Memphis’s Identity Crisis: Subdued?

Posted on May 22, 2011 by


Talut El-Amin, Photographer, May 16, 2011

President Barack Obama

Booker T. Washington High School, Grizzlies Basketball, and The Great Flood of Memphis are this year’s historical points that placed Memphis into stardom; along with B.B. King, W.C. Handy, Elvis Presley, and Memphis in May; home of the blues, world-renowned Civil Rights Museum, and four Fortune 500 International Headquarters including Service Master.  With this level of world recognition has Memphis entered into the 21st century?  Can Memphis continue its forward drive by defeating racism and making way for over half of its population a chance at the table of trade and commerce? If with all the above accomplishments Memphis fails to get its hands around her number one problem; racism, only then can Memphis  be condemned as the most racist and foremost in difficulty towards this end.  Completion of several more important jobs would help its African-American population; cut its incarceration and abortion rates, view crime and violence from a new base; most crimes are done for money, economic crimes. The questions are: Can more and better paying jobs reduce  crime?  Can better education or longer education work? Or, should Memphis continue to spend billions, over the century, on jails, policing, and security?  The latter question is all about taxes; who’s willing to accept this huge tax bill?

Memphis arsenal includes its Housing and Community Development Department, a branch of government that fights against despicable, deplorable, and regrettable conditions of Memphis small African-American business community. What has this department done to discuss a lack of business competitiveness and opportunities?  Why hasn’t African-American businesses grown over the past decade in direct opposition to cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Birmingham?  And, why hasn’t the gross city production output of African-American business community increased?  Is the output so small that it isn’t on any rating scale, what so ever?  With massive worldwide failures among ethnic business groups in finance and manufacturing: It’s time to give African-Americans a chance at trade and commerce.  Yes, for years major business leaders conferred among themselves that African-Americans aren’t qualified or experienced managers, creating an invisible glass ceiling and a revolving door that Africa-Americans can’t ever get above or around; effectively, repelling them from the fruits of prosperity and opportunities that millions enjoy: Denying Memphis’ best thinkers an opportunity to place Memphis on the map, as a commercial center, where all of her citizens could reach the highest level of business success. Commercial leadership, across all spectrums, must trust African-American entrepreneurs so that, from this point forward, they can work in every area to  create jobs, wealth, and a future for Memphis, as an economic center as Atlanta, New York, Chicago, and L.A.

Talut El-Amin, Photographer, May 2011

The River Rise

My last question deals with a single department of government: Housing and Community Development.  Has Robert Lipscomb held his job as director to long? Yes, a golden
opportunity, over the past decade, has gone and come without any real change.  Memphis has been at a virtual economic growth standstill.  For over a decade, Mr. Lipscomb has focused 100% of his attention on big business as a motor of change but, hasn’t produced any change or chance for African-American business entrepreneurs.  His focus on
housing is federal funded projects but; still, most beneficiaries of these federal funded housing projects aren’t African-Americans.  Under the leadership of Mr. Lipscomb, African-American small business owner have suffered; for years he has organized seminars, programs, and meetings designed to create networking and education that produced nothing but wasted time.  The best and quickest way to meet success and change is to fire or ask for Mr. Lipscomb’s resignation; replace him with a progressive person who isn’t  intimidated by African-American growth possibilities and potential. It’s well known that, in other cities, African-American business successes came about as a result of a full partnership across the races.

Evidence of how successful African-American business leaders can become; is in Cliff Dates and his successful CDA Global Security Company.  Mr. Dates, Tri-State Defender’s, Men
of Excellence
, is the largest African-American owned employer in Memphis if not in the mid-southern states.  This being the truth, Memphis has a lot to wish with a population that’s 62.41% African-American.