Mark Fisher is the Director of Community Outreach at Black Lives Matter – Militia and a participant in the inaugural Emerging Leaders Development Program provided by RIBBA.
Can you share more about what you do at Black Lives Matter – Miliita?
BLM Militia’s purpose on a local scale within the state of Rhode Island is to spearhead and be a catalyst for making swift, sweeping, and major change from the highest to the lowest level of government in the way that this state engages and deals with it’s Black citizens and communities. We will hold all Rhode Island state and government leaders and officials accountable and responsible, from the state capital down to every city and town municipality within the state. From the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, to Civil Rights and so forth, Black people are U.S. Citizens and are thereby a party to and granted the rights on both federal and state levels that protect and serve all.
Our Mission is to create a position of power and “level the playing field” within and throughout Rhode Island for Black people and communities via economic development for financial and economic empowerment. Our goal is to create and build a self-sustaining ecosystem of financial and economic empowerment, education and innovation.
A people’s and communities self-sustainability and progression has always been based in their economic power via a flourishing and thriving business sector. For Black people and communities, Black Wall Street (“Little Africa”) in the Greenwood section of Tulsa, OK in the early 1900s is a prime example of this by what was created and built there by Blacks through entrepreneurship and cooperative economics, though ultimately and unfortunately, literally burned down to the ground by white people. In cities throughout the U.S., like New York and Boston, you will find a Chinatown and/or Little Italy where these people and communities have created self-sustaining ecosystems and leveraged them for their best interests. Even for Italians in Rhode Island, Federal Hill was an example of this.
Fundamentally, Black people and communities need financial literacy and entrepreneurship education at scale to successfully create, build and operate Black owned businesses for financial and economic empowerment and to create generational wealth for ourselves, like other people and communities do, build a thriving Black business cooperative, and then leverage this as a tool and mechanism to adequately finance the ongoing fight for justice and equality as well as to engage effectively in politics to bring about governmental and systemic change on all levels. No longer will we allow the foot (or knee) of anti-Black and systemic racism and white supremacy to remain on our necks. Our time is now.
What has being a part of the Emerging Leaders Program meant to you?
Being a part of the Emerging Leaders program has meant a great deal to me and will be one of my most memorable experiences. To be a part of a limited and select group of 25 respective industry leaders is special. Not everyone was accepted to be a part of this cohort and it’s been a pleasure to hear and share our unique and professional perspectives on a range of topics all pertaining to leadership development. Also I’ve learned quite a lot about myself as well as mindsets of proven and effective leaders. We have been given the space to be our authentic selves and voice our authentic opinions. Likewise, it’s a pleasure to be working with Lisa again, someone whom I hold in very high regard and have the utmost respect for and whom I also call a friend. She is an example of the curriculum being delivered via her distinguished accomplishments and credentials as well as the foresight and ability to roll out such a program as this one where all who are connected feel empowered.
What’s the most significant think you’ve learned so far?
The most significant thing I’ve learned so far is my CliftonStrengths. Absolutely amazing discovery. I learned that I am 1 in 33 million. These are the odds that someone has the same Top 5 strengths as I do in the exact same order. My distinct CliftonStrengths profile sets me apart from everyone else. I am uniquely powerful. My strengths are as follows.
- Achiever – Because you have high Achiever, you work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. You take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.
- Relator – Because you have high Relator, you enjoy close relationships with others. You find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
- Context – Because you have high Context, you enjoy thinking about the past. You understand the present by researching its history.
- Connectedness – Because you have high Connectedness, you have faith in the links among all things. You believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has meaning.
- Learner – Because you have high Learner, you have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. The process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites you.
What kind of impact do you want to have in your work and how do you plan on utilizing what you’ve learned to achieve that?
Our Vision is to see a world where Black people are no longer subjugated to and oppressed by a white supremacist ideology in any form or facet and at any level, and wherever it may rear its ugly head that it be swiftly eradicated. The days of simply praying, marching, singing and hoping are long gone. Those tactics no longer serve us as Black people if we truly want to be liberated on a local, national, and global scale. Today’s Black activists and community organizers must fully and fearlessly take the reins of leadership and be innovative in their approach toward the fight for justice, equality and empowerment for Black people. We will no longer look to our governments to “save us”, but rather serve us by holding them accountable and responsible accordingly.
We exist to assist in dismantling the anti-Black racist system that was deliberately designed to keep us enslaved and at a disadvantage for hundreds of years after physical slavery was abolished in a country that was literally built on the backs of our ancestors through blood, sweat and tears. This was calculated by white people with precision and done with the full intention and purpose of stifling the Black intellect and creative mind and stop us from taking our place on the world stage, and instead leave us underprivileged, undereducated, impoverished, crime cultured and incarcerated, and left to become an enemy to ourselves. BLM Militia is continuing the legacy of so many Black freedom fighters before us by taking our people’s and our communities’ destiny into our own hands.
Using strategic thinking, planning and leadership which was part of the Emerging Leaders training, my organization will continue to live up to its creed which is “Black Lives Matter Militia is a new revolutionary, progressive, and all-inclusive Black Lives Matter Movement iteration organized for arming and empowering the minds of the people”.
The Emerging Leaders Development Program is free for participants through funding received by the RI Department of Labor and Training and is delivered by RIBBA in partnership with the University of RI Office of Strategic Initiatives.