The phrase Black Excellence has been around for quite some time, but what does it really mean?
Urban Dictionary defines black excellence as: “Someone that is black and portrays great qualities and abilities that make the black community proud.” Some have argued the term is used too much to praise those that are at the top of the financial structure in the black community or those that follow only a certain lifestyle that the general society would deem excellent.
I didn’t know exactly what black excellence meant to me when we first started blackexcellence.com. I just knew that it was something that involved black people doing great things for the community. In a search of a more concrete definition, I revised everything I affiliated with the phrase. And it finally hit me.
The Black Excellence Mindset
Black excellence is the mindset, backed by continuous action, to look within ourselves and act in ways that progress our communities without discrediting the effect of forces outside of our communities. That’s the best way I can describe it.
In other words, black excellence is the audacity to look at the place where hundreds of years of being exploited and abused, on both the mother land and beyond, has brought us and say we can rise and prosper.
Of course, the self-help idea is not new to the black community (Black Wall Street and Black Panthers are prime examples). It has been believed in and practiced for as long as we have existed. It is just time to bring it to a whole new level.
Notice I didn’t use the word responsibility. I know the infuriating power the word has when used to discuss the state of black people in America and globally. I am neither foolish nor ignorant to what slavery and European colonization has done and how it continues to affect our communities. But looking within our communities to find a solution to our problems can happen while still acknowledging how our history and the system affects our present and future.
It’s up to us
We can no longer wait for “them” to fix it for us. It doesn’t matter who caused it, we are the ones who have to live with the effect. We can rebuild our own neighborhoods and keep them clean. We can redefine a notion of beauty that had us hating our faces and bodies for centuries.
Let us open up businesses. Let’s set aside flashiness and build wealth, because one lets you shine for a night and the other for decades. We can go out and vote for causes that advance our interest. If we don’t, who will do it for us?
That is why we often feature people we believe are following up the hashtag black excellence with action to advance our communities by looking within to find solutions. Chance the Rapper donating money to the Chicago school system. Jay Z preaching about the importance of spending your money on things that build wealth. Akon providing electricity to communities in Africa. Black women embracing their natural beauty and hair. Black Lives Matter taking a stand for all of us. Entrepreneurs creating businesses that stand to benefit themselves and the community. These are all great examples of black excellence. Or should we say #blackexcellence.
Black excellence is an acknowledgement that we need to find smart ways to constantly lift ourselves up, until we are out of a place that has put us at a disadvantage for hundreds of years. It’s up to us to put an end to it.