Black Friday, Amazing Grace, Deportations
By N Oji Mzilikazi
Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 23, Number 22
November 29, 2012
Every year, and every time I hear “Black Friday” that references the day after America’s Thanksgiving, America’s supposedly busiest shopping day of the year because of its fantastic sales, and which was designed for stores to make money, balance their books, and for consumers spend what they don’t have, profit, I want to barf. I want to riot. I want to start a riot.
Although in martial arts one begins the discipline with a white belt and its highest certification is a black belt, black bodies are ideal thermal radiators, and a black hole is the final stage of evolution for very massive stars following total gravitational collapse, black has never been imbued with positive qualities or attributes.
While the association of black with evil and misfortune had nothing to do with race, the enslavement of Africans along with the legality of racism and ideology of white supremacy, position its relatedness to negativity as also character traits of Blacks.
Blacks were evil, wicked, sinful, unprincipled, depraved, devilish, satanic, degenerate, offensive, repulsive, animals, and the like.
New language construct and new words came into being to oppress, defile, discriminate, smear, tarnish people of African descent, and shape perceptions.
Black was added to words in order to make them negative. Thus, words like blackmail, blacklist, blackball, black market, black mark, blackguard, black-hearted, and black sheep.
In August 2007, election posters for Switzerland’s biggest political party, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, depicted three white sheep, and one of them kicking a black sheep out of the country. The Black sheep represented Blacks, and foreigners.
The long-standing designation of any kind of disaster, calamity, financial crash, military defeat, and even bad news is labelled a black whatever day of the week. Thus, black Friday, black Tuesday, black Monday and so on.
Furthermore, Friday the 13th of any month is entitled a black Friday, with the full range of negativity implied and expected.
Black is only good when a company is making money, is “in the black.” The expression has its roots in slavery/the Slave Trade and the huge profits made by investors, slavers, and slave owners who traded in slaves, in Blacks – and which wasn’t good, positive or profitable for Blacks.
America’s re-engineering of the Friday after Thanksgiving into Black Friday, and transforming the negativity of a black day to one of economic positivity is conceptually racist.
On March 21, 2008, Patrick J. Buchanan published “A Brief for Whitey” demanding gratitude from Blacks.
In it, he stated, “America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships…were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.”
Never mind centuries of free labour, starting August 20, 1619, when a Dutch Man-of-War sold the twenty captured Africans they had onboard to the colonists in Jamestown, Virginia.
Never mind that the transatlantic human-trafficking of Africans and the need to keep them enslaved, in perpetual bondage and poverty, resulted in deliberate strategies to dispossess them of their humanity, culture, languages, and traditions.
Never mind that slavery transformed the enslaved into commodity, two-legged beasts of burden, and the profitability, economics of the institution initiated a culture of economic dependence, a welfare culture, and laid the foundation for racism and inequalities that persist today.
Buchanan proclaimed, “No people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ’60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing…”
Enslavement of Africans in no part of the world has ever better their lives or that of their descendents. Left in its wake are racism, discrimination, the entrenchment of numerous obstacles in the path of achievement, numerous scars, and a jeremiad of hurt, pain, and grievances. Yet, there remains an obscene adherence to the belief that it has.
In July 2011, Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann was one of the signatories to pact/pledge that obscenely stated among other things, “African American children were better off during slavery than they are under the Obama administration.”
In spite of African complicity in the selling of slaves/Transatlantic Slave Trade, slavery was a highly organized and lucrative business for Europeans. It enriched and transformed each and every country that was involved in the enslavement of millions of Africans.
It made some economic powerhouses, as well as spurred technological, agrarian, and scientific advances, ushered in modernity, as well as made families wealthy, the source of many whose claim is being from “old money.”
More often than not, those countries have monuments and edifices that honour their greats, direct and indirect participants in the slave business.
“Amazing Grace” is inarguably one of the most powerful, emotional, and uplifting hymn/songs. Written in 1772, its roots lie in slavery.
John Newton, its composer was a participant in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel so severely that he called out to God for mercy, and to save him and the ship. Though that incident was the beginning of his conversion, Newton continued to be a participant in the slave trade until 1755.
Ironically, the progeny of the same people Newport transported into slavery turned around, embraced “Amazing Grace” as a song of deliverance, and used it as galvanizing force against segregation, Jim Crow, and as an African American Civil Rights Anthem.
Most likely, by the time you read this, 23-year-old Saeed Jama would’ve been deported to Somalia, a country he has never seen. Born in Saudi Arabia, Jama is the child of Somali refugees. And though his family obtained Canadian residency in 2001, Jama never became a Canadian citizen.
Canadian law allows the federal government to strip landed-immigrant status from a permanent resident convicted of a serious crime, and their deportation. Jama has four criminal convictions.
There are many in our community, who came here as children. Schooled, socialized, and acclimatized to Canadian living, their parents/guardians never saw fit to take out Canadian citizenship for them. Neither did them upon reaching adulthood.
Thus, subjecting them to deportation should they fall afoul of the law, and, like Jama, possibly to countries where they have no relatives, and so on. Failure to take care of business can have serious repercussions.
If you have been a permanent resident of Canada for at least four years, or have children who are, you should seriously consider taking out Canadian citizenship for both you and them. If you are an adult who came here as a child, verify your status.
John Michael Dauphin was 2-years old when he arrived in Montreal from Haiti. Sentenced to 33- months in jail for assaulting and robbing a Quebec Court of Appeal judge in 2005, the 22-years old Dauphin was deported to Haiti in October 2009. He never became a Canadian citizen.
In 1999, O’Neil Grant was cleared of all charges in the 1994 shooting death of Georgina Leimonis at the Just Desserts café in Toronto. In a case of “Let’s teach that Black bxxxxxd a lesson,” Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator Daniele D’Ignazio ruled that Grant should be deported for non-criminal misconduct.
Grant was eleven when he came to Canada from Jamaica, and lived here for 18-years. When Grant was deported in 2002, he left behind his common-law wife, three children, his mother, and other siblings. When Ottawa later passed the law making it easier to deport landed immigrants convicted of serious crimes, it was unofficially referred to as the “O’Neil Grant Bill.”
Recently, the federal government proposed a new Bill with automatic deportation for any non-Canadian sentenced to more than six months in jail, and which strips landed-immigrant status for minor convictions, shoplifting, and traffic offences – and deportation.
As draconian as it is for a country that once prided itself as warmer, better and kinder than its neighbour to the south, the federal government isn’t playing.
In March 2010, the federal government launched a new citizenship test and raised the passing mark from 60 per cent to 75 per cent. Security threats necessitate thorough background checks. It now takes about 20 months to process a citizenship application. Drunk or sober, take care of your business!
Forget what you heard, Canada has never been truly welcoming to Blacks.
In 1911, Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier made it known that the Negro is deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada.
On May 1, 1947, Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King reinforced the persona non grata status of Blacks.
Up until 1962, Canada immigration policies were centered on keeping Canada white and culturally British. Racial discrimination was policy, thus Black immigration was negligible.
Harper is moving the nation back to that template. Hence, hardline immigration policies, the restoration of “Royal” to the Canadian Navy and Canadian Air Force, and the removal of two historic Quebec paintings by Alfred Pellan from their decades-old spot in the Foreign Affairs building in Ottawa, for a photo portrait of the Queen.
The criminalization of people of African descent already has each one of us in the cross-hairs of law enforcement and security guards. But, if you are a landed immigrant, you have to walk a little more gingerly, talk softly, or just keep quiet in this new democracy.