Chicago is most often in the news for its African American homicide rate, but according to a 2014 report, Omaha, Nebraska, might be just as deadly. An analysis by the Violence Policy Center, Omaha found Nebraska as a whole “led the nation with a Black homicide victimization rate of 34.43 per 100,000″ in 2011, and of the 30 African Americans killed throughout the entire state, 27 were murdered in Omaha. Not much, it seems, has changed in the two years since the report, and as a result, Black professionals are fleeing the city.
The plight of Blacks in Omaha is captured in a new documentary called “I Dream of an Omaha where…” Directed by Mele Mason and written by Daniel Beaty, the documentary was a collaborative project involving former gang members and people who have been affected by gangs. The film also addresses the struggle to keep African-American professionals who leave the city to look for better career opportunities and an improved quality of life in Omaha.
One career/life coach in the city is working working overtime to retain Omaha’s Black population and her name is Moniki Cannon.
“Someone told me, ‘you are young, you are Black, you are female, you will not amount to anything here,’” the owner and operator of Gunn and Cannon Empowerment Group told KETV. That someone was a white co-worker and that incident happened on her very first day at a new job. “I want people to identify the problem, but let’s not just identify it, let’s find solutions. And it takes everyone, not just the Black people, not just with white people, but everyone sitting in our community.”
According to Cannon, the Black community needs to be more cohesive, more community minded, and create opportunities within the Black community if the population will ever thrive. What motivates her personally is the idea that one day someone will say, “You created an opportunity when most people would think there wasn’t one.”
That’s why she and her husband run Gunn and Cannon, a consulting company that specializes in people development. It’s also how she’s able to move past the discrimination she’s experienced.
“Do I feel like I’ve ran circles around some of my white counterparts a time or two? Absolutely. Did I necessarily get the reward I should have? Not necessarily. But I was able to grow.”