Dr. King once said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” I was reminded of this when I read “Black professionals reflect on progress, challenges in the Hub (Bay State Banner, Jan. 12, 2012).
While we’re encouraged that Dr. King would inspire a gathering to foster more minority-owned businesses in Boston, should we also reflect on how silence has greatly diminished opportunity for a constituency that could support those minority businesses?
A recent article in The New York Times titled “How the United States Lost Out on iPhone Work” is a painful reminder of not only our local silence, but more broadly the silence of the largest world economy. The article details how manufacturing jobs left the U.S. and why it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get them back.
Let’s be honest. Businesses require workers that add value to the bottom line. And too often, workers that can add that value are not within our borders. Corporate greed notwithstanding, “Asia has become what the U.S. was for the last 40 years,” according to the Times article.
Asian workers and strategic management add the needed speed and flexibility to remain competitive and viable, qualities that cannot be matched by American efforts.
Dare we ask: Why didn’t we build the kind of capability and business logistics that make U.S. workers the natural choice for such operations?
Locally speaking, if school assignments and a trade curriculum take center stage over the dropout rate and achievement gap — collectively still the 800-pound gorilla in the room — Boston’s future for developing any competitive work force looks grim! This broadly affects all businesses, but acutely impacts minority businesses.
While that impact is keenly felt, we note that Boston is changing, evidenced by new leadership that’s more representative and a new entrepreneurial spirit that’s willing to risk ideas and capital.
But if our communities are debating three strikes laws that require more prison beds over class rooms, or violent crime, or the continuing gentrification of our neighborhoods, and lack opportunities, are we silent about education and training that’s in demand and matters most?
Education matters and is still the prize! It addresses much of the dysfunction we experience, helps secure our future and is the thing we’re most silent about!
So occupy the streets and bring the noise for its improvement. Because without it, our lives and way of life will surely end!