5.16.2010

During tough economic times, more explore the reality of 'Doing For Self!'

by Nisa Muhammad and Jesse Muhammad

When Mark Luckie was laid off from Entertainment Weekly in 2008 he was shocked.

“I was dumbfounded. I didn't expect it. I was unemployed for nine months. My blog, 10,000 words, was initially my personal outlet but I ramped it up after I was laid off to become my professional outlet. I redesigned it, wrote more posts and had the free time to complete my book, Digital Journalists Handbook,” he told The Final Call.

That is the story of more and more Black journalists who are finding themselves having to reinvent themselves to stay in the industry. Newsrooms continued to cut Black journalists and supervisors at a higher rate than ever before in 2009 while the minority communities they cover grow larger.

As more Black journalists lose their jobs, diversity in newsrooms has taken a back seat, according to a study released April 11, by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE).

“It is a travesty that minority journalists are being disproportionately cut in newsrooms across the country,” said National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) President Kathy Y. Times.

Solution: Do For Self

In Houston, Paul Wilson, a devoted husband, father and college graduate had been unemployed for nearly a year. His bills were stacking up as his family faced possible foreclosure. What did he do? He decided to become self-employed, which is a trend on the rise among Blacks according to another recently released report.

According to a report on SmallBusinessTrends.com, from the fourth quarter of 2007 through the fourth quarter of 2009, the number of self-employed Blacks increased 5.7 percent while the number of self-employed Whites decreased 3.4 percent. Self-employment among Asians decreased 10.5 percent, and self-employment among Latinos remained flat. Nationally, the total number of non-agricultural self-employed people fell.

Isaiah Muhammad of Houston knows first-hand how difficult self-employment can be, yet he has managed to successfully support his wife and eight children since leaving his last job six years ago.

“My mind is never stuck on doing one particular thing. Business is about mistakes and relationships. Like anything in life, you're going to make mistakes,” Mr. Muhammad told The Final Call.

Mr. Muhammad has been focusing on erasing personal debt and keeping a minimum of ten streams of income. “We must do for self or we will be forced to do for self soon. We have to weather the storms of business. There's always down cycles in business but I'm going to keep on striving,” said Mr. Muhammad.

Mr. Muhammad attributes his success to seeking guidance from those who know, partnering with others and his supportive wife, Melva Muhammad.

“My husband knows that I am always 100 percent supportive. I married a very intelligent man. Since our first child I have not had to work for anyone,” said Mrs. Muhammad, who is the co-founder of The Elevated Places School.

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