Emancipation 2013: Beyond Rumshop Politics

EMANCIPATION 2013: BEYOND RUMSHOP POLITICS

By N Oji Mzilikazi

Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 23, Number 15 July 25, 2013    

Apart from those that make a living from pimping community, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who can say they are happy with the state of Montreal’s English speaking West Indian/Caribbean community, and Montreal Black community.

Yet, outside of living room and rumshop discourses, there are no animated and raised voices in protests, perceptible disgust in what passes for community and organizational leadership.

There is no revolt; people demanding better service, a better product and refusing to buy shoddy goods. People willing to hold promoters, community stewards and community leadership accountable, shame and take to task all those that sow divisiveness, engage in skullduggery and “smartman” politics, and/or invoke and use community interests for personal gain.

And though unchecked “ship” continues to erode and destroy all that was previously built by resistance to institutional racism and legalised discrimination, blood, sweat, sacrifice, and community dollars, our interests seems to be about staying friends with everyone and not influencing, working towards or demanding change.

Still, in the spirit of righteous indignation, we quickly got angry over the Zimmerman not guilty verdict.

Healthy and progressive societies are self-critical. Pursuers of achievement and success use criticism as a tool for introspection and retrospection, to spur growth and shore up weaknesses. Not us.

We’ve been socialised to interpret criticism – the critiquing of policies and actions – not personalities, as badmouthing and personal attacks. And that childishness manifest in us “toting” feelings; vex and not talking to this one, not supporting that one, forever seeking ways to pay them back, putting whatever dirty laundry they believe they have on the person out in the streets, using comedy – jokes, “fatigue” and “picong” to verbally abuse and humiliate, and throw words at a person rather than discuss the disagreement. In the extreme we form new and competing organizations.

I belong to an All Fours Club that was formed in 1994. The recently departed Johnny Cool was one of its founders.

One of our presidents suffered from prime ministeritis and presidentitis. It’s the syndrome of persons in power who believe they are most capable leader. They must be in charge. They know what is best for everyone, and can trample on the constitution if it gets in his/her way. He was deservedly taken to task.

Rather than be contrite and willing to make amends, he resigned to form a new All Fours club. On account of the clannish relationships people foster in organizations, the club secretary, treasurer and a couple of his flatterers and toadies left ours to join his.

The person in question has a history of breaking away from existing organisations to form his own, to be unchallenged and in control of the hustle. Why “hustle”? Anything that doesn’t think about sustainable initiatives, envision and have long term objectives, or care for structure, accountability, transparency, is a hustle. And so his organisations have died ignominiously.

In the spirit of hustle, there are persons who formed organisations to be their personal fiefdom. And in being its president and/or chair, and having family members on its executive or board, they mistakenly believe they’re exempt from openness and having to explain or defend acts and action.

Nonetheless, when they put out a weak product, it’s the community – not them, that reaps the bad name, is charged with incompetence. And every time the community is sullied, brought into disrepute, it makes it harder for others to trust us, and be willing to invest in us – and growth is stymied.

Without growth and models of success, our children and grandchildren will be burden with the weight of low/diminished expectations, which in the long run engender a criminal mindset.

We all have a stake in organisational outcomes. Yet our many organisations refuse to talk to one another.

In every issue of this newspaper, you’d see entertainment events colliding and competing with each other, and not that we have the numbers to support them all. How hard is it for organisations (even street promoters) to have an entertainment mafia, to have a sit down and divvy up dates on the calendar so their respective events have a greater stab at success?

Though democracy and capitalism advocates free agency and a free market, and we are born self-centered and egoistic, our operating businesses after starting four hundred yards and four hundred years behind others necessitate a different approach, a more co-operative one, if we have to catch-up, much more exceed.

Plus, if you look at the world, corporations and big business have established monopolies; made mom and pop operations obsolete. Yet we don’t want to align ourselves with and/or work with others, or support one another.

How difficult it is for our organisations to subscribe to each other’s events, reciprocally buy at least five (5) tickets in support? A 5-member alliance of organisations thus has a built in sale of 20 tickets.

