Dr. Clarence Bayne, Une Minute S’il Vous Plaît!

Dr. Clarence Bayne, Une Minute S’il Vous Plaît!

By N Oji Mzilikazi

December 5, 2011

Philosophically a contradiction is a unity of opposites. For example: night and day, black and white, positive and negative, good and evil. They all depend on their opposite for meaning.

On the other hand, when a person is called a walking contradiction, there is no foundational or ideological unity or balance. There is no integration of self. The person has no ideological position other than that which is conveniently expedient.

Detailed examination of your words Dr. Bayne reveals that you are a walking contradiction. To repeat, your criticism of others are never rooted in critical analysis but in bitterness and protection of what you consider “your space.”

You come off like those old Arab and African dictators whose time has passed, are bankrupt of ideas, but desperately afraid to go gently into the good night. Rather than be satisfied with memories of the “good ole days of the struggle,” your profitability from it, and be welcoming to new voices, you prefer to do a Mugabe Buthelezi combination.

You come off desperate to make yourself relevant, as well as brutish. Having an oversized ego doesn’t help either. When has any outsider else ever cared about our community? Still, you want to appear to outsiders as being the “Black” voice of reason. What a joke!

Ron Licorish is your buddy. You called him “my friend” (Community Contact 6/1/11). You and Ron, along with several others secretly went to City Hall to inject yourselves in to the Carnival debacle that went before the courts. Yet, in the last Contact you went for Ron’s jugular over his proposal of a Caribbean Canadian Community Congress, and in a rather unbecoming manner. If that’s how you treat friends I can’t imagine you having any.

Licorish was the past president of CCFA. He contributed money to fighting the court case against MCDF. As an officer of the CCFA, his participation as well as any criticism of Carifiesta in the Community Contact is therefore treasonous. Even if Licorish failed to recognize that, surely you with your intellectual perspicacity didn’t.

You never informed Ron as “how going to City Hall go look” to CCFA membership. Having him on board was to have a “Carifiesta heavyweight.” You didn’t see fit to use your profile and act as a mediator between CCFA and MCDF immediately upon the suspension of the 2010 Carifiesta. Instead, like an opportunistic hyena and under the guise of community interests you waited.

And what did the Committee achieved in going to City Hall? Nought. And after your shameless running to City Hall, you had the temerity to attack those invited there, as you described, “to drink cheap wine and eat ethnic food.”

Is that the reason you weren’t present for its Commemoration of the Abolition of Slavery this past August? I can understand. After 30-something years of drinking that cheap stuff with different mayors you can no longer get a “head.” And to know, I thought the Black leaders missing from the event was on account of it not being their initiative but that of Dan Phillips.

Who would’ve “thunk” it was the wine? As both you and I know – Black leaders in Montreal do not show solidarity with one other.  The egotistical need of wanting to be perceived as chief leader has left some unwilling to share the stage and vocalizing the same. Some even bad-talking their “competition” to City Hall.

In your effort to berate Licorish’s idea, you flippantly resorted to saying that even with their Congress; Jews aren’t protected from anti-Semtism. To bring Jews into your argument reeks of intellectual dishonesty. Who can deny the economic and political clout of the Jews? Not to mention, they have friends in high places.

They have a Congress as well as numerous active organizations that defend Jewry and promote its interests. Neither Blacks nor West Indian/Caribbean people have any such institution to look out for the Caribbean and or Africa’s interest. None of the many West Indian organizations/associations in our community has a political mandate, and none of the islands’ associations have ever demonstrated a united front to anything. But ready you were to shut down Ron.

Jewish ownership of media- print and audiovisual allows for their issues and stories to be always front page and center, and their image protected at all times. Media titans Rupert Murdock and Robert Maxwell are Jews. Have you ever seen Hollywood films portray Jews in the manner they do Blacks?

