By Victoria Sumner, Program Manager
July 26, 2019
It’s nearing the end of the work day and a group of business partners walk into the MORTAR office in Walnut Hills. As each of them takes their seat, they are met with warm greetings from the MORTAR staff. Once pleasantries have been exchanged, the agenda for the next hour is explained, thus preparing everyone there for the greatness that was about to transpire. Ideas were abounding from person to person as updates were shared, questions were brewing, and learning took place. Then in one pivotal moment, someone asked inspiringly (paraphrasing), “What keeps you up at night?”
Around the room, everyone chimed in agreement on the gravity of the question framed. Personally speaking, this question comes to mind often for various reasons. In fact, this wasn’t the first time I had heard it in this context. As an organization, we strive to engage in continuous learning in our crafts, departments, etc. I’ve been to several different conferences and meetings since I’ve started working at MORTAR where the purpose was to not only shed light on the reality of the perpetual systems that usurp, undermine, deplete, and destroy the well-being of marginalized people in communities here and around the country, but also to gear our minds towards better solutions. Our mission vehemently supports the idea of bridging the gap and tearing down barriers to help those folks rise above these systems through means of entrepreneurship that can ultimately lead to ownership, legacy, and wealth. What keeps me up at night, you ask? It’s facing the devastating reality that it would take 200+ years, without Caucasians obtaining anymore wealth, for African Americans to attain the same net worth – in fact, it will continue to decline rapidly. We serve our community because they have been purposefully left out. We take it upon ourselves to care and vie for these people behind closed doors so more doors can be available to be opened in their entrepreneurial journey.
What question keeps me up at night?
Can we truly move the needle?
Alone, heavens no. None of this work we can do by ourselves. Everyone involved has to have a collective spirit to spearhead this work so it can transcend time, generations, and keep its momentum. There have been trailblazers who’ve paved the way for us to even enjoy a level of freedom and ownership that our great grandparents couldn’t even think of dreaming. The vision must be clear and plain – if we continue to stand firm in aid and support of ALL of the people in our communities, one by one, we can move the needle for generations to come. We may not see the change we want to see ourselves, but it’s all worth it if our kids’ kids get to live and sustain a more inclusive, equitable, and unconditionally loving world.