As much as we wrap ourselves in our island flags, talk about big island, small islanders, who is from the mainland, who is “country bookie,” and who is the best and the worst, island identity isn’t doing “ship” for us here. The majority population and others, see us through the lens of blackness and homogeneity, and all that goes with it.

Power respects power. Economic success lends itself to accessing power. When we support other organisations, we break down inherited and cultural island and ethnic antagonisms – impediments to community success. Where there is a will, there is a way.

David Austin, in his recent book, “Fear of a Black Nation,” published an excerpt from an August 15, 1968, RCMP memo, showing its fear, concern that “Negroes in Canada” were collaborating with “Negro Black nationalist in the United States and abroad.” Abroad — as from the West Indies/Caribbean.

There is strength in alliances and unified objectives. Politicians, business people, and strong communities intimately know that success is dependent on their ability to marry their interests. They don’t have to like, much more love each to do so, and they do not pursue their interests to the detriment of the other. Isn’t it time we do the same?

Emancipation Day: August 1, 2013

Cut Out The Foolishness And Embrace Success

CUT OUT THE FOOLISHNESS AND EMBRACE SUCCESS

By N Oji Mzilikazi

Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 23, Number 14 July 11, 2013    

This past Carifiesta weekend made it abundantly and irrefutable clear that despite individual brilliance, personal achievements, this community to which I belong, we — as a people, are both scared of success and clueless as to what it takes to succeed, to win. If that wasn’t the case, leadership, our entrepreneurs, our dream merchants, our organizers, and hustlers would talk to one another, build productive alliances, collaborate, and not continue to engage in adversarial politics and sabotage.

Montreal Jamaica Association would’ve never hosted Jamaica Day on the same Day as Carifiesta. Such an act — and three years in row, is indefensible. And no different than when certain street deejays smarting from not being hired for a “big fete,” especially if it featured a soca band or soca artistes from “back home,” would suddenly discover it’s their birthday, or the anniversary of their deejaying, and drop a free party, just to “buss” the dance. Knowing full well the event cost the promoter(s) a pretty penny.

The saddest thing, egregiousness about Jamaica Day on Carifiesta, is that Noel Alexander, the president of Montreal’s Jamaican Association has been a Black leader, spokesperson for community, and cognizant of the institutional, bureaucratic, and economical hurdles that blocks access, keeps us poor — knows better.

Yet, he chose/accepted a date that put island interests before an established event with broad-based appeal, a festivity that transcends narrow provincial/island perspectives, and whose trust is community participation.

In doing so, Mr. Alexander betrayed principles intrinsic to Black empowerment, divided an already small community, became a contributor to Black underachievement, also limited economic opportunities; the economic fortunes of community entrepreneurs, venders, and hustlers. For, rather than them having two separate days to earn a dollar, they had one — to try and earn 50 cents.

Consider for a moment that capitalism/business is the greatest generator of wealth, and both the source of Black poverty and obstacles to Black success are structural.

The structural include the historical legacies of institutional racism and attendant policies, practices, and procedures, and our constant building, and sustaining of degraded forms of institutions and organizations. Thus, the things we build do not last for long, frequently implode. At what point in time are we going to change our approach?

Achievers of every racial, ethnic, and religious persuasion were grounded in fearlessness. “No,” “this cannot work,” and “impossible,” were not in their vocabulary. Yet, when our leadership have to deal with officials, we are always ready to acquiesce to their offers.

Last year you needed a map and tour guide to find the locations of Carifiesta Cool Down affair, “Trini Day” and Montreal International Steelpan Festival in Parc Jean Drapeau. The “If you’re Black, go to the back syndrome.”

Ex-borough mayor Michael Applebaum was seen as a “friend” of the community. He became the interim mayor of Montreal after revelations at the Charbonneau Commission forced Mayor Gerald Tremblay to resign. Given public disillusionment with the administration and municipal elections within a year, you’d think leadership would use our voting power to press City Hall for concessions and better deals. They didn’t.

Applebaum is gone, and given the direction and undertow, come November, the new occupants of City Hall might not give us the time of the day. Not with our history of going to them on our knees rather than as tax-payers deserving support and reciprocity.