When Canadian media mogul, Israel (Izzy) Asper died in October 2003, Daphne Bramham writing in the Vancouver Sun decribed him as “a committed Zionist.” She quoted him saying, “In all our newspapers, including the National Post, we have a very pro-Israel position.” Izzy also owned the Montreal Gazette.

Repeated letters and calls to the Gazette in respect to their usage of “black” in the negative as in “black mark,” and not capitalising the “b” as in “Black,” when referring to us – for then “Black” becomes a proper noun- grammar 101 teaches proper nouns are always capitalized, are always met with outright refusal.

Calls to the Gazette over their allowance of “Niggas” to be published, rather than the “N-word” in T’cha Dunlevey’s November 24 review of the Jay Z and Kanye West show was met with indifference. Even the blind can see that a strong Black organisation can pressure the Gazette in ways individual voices can’t.

Have you ever endorsed or promoted anything that wasn’t your own Dr. Bayne? Self-conceit allows you to believe you are the only person who can do things right.  You put forward, The community leadership that is getting the attention of the various levels of government do not seem to understand the economics of entrepreneurship.” (Community Contact 8/4/10)

For good measure you signed off as president of the Black Studies Center (BSC) and director of ICED, JMSVB at Concordia University. Titles that indicate you are eminently qualified to dispense, and further you, because you had your own entrepreneurship thing going.

While you want to go about triumphantly beating your chest like a big “sawathie,” do you care to explain why your, and the much lauded by you Black Studies Center (BSC) lost its Tax Exempt Status in 1986? Up until recently, and Peter Francis efforts to its revitalization, it was still being under-utilized.

By virtue of offices held, you were part of the cadre of leadership that have the community presently on its knees. So it is duplicitous and hypocritical of you to present yourself as insightful.

When Bob White pointed out that Blacks didn’t own Union Church, your response was that the St. James United Church roof is leaking and its steps crumbling and the catholic religious institutions are infested by pedophiles.” (Community Contact 4/11/10)

That “why complain when others have it just as bad” tact of yours, is Uncle Tominism and appeasement to a warp ideology at its best. Like the Jews, St. James’ access to resources is 100 times easier than Blacks.  And to know Dr Bayne, you are an educated man who “fought” for Blacks back in the day.

You gave a “props” to the satire of Bob White then condescendingly put him down with, “It needs fine tuning.” Isn’t White is the same guy you described  as the inner voice of fear and low self-esteem…the embodiment of hopelessness?” And that “he and his barber shop boys are depressingly wrong and disrespectful.” (Community Contact 4/11/10)

Have you ever reach out to Bob to enlighten him on the ways and means to improve his satirical skills?

As an elder in the community, have you ever privately reached out to anyone, including any among those you described as “so-called Black columnists” to teach them the error of their ways?

As implied in that phrase, you even want to deny them their blackness. Clearly that green-eyed monster has gotten the better of you. And to know Dr Bayne, you are an educated man who “fought” for Blacks back in the day.

Then again Clarey, you were always a reactionary. Weren’t you the co-editor of Umoja – the Black newspaper founded in 1969 to counter UHURU, the radical Black Montreal newspaper?

Such is your disconnection you advised the youth (Community Contact 4/11/10) not to allow themselves “to become victims of hopelessness.” Threw in “failure is the fabric from which human species construct success models.” Also foolishly quoted, “Feel the pain and fall, but rise again to feel the pain again” from the 1970 Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) play, “How Now Black Man.”

Consider that in your April 8, 2010, Community Contact article, “25 years and no change” you made the point, “The data on employment over the last quarter century show that…whether the person has a degree…Blacks live out lives exposed to low incomes, and employment…the market discrimination against Blacks is persistent, pervasive and brutal.”

Against entrenched and deliberate racism and discrimination it is impossible to “construct success models” unless through legal challenges. So that axiom about “failure” is applicable to whites and others who are not actively discriminated against.

Only sadists embrace pain. Pain can twist a soul to hate the world. No person wants to fall and rise to pain. That a Black professor said it in a play doesn’t make it logical. Then again, there are “educated fools from uneducated schools” to quote Curtis Mayfield.

