Someone asked me this question again. You can’t believe in diversity and not appreciate that individuals are different and unique. Our race, is just one category of who we are. But the motivations and intentions that influence our decisions, behaviours and attitudes are not only as a result of our race.
Yes indeed. Where the Black African is in many instances the underdog, in terms of economic status and access to opportunities, one does wish they would be more camaraderie. Where we would feel a natural inclination to go beyond the call of duty to help each other. By preferring each other so that we would have a healthy quantity of African owned businesses in diverse sectors that are not in survivalist mode instead of the risk averse gatekeeping that says, “I would rather use the service providers that I have found being used because if they mess up, it would really not rub off on me. After all, my white predecessor used the same. So that must be the best and only choice”. The other side of the coin, is that if a Black African gives you a break, trip all over yourself to give the most superior service so as to shame the stereotype that expects the worst.
So my message to the question was that instead of focusing on race, we should place our energies of having the right configuration of relationships (networks) for one’s business. Being Black is not a guarantee that someone will help if it is not something within their area of expertise or focus. It is not reasonable to expect people to help sell your business when it is not their area of expertise. This will mean that people will have two jobs – to focus on their own expertise and to look for opportunities for you. We will have potential African clients who will never give business to other African people even if they have the authority. Make peace with it. What do you gain by being angry with them? Now management gets retrenched too. They might be in the same boat as you, sooner than they know. You would expect that if you are in similar areas, you would partner or throw bones to each other. Not always so. We also have a selfish gene.
So instead of wasting energy being pissed off at other African people that are not helping you, direct your focus on communicating with potential clients so that they know what you do. They may not use your services immediately, but continue making your brand top of mind. If other African people refer or recommend or partner with you, that is a bonus. I appreciate that people are juggling many balls. So I have stopped having expectations. I expend my energies on what I can do for myself.
So let’s just stop complaining about African people. I got my rude awakening years ago. I realised that we are not all motivated by similar values. Some of us don’t put much stock in the African race being better today than we were yesterday. They believe that their success protects them from the ridicule, patronisation, contempt and stereotypes that are metered out to the rest of us because of our race. They are solely mistaken. But to focus on them is a waste of energy. Just do what you can do. One day at a time. There are many African people who are their brothers and sisters keepers. Have gratitude for them.