There is nothing wrong or perverse about anyone willing to individually prosper. However, one must be mindful that as social animals, humankind have cooperative instincts, and not because the piece of the pie we get to nibble on is so small, it necessitates going it alone, elbowing others out of the way, or engaging in “smartman” politics to get a bigger piece.

That attitude and attendant policies and practices, along with disregard for the potential consequences of our actions hold us back; contribute to the recycling of dysfunction, and our failure to make economic gains. Ironically, all the money we’re fighting always seems to become ice — melts/disappear in no time — and we learn nothing.

Children learn from their social environment. We do them a great disservice when we eschew commonalities to unite around, because we believe we can make a dollar going it alone. It sets our youths up to perceive one another as rivals in competition for resources, and which engender intra-racial violence.

When our youths cannot self-identify, see images of success in our community, or see efficient and effective administration in our organizations and businesses, it gives them nothing to hold on to. It leaves the vulnerable feeling disavowed and primed for seduction by ideologies that could ruin their life.

Even though one can dress for success, one can never guess for success. You cannot “try a thing” and hope for success. Can anyone hit the bullseye without taking aim? You have to decide what you want your success to be. You have to have a goal, a target.

Success demands SWOT analysis, risk assessment, detailed planning and a well-thought out marketing strategy, the intelligent directing of thoughts and actions, being knowledgeable in one’s field of engagement, being open to criticism, consulting others, receptive to sound advice, and willingness to engage in critical analysis.

Substandard products would not be made available for consumption. Community events would have better outcomes — wouldn’t be poorly planned, poorly executed, and poorly attended.

 

CARIFIESTA 2013: POLITICS IN MEH PARADE

Ah Want To Wine But Ah Cyah Wine…

CARIFIESTA 2013: POLITICS IN MEH PARADE

By N Oji Mzilikazi

Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 23, Number 13 June 27, 2013   

Musical intoxication, musical inundation, bacchanalia spirit possession, fresh, cool breeze, scents of asphalt and food wafting in the darkness of the early morn, domestic fowls in backyards crowing, percussive drumming, whistles, cow horns, Suzuki (Victor), Cassian, Gold teeth, Short man, Inshan, Chen, Ferdie, Stacy, Linda, Pat Dillon, Dixie-Ann, Catherine, Penny, wifey, Colville, Maddy, Molly, Arnold Paris, and Doggy daubed with mud, grease, and engine oil.

Steve letting everybody know he like to cuss, he ready to cuss, is long time now he waiting for the bouncing to start. He ready for the road.

Steve #2 finally setup his laptop, put “Fantastic Friday” on blast, and from its opening horns is instant madness, delirium, whirling dervishes, water, powder, mud, bacchanalia heaven as people release dey load.

Ah feeling fine, I doh care bout shame, today ah go make meh name, change the game. Fay-Ann Lyons is in de band, Fay-Ann is a nice woman, irresistible to almost any man, Fay-Ann is de “F” in fete, frolic, fun. With she bam bam come fe rolling, ah eh paying no attention to she face, only she waist.

As I step up to hold she bumper and stick it, stick it stick it, ah panic attack come over me. Ah wanna wine but ah cah wine, ah wanna grind but ah cah wine, Fay-Ann all up in meh face, “we doing this owah? We have full permission to wine up, wine up, full permission to jump up, jump up.” Ah break out in a cold sweat.

Ah seeing everybody in meh J’Ouvert section, but ah eh seeing me. Ah pushing aside people to find me, but ah cah see me. Ah lookin’ and ah lookin’ and ah still cah see me. Meh heart now beating outside meh chest. Ah sweating bullets, going crazy by the minute. Ah see Traxx, and ah ask him if he saw me, he say dat wretch, he eh like how CCFA running Carifiesta, so he boycotting it, he gone Jamaica Day.

Ah freaking out. Ah wanna wine but ah cah wine. Ah tell Traxx ah could never do that. How ah go do that when is a whole year I waiting to leh go! Jump and spread out meh hand, mash up de place, misbehave, wine on somebody woman.

