“A race without authority and power, is a race without respect.” ~ Marcus Garvey

influence [ in-floo-uhns ] noun 1. the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others: He used family influence to get the contract.
2. the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others: Her mother’s influence made her stay.
3. a person or thing that exerts influence: He is an influence for the good.

power [ pou-er ] noun
1. ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.
2. political or national strength: the balance of power in Europe.
3. great or marked ability to do or act; strength; might; force.

Do you know that power and influence can push political, social and economic agendas towards your advantage? Power and influence can shape images and control dialog. Power and influence can also ensure an optimal life. So let’s talk about aquiring influence and power and why haven’t we got it? Yes, racism and sexism are factors but there are other reasons.

One is feeling unworthy. If you listen to certain entities, Black people and in particular Black women and children, are supposed to be struggling and begging others for crumbs and acceptance. That’s a lie. You have the blood of survivors in body. We are descendents of the original people and are second to no one. I will be no ones maid, mammy or TV side kick and you won’t be either. You have a right to access and wield power and influence just like everyone else.

Another reason why many of us do not have access to power and influence is because of self imposed ignorance. We limit ourselves because we do not realize our power and the power of the Black dollar. By 2015, Black American spending power is expected to reach over $1 trillon. If Black Americans were a nation, we would be the 16th wealthiest nation in the world!

We must also stop rejecting power and influence in the name of Jesus or whomever. We must change the way we think about power and influence. People who demonize power and influence do so because one, they either do not have power and influence. Or two, they want to keep them for themselves. They will tell you that poverty is supposedly a sign piety that punches an express ticket to heaven and power is arrogance and the devil. You know. The illuminati nuts. They will tell you that your deity is supposed to provide equality and justice and you are supposed to wait on the lawd. Child please. Doing nothing is a 13 hour coach flight to limited resources and despair. We must have forgotten the whole, “faith without works is dead” thing. We also must have forgotten why our enslaved and colonized ancestors were taught that nonsense. It was to keep us in our place while maintaining White supremacy. It was a sure way to reduce competition for resources. For example, during the civil rights movement they didn’t wait on the lord. They took their power while overcoming. They did it for themselves. And if your entity didn’t want you to be happy why has this deity/nature created such abundance?

So here is what I want you to do. Join a political party, a business organization or club. If you don’t get active and make decisions others will gladly do it for you. And guess who it won’t benefit? Doing nothing has done nothing but keep us powerless, stagnant and unprotected. So getting active will only benefit us.

Formulate networks and relationships with those who have influence and power. That includes valuable relationships that are both inside and outside of the Black community. If you want to increase your sphere of influence it is absolutely imperative to form strategic alliances and relationships with those wield influence and power. Don’t forget to bring something to the table once you do. Become an indispensable and invaluable source.

Be strategic about the company you keep. You are who you surround yourself with. Make a honest assessment of who is around you. Aside from your family and crazy Uncle Ray who are the people in your life? Do they push you to succeed? Do they encourage you to be a better more well rounded person? Then honestly ask yourself are your relationships a two way street or a one way dead end?

Become self educated. Stay ahead of the issues and technology. There is no excuse not to become knowledgeable. The internet is a huge free resource. You can learn anything on YouTube. Heck, go old school and go to your library.

The truth is that anyone can have power and influence. There are books and videos on them. Power, influence and wealth are not limited resources. There is no secret handshake to access them. You are not a sinner if you pursue them. You can have them all and be good person if you want too. In fact, with power and influence you can make positive changes. Is Oprah bad person because she has influence and power? Nope. Maya Angelou? Ursula Burns? So why can’t you do the same?

Do not be afraid of influence and power Embrace it. Be afraid of failing to adapt and being left behind. The only limits you have are the ones you place on yourself. Be limitless!