We Celebrate Halloween, Why Not All Souls Day, All Saints Day?

By N Oji Mzilikazi

31 October 2016

While helping a buddy earlier tonight push his stalled car from one side of the road to the other to avoid a parking ticket, I couldn’t help but notice children accompanied by parents, unaccompanied tweens and teens in costumes and without—all going about “trick or treating.” I should say “treating.” I don’t think/can’t remember the last time I heard a story/report of a child/children exposed to a “trick(s).”

I never got Halloween celebrations. Perchance it is the Christian in me, as well as I coming to the party late—as an adult.

Though I had knowledge of Halloween; understood its ideology, my encounter with Halloween was only upon emigrating to Canada in the 70s.

With the arrival of children, neither them nor my wife and I were participants—even when my children would screw up their faces and complain about missing out on all the fun with their friends. (They eventually rebelled and…) Halloween was “too devilish” a thing. Allow me to explain.

The Celts once occupied a huge part of Europe. Gaelic, Erse and Welsh are the Celtic languages that survived. Halloween, celebrated on 31 October marked their New Year.

Halloween was the day of the dead and a day of blood sacrifice. Halloween welcomed and invoked the spirits of the dead with the thrust of gaining supernatural powers, as well as having the dead come back to life. Tricks and treats were tools in their invocation.

Ghost stories and tales of the macabre were also told and listened to, not to scare or frighten, but to encourage the presence of the dead. (Transplanted in South America, Halloween was transformed into their religious day of the dead.)

Despite the rule of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe and its colonies, “pagan rites, rituals and religions” flourished.

In recognition that Christian theology and punishment were no match for such deeply held beliefs, the Church decided the next best thing was to temper those beliefs by introducing and instituting Holy Days the very next day; the day after the high days of “pagan” festivity.

Thus, Christmas came after Saturnalia, the Roman harvest festival that pays tribute to Saturn, the God of the harvest; Ash Wednesday followed Carnival, the ancient festival that celebrated the joys of the flesh. Ashes are used to make the sign of the cross on the forehead of believers and those who might have participated in the carnival festivities. Ash Wednesday launched the Lenten period of purification; a forty-day period of fasting, penance, and prayer; and the two days following Halloween being respectively All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

Since Halloween involved invocation of the dead, cemeteries were fertile ground. Graves were vandalized.  And so, on November 1st and November 2nd, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, prayers were said and candles lit on the graves of the departed and on the steps, porches and balconies of homes.

The festival of lights was a commemoration of the faithfully departed as well as to calm and guide the spirits of loved ones/the faithfully departed back to their place of abode, just in case they were disturbed by Halloween celebrants.

Anglo-Saxon/Norman immigrants introduced Halloween to North America. Repositioned as a children’s trick or treat adventure, Halloween was monetized by Big Business to peddle costumes, chocolates, candies and sweets. Halloween and its association with “evil” became a source and inspiration for horror movies—as entertainment.

The abundance of “evil” based costumes is a reminder of Halloween true essence. Even though we are tempted to think that celebrating Halloween is harmless fun, law enforcement officials annually warn parents and kids of possible dangers lurking within the goodies received. Also, animal rights groups reveal that annually a lot of dogs and cats are mutilated on the night of Halloween. As a preventative measure, there are animal centers that would not allow the adoption of any pet days before Halloween.

Besides the hyperactivity in kids the high consumption of sugars engenders, the constant and high consumption of candies, sweets and chocolates contribute to, as well as result in dental cavities. Trick or treating/Halloween provides kids with candies and a sugar-high for days.

As someone whose formative years involved the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day, it would be an understatement to say I missed their celebration.

Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire: Live In Montréal

By N Oji Mzilikazi

31 October 2016

I own some 29 Earth Wind & Fire albums, including the 2002 Live in Rio, the 1989 Live in Atlanta, and the 1975 Live in Liverpool. I would never pass up any opportunity to see Earth, Wind &Fire live. I am a fan.

Rooted in funk and R&B, I own one record by Chicago, a 45, the 1982 Peter Cetera and David Foster penned, Hard To Say I’m Sorry with the B-side, Sonny Think Twice. Still, you cannot live in Montreal, be exposed to Ralph Lockwood and CKGM, and be unfamiliar with the band Chicago.

On Friday, October 28, my buddy Anthony Dyeth and I attended the Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire Heart & Soul Tour 3.0 at the Bell Centre.

Thanks to Tony (E, W&F) and Naskademini, we had great seats (C11 and C12); third row on the ground floor, right seats in the left of the stage.

The Bell Centre was packed. It looked like a full house to me. Patrons were treated to a laundry list of hit songs by both groups separately, and then together as a 21-member ensemble during which they jammed, rock and roll’ and sang each other songs.

I didn’t know what to expect from Chicago. I thought they would been more rock and rollish. They were smooth, jazzy and MOR (Middle Of the Road). The interplay between the drummer and percussionist on I’m A Man was something to behold. The killer songs, If You Leave Me Now, You’re the Inspiration and Hard To Say I’m Sorry had everyone rocking. While I didn’t know the full range of their repertoire, fans screamed their lungs off.

