Felecia King, LGBT HealthLink
So, I wake up at 6:30am, to the sound of angry motorist, rushing through DC’s narrow streets, off to make the doughnuts, or change the idea of the doughnut, who knows. I rush to the suitcase to put my #OOTD (Outfit Of The Day, for my Hashtag junkies) together, for the 2014 Many Faces One Dream Conference hosted by The US SBA (Small Business Administration) and the NBJC (National Black Justice Coalition). I manage to come up with khaki slacks, white button up, purple and white checkered tie, brown boots, and a denim jacket. After I suit up I hit the DC streets and talk to everyone I pass by (for directions, of course) in attempts to get to the train/subway/metro.
I finally get to the NASA Headquarters, where the first event, of many more, is taking place. The conference opens with a video, which opens with a quote from President Obama:
“We’ve got a lot of hard work that we still have to do, but we can already point to extraordinary progress that we’ve made… on behalf of Americans who are gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender.”
Out comes Sharon Lettman-Hicks, CEO of the NBJC, as the video ends. She started with a quaint welcome alongside Eugene Cornelius Jr., Deputy Associate Administrator for Field Operations for the U.S. SBA. As I looked around the room it was filled with people who looked like me, but were from all over the country and had all different types of experiences in their LGBT communities.
There were many representatives present Sam McClure, with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Carolyn Brown, with Black Enterprise (the magazine), Curtis Lipscomb, with KICK, and others. The convention was themed around Equity for the Black LGBT Community. Strong statements were being thrown around all day, tempers flared, but passion filled and consumed the room.
Cornelius Jr. said, “I’m not looking for cavalry to come and save my community, I am the cavalry and we are going to save OUR community”. Bankers came in to discuss the 5C’s of credit (Character, Collateral, Capacity,Credibility and Capital) , and a huge appearance made by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the 24th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet on April 7, 2014, who taught us the nothing is impossible.
As the day came closer to the end and we heard from the SBA, Bankers, Business Executives, Lenders, it seemed like everyone had come to a consensus that the black LGBT needed to “own their own power”, by becoming financially stable and owning their own businesses. And, this is where the big questions start to arise… How do we get the black LGBT community involved in a world that may not even exist in their minds? Is mental health an issue that we need to deal with? How do other communities manage to become so successful?
We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.