Article by Cleveland Tinker via The Gainesville Guardian
Published August 3, 2016
A group of black men known as The Black Hats met to discuss ways they can have a positive impact on the community.
The meeting held recently at the Alachua County Library Headquarters included discussions about educating young blacks about their heritage, establishing business co-ops, promoting healthy lifestyles, political involvement and other topics.
The group’s vision includes allowing black men to unite to make the community better and to discuss and be made aware of values and principles their African ancestors held dearly in their hearts.
Dennis Darnell of Gainesville, a health management professional, said he is interested in dealing with black youths.
“We are not passing down the knowledge that was passed down to us,” Darnell said. “We will be a lost people if we don’t pass down our knowledge.”
He said young blacks need to know that police brutality and violent black on black crime is nothing new in the United States. He said young people should be taught about their culture, the importance of getting an education or a trade, financial literacy and healthy life habits at an early age.
Dell Hannah, one of the founding members of the group, which began meeting in April, agreed with Darnell that reaching younger blacks is important.
“My whole thing is to be a link between the younger generation and the older generation,” Hannah said.
He said it is important that both older and younger blacks listen to each other and learn from one another.
“Wisdom and knowledge can come from anybody,” Hannah said. “We can all learn from one another.”
Akil Khalfani of Archer, a business co-op advocate, said creating business co-ops is something the group should put on its to-do list. He said business co-ops are owned by the people they serve. Thus, people who belong to the co-op have a say in the business decisions made.
“We need consumer cooperatives to create a pool of resources that will allow us to reinvest in the community,” Khalfani said. “The idea is that the consumer actually owns the business, which allows them to control the profits.”
He said people should read the book, “Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice,” by Jessica Gordon Nembhard. He said blacks have abandoned their communities since integration began in the late 1960s. He said black communities were filled with black-owned businesses before integration, something he would like to see return.
He said blacks have the economic wherewithal to establish their own credit unions with boards of directors who live in the community and “have the best interest of the community in their hearts.”
Kali Blount of Gainesville, a community activist and founding member of the group, said the group is in the process of narrowing down the issues it will address in the near future.
“We want to have an agenda that we build together as a group,” Blount said. “We all can contribute ideas to what we want to accomplish.”
Nii Sowa-La, a native of Ghana and community activist, also contributed to the discussion. He said there should be a genuine focus on the importance of caring for all humanity.
“Love is number one and the most important thing,” Sowa-La said. “We also have to teach forgiveness and learn how to forgive ourselves for our own negative behavior and figure out how to get rid of our negative behavior.”
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