I Have A Plan. Marching Still Isn’t Part of It.

By Ebonie Johnson Cooper, Chief Millennial Officer

IMG_0973.JPG No, this isn’t me but I love her hair!

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


16 thoughts on “I Have A Plan. Marching Still Isn’t Part of It.

  1. I absolutely admire you for speaking out. I absolutely agree with your stand and I am young, black and I give back!!
    I would be honored to help with an organization that you have to help bring awareness and change.
    Thank you again for such a well written and thought out article.
    Grace and Peace

  2. Ebonie, as a friend, please allow me to give you a little but of tough love right here.

    If you haven’t noticed yet, you’ve become a legit thought leader in your space. You’ve worked hard for it, and you deserve it. The problem with your previous post is that it didn’t demonstrate that thought leadership in any way whatsoever. I imagine there are thousands of posts all over the world just like that one–merely lamenting a problem but offering no way forward–and you’re better than that.

    Where you distinguish yourself is with this post and with the one you wrote post-Trayvon, wherein you offer specific actions people can take today to bolster their activism efforts. There won’t be nearly as many posts on the interwebs that look like this one. Offering solutions, whether in philanthropy, professional development, or entrepreneurship, is what you and your brand have become known for.

    Had you combined the frustrations of your previous post with the solutions from this one, it would have been a perfect, Friends of Ebonie-caliber post that would have had little room for negative comments.

    I actually agree with your sentiments all the way, so I hope I don’t sound like one of the haters you referred to at the outset. Just thought I’d offer a couple cents of insights.

    1. Hey Marcus- I respect your opinion but I disagree. Every post made does not need to offer an outright solution. Sometimes people write thought pieces to provoke thought, perspective and yes opinion. I was very clear that I didn’t have a solution prepared and I would be in fact, watching and waiting. But that aside, it dawned on me that I already have one and I am encouraged that it will be one for the ages.

  3. What is the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute? How would it address my concern of the apparent wide range of latitude in which public servants (in particular but not exclusively) seem to have with using force in subduing suspects? Will the an educational component of the YBGB Institute include some sort of legal seminar or coaching for interested parties on interacting with law enforcement and knowing their rights during these potential encounters? Thanks.

      1. Please excuse my struggles with comprehension but after rereading your article I still don’t follow. I do believe you have addressed my first question and here’s what I understand to be the response – “My plan is the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute. Shameless plug, meh. But it’s true. 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.” However I was looking to gain a bit more color on my second and third questions. “Community leadership” and “philanthropy” are rather broad terms for me. If in fact the rather specific items I’d like to see addressed (rules of engagement for law enforcement and education and coaching for the public on interacting with law enforcement) are included then the I believe the YBGB Institute would be an effort worth committing my time.

  4. So basically, these two blogs have been an infomercial for your “institute” that you’ve been able to use Michael Brown’s murder to pimp for page views.


  5. Ebonie, I agree with Marcus. You should link the two thoughts. I understand what you’re trying to do but it needs to be explained and clear for your audience. That’s why you received the previous negative post. I don’t believe it is your intention to exploit these killings but it could be viewed that way since we clicked on the link and it didn’t the events or how this will help address our concerns at all.

    1. Hi Erica- As I shared with Marcus, the message was missed by focusing on the ‘not marching’. Every post doesn’t have to have a solution, in fact most blogs don’t. They just are an outlet for self-expression. I rarely write personal expressions on here but this time I did and I didn’t have a solution. That what op-ed pieces are. I’m not apologizing for that.

      Concerns around what will or can happen to solve this will not happen over night. I know for sure education around this layered issue is necessary.

      My calling is this platform and the education thereto. I’m not new to this. I don’t need the site hits or the social media attention. I/we’re in a great place. However, this topic resonated with a lot of people for whatever reason- I still don’t quite know. But after I thought about it, it hit me that right now more than anything, we need the resources, training and education to that (God-forbid) this happens again, we can be intentional and effective with our actions long term.

      Thank you for your comment, I hope you stay engaged.

  6. First I want to thank all those involved with the progress of this organization. I definitely think that their is great and commendable intention behind every article I have read on here. Ultimately, it is a creative and well polished “cyber space” where critical thinkers can converse and connect towards progressing towards massive and impactful change. I am definitely interested in and signed up for the “launch party”. Is this the appropriate space to share more ideas for the institute or is there a another preferred avenue?

    I wanted to share my brief thoughts on the two interlinked opinion columns Ms. Ebony Cooper has written. I think she is accurate in her assessment that any movement cannot be effective if it uses only a single method of engagement. If you look at the effectiveness of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s it definitely had a concerted push in various manners: bus boycotts, marches, speeches, sit-ins, self empowerment education (Malcolm X & Nation of Islam / Black Panther Party), financial education, etc.

    Ultimately solidarity is an overarching theme in the successful progress of a lot of movements in history. If everyone in the movement is on one accord then the movement can produces longterm results. Bro. Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King wanted the same thing. They wanted equal respect & rights for the Black community. Both spoke about a need for a “mindset” change in how the then stated “White people” viewed the “Black population” as a whole.

    I think most young “Black people”, when tweeting, hash tagging, protesting for the most part feel they are “contributing” in their own way to the movement. I definitely believe the effort to educate folks on alternative ways they can contribute, maybe even in a more effectual & long term manner, can prove very beneficial in the solidified journey to progressive change.

  7. Institution building is fundamental to real change, not just superficial change. Unfortunately, many Black folks have been conditioned to value spectacles over substance, symbolism over sustainability, and preaching over teaching. Culture, economics and politics go hand in hand and many of us keep trying to make it work by leaving out one of these important and fundamental parts. You got the right idea though. Keep on keeping it real. Salute

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