This weekend – after a two-year hiatus, the Black Expo returns to Oakland. In fact, there will be two Black Expo’s in Oakland this weekend. In two different locations.
The Black Expo has been taking place in Oakland since 1991. The great Dr. C. Diane Howell coordinated the local expo in Oakland until the national organizers took Oakland off its schedule. From 1997, she grew the expo into a remarkable opportunity for showcasing Black entrepreneurship and business, networking and college information.
Sadly, Dr. Howell – who also published the Black Business Listings (BBL) – passed away December 2008.
Her downtown Oakland office was shuttered (although a sign still sits outside the former Broadway offices next to Payless, the BBL has not been published and there was no expo in 2009.
Making up for that missing expo, there are two this year.
Touting itself as the “official” Bay Area Black Expo, one expo will be held at the Oakland Coliseum. This expo was publicized in both the Sunday Morning News (newspaper) and the Globe Newspaper (two Black newspapers in the East Bay). There will be a tribute to Dr. Howell at this expo. The expo was also promoted at the April mixer of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce.
Another expo is being organized at the Oakland Marriott by Dr. Annette Shelton’s Hand to Hand Marketing. This event was publicized in the Oakland Post newspaper, as well as a July mixer of the OACCC.
Can’t we all just get along?
Although I often felt that Black Expo was very “corporate” when compared to events like the annual Kwanzaa Gift Show, it was an excellent opportunity for Black people to network. How strong might the expo be if it were coordinated in conjunction? Even if one was held this weekend and another in a few weeks, or months. It is actions like this that give credibility to the myth that "Black folks can't come together."
It is an embarrassment that people -- seeming to be concerned about Black Economics -- cannot set aside their petty bourgeoisie differences and created opportunities. Then again, under the myth of "Black Capitalism," I guess competition is good. Right?
Not really. At a time when so many are not working, networking is mandatory. Unity is necessary.
Wotj unprecedented numbers of Black people are being forced out of Oakland through police and media enabled gentrification, instead of coming together -- like Dr. Howell would expect and organize for -- Black folks are falling into that divisive “Willie Lynch” syndrome.
What would our ancestor Dr. Howell think about that?
The so-called "Official Bay Area Black Expo" will be 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Coliseum, 7000 Coliseum Way. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. More info at www.bayareaexpo.com Vivica A. Fox hosts on Saturday, featuring performances by Shirley Murdock and others.
Hand To Hand Marketing's Black Expo will be 7-10 p.m. Friday July 16, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at the Oakland Marriott and Convention Center, 1001 Broadway. Perfomers include Lenny Williams, and others. Tickets are $10 for adults, $2 for children. For more information, visit www.blackagriculture.com