Crabs in a Barrel
Should be required reading for those who chase of the American dream.
By Norris Shelton
The Rise and fall of a Certified "Minority"
When sports teams “take one on the chin,” the coach usually terms it an educational experience and vows the team will “learn from our mistakes.” Author Norris Shelton knows the humbling experience of costly mistakes all too well, for his story herein is no glib tale of a smooth and steady rise to the pinnacle of the business world. Rather, time and again, this aspiring black businessman climbed high up the ladder of success, only to lose his foothold and slide all the way down again — bumping his chin on each and every lower rung.
As we delve into the pages of Crabs in a Barrel, we wince at his pain when the hurdles are too high, and he falls face down. Real estate brokers laugh in his face; bankers rebuff him; government officials are deceiving; contractors abscond with precious capital, and business partners undercut and even swindle him. Kickbacks, bribery and other forms of corruption and treachery are facts of life. While government “minority” funds promise salvation, devilish strings are always attached. Yet, despite the treachery and deceitfulness of strangers, it is his closest friends and associates who continually trip up this resolute entrepreneur. Now 71 and reflecting on his checkered career, the Louisville, Kentucky, businessman jokingly claims his early business tenure “serves as a warning to others.” But what the once naïve entrepreneur lacked in ingenuity and training, he made up for with gritty resolve and, yes, he did learn from his youthful blunders and misplaced trust.
“If others can learn from my mistakes,” says Shelton, “then sharing the lowest moments of my business nightmares can be a positive contribution to my brethren who consider entering the business arena. Looking back, I was building sand castles on the beach, and the tide just swept them away. I learned the hard way; now I want to spare other descendants of slaves — my people —that same plight.”
Crabs in a Barrel should be required reading, not only for slave descendants and other minorities, but all of those — associates and competitors, advisors and investors, regulators and officials — who have an impact on those who venture to take a chance by chasing the American dream.
Crabs in a Barrel, a 284-page work, is a hardback, published in February 2008 by American Slaves, Inc. The ISBN Number is 978-0-9765417-4-5. It lists for $26.95.
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