I know that you’ve heard the news by now, about Atlanta Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson, ‘outing’ himself as a racist. He decided to blow the whistle on himself, informing NBA Officials about an email he sent in 2012, which contained ‘Racially Charged’ language.
When I first heard the story my reaction was to laugh, because there was nothing racist about what he wrote in that email from what I could tell. Then, I read the email – which confirmed my initial reaction. This isn’t racism. This is business.
The dirty secret about business is that it’s very much about race.
These same kinds of conversations go on in MLM all the time. Way back in my ACN days we’d often get plenty of training on this fact. What excited a white audience was different from what excited a black audience. I talk about those ‘old days’ of hotel meetings even though in many cities throughout America they are still going on. What you will find in almost all of these ‘offices’ aka hotel meetings is that some are mostly white; some are mostly black; and so on.
I read a book co-authored by Charles King called “The New Professionals” – which spoke directly about how race is taken into consideration with big companies that hope to appeal to several demographics. Race is almost always taken into mind when it comes to business. But we don’t talk about it nearly enough, so I’m glad this letter from Bruce Levenson has been exposed.
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The New Professionals spoke about how aware MLM Companies are of Diversity.
They are very aware (the good ones at least) that they need to appeal to all races; not just one. The companies that do not think about this are not around very long.
When an MLM Company is ‘too white’ – they will pay well known black leaders with a good reputation; and often they will turn around and find a team of black leaders to join them – and the goal is to bring more diversity to that company. At some point, a meeting was most likely held, and it was determined that more needed to be done to diversify the company.
Meanwhlie… some MLM companies have too many black people. We don’t talk about it; in fact ‘when’ these conversations happen most people are Very Careful not to put these thoughts into an Email – for fear of coming off as a racist. BUT, several MLM companies are comprised of too many black people – and are ‘scaring white networkers away.’
I can name a few right now, where the fact that the MLM company is comprised mostly of “Urban Networkers” – whites seemingly do not take any interest in those companies. (5linx, MCA, WakeUpNow, Organo Gold) – this is one of the reasons The Black Folder was started by TopNetworkersGroup. We wanted to have this discussion that so often happens in back rooms.
I remember when I was working with Escape International; a team member of mine from Massachusetts told me specifically, that his mother and her boyfriend didn’t feel comfortable bringing their guests and prospects on our calls; which were mostly run by black leaders on our team. I’m thankful for his honesty, which is rare.
Many people don’t know this story – early on when I worked with CEO’s Unlimited, our calls were conducted by two gentlemen; Melvin Bradley and Allen Hallimon III,. Most of the calls were conducted by Allen Hallimon who had an awesome delivery with plenty of Soul. However, his presentation was the kind of presentation that was geared mostly for a black audience. What I wrote about a few minutes ago has always been an issue in MLM. So I made a suggestion to Melvin, to allow my partner at the time, Brandon Ivey to conduct those calls.
Brandon grew up in a very white neighborhood, and spoke very proper English. So his ‘presentation of information‘ would be appealing both to our black audiences and also our white audiences; because business is very much about race. My suggestion worked – we put over 1,000 people into that company in the next few months after that change was made. Soon our team had people of many Ethnicities – and he’s done very well since.
Black business owners are very conscious of Wealth Inequality in America.(as are most business owners; regardless of their racial background)
Most are very aware that whites and Asians make the most money, and therefore have the most money to spend. Almost all black business owners are interested in ways to ‘tap into’ white money; Asian money, and even Hispanic money. Most blacks know that in order to make this happen, relationships must be developed with people from each market.
This same conversation goes on in MLM all the time.
MLM companies that are based in the USA but want to expand into Mexico, South America, or other Hispanic countries, ALL look to identify Hispanic leaders who will help with that expansion. I can remember when ACN went international, and had to change leadership rank names – from Field Trainer to Team Trainer; because something about Field Trainer was offensive to people in the Netherlands. ACN knew that in order to do business in the Netherlands, they had to establish relationships with people from there; who could tell them what is offensive, what is inclusive. That’s business.
Whether it’s MLM or the traditional business model, this is how all business owners think.
If anything, the email from Bruce Levenson merely exposed just how real racism still is in our supposed post-racial society. He talked about how nice and pleasant all of the people working at the Hawks games were. He spoke of how there were no incidents, no crimes – no muggings or pick pocketing. He spoke about how in spite of how safe it was to be at Hawks Games, southern whites were just not comfortable coming to games where they might be the minority.
If anything, his email speaks to the very fears and irrational misconceptions that many whites still have of black people. Many of these fears and misconceptions have their roots in media propaganda; movies and television shows – music videos; which depict black people as thugs, criminals – dangers to society. Sadly in spite of overwhelming evidence that these elements, which do exist in the black community – can also be found in all communities; and are usually no where near the norm; sadly people still buy into these stereotypes about the black race.
This is why, when George Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin walking home to his father’s residence, Trayvon appeared to be ‘acting strange’. This was and is George’s perception of black people. Black people recognized it right away when we heard the phone call. But ‘racism’ was shot down as a component in his trial; ruled out by the jurors – as having no impact on his decision to follow, stalk, provoke a fight, and eventually murder Trayvon Martin.
This negative racist perception of blacks, is why we just saw over $500,000 raised for the white police officer who, from all accounts, murdered unarmed Mike Brown – setting off a nation wide discussion, once again; on Race.
If anything, this is where Bruce Levenson has dropped the ball; while exposing just how clueless so many white people seem to be ,about what IS racism, and what isn’t.
Silently complying with racism is racism.
The Hawks owner should have made a public statement about the shameful nature of southern whites not to attend Hawks games, for the reason they were not attending.
Trying to appease their racial nature; rather than challenge them to change – is racism.
I totally understand the business side of it; More white cheerleaders; more music that white people listen to – all to make the experience ‘more appealing’ to white basketball fans. That in and of itself, is the problem with racism. As a nation we should be asking the question; just why are white people so uncomfortable around black people??
This is also what MLM should be doing too. MLM should be having a conversation – about Racism in Business. We should be challenging each other to be better; just as we challenge each other to read; to grow and develop personally – We should also put it out there; that we should make the effort to End Racism; To do business with one another regardless of someone’s racial background; To get more comfortable with conference calls, and hotel meetings that are not conducted by the same ole’ same ole’ …
Instead, MLM allows itself to get far too political.
The ills of society find their way into the MLM Industry; which itself is trapped by society – since it emerged OUT of society. When You and I grow, and learn, and self educate – we find out what society is. We come to realize that it is you and I who determine what society is; That society is an ever changing, ever evolving word that simply describes What we allow; and what we do not.
Through TopnetworkersGroup – me and MY team will address the issues that MLM Companies are afraid to address. We will challenge everyone to do better; to be better.
Until then, we will continue to discuss race in business as well.
The purpose of The Black Folder is not to shun non-blacks away; but rather to Inform black people in business, and to wake them up to a reality that far too many blacks try to avoid; or ignore. The fact that most races do NOT want to do business with black people.
For this reason, black people MUST learn to do business with each other; for our very survival as a race. Until other races deal with their demons – their misconceptions and false perceptions of black people; Until they start doing business with us – WE must do business with one another. You are invited to the Black Folder – our growing library of Videos related to Our people; Our history; Our struggle; and the Seeds of Our Future.
I have more thoughts on Bruce Levenson; as well as reactions from several others to share as well. But clearly, he just wanted to sell the team and make some money. If he really wants to do something about racism; He’s got the platform to do it from. Whether or not he’ll use it for that purpose – is pretty clear already.