To Rectify Damage, Reverse Paralysis Conclusion Part 1

TO RECTIFY DAMAGE, REVERSE PARALYSIS Conclusion Part 1

By N Oji Mzilikazi

Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 24, Number 13 June 26, 2014

A rule of success is to “Beat the iron while it is hot.” More so in this internet age of information overflow, information access, and social media hydra-headedness that overwhelming has focus on the trite, superfluous, just what is current. And news is fast, immediate, and quickly forgotten.

The partial collapse of the historic Negro Community Centre (NCC) in Little Burgundy on April 13 that prompted this series resulted in an ad-hoc group of concerned citizens soliciting input and support for a monster rally — slated for Saturday May 24, 2014.

Never mind I found the “Rallye and Petition” event to be ill-conceived, a knee-jerk reaction, misdirected, and told the organizer the same, but to plan a politicking/crusading action 40 days after the fact epitomize the deep-rootedness of laissez-faire attitudes, the lack of community activism, and why the Black work ethic is routinely questioned — to which those under its scrutiny feel offended.

While it is always prudent to act with caution, acting in a timely fashion is always best. When it comes to social action, delay all but ensures diminish interest.

As someone in the “Rallye and Petition” email chain, I strenuously objected to the suggestion that Reverend Gray and Dr. Dorothy Williams be their political spokespersons.

My arguments included that both had had their bite of the NCC apple. It was under Williams’ watch the NCC door was shut, and Gray was part of the NCC rebuilding process in the early 2000s; the chair of the NCC Board.

I thought given the state of community, we ought not recycle leadership and cannot afford to do so. Repetition of the same cannot but deliver the same results. It was time for others; new faces (preferably female) with new ideas to step up — given opportunities — even if it is to fail, than recycle. Long-serving and former stewards ought to take back seat, best serve by being resource persons/advisors.

Sadly, our community is riddled by the cult of personality; persons we like and persons whose failures, wrongdoings, incompetence, or “smartman” ways do not diminish support or love for them. They could verily get away with murder. Their fans would simply laugh, marvel at their ability to escape, and it is that willingness to suspend critical evaluation and criticize that maintains paralysis.

That being said, my disagreements over strategy prompted offence. The person stating: I feel the need to express my concerns regarding 2 emails that I received from Mr. N Oji Mzilikazi, who was included in the committee emails. These emails (which I am forwarding to you) stirred a very bitter feeling in me this afternoon, as it contained nothing positive, and seems to go against the committee’s mission.”

Shirley Gyles, president of the NCC, filed for bankruptcy protection of the NCC: doing so changed the nature of the discourse. So fossilized is the thinking, the committee mission must be adhered to, the “Rallye and Petition” proceeded as planned. At least, the flyer for the event was well-designed, cute… hope it didn’t cost.

I found it rather interesting that many names/persons and “leaders” that showed interest in the fallen NCC got together, invested time, effort and energy to arrange the demonstration, ostensibly to bring pressure to bear — on whom is the million dollar question — to try and find ways to save a partially collapsed building, stayed quiet when it came to light that Dr. Clarence Bayne, the long-serving president of the Black Studies Centre (BSC) was digitalizing the BSC archives and selling the BSC building,  getting rid of a community asset — impoverishing  the community.

Bayne was also part of the email chain. His bitter-laced two-cents saw the likes of Reverend Gray having to rebuke him.

Beggars get no respect.

The ability to put one hands in one’s pocket and withdraw coin does so, and contributes to self-esteem. Also, businesses as well as governments tend to look kindly upon those who can raise capital on their own strength. If we have to get things done, we must have seed money and not look for, or expect, handouts.

I posited that contemplation of how the community could raise at least half a million dollars, and an action plan to do so is the best option, far better than the rally. Then, the three levels of government could be approached to at least double the monies raised, and the NCC can be reborn, rise like the mythological phoenix.

Inasmuch as Bayne is a staunch believer in social pragmatism and was quite vociferous in the email chain, I suggested that since the BSC building is up for sale, could fetch at least $500,000, the Committee could ask Bayne to make the Black Study Centre part of the Negro Community Centre — invest the monies from the sale of the BSC into the NCC to increase its seed capital.

That is social pragmatism, Black cooperative economics, community engaging in doing for self, and unity in action.

I would like to think that the Board of the BSC would have no problem throwing their lot in with the NCC. After all, they both have the same goals, the empowering of community, and continuity. The suggestion was a silence generator. Doing the rally, raging against the machine was better politics.

