We must keep it real. Or to coin the vernacular of the young people,” Let’s keep it 100.
Maybe I have it all wrong, but the Black community in many respects has lost ground, and there is no existing evidence of a battle for betterment being waged. In fact, our community is more passive than ever before.
Many of us romanticize great Black leaders, but very few are prepared to live up to what these individuals truly represented. Yes, there were great leaders who made tremendous sacrifices to maintain the struggle, to advance Black people. We achieved and have become the first Black “this” or the first Black “that”, but sadly we have made these achievements without being grounded in the role that we were to play.
Many of these Black “firsts” have assumed comfy positions within Canada’s different levels of government and infrastructure, which culminated in them giving up the struggle— and advocacy, the protest. Help for the Black community is invisible amongst this group.
Actually, it was expected that this group of beginners (firsts) would continue the fight and struggle by dealing with downright racism/discrimination and addressing the systemic bias that we have experienced for so long.
Many of our ancestors held the belief that if we were able to get more Blacks in the proverbial job/position, then we could start reversing the near-complete social and economic bottom that Blacks currently occupy.
What we have accomplished are individual wins regrettably at the expense of our group success. We must reach the realization that even our individual success must be directly linked to our struggle whether we recognize or acknowledge it. Personal goals must be aligned with the goals and needs of Black people, although we will never be able to make this adjustment without knowing our history.
Not only is knowledge of our history required for the alignment, it remains one of our most powerful ammunitions. That is the reason why, even today, teaching our children about Black History remains a compelling challenge to our continuing [the] struggle.
The term mis-education coined by Carter G. Woodson has produced a clear-cut and practical appraisal of the educational system with regards to its incapability to contribute an accurate Black History account to our children. We must come to understand how being polluted from this educational system has damaged us all.
The education system continues to fail to present authentic Black History and most history books give little or no space to the presence of the Black man in Canada. Besides the just occasional references of Blacks, the majority of history books portray Blacks in subservient, inferior and more or less sub-human roles. Black children and the entire Black race, its contributions, culture and heritage is relegated to “nothingness” and “nobodiness.” Such an education only serves to perpetuate one race as being superior and the other as being inferior.
The Black community is facing a very serious predicament that if not addressed will permanently place our children as second-class citizens, and we suffer because we are confused as to who are our leaders.
If we were to ask ten Black people who are our leaders, nine will say either politicians and/or Black clergy. Truth be told, the leaders of most communities are always the business people, not politicians and not clergy. It is the business leaders who should be the leaders; these are the people who run the country, the state, the cities, and our neighborhoods. Like so many other things, the Black community has the concept of leadership upside down.
I define Black leaders as those individuals who serve the needs of the Black community— elected, appointed, non-profit, public sector, business, religious, etc. These people possess the knowledge and expertise to assist our community. I also define Black leaders as those who are the wealthiest among us, although it is the same group previously referred to. I single them out as it is their held belief that they have no obligation whatsoever to the Black race.
In many cases, these Blacks are so fascinated with the Eurocentric way of life that they use it to claim “success.” They have come to genuinely believe in assimilation – success is defined by how close they are to White people and how far away they are from Black people. On account of their supposed success, they have come to believe that the reason many Blacks are in the economic position that they [we] are in is due to lack of willingness to work hard.
In actuality, they believe Blacks are lazy. Restated, they say look at me – I made it and if you don’t, it is because you’re lazy. This group believes that they “made it” on their own and on account of our history and the contributions of our ancestors – many of them either don’t know or have forgotten about the struggle that continues for the majority of Black people in Canada. Do not for one moment get the impression that I am naïve enough to believe that everyone who achieves a degree of success will commit themselves to those less fortunate within their race. However, let it stand for the record that I firmly believe that if more successful Blacks would see “giving back” as their responsibility, we could get more done.
While everyone is a leader of sorts, some peoples’ actions and influence have a greater effect than others. The issues that impact the Black community are inter-connected and inter-related and require a “comprehensive” approach. Arbitrarily, no single organization and/or individual has the capacity to take on the issues of the Black community by themselves.
The term “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is perfectly suited for the Black community. We must begin to see ourselves as one. We must begin to break the cycle of disunity and dis-connection which is evident in every aspect of today’s Black community. “I am one with my people” and our survival and our success is dependent on our ability to establish “functional” unity – our power is in our unity of family, community, and race.
This concept is also called synergy – (team work/alliance) which is unquestionably needed by our community of leaders — a laser and stronger focus on our issues. This term is definitely true because not one of these Black leaders or their organizations can resolve the problems facing the Black community by themselves. It requires a cooperative approach.
Because these leaders are unorganized and many of the sectors that they represent are also unorganized, in addition to individualism and organizational tribalism, nothing is moving in any “real” way for the Black community. Where will the help come from?
Although our Black leaders possess many of the resources needed by the Black community, unfortunately they are lacking vision, motivation, creativity, and hope. Basically, they are missing the mark, and as such are unable to help our community. Some Black leaders do have the Black community at heart and are motivated by seeing the Black community progress; however, there are too many Black leaders who have no clue about their history and the shoulders that they stand on. Consequently, they do not feel they have any obligation to help other Black people.
The help that we need cannot come from the politician exclusively. Within political circles, Black politicians are still a rarity and a minority and they have yet to build a strong Black council needed to advance the issues solely for Black people.
All politicians serve at the mercy of those who help them to get elected (money and votes), especially those who provide the financing. So while the rare Black politicians may get all of their votes from the Black community they represent, very few of them get all of their finances from the Black community. Our community is much too poor and we have not fully grasped and understood the game of politics.
Many times our politicians get their money from unions and other special interest groups, so they are obligated to these organizations and less to the Black community. The politicians serve at the mercy of their constituents, and while they help by supporting a Black agenda, they cannot be the exclusive leadership for the Black community.
If we are to progress beyond the 28 then we must carefully examine what appears to be our fate.
Aleuta—The struggle continues…