Traxx tell meh if ah think he lie, ask Egbert. I and Keeton Clarke selling food down dey. Something wrong. Ah wanna wine but ah cah wine, ah wanna grind but ah cah wine. I could never support foolish decisions that divide and reduce community. Jamaica Day on Carifiesta is short-sightedness, bad business, and stupidity. Brand Jamaica is too big to be in Carifiesta shadow.

Ah pay meh money to Mafsoca to bubble, bubble on the ground, bubble all around, jump up and down on the road like a jumbie, but ah cah wine. Ah hand touch me. Ah see is former interim mayor Michael Applebaum. He hanging out with Michael Gittens and former mayor Gerald Tremblay. The two ex-mayors jumping in Roots now dat dey not in office.

Applebaum and I go through the long time no see. Ah eh offer no sympathy. As a watcher, I does take name and number, and remember.

City officials have always “found” reasons to kick the Black Soccer League out of soccer fields. In 2005, after years at Oxford Park, the West End Recreational League was booted out. Reasons cited were drugs, alcohol, crime, prostitution, noise and rowdiness during and after games. Applebaum, then borough mayor, said neighbourhood residents are fearful, (The Blacks are dangerous stereotype.) plus many players do not live in the area.

I knew Applebaum working in his parents’ used clothing store while going to school. Its customers were primarily poor whites and Blacks. Their patronage fed an educated him, and neither he nor his parents cared whether or not they lived in the area. But now that Applebaum was eating better…no support for Black soccer players…he could afford high-priced lawyers.

Ah eh know what ship Colville tell Linda, but ah see Linda waving she index finger and telling him off: Doh feel this Indian gal cah wine an wuk she waist, take over the street, make a bacchanal in de place, drop it to the ground and shake it all around.” Chen laugh up a storm. Grinning from ear to ear, he ask Doggy if Carlos is she manager.

As if possessed by something in the music, as if something take over he soul, it messed with his body, messed with his mind, a sudden vaps hit Doggy. Elasticity come back to his knee. Doggy drop he cane, cock up one foot in the air, start to pelt jukk, and buss out: “I want a gal who could wine all day, give it how ah want it, and make me feel a pain now ay, ay, ay, I want to feel, a woman front ah meh, pushing back she bumper, until ah say ok.”

Hot like de summertime, sweat dripping down she spine, Pat Dillon bend over in front ah policeman, she two leg dem just shaking, de bumper jiggling, trembling, just waiting. Ah wanna wine but ah cah wine, ah wanna grind but ah cah wine. A ringing phone jerked my torso up from the bed.

————————————————-

This article was crafted with lyrics taken from the following 2013 Trinidad & Tobago Soca Hits:

Iwer George – Bubble

Blaxx – No Getaway

Blaxx – Leh Go

Machel Montano, Kerwin Du Bois ft. Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Possessed

Machel Montano – She Ready

Patrice Roberts – Permission Granted

Drupatee & Machel Montano – Indian Gyal

Denise Belfon – Winning Queen

Fay-Ann Lyons – We Doing This Owah

Our Deaf And Jail-Happy Federal Govt.

OUR DEAF AND JAIL–HAPPY FEDERAL GOVT.

By N Oji Mzilikazi

Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 23, Number 12 June 13, 2013

There are advantages and disadvantages to being on the inside as well as on the outside looking in. Unfortunately, time and time again, in being better informed, those on the inside tend to develop a superior complex that lends itself to them becoming deaf as well as arrogant.

Take policing. Police unions and police forces have bitterly and overwhelmingly resisted and rejected civilian oversight. Their default position is “No one understands us but us.” But one need not understand the intricacies of policing to see how the ingrained culture of impunity and unaccountability to no one negatively impact society.

On account of policing insider arrogance, the nation was exposed to widespread discontent in the senior ranks of the RCMP when William Elliot, a civilian, was appointed its commissioner. Ostensibly, to restore its integrity and to change its culture.

Given the performance of Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli who rode into the sunset leaving the RCMP in a mess, escaping accountability — not making one day in jail, you’d think that Elliot, as someone coming from outside with different perspectives and a different world view would be welcomed.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliot was seriously undermined, and senior RCMP officers levelled numerous complaints against him. One of them was that he didn’t understand police operations. They wanted someone from within their ranks to be their boss; someone who shares their world view, their way of doing things, their bias.