One of things the likes of Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X preached is to do for self.

There are people in our community with access to money, or have contacts to moneyed people and/or institutions, that can donate huge sums, or could raise money for the community, or have money themselves. But in not understanding the true role of education for people of African descent, and buying into success as staying as far away from one’s Black roots as possible — a manifestation of self-hate, they do not lend their skills to community orcontribute to same. Still, the community takes pride in them.

Gregory Charles is a singer, musician and actor among other things, a superstar extraordinaire in the true sense of the word. Gregory Charles is also a money-making machine; he could sell out the Bell Center at the snap of the fingers.

Not only is Charles currently ensconced at the Casino de Montréal, and has been for the longest while, but six slot machines (that I know of) bear his name. That is star power!

Gregory Charles is the only child of a Trinidadian father and a French-Canadian mother. Gregory’s father is Lennox Charles, whose commitment to community is unassailable.

Lennox Charles was president of Côte-des-Neiges Black Community Association (CBNBCA) Board of Directors for ten years (April 1994-2005). For many years he was also the big man in Roots.

One would think that as a highly successful child of a first generation West Indian immigrant to Canada, community issues and dynamics would be understood, and giving back, as well as the blood of service to the enrichment of community would be flowing in Gregory Charles’ veins. That does not seem to be the case.

Throughout all the problems in regards to community and the staging of Carnival, Gregory Charles didn’t see it fit to step up and lend his star power to assist us in doing better. A charity show for community or even a 10 per cent donation would work wonders, be us doing for self, pulling up our bootstraps.

“Charity,” the adage says, “begins at home.” When members with the means do not do for community, it makes our complaints about bias in others not doing for us a bit hollow.

In January 2013, the Black Theatre Workshop honoured Gregory Charles with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award, and to know King worked tirelessly for community, died in the cause of social justice and Black empowerment.

Once again, Montreal Jamaican Association is celebrating Jamaica Day on the same day as Carifiesta; they have chosen to accept a date celebrating island pride that clashes with an event whose thrust transcends narrow provincial/island perspectives, is rooted in broad-based community participation — the West Indian/Caribbean Carnival culture, and was birthed as a cultural showcase and stress reliever for the West Indian diaspora.

Once again the Montreal Jamaican Association is engaging in an act that is bad politics, bad economics, and divisive. (Fully explained in the 11 July 2013, Contact article, Cut Out The Foolishness And Embrace Success).

The Association cannot hide behind “[…] that is the date the City gave us.” Beyond being political strategy, common sense is one must press for concessions when people/your enemies are weak.

Corruption has weakened City Hall (Three mayors in four years and the ongoing revelations at the Charbonneau Commission.), and has its administrators willing to placate, do what is necessary to regain the trust, support (and votes) of the populace.

The last thing City Hall needs is anger from a visible minority, especially one that is religiously discriminated against and feels the brunt of police abuse. As such, the Jamaica Association could’ve had a different date if they so desired.

Refusal by City Hall would’ve been ammunition to rally the community, to present a show of force, as well as to bring forth and/or to the fore, our long list of grievances.

Rather than our entrepreneurs, entertainment promoters, vendors, and hustlers have two days of economic opportunities, Jamaica Day on Carifiesta gives them one — to compete/fight each other down to try and make 50 cents.

Consider that economics, the lack of financial resources is a huge part of what ails our community, is at the heart of our poverty and underachievement, and you can understand why having Jamaica Day on Carifiesta economically limits, paralyse.

From where I sit, there is no rational other than the politics of selfishness and spite that has the Jamaica Association fielding Jamaica Day on Carifiesta. Here’s hoping better heads prevail, and there wouldn’t be a repeat in 2015.

Conclusion Part 2 next issue

To Rectify Damage, Reverse Our Paralysis (Part 3)

Black public figures are just as opened to bias and discrimination as any of us…

TO RECTIFY DAMAGE, REVERSE OUR PARALYSIS

(Part 3)

By N Oji Mzilikazi

Originally appeared in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 24, Number 12 June 12, 2014

What is the purpose of education for the children of enslavement and colonialism who bear multitudinous psychological, educational and economical scars from centuries of inhumane and unbridled exploitation, torturous suffering, dehumanization, racism, discrimination and hatred, if not to make us whole?

Yet the scars of colonialism; internalized racism and self-hate have many believing it’s all about becoming privilege, being a cut above others of the race, achieving “white gaze” – validation and approval of whites – escaping the constraints racism placed on Blackness.

