Book Review: Black Power Inc.: The New Voice of Success
Book Reviewed by Rondall Brasher
I would like to initiate my review of Cora Daniels' Black Power Inc. by eluding to a quote attributed to Malcolm X, too Black’too strong. That is how this book struck me. Cora Daniels has delivered a book that may turn out to be just that for some readers. She has trumpeted the wake-up call for those of us working on the corporate plantation.
Daniels, a staff writer for Fortune Magazine, brings forth a book that is relentless in its pursuit of the truth. This project actually began with the research for the cover story "The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America" (July 22, 2002 issue of Fortune Magazine) Black Power Inc. is a collection of interviews and commentaries from arguably some of the most powerful Black corporate figures in America. Daniels delivers a fascinating revelation about the revolution that has changed addresses from ’uptown’ to downtown. The integrity of over 10 years of investigative journalism and her ability to bond with her interviewees stands as a testament to her profession (Is Jayson Blair in the house?).
Black Power Inc. peels back the fa’ade of mannequin smiles covering for the racial equality propaganda so prevalent in today's corporate rhetoric. Daniels reveals how far some of the post-Civil Rights generation has come and discloses how very far they still must go to get to the promised land of racial equality. She discusses openly how the civil rights movement has allowed African-Americans to accomplish more than our parents could have dreamt. It has created a business collective where the color of skin is made so strenuously unimportant that it actually becomes the most important thing of all. It begets a classic demonstration of when anyone tries so hard not to think of something the inverse causes everyone to focus on it even more.
There was a fear nothing attitude amongst the subjects interviewed in Black Power Inc. The open discussions about the ripple effects caused by their color were efficacious. The illustrations of covert racism in the everyday work place will strike a cord with many African Americans. Racism that is so inadvertent, yet so blatant, that it leaves nameless victims infuriated at the ignorance of its brutality. The most poignant, but subtle example of this is in Chapter One. It is a story of Susan Chapman, a senior finance executive and director of global real estate, who happens to have a boss named James Crowe. Chapman was shocked after learning that neither her boss nor his staff recognized the connotation of James' preference to being called Jim. They literally were completely dumbfounded by the reference to the name Jim Crow (e).
The subject of racism is only a slice of this pie in the sky. Daniels' uncovers the new definition of Black Power and what are the criteria of wielding such power. She also discusses women's place in this modern corporate dream scheme and predicts them to be the next power brokers.
The most important subject Daniels taps into with her interview participants is the future of executives of color. This brainstorm amongst the neo-Black Power leaders is alone worth buying the book. It is not a ’how to succeed in a world of colorless people while maintaining your hue in the meantime’, but its close. A blueprint of what ’a balla, da real shot calla’ actually looks like.
This book is a must have for anyone who thinks they know the rules of the game. Black Power Inc. will institute its self as a testament to the only way to ’fight the power’ is to become the power. Daniels has gone a long way to distinguish that the battlefield has moved to the boardroom. And quite frankly, we are running short on true soldier.