Liberal Senator Colin Kenny called for Elliot immediate removal, and advanced that his replacement must be an experienced RCMP officer. RCMP veteran Robert “Bob” Paulson was installed as commissioner, and his first known infraction was using public funds, our tax dollars for self-aggrandizement.

Commissioner Paulson used eight on-duty constables as honour guards in his August 2012 wedding, ethics be damned! Though Paulson apologized and promised to reimburse the state $912, the sum represents the three hours of “work” the eight constables did at the wedding, he and his bride had a “royal” and “post-card” wedding.

In spite of Paulson promise to clean up the force, Paulson expressed that Mounties going public; going outside of the chain of command to air their dirty laundry doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.

Despite the exposure of a culture of sexual harassment within the RCMP, the RCMP engaged in full blown denial of allegations when Cpl. Catherine Galliford stepped up, and sullied her name in the protection of theirs.

Earlier this month, Commission Paulson stood before a Senate committee investigating sexual harassment within the RCMP, and blasted members who came forward, positioning some claims as “outlandish.”

Often, the objectivity of folks on the outside enables them to critically assess things, and even suggest better and more efficient methods or ways of doing. But when ego and arrogance of those in the inside are entrenched, they don’t take kindly to criticism from outsiders, are quick to consider them upstarts and interlopers, and articulate that since they have no insider knowledge or experience in running things, and no idea of the obstacles faced in bringing a pig to market, they ought to sit in a corner and eat their crackers.

Unchecked power corrupts the body politic. To keep government, politicians, leadership and organizations honest, necessitates being actively watchful, giving voice, standing up, dissent, and even protest.

Though democracy facilitates such, when a political party through the ballot box is given a very strong mandate to govern, the government can become arrogant and a “benign’ dictator, as has become our Conservative government.

Fruits born from decades of America’s tough-on-crime minimum sentence strategies are prison expenditure taking a huge chunk out of budgets, (In some States, prison expenditure exceeds that of education.), prison overcrowding, increase inmate-on-inmate and gang violence, increase mental health issues, the elimination and/or reduction of programs that train, retrain inmates in marketable skills, attitudes to support change, facilitate reintegration — break the cycle that maintains recidivism, gang participation, prison institutionalism.

America’s “lock them up and throw away the key” ideology did not result in abatement to crime rates. The upshot was prisons becoming a university for criminal education; fertile ground for the grooming of a more vicious, deadly criminal, gang recruitment, gangs able to spread their tentacles in every major city, and the ideology — untenable.

Forced financial austerity by the economics of the times; bankers allowed to run wild, have resulted in States like California going all out to find ways to reduce prison spending, cut cost, and more importantly, shrink incarcerated populations.

Prison reform, parole overhaul, reducing the number of parolees being monitored, and the number of technical parole violations were put on the table. Judges were asked to implement smart sentencing, factor the financial cost of imprisonment, and end long term-incarceration of both nonviolent and drug using offenders.

In spite of America back-pedalling on its culture of mandatory minimums and long term imprisonment, Harper and his Conservatives decided to embark on the same.

It is one thing to make the granting of pardons tougher or end early release/accelerated parole, and quite another to enact mandatory minimum sentences.

All such legislation do is drastically increase inmate population, transform prisons into temporary human warehousing units, further criminal education, gang participation, and fool citizens into believing the government has their interests at heart.

They deflect; absolve the government from having to address the social issues that engender criminality, and to financially invest in changing the social environment that produces criminogenic conditions.

Thus, we see the government ramping up deportation of landed immigrants for criminality, and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney putting revoking Canadian citizenship of naturalized immigrants on the table as well.

Mandatory minimums or labelling persons a dangerous offender in order to keep them behind bars longer is no deterrent, and do not make the society safer. Especially since imprisonment has long ceased to carry a stigma, and in some circles is a badge of honour.

When Martha Stewart was released from prison in 2005, she was given a heroine welcome, and more opportunities to make more money.

