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A conversation with a true conversationalist…

A conversation with a true conversationalist…

  • Substantial's been telling stories since early 2012. Here's one from the archives.
An Interview with Mr. Jermaine McNair of NC Civil

SM: Tell us about NC Civil?

McNair: The future of our communities depends on their ability to function on the mainstream stage of business. NC CIVIL connects minorities to mainstream business whereas they don’t get exposed to that particular environment during their growing years enough to have any real connection to it as an adult.

SM: What is the main objective or goal of NC Civil?

McNair: The highly educated, the business owners, and the upper working class will never move into fallen neighborhoods and NC CIVIL believes they shouldn’t have to, nor should they be asked to even freely hang out in these neighborhoods. Mainstream enterprise is the only place where successful people are sure to go, so this is where our program is built. NC CIVIL participates in this mainstream business and provides young minorities opportunities to play a role in our process.

SM: As with most new businesses and nonprofits, there are times when the journey to success seems overwhelming. What motivates you to keep pushing forward to make NC Civil the absolute best it can be? In other words what keeps you focused on your mission?

McNair: Yes, the path can be overwhelming at times, but I don’t view it as a personal attack. It is funny to say this, but life can be viewed like a spoiled child that is used to getting its way. When you decide you want something different out of life, the way you communicate that is by pursuing your goals. You must keep in mind that when you begin to pursue new goals, life is going to attempt to remain stubborn in giving you the old results, but do you give in to the child? No. You keep on showing it the sort of excellence you expect. Life will figure out how to give me what I want as long as I remain consistent and don’t allow it to shake me from my goal. Knowing this keeps me focused.

SM: What does the future of NC Civil look like; where do you envision it will be in five to ten years?

McNair: In 5 to 10 years I want to have built the first CIVIL Academy for Urban Development – an alternative school that takes all the different aspects of urban culture that hold the interests of our youth and use those aspects to provide lessons and coachable moments in everything from fashion to media, writing, photography, marketing, accounting & business, etc.. Our children like hip hop and fashion. We can use that to teach them the work ethic that goes into the fashion industry. They like music and dance that also fuels a vast industry. We can use that to teach them everything from production to photography, writing and journalism, image, marketing, and more. More importantly, we can teach them how it relates to the world around them in terms of tradable value, so that they can handle it responsibly. The wealth of the hip hop culture is a new thing and it has been until now handled irresponsibly by young men and women thus far. We can do better.

SM: If you had unlimited resources how would you grow NC Civil?

McNair: If I had unlimited resources, I would be able to take my time and focus on the much larger projects, using every part of the process to involve the youth. The business world is a fast pace environment where you must move on ideas and opportunities quickly. I often have to take on projects without really involving the youth, just because it is a good opportunity to keep NC CIVIL on the stage of social relevance and I’m not the major cardholder at the table. In these instances, I just have to get on board. With unlimited resources, I would put on the large events that other companies would have to get on board or lose out on the opportunity. Then I could take my time and involve the youth extensively.

SM: What makes NC Civil standout from other nonprofits?

McNair: What makes NC CIVIL different is our working relationship with the private sector. We function on a platform where there are mostly private businesses. This way we remain in good contact with the strong values that substantiate the thriving center cities. Most community development programs tend to maintain their operations in the troubled neighborhoods. These children need a safe haven and these programs serve that great purpose, but this doesn’t do much to socialize the youth into the path of success. These organizations, for being so deeply entrenched in the heart of these neighborhoods, risk losing society’s standards and values, so to walk in some of these places, you might think you were on the corner by the language you hear and the behavior you might witness. It becomes another neighborhood hangout with better supervision. I think organizations that exist in the neighborhood are necessary and the effort they have given for so many years is nothing short of angelic. I just think it’s time we honored their efforts with something that can do more to help expand community programming into the actual path of progress. NC CIVIL is that next level in community development programming.

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SM: What has been one of your most difficult challenges as an up and coming nonprofit? And how did you manage to work through those challenges?

McNair: The greatest challenge has been to try to keep up with the fast paced business environment and still take the time to involve the youth. Involving the youth is what makes NC CIVIL a community development program. Without youth involvement, I am just a marketer or a promoter. I’ve had ownership in the nightclub and entertainment field before and it’s something I love, but I think business without true community development is what has gotten America into the condition of poor values that we suffer from now. Maintaining the balance between community and industry is the challenge of our lives. It’s one that NC CIVIL has vowed to take on as our namesake. Many people don’t know that NC “CIVIL” is an acronym for Community & Industry Value Interactionist League and the idea of NC CIVIL is based on “social interactionism” theories. That is the sociology student in me coming out. For that, I send a shout out to Pitt Community College for helping develop the sociologist in me. I’ll be transferring to ECU in the fall of 2014 to pursue my first degree in sociology. Don’t be surprised if you see Dr in front of my name in time.

SM: We’ve come to know one another fairly well, thinking about the life you came from and how you started, if there was one piece of advice you could give yourself, and others, what would it be?

McNair: Ooh! My life’s lesson? Whew! Here goes. I was sitting in a prison cell. Yep, and I was thinking about the huge car wreck that had become my life. It was like losing control and flipping a car several times, only to survive the wreck and walk away to look back at the crushed car-like “Wow! I was in that car?” My life has suffered what looked like irreparable damage. I couldn’t fix it. No one could undo what I had done – not my mother or big brothers, not a judge in the land, even those who wanted to help. There was no fixing it. This upset me for weeks, but then it hit me. I have the power to do things on this earth that no man can reverse or take back . . . whatever I do, no one can undo.

This was some heavy information for me to process because it taught me my own power – a power equal to the most powerful men on the planet – the ability to do things that cannot be taken back or undone. The amount I had done was remarkable and all before the age of 25. Yet, I was still alive and it appeared that I had some more living to do, so the question was what might I do now. I started to look past the wrongs I’d done and look towards the great things I might do. So, here I am, aware of my power. I am substantial.

SM: Thank you J. Stay tuned to, follow them on Facebook, and be on the lookout for more innovative ways to connect.

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