Sad to say straight out of the gates, but in order to garner any degree of progress the community must start grinding and stop whining.
Even young people know that they have to “just do it,” as the saying goes, in order to achieve their dreams.
We are not willing to do the work appertaining to progress; instead we are still relying on politicians to make things better for us. We do a lot more whining than grinding when it comes to our collective—and sometimes even our individual economic freedom.
Racism in Quebec is brutal, but subtle, demanding that those of certain ancestry conform to linguistic rules and mainstream tenets of society for acceptance. Needless to say, underpinning the conformity is an unprecedented and quasi-unconscious disdain of one’s African heritage and natural features, evidenced in part by the texture of the wigs worn by our women.
Most of us who have managed to receive collegiate indoctrination and gainful employment are severed souls torn between two worlds–of the oppressed and the oppressor. I hear it all the time, about the injustices that have been and still are being meted out to us, from so-called leaders and liberated Black folks, how our collective fate is not in our own hands but someone else’s, what we need to do, how the cards are stacked against us, the income (earning) inequality and social injustice.
They can recite all the stats and all the history surrounding our current condition. Yet while many of them have mastered the art of talking about our problems, far fewer of us are willing to get into the fray and do the work to ameliorate our condition—even though the solutions are relative.
Plain rhetoric in the absence of action is meaningless, and whining not supplanted by grinding only showcases weakness and apathy.
In the words of Booker Taliaferro Washington, orator and advisor to presidents, the world might pity a whining nation, but it will never respect it until it respects itself enough to do for itself.
If we would turn our whining into grinding, not worrying as much about the external factors but concentrating on our internal resources with which to accomplish what we will, Black people would be much better off.
Now to politics! As the saying goes: “A drowning man will cling to a straw.”
A few weeks ago Black folks were preoccupied with the Black candidate running in Montréal North for the vacant borough mayor’s position, thinking once again that our salvation somehow lies with them.
If we continue to seek the largesse of a political candidate without having a reasonable assurance that he or she will do more than talk about our situation we will continue to get the same thing we have always gotten: more rhetoric.
Stop waiting and listening to [their] patronizing words regarding Black issues and start demanding what we want, then be prepared to respond with our votes and dollars. We must negotiate from a position of strength, not with idle threats and saber rattling but by withholding our votes and our dollars if they do not support our demands. What do we have to lose?
Another tactic used is to categorize the exception as the standard. Yolande James, Maya Johnson, Marlene Jennings, etc, are used as examples of the progress of Blacks in Quebec. But what about other Blacks Québec who live in sub-human conditions without gainful employment? Even as Blacks attain higher levels of education, the chasm of joblessness endures.
For example, currently playing out in a bathroom of our Southern neighbor is economic punishment. Yes, the state of North Carolina is being economically punished because of its stand on which bathrooms transgender individuals can use. Corporations have withdrawn their corporate dollars; others as well as some groups are threatening to do the same. Why is there not a similar initiative here in Quebec on behalf of Black people?
Instead, it is demeaning to see our Black leaders, feeders and bleeders like preachers running after people running for political office to “give them something” when they can just as easily bond and get it for themselves and their people. We are too busy counting votes to realize that our dollars count for more.
Is there really any hope for the collective progress of the Black community? Am I a dreamer in saying that it is realistic to profess that one day we will be able to overcome the brutality of subtle systematic racism that has left us mentally and socially unhealthy and unloving of ourselves and our peers?
The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, and the realist adjusts the sails.
I have a vision of a totally transformed Black community where our people radically improve both the quality of [our] lives and surroundings. This can only be accomplished by grinding… implementing programs and ventures designed specifically for the unique needs of the people of African descent—without apology.
Such a gesture will completely eliminate and eradicate the slave mentality and utter dependence on the gratuity of others that it promotes.
Grinding at full steam we will cease to be the weakest link in the chain, or the weakest patch in the quilt of the Canadian mosaic—the world for that matter.
Blacks will then proudly advance from a position of lacking to that of stacking.
But firstly we must stop whining and start grinding…
Aleuta—The struggle continues…