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This morning, I got a text from my respected colleague Roland Martin. I can’t remember what Roland and I were talking about, but I do remember what he told me at the end of our conversation. Roland mentioned that he couldn’t do anything next week because “the cruise is leaving in a couple of days.” I immediately became jealous, because I knew he was talking about the Fantastic Voyage, hosted by Tom Joyner.

I’m not always big on black folks looking for another party, but there is something I love about the Tom Joyner Cruise. Anyone who’s ever been on a cruise knows that seeing another black person on a cruise ship is like searching for Louis Farrakhan at a Klan rally. While cruises can be fun, comfortable and even exciting, there is a dryness that people of color experience from a lack of cultural diversity.

The Tom Joyner Cruise occurs annually and has become a one-stop shop for African Americans seeking both fun, relaxation and the chance to interact with one another. I initially gained respect for Joyner after reading about how he began his career by flying back and forth between Chicago and Dallas on a daily basis in order to host two radio shows. In Chicago, he was the host at 107.5 WGCI, and in Dallas, he took over K104 KKDA. This helped him to earn the label as the hardest-working man in radio. I personally respect anyone willing to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get whatever it is they want.

The Tom Joyner Foundation also does a great deal of work for historically black colleges and universities. There’s no question that Joyner has become the Oprah Winfrey of black radio by providing a loyal audience with daily entertainment and food for the soul. While I don’t always agree with Joyner’s positions on every issue, he certainly has my respect.

I went on two cruises this past summer, one with my family and the other with the National Professionals Network. I found that the food was always great, the sun was amazing and spending time with my family was priceless. I also have to admit that I won the cruise ship poker tournament, which basically made the entire trip free. I was proud to win, given that I was the only black person in the tournament and I’d just learned to play the game two weeks earlier. Perhaps all this math training is good for something.

The added value of spending time on vacation with other black professionals is the chance to network with one another and form lasting friendships. Personally, I would argue that some of our gatherings should have a little less partying and a little more productivity; black folks should not just come together to drink and dance. At the end of the day, we must work to make our community better, uplift one another and create a better future for our children. That’s how you party with a purpose.

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