Friday, June 29, 2007

What is the National Urban League selling to Young Black Professionals?

I recently received an email from March Morial, the president of the National Urban League. He personally invited me the Smoking Hot Young Professionals Summit. The theme for this year’s National Urban League Conference is You, Your Money, and Your Future. Wow. Me, my money, and my future!

The NUL’s mission is to promote self-sufficiency and self-reliance (economic and political) among African Americans and other disadvantaged peoples in urban areas so that they can become apart of and thrive in the American social mainstream.
NUL Affiliates provide a passel of social services to millions of people every year. Services like homeownership seminars, job and vocation training, career fairs, education fairs, utility and rent assistance, food pantry services, literacy classes, and computer training workshops are good things.

But if the Urban League is about helping disadvantaged people, how is it possible for these same people to attend this conference? They can’t. The truth is this conference ain’t for them. So, who is this conference for? Well, judging by the price tag, it’s for high rollers and other people who are financially well-off. Registration is $375 ($275 if you’re an Urban League member) and hotel costs are sure to be astronomical.

After checking out the on-line registration and conference brochure (which really grabbed my attention) I was disappointed by the lack of details about how the conference activities actually addresses the theme You, Your Money, and Your Future. I saw a lot of tag lines and eye catching graphics. Several high profile speakers and entertainers will be in attendance. The entertainment line-up is exciting, but the informational part seems like a box of chocolates. I won’t know exactly what I’ll get until I’m there taking it all in. Overall, the conference sounds like it will be a blast; that’s not a bad thing, but it just seems like a big gamble or at best an expensive party.

But what does any of this have to do with what the National Urban League is all about?
You, Your money, and Your Future
– sounds like it should be a campaign slogan for the NUL and Urban League Affiliates across this nation. Sounds like the perfect battle cry to inspire the efforts of every UL affiliate. Sounds like a creed for the people who come to depend on the Urban League -- the people they help become more self-reliant.

And what of Mr. Morial’s promise of Smoking Hot Young Professionals Summit? Where’s all this fire coming from? I guess it must be for all of the social networking and receptions being hosted.
Why should young black professionals attend this conference?
What will we learn? Will we learn anything about civic engagement or social service?
What will this experience treat us to?
Will we become better professionals and/or better urban citizens after attending this conference?
Is the Urban League trying to attract a younger audience to the UL and its mission of social service and civil justice?
What’s more attractive about this conference – the opportunity to become civically engaged in a great organization or going out-of-town and having a good time?

1 comment:

chichi said...

price tag made me gasp too