I still can’t get over Chicago James Pankow’s performance. Pankow, a founding member of Chicago was funkier than a mosquito tweeter. His skill and dexterity with the trombone was such, it sang… and what beautiful melodies. He was truly one with his instrument. His love for it, love of music and what he does was unmistakable, and on full display. I couldn’t help but jokingly whisper to Dyeth that he sleeps with the trombone next to him. Much props to Mr. Pankow.

What can I say about the 12-man Earth, Wind & Fire group, their trademark horns, funky jazz musicianship, and video-screen backdrops including their trademark flames that hasn’t been said before?

Video backdrop of E, W&F co-founder Maurice White and group singing along was touching.  Philip Bailey showed no signs of vocally aging. His falsetto chops were stellar. His solo on the Kalimba pure heaven. Percussionist and vocalist B. David Whitworth was livewire for real. Verdine White killed the bass. He poured so much of his heart, soul, love, and energy into the instrument and performance, I experienced an osmatic transfusion. Verdine was on the one.

I’m an old school funkster. I was weaned on the funk, cut my teeth on the funk, got high off the funk, made love to the funk and made babies to the funk. I’ve broken the funk down; place them in categories according to the licks of the bass. I have the funk grouped in categories like “Fat leg funk,” “Dirty low-down funk,” “Hard Funk,” “Phat Funk,” “Commercial Funk” “Party Funk” and so on. I know my music. When I say Verdine was on the one, he was.

Backstage, I had a great conversation with Whitworth on House Music, New Jersey Garage, Club Zanzibar, Marshall Jefferson, Paris Grey…  He went to school with Ce Ce Rogers. Rogers gospel-laced 1987 “Someday” is Classic House, and the Essay Mix of his 1990 smash “All Join Hands” induces goosebumps. And I thanked Verdine and Ralph Johnson for the music.

I told Verdine that the last time I saw Earth, Wind & Fire in concert was in the mid-nineties at Madison Square Garden with Evelyn ‘Champagne” King and Frankie Beverly (Maze). He reminded me it was in December, and was put on by Kiss F.M. Verdine concluded that this show in Montreal was better than that one.

Nuff said!

The Killing of Fredy Villanueva 8th Anniversary

By N Oji Mzilikazi

9 August 2016

The heavy snow and icy cold of winter can be so overwhelming, extended, and depressing, when summer arrives, Montrealers are about extracting as much heat and fun as is possible from its short stay.

Saturdays, especially when steaming hot, tend to be lazy days; days where persons want to do nothing except to “lime,” chill, hang-out, kick back, “shoot the breeze,” play dominoes, play cards, barbecue, play in the park, be in the park, watch girls go by or simply have a cold one in one’s backyard with family and friends.

It was on one such day, smack dab in the midst of summer — Saturday August 9, 2008, to be precise; a confluence of events brought a premature end to summer — for numerous residents in Montreal North.

The bright golden rays of the sun had successfully displayed its strength. Tired, it had changed to a mustardy haze, a heads-up to its withdrawal of light, the waning of the evening, and a signal of preparation for older folks to take their young charges home.

For teenagers and young adults, the transition from evening to night is no intrusion or impediment to their enjoyment, but a seamless extension of the laissez faire attitude of relaxation, having fun and doing whatever.

In such a spirit, a dice game was going on in the parking lot behind the Henri Bourassa arena. The spirited voices of its participants and spectators complemented and added to the clamour and sounds endemic to summer.

Effective policing necessitates police officers patrolling/make rounds to reassure citizens; ensure public safety, enforce laws, and be a visual deterrent to anyone with criminal intentions.

Patrolling, Constables Jean-Loup Lapointe and Stéphanie Pilotte espied the aforementioned group. They recognized one Dany Villanueva in the group and decided to take him into custody. From there, the unfolding events got murky.

One thing is certain. Against a background of raucous and angry voices of objection in regards to 22-year-old Dany Villanueva being arrested, gunshots rang out overshadowing all other noise and sounds — bringing panic in its wake.

In their aftermath, two members of the group; 18-year-old Denis Meas and Jeffrey Sagor-Météllus, 20, had been shot; one in the arm and the other in the back, and Dany Villanueva’s younger brother, 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva was dead. All three unarmed Latino young men had been shot by Constable Jean-Loup Lapointe.

The killing of Fredy Villanueva and the shooting of Meas and Sagor-Météllus served as added nails of police abuse, police repression of non-white communities and police unjustified killing of its members. Peaceful protest morphed into rioting, and parts of Montreal North went up in flames.

The heavier police presence and palpable tensions resulted in summer taking on the stress and discomfort of winter. Except for the angry, and the young with raging hormones, many residents of Montreal North chose to cut their stays outside as short as possible.

