Entrepreneur Russell Simmons submitted a message for the New Year to The Huffington Post—a message outlining his thoughts for the upcoming year with inspiring words aimed at “emancipating ourselves from the mental slavery that is limiting our society and our people from moving forward.”
Simmons starts off by noting that African Americans have “endured the brutality of slavery, survived the pain of Jim Crow, and overcome segregation” and finally “declared our dignity and equal rights.” He points out that this past decade, African Americans witnessed and participated in one of the greatest achievements in the history of the United States when President Barak Obama was elected into office. He takes the opportunity to express his hope for the new decade where he anticipates that everyone will take advantage of the opportunities that have been created.
“To me, during segregation, the black community was strong, because we had black dentists, doctors, drug store owners, grocery store owners, and many other business leaders providing our community with care and services. Integration came and although it gave us much more freedom and liberty, it also presented new challenges that we continue to face.” With the advancement of cultural and entrepreneurial groups, Simmons notes now more than ever, a huge portion of the country “is thirsting to buy our products and follow our cultural lead.” He points out that there is no ignoring this demand if the community wants to move forward. “We should not limit ourselves to just interact and do business with each other,” he says.
At one point in the article, Simmons directly addresses his audience and says he challenges “you to recognize your power.” An inspirational message that applies to everyone, surely. He strongly advocates diversity in his message and notes that he is “saddened by many of my peers who continue to perpetuate the notion that diversity is wrong. We have nothing to fear from integration because our culture is the New American Mainstream; the entire world is embracing us. It’s our time to be open to the world.”
He closes his statement by saying, “So, as we enter this new decade, let’s practice loving everybody and everything. Let’s be proud of our diversity and make sure it means what the word actually is supposed to mean. Let us not be agents for others to co-opt, let us be the agents of change. It is the wisdom from having experience and inside perspective from the most important cultural phenomenon our country has ever seen that this new generation carries forward. And damn, it is exciting.”
To read the entire message by Russell Simmons, click here.