Have countries that execute the death penalty for drug trafficking deterred drug smugglers?

They have executed Westerners, and Westerners still go to those countries to try and bring drugs out. Furthermore, incarcerated leadership as well as individuals have been known to command and/or direct criminal activities outside prison walls, including murder.

Longer sentences are no disincentive for the criminally minded, not that it isn’t warranted in some cases. Crime prevention strategies and policies pay greater dividends, and cost less than the apparatus of punishment, and building sophisticated penal complexes.

In 2008, Ontario Court Judge J. Elliott Allen stated that “sending people to jail in hopes of deterring marijuana offences is a form of insanity.” The Ontario Court of Appeal was on his back like white on rice. The status quo must be adhered to at all cost.

From an informed position, the American organization, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition that includes chiefs of police, Federal Border, Customs, Immigration agents, judges, prosecutors, corrections officials and law enforcement officials, sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, all the premiers and to the Canadian Senate, making a case against implementing mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offenses. It fell on deaf ears.

Inmates that work stay out of trouble and do not fall prey to a number of prison induced mental illnesses, and the boredom in doing time.

In February 2009, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) announced that prison-farm operations located in federal institutions would be discontinued. It was not an effective use of taxpayers’ dollars.

In the face of the Tories multibillion-dollar prison expansion program, and Statistics Canada 2010 findings that Canada’s crime rate had dropped, Senator Pierre-Hughes Boisvenu said that “someone, somewhere, is manipulating the numbers.”

The decrease in crime was of such, Yvan Delorme, Montreal Police Chief (2005-2010), created a “commercial services” arm that rented out cops; manage their private hiring for parties, sporting events, traffic control during film shoots, motor escorts during parades, guards to businesses, and the like.

To further assail the reliability of the decreased crime statistics from StasCan, execute the Party’s agenda and serve up a “red herring,” Stockwell Day, the Treasury Board president voiced there was “an alarming increase in unreported crime.”

Are there crimes that go unreported? Certainly! But how can anyone “gusstimate” as to quantity when “unreported” implies unknown? More importantly, “unreported crime” begs the question: why aren’t victims of crime coming forward?

For surety, Day would never entertain the idea that a possible reason is victims believing going to the police is a waste of time – does nothing – solves nothing. Nonetheless, by Day’s logic, “unreported crime” justifies prison expansion.

Stockwell Day was never a bright political bulb, just a political opportunist. During his tenure as Opposition leader (Canadian Alliance Party) – in May 2001, Day condemned Canada for taking anti-Israel positions without public debate. And like a ventriloquist’s dummy, reiterated the #1 song on the playlist of the day (no pun intended): “Truth of the violence in the Middle East is distorted by television coverage.”

Canada is not an Israeli province or disputed occupied territory that a public debate on Israel is needed. As a member of parliament, one would expect Day and fellow parliamentarians to put Canada’s best interests first, not pander to other interests. But since pro-Israel positions always score brownie points, Day gladly went down that road.

Stephen Harper followed suit. His rabid pro-Israel stance garnered him numerous awards from prestigious Jewish organization. His last was in August 2012, the Righteous Person Who Fights Antisemitism.

On July 30, 2008 – when Day was the Public Safety Minister, he went on record saying that the government “Push for longer jail terms will not result in overcrowded prisons or ballooning corrections costs.”

It is impossible to have one without the other. Adding to the idiocy, Day also opined that longer sentences for drug and gun offences will be a deterrent — which has not been the American marketplace reality.

 In October 2010, the federal government announced prison expansion in Ontario and Quebec to the tune of $155 million. Also, it will be spending $2 billion over the next five years to ensure the nation’s jails can handle the expected surge in inmates.

And for all the jail-happiness of the federal government, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews made it clear, “It’s up to the provinces to find their share of the money to handle the expected surge.” And so citizens are heavily taxed, and ticketed for each and every infraction as well as none, because prisons have to be paid for.

We imprison to our peril. Incarcerated citizenry are eventually going to be freed. And society stands to pay for the extra wrath and scars imprisonment left on souls.

Thanks Tyrone!!!

