The idea to write “Conversations in Black: On Power, Politics and Leadership” came to award-winning journalist Ed Gordon in 2012 after reflecting on the wide number, not to mention the caliber, of people he had interviewed throughout his career.
“Sometimes the best stuff comes before or after the interview when the camera is off, and the tape isn’t going. I thought it would be great to capture some of that stuff,” Gordon told TNJ.com in a recent interview.
Having put the book aside for a few years to fulfill other work commitments, Gordon knew last year he had to “resurrect the idea,” he says.
The outcome is a brilliant blend of stories about African American leadership, politics and pop culture, told by some of the best known Black influencers and leaders around including politician Stacey Abrams, former Attorney General Eric Holder, CNN contributor Van Jones, sports journalist Jemele Hill, author Michael Eric Dyson and more.
“Trayvon Martin had just been killed, Obama was president, and there was a lot to talk about,” he says.
A former television host of Conversation with Ed Gordon, BET Tonight, and 60 Minutes II, Gordon recalls compiling a list of interviewees that he felt represented “a reflection of what we look like broadly.” He followed that up with a list of spot-on topics ranging from Colin Kaepernick’s activism to Black representation in entertainment and the media; the Black vote, and much more.
“I didn’t want it to just be a political book. There are so many aspects of life that we need to take a look at as a community. My hope, in general, is that we will start to look at new narratives,” he reveals. “There are some tried and true things that have worked for us in the past, but we should also look at new road maps. The one area, I think, that we collectively have not made inroads in is economics. We are still on that bottom rung of the economic ladder.”
He continues, “So many people looked at what Robert F. Smith did last year in wiping out the debt of those Morehouse grads. If you consider that he is the richest African American in the country at a net worth of $5 billion, and then consider that the richest person in the world is Jeff Bezos who, even after his divorce, is worth up to $120 billion, you see the wealth gap even at that level.”
Gordon says he included the chapter to promote a better understanding of money, of building wealth, and supporting each other’s businesses. “At the end of the day, money is what makes this world go round, and changes the dynamic of your ability to control your future,” he notes.
“Think about where we sit right now as this pandemic is changing the world,” he proposes. “We will get out of it, but not without some damage, and not without some hurt. Those who will lose jobs or will be impacted by dollars that don’t come their way are going to have a harder road when this thing is over. Disproportionately, African Americans will be hit by this pandemic in a way that others will be able to recover quickly. So, I wanted to make sure we talked about this area as well.”
“Conversations in Black,” is timely, given the current divisive state of affairs in America in November of 2020, and offers fresh perspectives that are pertinent and personal to Black America. Authored by a familiar face and voice that many of us remember fondly from his early days at BET News, “Conversations in Black” is a must-read. Now.