford a home.

WHERE WILL WE GO FROM HERE?
We are at 9–1–1 emergency levels in this country and in this county, and the urgency of now is in our face. The governor, our senators and elected offi cials from across our municipalities and counties, every resident — Black, White, Hispanic, and other — and every single major industry in this state is responsible for how we move forward from here. Florida is a battleground state in every respect — politics, culture, global status, and by sheer size alone — and every move that we make and every gain forward sets the temperature and tone for what the rest of America looks like and could be, whether good or bad.

What will our legacy be as a state and as a county that is refl ective of the changing demographics in this country and our global dominance with the Caribbean and Latin America? We have a banner to wave and whether it is on the right side or the dark side will depend on how we move forward with urgency and rightness.

Fabiola Fleuranvil
CEO, Blueprint Creative Group,
Agency of Record for MDEAT and publisher of this annual magazine