In an April 05, 2008, Gazette interview with Rev. Gray about Black leadership and educators discussing an Afrocentric school, Gray stated, “We have kids dropping out of school and dropping into prison. A 40-per-cent dropout rate for blacks – when blacks are seven per cent of the population.”

Such statistics show that our youths are already victims of hopelessness Dr. Bayne. Several studies by McGill University- namely, a Black person with a university degree is on par with a white person without one, and that that white person has a better chance at employment than the Black with certification reaffirm conditions that lead to hopelessness.

Must one imagine the employment prospects facing uneducated Blacks? So, why your obtuseness in regards to the prevailing hopelessness that is consuming Black youth, and which is accentuated by racial profiling and police harassment?

In “Who is this Garvin Guy?” (Community Contact 4/11/10) you said to the youths, “Have a good time, party, get down, but persevere in following your dreams.”

Is that what our youths need to hear given the current economic climate worldwide, employment unavailability brought on by outsourcing, the huge unemployment in the Black community, and the paralysis and dysfunction that define our community?

Hasn’t the race been forever consumed with partying? We have no infrastructures in place, much more own the places we party- and that is your advice. Shouldn’t we cease building other people empires, stress sacrifice and delaying personal gratification to our youths to actualize their dreams?  And to know Dr. Bayne, you are an educated man who “fought” for Blacks back in the day.

You delight in waving the BTW as a Black achievement. What has it done for the community? Where are our local playwrights and local plays? Have you ever opened up its space for the development and or rehearsals of local plays being staged in a “community” location, or did a  BTW production just for community consumption or for a community event?

Maybe you need to go to Jamaica and Trinbago and experience the vibrancy of their theaters/plays – the speaking of them to them without the slightest desire or thought of outside authentication or appreciation. All BTW productions target the white community.

In a November 2010 Hour magazine interview you said that 70 per cent of the BTW audience is white. While a lot of times people hide behind, “We (Blacks) don’t support we thing,” the question that is never asked is if the community was ever targeted and how. And a lot of times it isn’t effectively marketed to – putting flyers in locations that serve the community is not sufficient unto itself.

Is the concept of selling blackness to whites the rationale behind you saying we “must have the courage to reach beyond our ethnicity, we must step out of our cultural box without forgetting its location.” (Community Contact 9/9/10)

I have no problem with any whose master plan is to pedal blackness. This I know. One cannot habitually cater to whites and not lose part of their soul and or be disconnected to the Black struggle. Folks like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson quickly come to mind.

At one point in time the Communist Party used white women to entrap the Black intelligentsia. And so many Black communists like CLR James married white. James wife was Jewish. Black power gave Black men access to the forbidden fruit of white women and boy, did they eat.

Harry Belafonte is mixed. That plantation derived “one-drop” rule of ethnicity pretty much made him Black and having no choice but to align with Black causes in America.

Belafonte’s first wife is described as a “well-to-do Negro girl.” I’ve never seen a photograph of her to note her skin-complexion. Belafonte then married Jewish.

I have never seen a photograph of the husband of Adrienne, his eldest daughter to know if he is white.  However, his son David married white, his daughter Gina married white, and daughter Shari married white twice.

One could surmise that while Belafonte’s grandchildren are going to recognize his contribution to the Civil Rights struggle, their racial blend-diminished blackness positions them to be far removed from the sphere of contention and struggle people of African descent continue to experience.

That none of his children married Black- given his lifework speak volumes and epitomizes “reaching beyond our ethnicity and stepping out of our cultural box.”

While there are talkers, there are those who walk the talk.  Upon discovering Black consciousness, LeRoi Jones divorced his Jewish wife. It was undoubtedly a rather drastic move. He felt having a white wife was incongruous to Black pride. What a man, eh!

Jones became Amiri Baraka.  And since Dr. Bayne, you have a relationship with Baraka, you gladly quoted him to support your put down of Licorish but you couldn’t walk in his shoes.

