Pro Black folks like myself can get very caught up in the ways that integrationist minded Black people in America compromise to sit at white tables. We can often be very self righteous about the choices we are making to be independent. On one side there is a lot of dignity in this stance. It often comes with more struggle and discipline. At the core of our efforts is a deep love for Black people and the restoration of our rightful place in the world. If you are only working within an American context you may be able to ride that out without your politics ever being challenged. However when you are like me and #Global minded and have an expansive understanding of Blackness that reaches across the whole diaspora and Africa your card can get pulled very quickly. I rarely deal with white people at this point in my career. When I do it is typically in the leadership position or on my terms. I am proud of that and it has brought me a freedom to be myself in the most powerful way. However what many people don’t think about are the compromises we make as we move with the privilege of holding an American passport in Black nations. We always have to recognize our individual privilege and how we use it to our advantage in business and society as me move around the globe. When we are honest about that we are humbled and realize it ain’t all that different from the Kanye’s of the world. For example I have a meeting today. I want nothing more than to sashay into that meeting in my African tie died mumu and handle my business. But I know that there is power in my Americanness and I will get much more respect and compromise if I roll up in one of my many dresses that look anything but African. Just the other day I was in a room of actors and actress who are famous in their country but the head of the National Art Alliance kept everyone out of his office so he could talk to me…even said…”wait..I am talking to an American”. It always makes me uncomfortable but my desire to make such a powerful connection outweighed my discomfort with the undeserved privilege. I have sat with leaders of corporations, military and even a president in Africa that I had no real credentials to even have access to except that I was an American and they accepted my request. I justify it because I know my heart and I believe the universe places you in position even when you think you don’t deserve it but I am always aware of what is happening. At the end of the day we are all making some kind of compromise to move in the world and accomplish our goals. We hope that they are rooted in the good of humanity as a whole and not simply for personal power and greed. As an African American we hold a strange place. We are very aware that we sit on the periphery of our nation and struggle daily to be included however the world just sees us as American, they can never understand the duality of our existence. When you realize that you exist as a bridge to recover and rebuild what was lost you will use both your oppression and your privilege effectively. Now I am personally not interested in being a bridge to tables serving bland potato salad with cranberries. I don’t think that is in the best interest of Black people. I don’t believe anyone has ever really CHANGED America from the inside, they perhaps made it a bit more bearable. However these days I am less willing to roll my eyes and suck my teeth at those who continue to think that is the way. The proof will be in the pudding at the end of it all and perhaps it is a combination of all our efforts that will aid in our recovery. Love, T.