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This content is so good and compelling,
and correct, it's a tread high of
journalism---a new day of premiere publishing!"
-Maynard Eaton (8-Time Emmy Award Winning Journalist)
Context is important to understand why we do what we do. Everyone is driven to stand, speak, sit or be silent for a certain reason. My driving force behind standing and speaking for those who do not have the voice in this fight is because I understand their challenges. As a 10-year-old I had to grow up much faster than I would have liked to. The innocence of childhood was a luxury my mother could not afford due to my dad dying from lung cancer. 

I can still recall the feeling of anxiety and pain as I sat on my porch after his funeral, wondering how would my family survive. A week prior to his funeral, from my dad’s death bed with a rattle in his throat he told me, "Jab you will be the man of the house when I am gone." The man of the house with two older sisters and my mom. A 'man' needs money to take care of his family and I had to figure it out the best way I could. As a child I did what I had to do with the connections and resources that were available to me. The calvary did not come for a fatherless, skinny little Black boy like myself. It did not take long for me to understand that I was the calvary. This is a shorter, less graphic and socially digestible version of what I had to do to be the 'man' of the house. That is my context.

The Problem
At the center of this 'Water Boy' issue is the reality that the City of Atlanta really does not care about this population of Black people. Poor Black people are not and have not ever been a priority in this city, short of speeding up the process of gentrification. We should cut to the chase, these leaders do not really care about them starving, they just do not want white people to be bothered by the reality of their desperation. Having these children starve in private away from Atlanta’s prime real estate is at the center of this. 

It would be extremely disingenuous to blame these current issues on COVID-19 or the current state of our local and national economy. This current climate is mainly showcasing Atlanta’s leaders’ full commitment to providing this terrible level of neglect to poor Black people. Before this pandemic it was business as usual, fail the working-class Black people and get us out of the city to make way for Atlanta’s real citizens. Now our city’s leaders are in a position to have to deal with our ‘Water Boys.’ 

Truth be told, this has been going on for years in Atlanta. The migration of this process to the prime white market of Atlanta has moved the Mayor to take a stance on stopping these young Black boys from selling their water…as a means for their survival. Though there is a level of danger built into their business model, please understand the levels of danger they had to make it through before even getting to these street corners. You will hear the Mayor and our city council members preach about their "safety" and not wanting these boys to get hit by a car. They are never concerned about these boys getting ran over by a lack of employment opportunities, community programs, poor education, substance abuse, gang warfare, no healthy food options and sexual exploitation. All this talk of keeping them safe is just empty political lip service.

The PR spin of creating an entrepreneurship program is just smoke and mirrors. These kids are making between $50 to $300 plus a day. Do we really expect for them to sit in a some fictional Atlanta sponsored entrepreneurs class for free everyday? How will they eat and contribute to their households? When asking these real questions about their survival it is impossible to get real answers from Mayor Bottoms or any of these city council members. They are all just talking in circles as if hunger and need are not the driving points for these young boys to be on these street corners.
The Atlanta Way vs The Water Boys
This term has been watered down to a matter of focusing on the cough and not the cancer. Celebrity over credibility. Titles over talent. The priority of The Atlanta Way is now a means of fighting for the perfect color bandaids to be placed on these wounds that clearly need stitches and antibiotics. These 'Water Boys' are the symptoms and not the disease, they are the cough and not the cancer. 

The actual disease is the grim circumstance purposely created around these children and their family members. Their family members' unemployment and underemployment mixed with horrific living conditions and a lack of real positive opportunities is at the center of this cancer. To deny this clear reality as if these 'Water Boys' are hustling on our streets as some fun activity simply reveals how disconnected and dishonest the guards of The Atlanta Way really are. 

Councilwoman Marci Collier Overstreet says some people are afraid because some of the 'Water Boys' are too aggressive and tap on windows trying to make a sale. 

These are children. Children. Black boys. Sadly as Black boys our sons are discarded and disposable within this system unless they are privileged enough to be on the right side of the Brown paper bag test. Atlanta has had one Black mayor after another since 1974 and the state of Black peoples' living experiences continue to sink with each passing political ribbon-cutter. Think about it, this city has failed poor Black people in every sector- public education, community programs, small business support, The Arts, housing, employment and on down the line. The City of Atlanta has made it nearly impossible for working class Black people to become upwardly mobile thanks to The Atlanta Way

“We appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit of youth who
are selling water to motorists, but we have seen an increase in unsafe and violent activity
in some locations and cannot allow it to continue.”
- Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Now is the time for new eyes, new leadership, new voices and new skills to be infused into The Atlanta Way because applying those old vanity bandaids to this grossly infected wound will not work. We are sitting on a powder keg that will eventually explode if our city’s leaders are not honest about their intentions and actions. On one side of this story Mayor Bottoms is claiming to care about this group of young boys, meanwhile the police are on the other side of her care handcuffing and arresting them for simply trying to survive…legally. Can you honestly say if these were white boys in Atlanta who were fighting to survive and help their families the city’s leaders would be taking the same clumsy approach to solving their issues? The narrative would be totally different and our white 'Water Boys' would be celebrated as enterprising champions of their communities.  

The Answer
Atlanta has an opportunity to be a national leader in this troublesome space of gentrification, low employment, unemployment, COVID19 and the reality of the impact of this genocidal cocktail for Black people. I know that our country’s goal is not and has never been to empower Black people on any level. From a Federal level on down to our local city and county levels, we have been fighting through this storm. 