As has historically been the case with police shootings of unarmed citizens in Quebec, as well as charges of racial profiling, police abuse and police brutality from “visible minorities” (The official designation; term to describe Canada’s non-white inhabitants excluding Aboriginals.), the media decided to forgo their trappings of journalistic integrity to be the hacks, propaganda machinery and shapers of public opinion for the police. This shooting and killing was no different…

An excerpt from my soon to be published: The Killing of Fedy Villanueva: Policing, Race Bias & Media Complicity In Canada.

Emancipation 2016: The Economic Game

By N Oji Mzilikazi

7 August 2016

Power respects power. Economic empowerment/economic success lends itself to accessing power.

Failure of a race, ethnicity or community to be empowered economically ensures they remain powerless, weak, marginalised, exploited, and the footstool of others.

Economics is at the heart of anti-Black racism. Allowing Blacks a place at the buffet table is perceived as a threat to the rights of whites to gorge to their hearts content. Also, has the potential to deny whites their rightful place in the line, send some to the back of the line, and even leave fellow members of the race hungry and destitute.

In keeping with the adage, “Give a person an inch, and they’ll want to take a yard,” whites have long feared that giving Blacks access could find them playing second fiddle. A situation that is totally incomprehensible and unacceptable. Thus, racial discrimination is rooted in economics — and racism enduring support.

Since “whites” determined — set the rules of “the economic game,” racism places limits on the kind of money Blacks make, even when the Black individual is the best at what they do; are at top of their game. Case in point: Serena Williams.

Serena Williams is indisputably the best female tennis player in the world, and has been for the longest while. Yet, Williams doesn’t command the sponsorship dollars that usually go with being the best.

Maria Sharapova is not in Serena’s class; doesn’t come close. Serena has 22 Grand Slam titles while Sharapova has 5; Serena has twice the amount of single career titles than Sharapova; Serena has 71, Sharapova 35; and Maria has not defeated Williams since 2004. Serena has had 17 consecutive victories over Sharapova. The last was at Wimbledon 2015. But since 2004, Sharapova has been the world’s highest-paid female athlete. Serena can’t touch Sharapova when it comes to sponsorships.

Sharapova’s win over Serena at Wimbledon 2004 elevated her to tennis “golden girl.”

In embodying the Eurocentric stereotype of beauty; tall, thin, and with blonde hair and blue eyes, Sharapova became — was embraced as the long awaited white hope to save women’s tennis from the clutches of the “Amazonian” Williams sisters; Venus Williams and Serena Williams, and the white face of tennis that fans and corporate sponsors alike were dying for — and what tennis needed.

This March, Sharapova revealed she failed a drugs test. She tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug meldonium/mildronate, a prohibited substance. The admission and subsequent provisional suspension by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) did not phase racket firm Head. It extended its contract with Sharapova.

When a two-year suspension (under appeal) was handed down to Sharapova in June, high-profile sponsors Nike, Head and Evian made it known they are standing by her.

Since “whites” are the ones that sign big money cheques, they have templates as to the kinds of Blacks they want to pay, give their money/donations/charity to, as well as limits as to how much money they are willing to pay.

The December 2014 leaked Sony Pictures emails exposed Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper calling Kevin Hart a “whore” for wanting additional monies to use his social media brand to support a film.

While actors are obligated to do press junkets song-and-dance routines to promote a film, they decide the management, direction and content of their social media accounts like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Just because Hart is Black, Culpepper believes the comedian and actor is stupid as well. Hence,  he should use his social media accounts for free — in service to a multinational corporation that could’ve afford to pay — and most likely paid Hart much less than standard industry practices for the role, simply because he’s Black.

While sports, music and comedy enabled huge numbers of Blacks to make serious money, it is only a certain kind of Blacks whites tend to embrace. Namely, those willing to engage in self-depreciation, show their pearly whites, display ignorance or portray clumsiness to elicit laughter, those that use the cloaks of intelligence, respectability or insightful understanding of complexities to submerge or minimize their blackness, and those willing to chastise other Blacks/the race over its shortcomings and failures.

In short, Blacks whose presence do not puncture the parameters of white comfort. Thus, whites are comfortable with Blacks like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Step forth full of self-confidence, killer instincts, aggressiveness, and radiating pride of race like Muhammed Ali, Venus Williams or Serena Williams; be an accomplished and uppity Black, and the media/whites cannot wait to get their hate on and see that person truly humbled — face prone in the dirt, eating the humblest of humble pie.

In an attack on Venus and Serena Williams, Czechoslovakia born Martina Navratilova lamented, “They have made excuses and not given credit to their opponents. They’re afraid to show any kind of humility. Humble doesn’t mean you’re weak.”

The nature of the beast that is racism is that even when an accomplished Black person is “liked” by whites, racism demands their humbling (honest contrition) as part-payment for wrong-doing.

On the heels of Tiger Woods marital infidelity, golf legend Tom Watson called for Woods “to show some humility to the public.”

