I sat six rows from President Bill Clinton as he addressed the Americas Conference on September 29, 2009. I am truly a privileged individual. It was the third time I’d witnessed President Clinton speak in person – his most powerful speech of the three.
As the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, President Clinton spoke about the UN’s Haiti initiatives. Haiti was once the richest country in the Caribbean. It is now the poorest but represents an opportunity, for it has promise.
“From the peril to the gifts, from the burdens to the beauty, and to the barrens.” President Clinton announced an unprecedented trade mission to Haiti later that week that would spark investments in the country, and create much needed jobs.
President Clinton stated, “All of us win, not one of us wins at the expense of others . . . if there is something this global financial crisis taught us, it’s that we are all in this together.” We are inextricably linked. We are all in this together, “all of us win, not one of us wins at the expense of others.”
The brutal beating death of Derrion Albert on the streets of Chicago on September 24, 2009, only a week ago as I am writing this, sends a stark message that in order to create change, we must all work together. “All of us win, not one of us wins at the expense of others.” As Haiti needs help, inner city America needs investments that will foster education, create much needed jobs, and make communities safe places to live.
Take time to mentor youth. The blatant lack of respect for human life in the inner cities of the richest country in the world is beyond perplexing, as is the extreme poverty of Haiti. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Haiti has a 70% unemployment rate. Detroit’s unemployment rate hovers just below 30%, this rate is higher if you include those individuals who have lost hope and stopped looking for work. Some say the hopelessness of inner city youth has helped create a war on the inner city streets where violence persists.
“All of us win, not one of us wins at the expense of others.” Black people must stop hating other blacks. We must also stop kidding ourselves by feeling that helping other blacks will somehow diminish the pool of money available to us. Black Americans can learn many lessons from other ethnic groups.
In developing countries, there is a huge gap beyond micro credit: the limited availability of larger loans needed for business growth. In the USA, there is a huge gap between the limited credit available to local entrepreneurs and the vast credit available to national corporations who won’t set foot in the inner city. Note that according to CNN Money, the city of Detroit does not have a single national grocery store chain within its city limits, “the last one left in 2007.”
The dark history of the global slave trade, while establishing generational wealth for some, has helped lead to the long-term development and sustainment of self-hatred, poverty and violence. A cycle tantamount to parents who, abused as children, abuse their own children. For many blacks across the globe, the “great recession” is a continuation of the norm, poverty and hopelessness reign for many. Blacks across the globe are used to being in a recession, while much of the rest of the world thrives. The “great recession” currently underway is just another week, month, year for many.
The UN is committed to helping build a modern diversified economy in Haiti. America must re-commit to building modern diversified economies across the USA, and specifically in the inner cities. “All of us win, not one of us wins at the expense of others.”