Transparency is needed. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta’s city council members should take a public stand to fix this problem or publicly let us know they really don’t give a damn. Be honest and transparent about what this really is. Stop focusing on the cough and be honest about the cancer. Make no mistake about it, this will not turn out well for Atlanta by continuing to be dishonest about the handling of this matter. These are children who have dire needs and if our leaders will make it impossible for them to work honestly they are making it possible for them to work dishonestly. This will produce a terrible squall that will not fit neatly back in the bottle. 

All this talk about entrepreneur workshops is just smoke and mirrors being produced to calm the public as the city continues to make criminals out of these children. Anything short of having all of what is listed below, working at the same time will not cure this cancer.

Community Food Programs: A real quality program with healthy and good food choices is needed. This can also create employment opportunities for the community. Partnering with local farmers to create a farm to table process will give our community a better sense of who we are while teaching viable skills to our people. 

Employment Assistance and Entrepreneur Workshops: This will be designed for the young boys and their family members. Employment helps to address their needs right now. Partnering with established businesses will teach these families how to start small and move to scale. The more employment opportunities, the more local taxes will be collected. This will be a win for all parties involved when this is managed correctly. 

Community Building: This will deal with the gang violence, multiple levels of abuse and challenges that have been created within their communities by Atlanta's power structure. Without dealing with this issue, all else will fail. To partially invest in these children and then send them back into these war zones will only cancel out any of our efforts. 

Arts Programs: There are so many bright geniuses within these communities who simply need an opportunity to learn how to express themselves as artists. It would be even more beneficial to teach them how to monetize their artistry and build a business as an artist. We would partner with local professional artists of all disciplines, non-profits, companies who provide art supplies and the City of Atlanta’s Cultural Affairs Office to make this a success. 

This is just a snapshot of what will be needed to truly heal our community and children who are fighting this war against poverty, racism and class in Atlanta. Now is the time for us to redefine and reimagine what The Atlanta Way could be in our lives. As we look behind us it is clear that it hasn’t worked well for the working class Black people of Atlanta. This goes beyond my personal opinion, we can go outside and see the facts of this matter. How much more do we really have to see before we adjust ourselves into becoming the best versions of who our children need us to be? These are children. Children. Starving and dying because of The Atlanta Way.

Okeeba Jubalo
Founding Publisher & Editorial Director

Executive Creative Director

Executive Creative Director
Georgia governor withdraws mask lawsuit against Keisha Lance Bottoms
© Louisa Chu / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Percy Billings, owner, at Harold's Chicken #55 in the West Chatham neighborhood of Chicago on Aug. 22, 2019.
Demonstrations and budget cuts to the
department led to her decision.
Written by BET Staff
His conversation was simple, complimentary, and bordering on flirtatious. He complimented how she carried herself and her level of professionalism. She smiled and he continued. He asked about her family status and she revealed that she was the single mother of a 10-year-old son. He inquired about the child and was excited about how eager she was to reveal how intelligent the child was by calling him "the smartest in his class." Then he went in for the kill. "I am sure you plan for him to go to college. How do you plan to pay for his education?”, he asked. When she hesitated, this was an indication to him that she did not have a solid plan. He saw his opportunity. "Well let me tell you how my wife and I plan to send our boys to college," he offered. He proceeded to tell her about his Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) opportunity and how she could secure her future and the future of her child by joining his team. The disappointed look on her face spoke volumes and her tone was harsh as she said, "Did you really just waste my time trying to get me to join your team? Really?" She snickered a few more things under her breath as she walked away. He smiled an oddly satisfied smile and said "Thank you", as she walked away waving goodbye with only one finger.

After watching this exchange, I then approached him, making it clear that I was not interested in his business opportunity, but rather wanted to know why he looked happy to be turned down. He simply replied, "She was my ninth No." I asked him to explain and his explanation was equally as simple. "Success for me is a numbers game. I need 10 people to get one Yes. She was my ninth No, so the next one is mine, he beamed.

YBEs, we are all in a numbers game. Unfortunately, many of us do not know our numbers. How many people do you have to make contact with to make a sale? If your answer is "I don't know," then you are not contacting enough people. What is your sales cycle? If you shrugged your shoulders, then you likely lose contact with a potential client before giving them ample opportunity to do business with you. These two numbers are vitally important to having and growing a successful business.

50=10 is Entrepreneur Math. Every successful actor can recount their life changing Yes. You know that positive response to an audition that changed the trajectory of their career by way of the big film, the breakout sitcom, or the successful pilot. Before the life-changing opportunity, they went on casting call after call and received an enormous amount of rejection. This is the way of the world in the film industry. Many have deluded themselves into believing that this is an existence reserved for models, musicians, actors and dancers. This is the world of the entrepreneur as well. However, entrepreneurs should not go blindly on auditions. The entrepreneur must develop numbers and strategies based on past performance. For example, the entrepreneur should know their numbers and be able to clearly articulate that their company has a goal of winning 10 Requests for Proposal (RFPs) per month. Based on past performance, they should know that for every five proposals submitted, they will only win one. This means they must submit 50 RFPs in a month to meet the goal of five. YBEs, when you know this number, the Nos are not discouragement, they are simply the things you need to get out of the way in order to get to your "Yes." This game is a numbers game but you don't read this magazine to play the game, you read YBE to change the game. Tune in to our next issue to find out how to change the numbers game. 
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