Thus the colonial mentality of mothers telling sons as they’re off to college, university, or on obtaining a “good” job: “I doh want no pickey-head grandchild hair to comb. Marry a girl with straight hair, marry a light skin girl.”

That mentality is not confined to West Indians. Many professional African American sportsmen have married white, and not to white females they went to school with, but girls they met in a bar, or worked in a bar, or in a dead-end job, had no leg up on education, and whose only quality was whiteness.They’d pass on the sister in the bar, even when educated, because her skin colour opens no doors, and their children wouldn’t have mixed-race, light skin privilege.

Even though education elevates, it does not immunize Blacks from the violence and harm of racism.

In 2011, Karine Joizil, a lawyer of Haitian descent was chosen to be the Liberal Party candidate in the Montreal riding of Laval-les-Îles. The Quebec Hellenic Congress sent a letter counselling its members who traditionally vote Liberal, not to vote for the Party in the riding because Joizil is not of Greek origin. They were advised to support another candidate, another party.

Still, there are persons that enjoy using certification, that have weaponize their education as a tool to belittle, exploit or oppress  fellow Blacks, instead of assisting or liberating the race.

What is the purpose of education for people of African descent if not to decolonize our mind, reclaim our humanity, reclaim voice, reclaim personal and racial self-esteem, reclaim agency, take control of our own destiny, pursue empowerment in all areas, build institutions and strong communities, bring respect to the race, and to challenge the culture of white supremacy and whiteness as the hegemonic narrative so we can have an equitable society?

To believe in anything else including “making it” and becoming wealthy is delusional, as well as betrays ignorance in regards to how deep white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and keeping Blacks poor have been institutionalization.

The facts are that Black success is only tolerated, never fully endorsed, and undermined at the drop of a dime.

Neither making it nor having loads of money was able to save Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson when Justin Timberlake exposed her breast, Oprah when she endorsed Barack Obama’s candidacy, Tiger Woods over his affairs, Serena Williams over her outburst at the US Open, Kobe Bryant when accused of rape, Puffy Coombs when going around with Jennifer Lopez and a gun was found in the vehicle, and Michael Vick over dogfighting claims, just to name a few. The backlash driven by racism was swift and brutal.

Barack Obama made it – to the highest office in America, yet obstructionist polices and mischaracterization driven by the politics of racism; people who believe they are divinely and inherently superior and better than Obama, colour everything he does or wants to do.

There have been race-inspired plots to assassinate Obama, pastors that delivered sermons with pleas for his death, and second and third grade students on a school bus in Idaho chanting “assassinate Obama.”

There were the bumper stickers: “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8.” When checked out the verse reads: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” Also, “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012,” and written in smaller print under it: “Stop repeat offenders. Don’t reelect Obama!”

The magic wand of racism is truly miraculous.

Jean Charest, the former Liberal premier of Quebec was once a member of the Conservative Party. Charest was recruited by Liberals to take over the reins of the Quebec Liberal Party. When Charest switched parties, he didn’t face recriminations from former Conservative allies or called a traitor. They were happy for him.

According to varied press reports, Haitian-born Michaëlle Jean and her husband (white) were closet sympathizers to Quebec separatist/sovereignist cause. When Jean was nominated to be Canada’s governor-general, one would think that members of the Bloc Québécois, the Péquistes and other separatists groups would’ve been happy to see her move up the political ladder. After all, they knew where her true sympathies lie. That was not the case.

Appointed governor-general, Jean was denigrated, called “reine nègre – negro queen.” The Bloc Québécois under the leadership of Gilles Duceppe issued a press release saying they would boycott her swearing-in ceremony. They considered the position of governor-general archaic.

In 1999, Duceppe and company had no problem being present for the swearing-in of Adrienne Clarkson as governor-general, but when it came Michaëlle Jean’s turn…

Le Devoir is a pro-sovereignist newspaper. One of its November 2005 editorial suggested that Governor-General Michaëlle Jean was becoming an international embarrassment to Canada, and advised her to shut up.

In nothing short of disguised racism, some veteran members of The Royal Canadian Legion said they planned to show their displeasure with Governor-General Michaëlle Jean’s unconfirmed but assumed support for Quebec separatist movement by turning their backs to her, at the upcoming November 2005 Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa.

Even if Michaëlle Jean held separatist sentiments, her acceptance of the governor general position was of itself renunciation of separatist views, so why the fuss?