By not “Taking care of business” we contribute to lingering plight of “blackness.”

THANKS TYRONE!!!

By N Oji Mzilikazi

Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 23, Number 11 May 30, 2013

Even though no person is the standard upon which his or her race, ethnicity, or religion is to be judged, slavery’s imposition of cultural singularity upon Blacks, the monolith narrative, in conjunction with the legacy of racial criminalisation; tainting all members of the race with the crime of an individual member, have Blacks living in “non-Black” countries weighted with the burden of race.

Thus, when accomplished and successful Blacks, Black professionals, Black role models, Black leaders, and Black politicians engage in wrongdoing, make an ass of themselves, are obstacles to progress, or the Black criminal is front page and/or makes the evening news, members of the race are prone to experience psychological dislocation – to cringe, feel shamed and ashamed — tainted by the infractions of a complete stranger.

And members of the majority population feel vindicated in the stereotypes they uphold about people of African descent.

Blacks are in the invidious position of being the foremost stigmatised, hated, and disliked ethnic group. Blacks are routinely disrespected, undermined by subordinates when in positions of power, seen as threatening, morally questionable, incompetent or persons that will screw up given time.

Blacks have their every action put under the microscope, and any Black person who happens to step on margins accidental or otherwise are guaranteed magnification of their act.

Crimes by Blacks are a moral panic trigger, guaranteed to elicit vitriolic comments, racial diatribes, and ad hominem attacks.

The media will engage in sensational and bias reporting, even resort to darkening photos of suspects for a more threatening image.

Since anything and everything Blacks do are linked to race, people of African descent walk a fine and conflicted line. For the race, the freedom to be free — to be and do, seems unattainable.

I really thought I was one of those, who in understanding the racial dynamics, racial politics, and constrictive racial straitjacket of homogeneity had transcended that cringing, feeling shamed and ashamed over Black malfeasance. But when I saw the ticker-tape on CBC all news channel that NDP MP Tyrone Benskin, owed $58, 000 + in provincial taxes, it sucked everything out of me.

I felt ashamed, racially betrayed, the “How could he do that — to us?” knowing the paucity of Blacks in the Senate, called a couple persons to inform them about the news item, and cussed Tyrone Benskin Black arse out.

For the record, I have never spoken to, or met Mr. Benskin.

Benskin ought to know better. There is no way Benskin wasn’t familiar with the expression: “There are two things one must do in life. Pay taxes and die.” And given our proximity to America: “Uncle Sam doesn’t play around with taxes.”

In the U.S., a person could be jailed for not paying taxes, and get bail for murder.

As a politician, Mr. Benskin ought to be familiar with the reasons for income tax, its necessity.

If a society is to enjoy elevated standards of living, and have a degree of social stability, it is incumbent upon all — corporations, businesses and citizens, to pay their fair share of taxes.

Given that the base salary for MPs is $160,000, there is no reason why Benskin didn’t make arrangements to pay his debt — upon becoming a member of parliament, in 2011.

Hubris saw Benskin putting forth a private member’s bill to revamp the federal income tax system for artists, rather than attend to his taxes.

The bill would’ve allowed artists to average their income over a period of years, thereby avoid high taxation in years when they do well. Also, exempt a portion of income derived from royalties from taxation.

It is unthinkable that Benskin was ignorant of the adage: “When your neighbour’s house is on fire, throw water on yours.”

Given revelations this past February, that the auditor general had recommended secret audits of Senate expenses, and Senators Pamela Wallin, Marc Harb, Patrick Brazeau, and Mike Duffy were caught in its crosshairs, it stands to reason that the Conservatives would push to examine, or there would be an examination of the finances of the NDP and Liberal members of parliament to find fault.

Inasmuch as Benskin had a position in the NDP’s shadow government, he ought to know that he must have clean hands. He could’ve at least informed the party chief of his tax situation back in February, rather than be an embarrassment to the NDP.

If Benskin had a sense of self and an iota of racial awareness, he’d be cognizant of the potential personal embarrassment and “damage to community,” if knowledge of his failure to pay his taxes from 2007 to 2011, given his salary, was made public. Now, we know that Revenue Quebec had contacted the House of Commons to garnish part of his salary.

