‘We can’t do this alone’: Piedmont entrepreneur holds event to bring community together, discuss systemic issues

In Black and White

(WGHP) — One common theme has come up as we’ve discussed race over the last year: the belief that no one racial group can solve all the issues. It will take people from all walks of life to put a dent in the problems.

One man had a vision years ago to bring community members together to start chipping away at the problems. Now he’s taking action.

“When you look at home ownership gaps. When you look at the income gap. The wealth gap. We’re still at 1968 levels when you compare the Black community to their white counterparts,” Algenon Cash said.

Cash realizes we haven’t really covered a lot of ground in the last five decades.

“There are a lot of things we could be doing that unfortunately we’re not doing. I don’t know if it’s because we don’t have the will to do it, the courage to do it or if we just haven’t figured out how to do it,” he said.

He calls it unacceptable but fixable.

“Right now, I think the civil rights issue of today is economic mobility. Economic and financial literacy,” he explained. “It’s making sure that the minority is just as educated, just as informed, just as aware, able to be a critical thinker just like their white counterparts and make sound choices.”

We sat down with this serial entrepreneur during a breakfast he organized recently. He told us all about his newest venture: the Black Empowerment Network. It brings together leaders in politics, nonprofits, education and business from around the state.

“There are so many things we could be doing locally and at the state level to try to address some of these systemic issues. We really don’t have to wait on Congress to act. The North Carolina General Assembly could start to act around some of these criminal justice reforms, incentivizing entrepreneurship in the Black community,” Cash said.

“It’s important to take an hour of the day in order to put some action steps together and exactly what they’re talking about: a bigger idea of moving our communities forward,” said Visit High Point President Melody Burnett.

She said the progress the people gathered for the breakfast are working toward is a win for everyone. They check the things dividing us at the door.

“Part of that divide is also partisan,” said Black Empowerment Network board member Harold Eustache. “So I think to have both parties sitting in the same room talking, fellowshipping, eating breakfast together…that’s part of the issue that we have. We live in these silos in America, and so we’re not talking to each other. I think that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

“It’s important because our residents are ready,” Burnett added. “Our visitors are ready. Our community leaders are ready to stop talking and start working. I think because of all the activities of last year, I think it’s all brought to the forefront all these topics we’re discussing today, and we’re all thinking ‘what can I do to bring that to the table?’ What can my neighbor do?’”

Make no mistake: there’s one goal here.

“We want to use our network not just to make more Black Americans aware of what the issue is,” Cash explained. “We also want to make more white Americans aware of what the issue is and how do we go about addressing it? Because at the end of the day, we can’t do it alone.”

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