As RLP, the author of the piece noted, Woods sexual transgressions “has nothing to do with golf or fans of golf. He cheated on his wife, not on the golf course. Apologies are for him to make his wife and family and those closest to him…”

In 1999, the NAACP called for an economic boycott of South Carolina on account of the State’s insistence to fly the Confederate flag on top of the Statehouse dome/on the grounds of the state capitol, and asked prominent African American athletes to bypass South Carolina events.

Serena heeded the call. Serena boycotted the 2000 Family Circle Cup in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Serena boycotted Indian Wells for 14 years on account of the boos and racial slurs thrown at her father Richard and big sister Venus, when they came to see her contest the 2001 finals. Venus boycotted Indian Wells for 15 years.

Stardom, the lure of big money and interests of sponsors didn’t matter to Venus and Serena. That is unapologetic Blackness for you.

The historical and economic reality for persons of African descent to that being the best or brightest doesn’t translate into opportunities to make “big, fat, white commercial money” or bankability.

Acceptance in the white world in conjunction with being on top of one’s game is requisite. And that acceptance is dependent on two things and two things alone. The person(s) must have and exude a non-threatening personality and be proponents of the politics of contentment and accommodation.

On April 13, 1997, Tiger Woods won the Masters. In doing so, Tiger became the first African American to win a major professional golf tournament.

Fuzzy Zoeller, the 1979 Masters champion, was recorded saying, “That little boy is driving well and he’s putting well. He’s doing everything it takes to win. So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not serve fried chicken next year. Got it?” Then Zoeller smiled, snapped his fingers, and walked away. Then he turned and added, “or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.”

Earl Woods, Tiger’s father insisted, “Fuzzy is a big jokester. He is not a racist. I have heard him say a lot worse on the golf course…

Is it any wonder Tiger Woods could go on the Oprah Winfrey show, ignore centuries of racial classification and the One Drop rule; namely, any person who has one drop of black blood will be classified as Black, and declare himself “Cablinasian” – his coined term to reflect the inclusion of Caucasian, black, American Indian and Asian genes that comprise his racial identity? Cablinasian also infers race-neutrality?

Players of every sport are fired, traded, or don’t have their contract renewed. Team owners and players are known to terminate contracts with coaches. Golf is no exception.

Tiger Woods winning ways made Steve Williams, his caddie, a multi-millionaire. Williams was on the bag for 13 of Woods 14 major championship titles.

After twelve years of highs and lows, Tiger and Williams parted ways. In nothing but a display of bad mindedness and ungratefulness, Williams publicly dissed Woods upon Adam Scott, for whom he was caddying, won the Bridgestone Invitational.

At the November 4, 2011, HSBC Champions pre-tournament caddie dinner in Shanghai, China, Williams explained his rational at Bridgestone: “It was my aim to shove it right up that black arsehole.” The remark “left the audience of players, caddies and sponsors aghast.”

Since Williams choose “black” to qualify and preface the arsehole invective, he essentially attacked the roots of Woods’ identity, and by extension the Black (not Cablinasian) community to which Tiger belongs. Luckily for Williams, Woods doesn’t have a single revolutionary bone in his body, as well as feels appeasement makes him a bigger and better person.

Woods admitted to being hurt by the comments of his former caddie, but in Uncle Tom style and fashion declared, “Steve Williams is no racist.”

For all the money Tiger makes, and for all his reticence to wade into the issues of race or to fire returned salvos at racists, whites still do not have Tiger’s back.

Revelations of Woods marital infidelity resulted in major sponsors Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and Gillette immediately running away from him as one would from fire. General Motors ended its free loner cars deal to Tiger. And that was just the beginning…

Rumors that the crashing of Woods’ car into a fire hydrant was on account of his wife hitting the vehicle with a golf club. Jesper Parnevik said he hoped Elin Nordegren, Tiger’s wife “uses a driver next time instead of the 3-iron.”

Golfers that secretly resented, envied or hated Tiger used Woods’ marital infidelity scandal to be free with their true feelings. The press was in a feeding frenzy, and there was no abatement in the deluge of hate.  Open season on Tiger hunting was of such, FBI special agent John V. Gillies, the person in charge of the FBI Miami division launched a broadside at Tiger Woods at a chamber of commerce meeting in Boca Raton, Florida.

Tiger Woods’ entry into golf and the Williams sisters into tennis raised both the level of play in the sport, and the attendance records for golf and tennis respectively.

40.1 million people watched the CBS telecast to see Tiger Woods win his second Masters on Sunday April 8, 2001. It was an increase of 33% over 2000, and was the second highest totals ever.

The largest viewing audience was in 1997, when Tiger won his first green jacket.

When NBC broadcasted the final day of competition of the 2000 US Open, Tiger’s participation and subsequent victory provided the network with its highest rating for the tournament since 1981.

Tiger’s British Open triumph that same year allowed ABC to have its biggest ratings of a Sunday.  So where did it go wrong for Tiger?

First, let’s not read too much into attendance figures. Large crowds did gather in colosseums of the ancient world to see gladiators fight to the death. Large numbers of white folks gathered to see enslaved Black males castrated as well as large numbers of white folks also gathered to see, jeer and cheer Black males being hung from trees, also burnt alive hanging from said trees.

