Seeing Promise in Turmoil 

Tami Sawyer

Power Box

Tami Sawyer

What difference a day makes.

In one day — overnight, actually — a man's career and name are ruined.

Now let's look at the flip side of that: What a difference a day doesn't make. A teen walks into a police precinct and describes a crime — and then nothing. Not a day, not days, not months ... years until the claim is truly pursued.

This week's cover story is about the charges leveled at Robert Lipscomb. The only truth we have at this point is that someone isn't telling the truth.

Rumor has it that this is a plot to clear the mayor of any unpleasantness before October's elections. Rumor has it that this is a plot to defile the mayor before October's elections.

And then there's the Cosby Effect people have been throwing around about the additional alleged victims. Are others latching on for attention? Are they for real? Maybe they aren't, but let's note that no one believed Cosby's victims until it was nearly in the double digits.

Whatever shakes out in this case, maybe something positive will come. Maybe someone inclined toward abuse will think twice. Maybe some kid who's been abused will say, Enough!

I recently profiled Tami Sawyer and her business Power Box for Memphis magazine's 901 blog. She saw promise in turmoil. We can all learn from her example.

Sawyer is a native Memphian and a social activist. She lived in Washington, D.C., for 10 years. She jokes that she aged out of D.C., but admits that family and a new spark in the city drew her back home.

Last November, two days before Thanksgiving to be exact, a grand jury moved not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Social media erupted. There were calls to boycott Black Friday.

Sawyer saw a different path. Instead of boycotting, she tweeted out, we should buy black on Black Friday. She began Instragramming black businesses. A germ of an idea for Power Box was formed.

Power Box, which launched on August 18th, connects black-owned businesses with consumers. Each week, Power Box profiles businesses, offering giveaways of products from those businesses.

Sawyer has recruited nearly 800 black-owned businesses for the site. She says between 400 and 500 more are in her queue to check out.

Sawyer says the name of Power Box was very deliberate. She latched onto the idea of including "power" early on, but the box came later. As she explains "power box" has meaning. "It's the transformer. It's the light in everybody's head."

She says of Power Box, "This is a way to have a collective impact. For me, this is true social activism."


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