The story of a nation in transition

The 20th century was an era of exclusionary policies and practices that carved deep divides across racial lines. Those divides continue today. At the core of those divides are economic challenges we’ve inherited from the 20th century.

In chart 1, we see that entrepreneurship has been in steep decline for decades. Fewer folks are starting ventures. In chart 2, we see that America crossed a critical threshold during the 2008 Great Recession, when we started seeing more businesses close each year than startups created. In chart 3 we see who is creating the bulk of business productivity and jobs in the nation.

But this chart also shows us something extraordinary. Entrepreneurship among minority groups is rising. In fact, startup growth rates among Hispanic and black entrepreneurs have led the nation since the turn of the century. And black women, in particular, have skyrocketed to an astounding 322% rate of entrepreneurship growth since 1997. Today, they own 60% of all black businesses.

That’s good news. In particular, given the data in chart 4, which reveals that education achievement alone is insufficient to overcome gaps in unemployment and hiring practices. We must empower minority populations to produce jobs, versus solely seeking them.

In chart 3, data show that entrepreneurial activity is consistently high among non-white populations, even with poor quality schools and lack of proper infrastructure and access to needed resources.

Challenges

The challenge we face as a nation is to empower talented innovators in underrepresented populations to be more productive. We know that businesses born from an obsolete infrastructure are not as productive as they could be. Fortunately, the nation is changing.

Today, America is grappling with the economic transitions taking place due to demographic shifts. While white males have traditionally produced nearly all the business productivity and jobs in America, we can clearly see they are in decline, while women and minority innovators are on the rise. This is good news, but the transitions toward a more Inclusive America must be more intentional.

Intentional progress requires significant investment in developing infrastructure to scale up what’s working in targeted underserved areas and shore up areas of need, where access to economic opportunity lags far behind 21st century innovation..

Of course, we must also engage the very real threats facing both our young boys and men of color as well as our young girls and women. Violence and the destructive perceptions of black youth and adults in America are part of an ugly narrative we’ve dragged into the 21st century from the previous era. This ascribed story of who we are must change. Journalists are America's storytellers. And media narratives carry widespread influence. It stands to reason that journalists can be part of the solution.

Still, in an Inclusive America, all peoples must be empowered to tell their own story. We seek to introduce the whole story of an America in transition. That story cannot be accurately told by one racial demographic group controlling the narrative of the nation. We must all play a role in telling a new story of America.

Starting with this platform, both online and offline, we will expose the systemic institutional biases that result in structural and physical violence in our communities. And we will highlight ongoing efforts to address them.

We will also introduce solutions, including a national economic vision and strategy of Inclusive Competitiveness, predicated upon ensuring opportunities for all of our nation's entrepreneurial talent in a 21st century Inclusive America.

You're invited to join us and share your ideas. Point our spotlight in the direction of activities and efforts that are helping to move the nation along a trajectory toward becoming an Inclusive America.

Start now by joining Inclusive America and contribute through our mobile app.

Speakers at NABJ 2016