While the motivation behind television viewership or crowds in attendance to see Tiger Woods, Serena Williams or Venus Williams could very well be to relish in their display of brilliance, it could also be they’re looking to see if that day is the day their white opponent(s) is going to step up, defeat them.

Lest we forget: When Serena Williams and Venus Williams were the Number 1 and Number 2 players in the world, as well as meeting in Grand Slam finals, sports and tennis prognosticators started preaching about the impending decline of the popularity of tennis. Then the infection spread among past and current players.

Argentina’s Gabriela Sabatini didn’t mince words. The retired legend of the game felt that the Williams sisters’ power game and domination were “ruining sports, these brutes. Perhaps they hit the ball too hard for the good of the game.”

Amélie Mauresmo, a Williams sisters contemporary opponent had the temerity to say it “was sad for women’s tennis’ and perhaps boring for the fans if there were more all-Williams finals.”

After Justine Henin lost her Wimbledon 2002 semi-match against Venus Williams, she submitted,

I think that maybe the crowd likes also to see the other players in different Grand Slam finals.”

A Grand Slam title is contested by 128 players; 64 in the top half of the draw and 64 in the bottom. Venus and Serena have to be on opposite sides of the draw to have a chance at contesting a final. An all-Williams final is the failure of the field;126 players, including the likes of Mauresmo and Henin, so why the objection — and hate?

When Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova met in finals after finals, there was never perception of the same two repeatedly playing each other as bad for the sport or articulation of same. But two sisters; two Black girls doing so are, according to tennis legend Martina Navratilova, “not great for the game.”

Navratilova made the comment on British television during Wimbledon 2010 as well as, “I hope it’s not both Williams in the finals.

While tennis fans are allowed to make such a statement, Martina Navratilova cannot. Navratilova has been employed as a television tennis analysist/commentator for years. And while announcers are entitled to speak on their dream match-up finals, it’s in poor taste for any one of them to root against any particular match-up. It’s also a disservice to the viewers.

When envy and racism join hands…  Navratilova has a long history of anti-Williams sisters bias.

When Serena defeated Venus in the 2002 French Open Finals 7-5, 6-3, Jon Wertheim of CNNSI wrote, “The sport will eventually suffer if the sisters can’t play more competitive matches.”

In the 1988 French Open Finals, Steffi Graff defeated Natasha Zvereva 6-0, 6-0 in 32 minutes. Are we to assume that although the Graff – Zvereva match was very short; Natasha was double bageled; didn’t win a single game, it was more competitive than the one contested by the sisters? Ah! The subtleties of racism…

The supposed concerned by tennis journalists, tennis commentators and past and current tennis players/opponents of the Williams sisters for fan enjoyment/fan boredom by an all Williams finals match-up is code to execute and express racism.

No professional athlete or sports team ever think of spectators’ enjoyment of a contested match. Their singular concern is winning. If viewers enjoy the battle, great. If not, an ugly win still goes into the athlete/team’s plus column.

Second, the media-bashing and hating on Tiger Woods over his affairs was no different from the bashing and hating on Janet Jackson when Justin Timberlake exposed her breast in the Super Bowl half-time show, Oprah when she endorsed Barack Obama’s candidacy for president of the United States, Serena Williams over her outburst at the US Open, Sean Puffy Coombs/P Diddy/Puff Daddy when a gun was found in his vehicle, Kobe Bryant when accused of rape, and when Michael Vick was associated with dogfighting. The backlash — driven by racism was swift and brutal.

The racial politics of the dollar game is this: Black excellence is despised, Black success is only tolerated — never fully endorsed, and Black success is undermined at the drop of a dime.

Neither making it nor having loads of money is ever saving grace for Blacks. A point hammered home by Gil Scott Heron in the song, Inner City Blues. Heron asked, “Are we stupid or just naive that we continue to believe that money can buy us anything including a slice of the American dream.” On the other hand, prominent whites are given the benefit of the doubt, presumption of innocence, and chances at redemption — and opportunities to salvage their career and make money. Think Robert Downey Jr., Charlie Sheen…

As you go about your business doing what you have to do in pursuit of that almighty dollar; even if that translates into having to downplay your blackness, don’t lose your soul. Don’t use your center!


Emancipation 2016: Why Observances, Black Lives Matter

1 August 2016

Today is Emancipation Day.

Today, we — in the millions, observe the Abolition of Colonial Slavery Act that abolished slavery “throughout the British colonies on, from and after the First of August, 1834.”

Today, we — in the millions remember the Atlantic Slave Trade, the Middle East Slave Trade —and African enslavement that took the lives of millions of African men, women and children, consigned much more to chattel, and left progeny — us, with a multitude of oppressive historical forces that we are still battling, even succumbing to — some, in part, on account of misleadership, con-men and con-women draped in the cloak of Black/community leadership, Uncle Toms, Uncle Clarences, Knee-grows, self-sabotage, self-hatred, ignorance, poor education, and from tutelage and scholarships in uneducated citadels of learning.

