By Ebonie Johnson Cooper, Chief Millennial Officer
Wow. I never expected my last post to get the response it has. We’ve never had hundreds of thousands of views, let alone for one post. Obviously, I struck a cord, some with who agree and others who think I’m out of my mind. How do I feel about it all? I’m grateful. I’m grateful my objection to the overwhelming attachment to social media advocacy got people angry, happy, motivated and on fire. I’m doing my job.
While I have your attention, let me clarify that I do not oppose marching. What I oppose is the lack of intentionality behind it. What, besides showing solidarity, are we marching for? Is there a boycott that will affect a business’ bottom line? Are we meeting at a church or community center to plan the next steps? Or are we following the trending hashtags on social media? If there was no hashtag, would you be out there?
If you’re working behind the scenes, I’m not talking to you. But if you’re offended, maybe I am and well….ok. I digress.
The biggest question asked to me in comments and on social media is “what is this plan,” I have. You know, since I said I would have one. I thought about it and my first inclination was to say I don’t have one yet. True indeed I don’t, but that’s just about Ferguson. The issue of police brutality isn’t unique to Ferguson nor is the issue of black men being killed by violence. So no, I don’t have a plan to combat either of those- directly anyway. My plan rests within my passion to educate, train and strengthen the leadership of my peers- black millennials and young black professionals across the country.
Everyday I think of how I can best apply what I know to best equip my peers. I watch and read about what we’re doing, what we’re not doing and where there is an apparent educational/ learning opportunity. Time and again, whether said to me or inferred, people want to learn HOW to make change happen. I’ve sat through enough trainings and classes to know, when you know better you do better. Who am I to have the resources and not share them?
Advocacy work isn’t easy. Cause work is often layered with issues that involve an approach just as varied as the issue itself. (Yes, including social media- but not all social media)
Donating money to support the progress of a cause isn’t easy either. That takes planning too. None of us has $100 just sitting around to be donated. (Hey, if you do, God bless you. Can I borrow a dollar?)
And God knows serving on a board of directors or committee is the hardest of them all. Personalities, time commitments, scheduling, opinions like pie holes- board work can be another job.
So what’s my plan? My plan is the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute. Shameless plug, meh. But it’s true! This IS my plan for long-term impact. The Young, Black & Giving Back Institute will be the education and training division of Friends of Ebonie. It will consist of classes, workshop series, training modules, webinars and summits. The Institute is designed to change the way black millennials (19 – 33) and young, black professionals (25 – 40) learn about effective community leadership and philanthropy.
I developed the Institute for literally such a time as this. I’ve learned over the last few years that although Friends of Ebonie has been a platform to read, listen, and engage, it wasn’t until our Changing the Face of Philanthropy Summits that we were proving a space to learn. Learning and education for and about philanthropy, leadership and advocacy is most important so we don’t leave anyone out. I cannot be upset about the slacktivism on the interwebs or lack of leadership over critical issues when the truth is, it may be an inherent issue of communities simply not knowing better.
You all have been my stamp of approval. Your support, non-support and otherwise confirm that a place for us to come and learn together from one another is very much needed. I can’t determine what you will do with what you will learn at the Institute but at least I’ll be responsible for making sure it’s available.
I am sooooo hyped to start the Institute in a few weeks! We will be starting with a three-week series focused on a. maximizing time, talents, treasures, b. board leadership, and c. mentoring. In between the series, we’ll have informative sessions on giving to your HBCU, The Arts & Philanthropy, plus more! As things evolve we’ll offer more, and more.
This is my plan.
Join us for our digital launch party on September 10th to learn more and meet some awesome fellow leaders like yourself!
Add to your calendar here: https://plus.google.com/app/basic/events/cpcl8tvkk164il07l4qvjb3ksrk