Throughout all the opposition to Michaëlle Jean’s appointment and attacks on her, none ever questioned her qualifications. Education was no saving grace… Michaëlle Jean’s political bent was just a smoke screen; her skin color was the real issue.

Who have been the friends of our diverse Black and Caribbean community? Who have ever looked out for our interest? Yet, rather than recognize that we are fighting the same fight, the same enemies, we turn on each other and view one another as competitors.

So, what is the purpose of education for West Indians and people of African descent if not to put an end to our infighting, affirm we are allied in the same struggle, and to be morally courageous, fearless, and committed to community?

Yolande James is the daughter of English-speaking West Indians. Though bilingual, James is English, therefore Anglophone.

When Yolande James won the Neligan riding, and became the first Black woman to be elected to the Quebec’s National Assembly, Gazette columnist, Don Macpherson in his September 22, 2004, column, Kick me – I’m a West Island Liberal, described James as Premier Charest hand puppet.

In one fell swoop, Macpherson used a loaded and highly pejorative term to erase James education, qualifications, and worthiness.

Dehumanization and the erasure and nothingness it engenders go hand in hand with racism. (Throughout her political career, Macpherson and the Gazette displayed anti-James bias.)

In 2007, Charest appointed Yolande James,Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities, making James the youngest cabinet minister ever, the first Black minister in Quebec, and the only Anglophone minister in the cabinet.

With James a cabinet minister, none could claim that Quebec’s Anglophone community wasn’t being served, or that no ethnic community, visible minority, or cultural community was represented in government. But in keeping with white supremacist culture that seeks our erasure, dehumanizes and refuses to accept that people of African descent are fully human, capable of leadership and the reins of power and responsibility, James appointment was characterized as a betrayal to Anglophones.

Macpherson was incensed that James was picked over several more seasoned colleagues. He pointed out that James is not yet 30 and had been a member of the National Assembly for less than three years.”In other words, James was young and inexperienced – the same case made against Barack Obama when he decided to run for the US presidency.

The Suburban and The Chronicle newspapers were awash with articles and letters critical of James and her appointment. In The Chronicle, Martin Barry quoted Liberal MNA Russell Copeman, Jewish, saying the formation of the new cabinet will result in a backlash in the English-speaking community.

Allen Nutik, Jewish, declared the cabinet’s makeup was insulting to English-speaking voters, and launched Affiliation Quebec, a new political party for those dissatisfied (Code for privilege and angry Jewish, and white males.) with the Liberal Party in Quebec.

Racists have more tricks than the famed Harry Houdini had. Thus, Quebec’s100,000 plus English speaking Black/West Indian/Caribbean community – Anglophones that overwhelmingly vote Liberal, were suddenly insignificant, invisible and unimportant.

In support of white privilege, our presence and votes were not configured to count.

Haitian-born Claudel Toussaint was chairman of the Parti Québécois (PQ) committee on ethno-cultural relations. In 2001, Claudel Toussaint represented the PQ in the provincial by-election for the Mercier riding. Since 1976 the Mercier riding was a Péquiste stronghold, yet Toussaint didn’t win the seat. The PQ faithful decided to vote race before party.

How do we navigate and raise our game?

Conclusion in the next issue

Keith Mitchell Charting A New Course For Grenada

Keith Mitchell Charting A New Course For Grenada

By N Oji Mzilikazi

11 June 2014

On Friday June 6, 2014, I attended the Grenada Nationals Association of Montreal Inc. town hall meeting with Dr. the Right Honorable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique. Though I left before its conclusion, I was impressed and moved by Dr. Mitchell’s political maturity and statesmanship.

Post-independence West Indian politics has been intensely partisan and/or tribal, defined by fiercely loyal supporters, fiercely loyal areas/parishes/neighbourhoods, as well as defined by class, ethnicity/race. Political garrisons became the order of the day.

Politicians were known to resort to ethnic/tribal/religious values and/or identity as well as stroke ethnic fears to be elected or to stay in power.

Whenever the opposition party forms the government, they and their supporters embrace the mantra, “Is we time now – we time to eat.” And they invariably set about to punish; ensure the supporters and members of the defeated ruling party, and persons employed by them do not eat.

Bipartisanship was bad for politics, as well as bad for business.