Today, the conscious renew commitment to liberation; confronting and challenging racism and discrimination, pursuing educational and economic empowerment, eradicating self-sabotage, self-hate, underperformance, and manifesting that Black Lives Matter.

Observances Matter

A people with no knowledge and sense of its past, and of itself, will be a people without memory, identity, and the cultural imperatives to determine its success. They would be ill-equipped to defend themselves intellectually or physically as well as say, “Never Again!

The past shapes the present as well as determines the future. Unless understood and addressed, the historical will always influence the cultural and social reality.

Studying and understanding the past; the history, errors, misjudgements, accidents, unforeseen and unintended consequences, lies, defeats, battles, struggles, successes and its assorted characters allow a people/person to be conscious, vigilant, mindful of repeating the same mistakes and better informed in the charting of their future.

Emancipation observances is a starting point for the mental, psychological and educational recalibration of the Black race. It is revitalizing nectar in our daily struggles against historical, institutional, and extremely deep-rooted cultural forces that continue to negatively impact on the race.

Consider Remembrance Day:  Remembrance Day is more than a nation paying tribute to its soldiers. It psychologically reminds the society that the sacrifice of one’s life for country is the ultimate demand of citizenship. And perhaps, one day each would be called upon to fulfill that unspoken oath.

There is no day of remembrance or memorial for the untold millions of Africans who through enslavement or not, contributed towards the building of our nation/other nations. There is no day of remembrance or memorial for the untold millions of Africans who died on route to the New World.

Emancipation observances are our Days of Remembrance. It is letting our ancestors know they are not forgotten. It is acknowledgement of our debt to them, honouring their denied humanity. It is symbolic of racial commitment, empowering and moving the race forward.

The italicised passages were taken from:

Why Emancipation Observances Matter
By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 18)
September 1, 2011


Happy Emancipation Day 2016!


Revisit Past Emancipation Articles:


Emancipation 2011: Renewed Songs of Liberation
By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 16)
August 4, 2011


Emancipation 2011: On Blacks Being A Cursed Race
By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 17)
August 18, 2011


Emancipation Celebrations 2012: On Blacks Being A Cursed Race (Part 2)
By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 22, Number 14)
July 26, 2012


Emancipation 2013: Beyond Rumshop Politics
By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 23, Number 15)
July 25, 2013    


Emancipation 2013: Who Will Pay Reparations For My Soul?
By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 23, Number 16)
August 8, 2013


Emancipation 2013: Field Negroes Needed
(50th Anniversary of the March on Washington)
By N Oji Mzilikazi
(Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 23, Number 17)
August 22, 2013











Donald Trump For President: A Joke That Went Too Far

By N Oji Mzilikazi

20 July 2016

Yesterday, at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Donald Trump was formally nominated by the Republican Party as its candidate to be next president of the United States of America.

Bear in mind, Donald Trump didn’t vote in any primary elections for 21 years. Trump also skipped the 2002 general election.

Talk about a joke that went too far. A totally unfit person, a birther, a bigot, a racist, a misogynist and a person given to numerous unsubstantiated/false/misleading claims is in contention; in the two-person race to be president.

Paul Ryan, Republican House Speaker acknowledged Trump’s racism. But, as Samantha Bee explained, “Republicans Can’t Denounce Trump’s Rampant Racism.”

Five years ago, Trump was regarded with contempt by Republican activists. Rush Limbaugh believed Trump is too kooky.

Trump hasn’t changed, and the Republican Party views of him hasn’t changed. Trump has been scolded by Newt Gingrich and by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell among others. So what happened? Stupid happened!

Pandering to poorly educated whites, racists, bigots and the ignorance of their fears, and the pedalling of racism via anti-immigration, anti-terrorism and anti-Muslim rhetoric won Donald Trump the day. The joke of his presidential candidacy became a reality.

Donald Trump is walking in Adolph Hitler’s shoes.

When Hitler first started out, the German establishment thought he was kooky and a joke; the people wouldn’t buy into his rhetoric – and look at the monster he became.

Not one person in the Republican establishment ever took Donald Trump seriously. Not one Republican political cognoscenti or political prognosticator gave Donald Trump a shot at winning the Party’s ticket. Now here stand The Donald… A joke poised to become horror and nightmare. Though for the likes of Carl Icahn, “Donald Trump is the only man to save the world.”

Charles Barkley: Ignorance Personified

By N Oji Mzilikazi

18 July 2016

On the heels of four off-duty Minneapolis police officers working security at a WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx game leaving their posts on account of the players’ wearing pregame warm-up jerseys that carried the message of change, the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling who were shot to death by the police, and Black Lives Matter, ESPN sports journalist Bomani Jones delivered commentary that deserves not just acclamation, but being tweeted and retweeted.

Jones made the point: “You are not obligated to speak simply because you are good at doing something with a ball. That can lead you into some disastrous places.”

