The opportunity and ability to identify and recognize the outstanding people in our lives and communities is a distinct privilege and is accompanied by great responsibility and accountability.
So, why do we do it? We have observed over many years that recognition and awards have a pattern – they are most often accorded to well-known people who are connected through self -interest or cliques; this created a cynicism around the validity and authenticity of the award process. We seek to rationalize the process with one obvious wrinkle – we are focused on people of color; at Whereitzat, we however, make every effort to step out of that comfort zone of familiarity and intimacy, to offer an award to someone we barely know, or to someone we really don’t know, or even to someone diametrically opposed to our mission or point of view, that’s a game-changer. The B.I.G. Awards is really an acronym for The Business Innovators & Game Changers Awards, and that’s what differentiates us! Any person of color who is making a redemptive and uplifting difference in our communities is eligible for recognition. We take great pains to ensure the honorees we choose are of good character, people with a record of integrity, and stability, matched with a sincerity and commitment to their mission; we ensure also that they are not overexposed, but are usually flying just below the radar – our process depends on referrals and recommendations which requires planning, preparation, and research. But there’s more, we practice a self-prescribed philosophy of, “expanding the limits of human potential,” a sincere belief that in esteeming people of color, we are well on the way to reconstructing our self-image and establishing our own paradigm of the phenomenon of the “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
We at Whereitzat have as our mission, the re-imaging or re-imagining of our community, the destruction of stereotypical assumptions that mask our individual imperfections, ignorance, and resistance to change and transformation. So Garvey got it right when he advised us to “canonize our own saints, create our own martyrs…Black men and women who have made their distinct contributions to our racial history.” A pernicious and enduring part of our negative memory is the reflexive response we express when we are hurt or disappointed by someone of our tribe, when someone who looks like you – cheat or betrays you – it’s almost always “black people are like crabs in a barrel!” I guarantee that whether you put Italians, Greek, Wasps or Jews in that barrel, the result would be the same, they all would climb on each other’s backs in that barrel; so stop with the self-fulfilling prophecies, and being the ‘hater,’ instead, become the elevator! Lift yourself up, every chance you get, lift yourself up – levitate; that practice will strengthen you enough to lift up your brother – “he isn’t heavy he’s your brother.”
The B.I.G. Awards is that elevator that lifts our men and women of color, who lift us up daily, despite having to lift themselves, and their families up every day; then find enough strength to lift up their brothers and sisters in the community. This is what differentiates people, not your cars, not your fine homes or your cushy jobs – no! It’s your willingness to care enough about others to give of your Time, Money, and Talent to assist and support others in your community that really counts, because that is the only tangible demonstration “that you have love among yourselves,” according to the Prophet Jesus.
Therefore I again salute some of the most amazing people in our communities of color who are real philanthropists first, educators/scholars, business owners, radio personalities and community resources: Dr. Sandra Lindsay, Dr. Elisabeth Russell McKenzie, Ms. Adonna Thompson, Mr. Rohan Barnett Esq., Mr. Kenneth Stewart, Mr. Andrew Morris, Mr. Louis Grant, Mr. Brandon Phillips, Mr. Donald Levy, Mr. Jemehl Thomas, Mr. Clement Hume, and Mr. Carl B. Moxie.
Your disciplined, professional, and impeccable decorum in response to the recognition you were accorded is a testimony to your achievements and the awards you were accorded; we at Whereitzat can go on record as saying that you are arguably the most impressive group of individuals gathered together under one roof since our inauguration, and we thank you for gracefully accepting the accolades you so well deserve. We must insist that you pay it forward by ensuring that the next class of honorees meet the high standards you have set!
A very special thank you to Congresswoman Yvette Clarke for her tireless efforts in supporting not just her constituents, but all of us in the diaspora. Her office is responsive, caring and disciplined.
Thank you to Jamaica’s Consul General to New York, Mrs. Alsion Roach-Wilson for her role as Patron of the B.I.G. Awards Gala, we are grateful that you fit us into your very busy schedule. Please allow us the presumption of offering a Blessing for my favorite Pastor, Apostle Dr. Cecil Riley for the God Consciousness and Blessing he brought to the event.
Simply a World Class gathering!