Sorry, Mr. Benskin, your sorry and apologies don’t cut it. I know we all make mistakes and our mistakes ought not to define us, but it is the constant mistake by leadership that has the race on a treadmill — going nowhere.

If you cannot handle your business, how can you be trusted to conduct the people’s business? This lapse will forever follow you.

In a series of interviews in July 2005, Reggae singer Mikey Dread spoke about not receiving his proper share of the royalties from his work with The Clash, a well-known British group.  He estimated being owed $4.3 million Can.

That sum is not chump change, yet Mikey Dread said he didn’t have the time and money to pursue his case. I was amazed at the utter stupidity of the statement.

There is no guarantee that the time, effort and money it takes to invest in new recordings could produce works to generate that amount of revenue. Plus, there are lawyers who take cases and defer their fees until settlement.

Even if theirs is based on usury or exploitative percentages, it is far better to pursue such a case, than leave those who benefited from unfair enrichment to some kind of divine justice.

Music is a business. Persons who work in that milieu cannot afford to concerned themselves only with the music and overlook the business aspect, or leave the business completely in the hands of someone else. Doing so is a recipe for being ripped off and poverty.

Montreal once boasted a popular jazz club called Biddles, named after Charlie Biddle, a well-known jazz musician. Biddle and his band played at Biddles for 22 years. One of the scenes in the movie, The Whole Nine Yards starring Bruce Willis was filmed in the club.

With his name on the club and residency at the establishment, many thought that Charlie Biddle was the owner of Biddles, but that was not the case. Its owner was George Durst.

Durst once owned Alfie, a nightspot in Old-Montreal that capitalized on the popularity of one Alfie Wade. In keeping with the previously successful template, Durst used the name Biddles to capitalize on Charlie’s “fame,” while tying him to a base salary.

One would think that with the establishment of name, and connections surely made over the years, Charlie Biddle would’ve been in a position to move on, perhaps join forces with others and be the owner or part owner of a different club, or reclaim his name and be the owner of a new establishment bearing his name. That never happened.

Charlie Biddle died, and an acrimonious legal dispute arose over the rights to his name.

In 2003, his widow had to go to court to stop Durst from using the name Biddles.

Durst made a fortune on the head of Charlie Biddle because Charlie didn’t take care of business like he should have.

In 2005, The United Church of Canada gave Reverend Darryl Gray his walking papers after serving the congregation of Little Burgundy Union United Church for seven years.

The board claimed Gray lacked the necessary qualifications while Gray claimed it was racism. The truth: the good reverend didn’t take care of business, and the United Church was full of ship.

According to published reports, one of the terms of Rev. Gray’s hiring was that he had three years to complete his masters of divinity degree. If the degree was that important to the Church and its ministry, Gray should’ve been canned at the end of the period, rather than allowed to officiate for seven. Furthermore, why was Rev. Gray hired if he was unqualified to begin with?

Was he the only Black minister the United Church could find, so they lowered their standards?

Gray was hired because it suited their purpose, and fired for the same. Even if it was external pressure on the governing body to silence the reverend — on account of his activism.

Rather than fulfill the contractual requirements to keep his employment, Gray prioritized being a saviour, and a social/political activist. Gray even became the interim president of Alliance Quebec, an English Rights group. Gray’s failure to take care of business opened the door to his firing.

When you take care of business, people cannot run those kinds of games. When a person takes care of business; do what he or she is supposed to do, do their homework, read the fine print, and have no qualms about seeking out additional information and applying sound advice, they wouldn’t sell their birthright for a bowl of porridge. They automatically minimize future grief, causes and reasons to be punished, or fired, them being preyed upon, used and/or exploited.

I’ve put in work and not get paid because I trusted words, the commonality of “blackness,” and did not memorialize the task with a contract. While I could rightly claim being screwed and blame the other, in not taking care of business, I was a co-contributor.

Drunk or sober: Take care of your business. Both action and non-action could have unintended consequences, affect one’s pockets, elevate, hurt, tarnish one’s reputation, and reflect positively or negatively on the race.