Time and time again, we’ve been exposed to personalities and celebrities pontificating on subjects and issues in which their understanding borders on the ignorant. But in their mind, and given a platform, they have Solomonic insights. When those persons are Black, their diarrhoea of the mouth becomes hurdles for people of African descent, as well as ammunition for those bent on sustaining inequalities; denying empowerment and social justice for the race.

Just a week ago we were exposed to Wendy Williams asinine comments about Historical Black Colleges and the NAACP.

And who can forget rapper Lupe Fiasco. I certainly cannot.

The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States created an upswing in anti-Black sentiment and racial hate. Membership in right-wing militias and racist organizations increased exponentially.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, skyrocketed following the election of President Obama in 2008 – rising 813 percent, from 149 groups in 2008 to an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012.”

With Obama becoming P.O.T.U.S., more guns were sold in America than ever before in its history

The sole goal of the Republican Party and Tea baggers was destruction of Obama’s presidency.

Days before Obama’s inauguration, Rush Limbaugh declared, “I hope Obama fails.” Shortly after his inauguration, William Kristol told Republicans to deny Obama making history.

Kristol extoll, they must “find reasons to obstruct and delay. They should do their best not to permit Obama to rush his agenda through this year. They can’t allow Obama to make of 2009 what Franklin Roosevelt made of 1933 or Johnson of 1965.

In response to the debt ceiling crisis and corresponding debate, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated, “My first choice was to do something important for the country. But my second obligation is to my party” and prevent President Obama from getting re-elected.

Against that background of orchestrated Republican acrimony and racial hate, Lupe Fiasco had the temerity to call President Barack Obama, “the biggest terrorist in the United States of America.”

To compound his ignorance; talk out the side of his neck just because he could, Fiasco avowed, “he doesn’t vote or get involved in politics.”

To reiterate Bomani Jones well-reasoned advice, “You are not obligated to speak simply because you are good at doing something…”

While the attention seeking beast that is social media often demands the sacrifice of astuteness and critical thinking for clicks, one does not always have to voice an opinion when asked or proffer one just to be in the mix — to speak simply because you are good at doing something…Especially, when the issues are race related and/or police related. A lesson NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has repeated failed to learn.

Charles Barkley is known for his outspokenness on matters of race. His supposed candor is a misnomer. It is new-age minstrelsy and Uncle Tominism passing themselves off as courage to chastise “bad blacks.”

Charles Barkley is as ignorant as they come. See some of my evidenced here, here and here.

The serial offender latest act of “Knee-Growism” is to conflate issues and blame persons of African descent that have been the subject and victims of police barbarity, police racism and police oppression, ever since Africans were forcefully brought to the West — in chains.

In response to the recent shootings of Blacks by the police, Barkley declared, Black people have “to do better.” Then he qualifies it with, “You can’t demand respect from white people and the cops if we don’t respect each other.”

What does disrespect of one Black person to another has to do with the execution of racism by whites and others, the denial of Black humanity by whites and others, the verbal and/or physical abuse police frequently unleash on Blacks, the victimization of innocent Blacks by the police, the murders of Blacks, innocent of a crime at the time by the police, or the articulation that Black Lives Matter?

By Barkley’s logic, a prostitute is in no position to cry or claim rape.

While respect must indeed be inculcated in oneself before one seeks or demand it from others, that sort of respect is more or less on the personal level.

Living in a democratic society automatically comes with a number of espoused values and a number of entrenched rights. For example, the guarantee of equal treatment and equal protection before the law, citizens able to participate fully in the life of State, citizenry being free to live, work, and to pursue their dreams without racial, religious, or sexual let and hindrance — irrespective to one having or not having respect.

Racism, race bias and discrimination undermines the egalitarian principles of democracy. As such, one need not be of unimpeachable character to demand respect/fair treatment from ethnically different members that comprise as well as drive the larger society.

Policing is a public service. The police are paid from the public purse; by the taxes collected from citizens. Hence, the “protect and serve” slogan that’s entwined with policing.

While police officers are expected to be firm, tough, and to apply necessary force, even kill in execution of their duty, they are expected to follow departmental guidelines as to usage of their weapons, be courteous, respectful, and do their jobs in the spirit of fairness and impartiality.

Doing so accord the police with the trust and respect of the public they serve, as well as encourage citizens to be allies in their fight against crime and criminal elements.

Consequently, officers ought not to criminalize the communities they serve, by dismissive of the rights of citizens; opting to trample on them, because they could — and have gotten away with it, or use their weapon as a first rather than a last resort.

Fact: the jeremiad of police abuses, police brutality and unnecessary police killings of First Nations people and people of African descent is extremely long. Subsequently, there is little to no reasons for Blacks to trust and respect the police. Still, the police are expected to respect Blacks.

The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t asking for special treatment of the race or for criminal behaviour by Blacks to be excused, just for the application of fairness.

