Celebrating the historical flavour of the month
With nine days to go another Black History Month is winding down. Once again, Black people were the historical flavour of the month [of February] with mainstream media all over Black people…
It’s truly something. Come February the mainstream media – print, electronic and otherwise go all out to get a story from someone (some people) in the Black community, just to remind us that although come March, and for the next eleven months, we may be off the radar, as a constituent part of the cultural communities that make up the city of Montréal, we too matter—particularly at this time of year.
Unfortunately, it’s not so much about Black history per se, but more about how we’re doing. And our marginalizing, pigeon-holing… notwithstanding, many are doing quite well, the various historical institutional and social obstacles we have had to overcome (through much hard work) notwithstanding.
I too, read the Gazette article, Problems and challenges persist, Black Quebecers continue to be under-represented on decision-making bodies, by Katherine Wilton, Montreal Gazette, February 6, 2015, Page A3.
Many people I’ve spoken with referred to the article as clichéd, no disrespect to Ms Wilton. Maybe she thought she’d be getting some earth-shattering revelations from the four people she spoke with, but any Black person with an interest (or indifferent as it were) in the community, could’ve told the story. And many would even agree that they read a similar story last year…
Five, ten, twenty years… ago, and we have no one to blame but ourselves for what we read in that story, vis-à-vis the sad condition of our community.
And it’s not because we don’t merit a better place when one looks at the multicultural landscape of Montréal, Quebec, it’s just that as a community we’re not taken seriously by the “powerbrokers…” In fact, we’re not even in their line of vision when they assess the cultural landscape [demographics]. And there are some well-known people in the community who could speak to that historic issue. “We’re perceived as powerless… liabilities, however defined” someone said to me recently. And that evaluation is hard to deny, just check the daily media optics, images… and who the players are. We’re perpetually missing, and that’s a major part of the story right there.
Here’s a tidbit from the Gazette article, “Discrimination in the workplace can be explained partly by “fear of the unknown” of some business people, the head of the province’s largest employer group said.”
What!? What’s the “unknown?” Are we dealing with UHOs [Unidentified Human Objects] here?
I’m confused. The “head…” should get those “business people” to get with it, to cleanse their minds and fast-forward into 2015. They’re still clearly stuck in another time and mental space, and need to spring forward into the real world. I’ve never heard any Black people express such a sentiment. They, [we] are out there busting our asses in academic institutions to acquire the requisite tools to achieve—by merit, and “some business people” are thinking such nonsense. Now there’s a major part of the reason for that “discrimination.” Or is it a “cop out?”
So rather than deal with the racist BS, people with skills/expertise (and second language ability) choose to leave town for greener pastures, where many have been grazing in green pastures… Those who opt to stick it out, accepting the second-place “visible minority” pigeon-holing because they, we love Quebec; good on us. Let’s just grin and bear it, while nurturing those business people’s “fear of the unknown…”
Which is why many years ago, one James Brown sang a lyric that went like this, “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing, open up the door, I’ll get it myself…” And before that one Billy Holiday sang, “God bless the child…”
Both of them were on to something; the message(s) still resonate. And the evidence is there: we’re still on the outside looking in. It’s another case of charity beginning at home. And so it should. Which is why James dropped some more inspiring lyrics, a sort of clarion call if you will, telling [us] “…we got to get over before we go under…”
Black History Month.
I watched an old CBS interview with the late journalist Mike Wallace, of 60 Minutes, with Morgan Freeman.
Wallace asked Freeman about Black History Month, to which Freeman offered a toxic response: “I don’t like…celebrate Black History Month… Do you have a Jewish History Month…?
No said Mike Wallace.
Author/Professor Cornel West, a man always with much to say, a few years ago referred to Black History Month as the “Santa Clausification of Black History Month.”
And many more Black people are losing interest in the whole thing—the pigeonholing of [our] Black/African history in February, believing it wasn’t what Carter G. Woodson intended or expected it to be. Hope people will not be so ready to tell the same old stories, akin to a mantra.
We’ve gone way beyond the novelty stage; it’s time to really focus on our history by bringing it into the mainstream, so people who are seriously interested could have ready access—in academic institutions, libraries… After all it’s history.
I too, am becoming tired of that February flavour. I want people to taste it everyday.