Greetings from Martha’s Vineyard. Yes, if it is August, then the Mitchells must be on Martha’s Vineyard. I confess, I wait all year just to return here. Maybe in my past life I was Native American on this island. I don’t know, and it’s not something that DNA testing or Ancestry.com can confirm for me. It’s just something in my soul that draws me back here every year to regroup, reset and reaffirm my existence on this planet as opposed to Venus (men are from Mars) or some other outer worldly place. Luckily my family feels the same.
As tradition has it, we arrived midweek. This arrival is partly because I never make ferry reservations early enough during the year, so to try and arrive on the weekend means having to wait on standby or jump through hoops to get to the island. To be clear, I don’t do standby. My schedule demands that I know exactly what time I am doing whatever it is I’m doing. The exception of course is for spur of the moment activities, but even then I have to have an idea of when that may occur. Such is life.
For those of you who don’t know, Martha’s Vineyard is an island off Massachusetts. It is said to be the furthest point east in the United States. Therefore, you must take a ferry from Woods Hole to get to the island. There is also the fast ferry from Manhattan and points from either Connecticut or Rhode Island from which you can catch a ferry, but in those instances, you cannot bring your car, so Woods Hole it is.
Back to the agenda. We purposely chose to arrive Wednesday this year to attend the fourth annual RIISE Brunch and Beach event. RIISE is the acronym for Resources in Independent School Education, dedicated to helping Black families with children attending independent schools navigate the turbulent waters. Guest speaker at the event, which was held at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort, located along South Beach, was Dr. Pamela Jolly, CEO of Torch Enterprises. Topics of discussion were “Why We Can’t Wait for Excellent and Equitable Education”; “Ensuring Legacy Wealth Continues”; and “Clarifying the Vision Ahead.” The discussion was informative in that it shed new light on old perceptions while introducing new concepts on how to prepare our children for the future, so that they don’t stumble and fall, but build on the wealth of experience and knowledge of the generations that have preceded them. What made the discussion so appealing is that it applied to us all, whether we have children in independent schools or not.
The first two and important concepts that Jolly spoke of are standards and traditions. Think about your standards and traditions and how you define them for your family. Standards and traditions are the paths we want our children to follow. Next was the concept of power. Essentially, power comes from organization—organization of thought, lifestyle and within a community. We have everything at our fingertips, but first we must get organized.
Jolly went on to define linked fate. This concept is the recognition that success of one is inextricably linked to the group as a whole. What happens to the group will happen or be felt individually. Linked fate is why it is important to build relationships so that we can organize from a strategic perspective with people we have relationships with and operate from a position of familiarity. Gone are the days of “I got mine, now you get yours.” Or “Look at me. I’m doing well while everyone around me is doing poorly.” Another concept we tend to overlook is how to negotiate. After all, everything is negotiable. Negotiation happens between people with different perspectives who seek to find the commonalities. How do we move forward above the chaos and confusion to come to a peaceful solution?
While much was said in between, the theme of standards and traditions was constant. It is up to you to decide how the legacy going to continue through your children. Have pointed conversations and plan for how your children are going to fully takeover. Determine standards and traditions that will become the legacy. Start talking about marriage. Focus on weaknesses to help make the family strong. Measure your outcomes. Don’t be general, get explicit about goals and objectives. Share with your family.
It is obvious that Jolly can continue for hours and hold an audience in rapture. Among her credentials she is a Wharton School graduate and theologian, so of course she highlighted the importance of combining equal measures of prayer and business to all of your undertakings. Spend less than you earn. Save, invest and talk about finance and money with your family. Build economies of scale. Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know. When children ask questions or struggle with ideas, offer your knowledge of experience. When you don’t know, seek out someone who does know. Apply your knowledge to see problems where others do not.
Teach children to have the confidence to ask. Asking is where we begin to build equity. I encourage you dear readers to meditate on the concept of equity. Look up the meaning in the dictionary. Think about how it applies to your life and how you can begin to build on your equity as it takes many shapes and forms. As children grow and go out on their own, and they want more than just a job but to create their own business or alternatively a job with growth and prosperous future, teach them to have the confidence to ask for what they want. Know the difference between a mentor and a sponsor. A mentor will show you what to do. A sponsor will listen to what you want, and then pick up the phone to make it happen. That’s building equity.
Continuing with traditions, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Mid-Manhattan Branch will host its 16th annual Freedom Fund Luncheon Saturday, Sept. 9, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Marina del Rey. Among the awards are the Roy Wilkins Lifetime Achievement Award to the Tingling Family, including the late Honorable Milton Francis Tingling, judge of the Civil Court, City of New York and the Hon. Milton Adair Tingling, justice of the Supreme Court, State of New York (retired New York County clerk and commissioner of jurors); Roy Wilkins Community Business Services Award to the Frederick Douglass Boulevard Alliance, a community development organization; Roy Wilkins Outstanding Leadership Award to Michael J. Garner, chief diversity officer, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, president, One Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York; Roy Wilkins Entrepreneurship Award to Jimi Holloway, marketing director and special events planner; Roy Wilkins Historian Award to Cheryl Wills, news anchor, NY1, author, historian and motivational speaker; and the Roy Wilkins Arts, Culture and Media Award to my longtime friend, Audrey J. Bernard, journalist and columnist, the New York Beacon. Well deserved.
Until next week … kisses.