Without change, the pregnancy of racism, the criminalization of Blacks, racial profiling, habitual race-based police harassment, police brutality and the failure to punish officers over their acts of criminality, make it easier for those marginalised and discriminated against to be predisposed to undermine social stability, to be recruited in gangs, and for cold-hearted criminals, anarchists, terrorists, and cop haters/cop killers like Micah Johnson and Gavin Eugene Long to be birthed.

While many of our individual despair, and by extension that of the race are of our own making, Charles Barkley should be one of the last persons to mouth “we could do better.”

In early 2007, I watched Charles Barkley on Jay Leno defend his gambling losses of millions of dollars. (Barkley excitingly revealed he won $100,000 on the Super Bowl.)

Barkley explained that he was the one that put in the work; that worked his butt off to acquire his money. The inference being it is nobody’s business how he spends his hard-earned money. And lamented that when he made it, one set of “pumpkin-vine” relations came out the woodwork. Ostensibly, looking for handouts.

Inasmuch as his appearance coincided with the financial controversy in the aftermath of Anna Nicole Smith’s death, Barkley’s attitude was more or less, it was better for him to spend his money than have people fighting over it when he is dead.

To hear such perspective coming out of the mouth of Mr. Barkley was mind-boggling and shocking. I immediately lost all respect for Charles Barkley.

I thought my people had longed moved away from that attitude born out of self-contempt and selfishness, or if it resided among us, it was in the souls of lost and much older folks. To hear a young man like Barkley espousing such ignorance…

Money is not just something to spend. Money is a tool, a weapon.

Money has the power to institute change.

Given the well-documented high level of consumerism by Blacks, if we make our money our politics we can build institutions and businesses, enrich community, force change, and take a huge bite out of racism and discrimination.

Barkley publicly revealed on Jay Leno that he wasn’t interested in the intergenerational transfer of property; tangible legacies like land, property, business and money for the next generation to build on – that are essential in the empowerment of a people and community, or contributing to the commonwealth of Blackness.

Barkley expressed he was going to enjoy excess; spend his money as he sees fit — fulfil that “happy go lucky” Black jester stereotype. Is it any wonder Charles Barkley is frequently given the mic?

Wimbledon 2016 Ladies Final: Win or Lose, Congratulations Serena Williams

By N Oji Mzilikazi

9 July 2016

As I stumbled sleepy-eyed towards the living room to catch Breakfast at Wimbledon, my mind runs on Laj, a poster on the now defunct ESPN Tennis Message Board.

Back in 2002, Laj had the audacity to declare Serena Williams the most complete/best tennis player ever, even better than Steffi Graf.

Boasting, Laj predicted and promised the citizenry of the Message Board that Serena, whom he nicknamed Terror Fabulous, was going to surpass Graf in Grand Slam titles.

The immediate reaction was Laj had been drinking arsenic-laced Kool-Aid.

The thought of a Black girl dethroning the great Steffi Graf was unthinkable, unfathomable — and heresy. Rejection of Laj’s assertions were swift and brutal. Tennis fans that don’t like or care for the sisters, Williams sisters’ haters, and racists had another reason to hate — and a field day on the Board that lasted weeks.

Serena was still young. She hadn’t come into her own as yet in terms of amassing enough Grand Slams to be perceived as a threat. Serena had so many interests outside tennis that she never played a full season. That led to her being disparagingly spoken of as a part-time tennis player.  (If I remember correctly, Serena became No. 1 in the world with 12 tournaments under her belt. Points from a player’s last 18 tournaments were used then to calculate rankings. Consequently, some players played the ranking game/maintained a high rank by playing week in and week out. Case in point: Martina Hingis). Lindsey Davenport, Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis were perceived as obstacles in Serena’s path to exceed Graf. Plus, there was her big sister, the big serving Venus Williams.

In spite of technical weaknesses in her game, and Serena the sounder of the two, Venus Williams was indisputably the Queen of Tennis, and the only contender in sight; the only person on the trajectory to reach Graf. Even though Serena was a child of promise, so was Venus who was just getting in stride.

Pointed out was that Serena’s physique was a deterrent to her being a future great; equalling or surpassing Graf’s 22 Grand Slam totals.

Serena didn’t have that “success model” athletic build. Her breasts were too big; thunderous. Its weight hampers movement and that would affect her in the long run.

Lending credence to that school of thought was that the only other girl on tour with breasts nearly as large was Sandrine Testude, who was tall and had a slim built. And Testude was just an average player.

Serena’s size; thickness and big breasts (Methinks Serena did have breast reduction surgery.) proved to be no obstacle in her stellar career. Serena is inarguably one of the fittest females in the WTA.

Today, is the third time this year, Serena Williams is on the threshold of history; tying Steffi Graf’s 22 Grand Slam titles. Standing in the way is Angelique Kerber who denied Serena the 2016 Australian Open title.

That Serena could reach the finals of the Australian Open, the French Open, and now Wimbledon, at the ripe age of 35 (Okay, she’s a few months short.) is a testament to her fitness and greatness. Win or lose today, congratulations is in order.

I’m rooting for you Terror Fabulous.