The lead up to the December 15, 1976, General Elections in Jamaica was marked with unprecedented political violence between supporters of Jamaica’s ruling People’s National Party (PNP) and the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). To ease the tension and bring people together, Prime Minister Michael Manley organised a Smile Jamaica concert with Bob Marley & The Wailers as the main act.

December 3, 1976, two days before the concert, gunmen launched an assault at Bob Marley’s Hope Road home, knowing full well the Wailers would be in rehearsal. Four persons were shot including Bob Marley and his wife Rita.

Inasmuch as perception was that the Smile Jamaica concert was a ruse, and really a rally in support of Manley and the PNP, the shooting was thought of as politically motivated.

Smile Jamaica did go on as planned. Marley performed, after which he went to the Bahamas to recover. Marley then went into a self-imposed exile in England. During that period he recorded the albums Exodus and Kaya.

Chock full of hits, Exodus contains the seminal One Love.

From Mitchell’s speech, and his denunciation and rejection of the politics of tribalism, recrimination, hate, and spite, and advocacy of rapprochement, and call to the diaspora to assist in any way they can, One Love – the love of Grenada is the government’s ideological approach.

This is Mitchell’s fourth go-around as prime minister, and though he received a mandate that engenders political arrogance and the right to be tribal, he opened his arms to the opposition. That is statesmanship, especially in light of Grenada economic woes, and the country has still not recovered from the devastation wrought by 2004 Hurricane Ivan.

Given the economic rearrangement and economic direction being charted by the government, as well as the economic partners the government has been able to attract, the rebuild of the Spice Islands and improvement in the life of its citizens are a forgone conclusion.

To Rectify Damage, Reverse Our Paralysis Part 2

To Rectify Damage, Reverse Our Paralysis Part 2

By N Oji Mzilikazi

Originally appeared in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 24, Number 11 May 29, 2014

Moving forward sometimes call for one to look backwards; even take a couple steps backwards. Doing so allows us to engineer change. Doing so facilitates understanding the forces that made; shaped us, have us where we currently are.

Doing so allows us to learn from the past,gain new perspectives, contemplate and come up with better strategies, make different and more informed choices — strategic choices to bring about better, healthier, and more successful outcomes.

Often, in the face of use and abuse, wrongdoing, wickedness, errors, fault, incompetence at the helm, missteps, organisational ineffectiveness, mismanagement, skullduggery, misappropriation of funds, and the infliction of trauma, hurt, pain and suffering, those responsible are quick to suggest “we” turn the page and move on.

They want the misled, injured, and victimized to put aside their anger, disappointment, hurt and pain; put incidents/the past behind them and restart the relationship — fresh, without the requisite analysis that conceivably could result in termination, charges, and/or herald strategies to avoid repetition.

Articulation of just letting things go is all about hubris, protection of ego, the desire of those responsible to stay privileged and hold on to control, power, or leadership, and a way of avoiding ownership forany and all damages arising out of incompetence, misleadership, and sins of omission or commission.

The human mind is a sponge. It consciously and unconsciously absorbs and retains information. Also, the mind wasn’t constructed to easily forgive or forget. Injuries tend to leave indelible footprints that scars, damage, and impact on behaviour and attitudes.

Sadly, the entrenched culture of fearfulness, weakness, and timidity have people (and members in many organizations) sheepish in behaviour, caught in the cult of (leadership) personality, relishing being close friends and blind “yes men” to leadership (that in the long run destroys the very organization). So even when transparency and accountability are non-existent in an organization, or persons (and organizations) are ripped-off, injured, and scarred, they not only stomach the ills and stick with their friend — their abusers and exploiters, but continue to vote them into office.

Thus leadership long past its “sell by/expiration” date are able to stay on the shelf. Bad and poor management and those afflicted with “presidentitis,” the need to be visible, important, and in charge, and whose shortcomings in leadership are self-evident, are recycled. And clearly perceptibly opportunists that seek positions or elected office to personally profit or as a badge of honour, or to pad their résumé, or feel powerful are embraced.

Equally sabotaging are those that sit on the board of an organisation (as well as others), knowing full well they do not have the time to invest in its business.

If people are serious about hoisting the flag of community high, reclaiming the unity and strength of community many of us once knew and experienced, we have to critically revisit yesterday.

We did not emerge from a vacuum.

We are the product of our genetic inheritance, our yesterdays, and the sum of our choices.

Yesterday holds the key to today. And today — today defines and determines our tomorrow.

Yesterday explains why we are the way we are, why and how we do the things we do. And it is in understanding yesterday that extricating oneself from trapped positions and dangerous minefields, doing better, and charting a course for success is possible.

For all the haplessness and innocence we assign to babies, and all the joy to welcoming parents and grandparents they bring, babies do not come into the world with an empty slate.

The genes a child inherit from both parents along with the physical, emotional, mental, psychological, and spiritual state of the pregnant female set the template for the child hereditary, biological and emotional wiring, mental state, and mind.

Upon birth, the environment and other spheres of socialization modify or accentuatefor better or worse, the genetic inheritance, predispositions, and mind of the child. And that begs the question: What sort of genes did you — we inherit? Better yet, what were the spheres of socialization for our forbearers — us?

As much as humans are a product of their genes, socialization, and experiences, we are the sum of our choices. The consequences we either celebrate or rue.

What we are, and where we are, is a direct result of choice; decisions made, and it is choice — present choice that will decide the quality of our tomorrow.

A gun to one’s head does not remove the power of choice. So let’s dispense with the notion that choice is sometimes taken out of our hands. We might not like the choices available, but choice is always on the table.

Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene activity that are not due to changes in DNA sequence. Epigenetics reveals how genes interact with environmental factors.

38 women who were pregnant on 9/11 and were either at or near the World Trade Centre at the time of the attack participated in an epigenetic study. The results released in 2011 confirmed that “traumatic experiences can be transmitted from one generation to the next.” (Not that verification of that reality was ever needed.)

The hard-wiring of a child is set in the womb, plus children live what they see, absorb, and learn. Without intervention — therapy, and a safe, healthy, and loving environment, the child with inherited genes damaged by trauma is more than likely going to have feelings and fears that arise from an unknown source, display behaviours and attitudes that are shocking to all or quite left field, as well as replicate dysfunction.

Ergo, damaged genes can resurface and negatively manifest in progeny across generations and in environments far removed from places of original injury. (Thus, as documented, underperformance of first and second-born generation of Afro-Caribbean Blacks in Canada, the United States, and Britain.)

National tragedies, suicide on account of bullying or a shooting in a school or crowded public space oft result in mental health services and psychiatrists made available to those traumatized. Therapy allows one to come to grips with trauma, even heal.

The exploitative and dehumanization structures of colonialism, slavery, and the plantocracy culture, in conjunction with racism, discrimination, economic and educational apartheid, inflicted people of African descent with mental illness; numerous psychiatric injuries and traumas, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Also with seething anger, rage, short tempers, aggressiveness, stubbornness, and the penchant to be physically and verbally abusive— to assert and/or validate identity and/or humanity. In addition, forced members of the race to be adept in “smart man” politics and “smart man” economics,living by their wits, hustling; doing whatever it took to put food on the table, secure a piece of the pie.

It is from that gene pool many of African descent step into the world — under constant stress — filled with unresolved rage — close to the edge — wired for hypertension and mental illness —a little bit mad.

A 2008 study into ethnic differences in hypertension that was deemed ground-breaking revealed: “Canadians of South Asian and black descent are three times as likely to suffer from high blood pressure as East Asians or Caucasians, and they are far more likely to develop the condition at a younger age.”Discrimination, exclusion and racism cannot but raise one’s pressure.

Throw into the mix the daily experiences — reminders of colour difference, and by extension objections to our humanness, and one could understand why we act in ways that results in the race tagged with numerous labels.

Unfortunately, we the children of colonialism, former slaves, and Indentureship — still abused by historical forces of power, attitudes and practices, and racial, economic, and social exclusion, are never looked upon as damaged or in need of therapy, though our dysfunction makes the case.

Although education is the greatest liberator, it doesn’t automatically lend itself to emancipating the mind scarred — nurtured in the aforementioned cauldron. Thus, some of the revolutionaries and builders in the struggle to eradicate racism and discrimination, in the fight for Civil Rights, social justice, racial respect, and to establish Black institutions in Montreal and elsewhere, and some much lauded community stalwarts were, in spite of their accomplishments not mentally liberated — and subsequently not very nice persons, as per their record.

On account of damaged genes left untreated and rootedness in the legacy of the colonial mindset, our community remains badly educated, uneducated, miseducated, malnourished, dysfunctional, rife with conflict and organizational infighting, cliques and island nationalists given to undermining “competitors,” and worse yet, pimped by some of by those that promised or were entrusted to do right, effect change, and lead. Also neglected by some of those in position to make a difference or advance community fortunes. The effect of which currently stares us in the face.