Dr. Bayne, you enjoy being the drum major for “progressive blackness” and yet had the nerve to say to our youth, “The time has come to when you must truly reconstruct our noble past.”

Pray tell, what glorious past are you talking about? The mythical when we were Kings, island tribalism, divisiveness, and the weak infrastructures, lack of economical and political empowerment the progenitors of today’s youth – the immigrants that came in the early 60s and early 70s left?

All around us our organizations are dead, dying a slow death or going out of business because of fossilized leadership rooted in antiquated ideologies, dictatorial leadership, bad and mismanagement, cronyism, persons feeling they are bigger than an organization, and leadership only doing for self?

Should I use quotes from your September 13, 1993, letter to the BCCQ attesting to some of the same, and which outlined reasons for your withdrawal of the BSC from under their umbrella? And I’m not talking about you saying things like the BCCQ leaders “are repeat offenders, poor management is chronic and where highly risky behaviour is justified by statements such as we cannot dwell on the pass.”

Deceitfully you penned a full page response (Community Contact 7/21/11) berating me over my castigation of leadership.

Obviously my comments are still “stuck in your craw,” as evidenced by your wonderment as to why “there was no public outcry” over them. (Community Contact 24/11/11)

Haven’t you recognized that my assertions are always supported with facts: who said what, date, time and place – that I’m sure an Internet search will verify?

I hope you aren’t labouring under the impression that I arrived here on the last banana boat. It was actually the second to last.

Fact: many of our community stewards betrayed both the community and the cause- promoting its advancement, because of of what they could extract either through the funding/government grant money that came their way or through seeking to financially exploit the name recognition they received from community work.

That none of our stewards were ever publicly censored by “us” or by outsiders, or none of them made a jail doesn’t mean books weren’t cooked, and “bobol” and “rachafee” didn’t have their way. And that applies to those in the promotion/fete business also.

In quoting Frantz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” you said, “We must look within ourselves and face our own lies.” At least, I know my mirror isn’t broken.

Where Did Black Power Go?

Where Did Black Power Go?

By N Oji Mzilikazi

November 10, 2011

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 23)

This column was prompted by a public notice in the last issue of this newspaper: the dissolution of the Alfie Roberts Institute organization.

I didn’t know Alfie. All we ever shared was a handshake. Awareness of his contribution to the commonwealth of Blackness and to Montreal made the news rather disconcerting. It left me angry and pensive. Angry with myself, that on my watch, on our watch, “another one” had bitten the dust.

I was angry with nameless and faceless “those”- a concept actually: “those” who ought to know better, and were supposed to make better, but refused to apply the biblical advice and cut off their right hand.

I was angry at “those” who among those that were entrusted with leadership, and those who sought positions and title in the name of Blackness and Community allowed themselves to get so caught up in the appurtenances of office and status, and of course the dollars that swung their way, they forgot the “mission statement.”

Now the body politic is infected. Abdication of responsibility, weak and inefficient leadership, nepotism and cronyism supported decay- rot to fester, and cancerous diseases to eat at the community, bringing us to this point where things cannot hold, and making what “they say” about us look as if true.

And so I asked myself, Where Did Black Power Go? The principles of

Umoja – Unity,

Kujichagulia – Self-determination,

Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility,

Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics,

Nia – Purpose,

Kuumba – Creativity,

Imani- Faith.

Caribbean immigrants to Montreal in the 60s were the ones who introduced radical Marxist and anti-colonial ideas into Black Montreal. Where is the consciousness of self and the Black/Caribbean/West Indian student activism that once dominated Concordia and McGill universities up until the early 90s?

In 1968 McGill University was the venue for the Congress of Black Writers that brought together Black activists and intellectuals of international renown to Montreal- Trinbagonians C.L.R. James, Stokely Carmichael, and Michael X, Guyanese Walter Rodney and American James Forman among others.

West Indian and Black students at Sir George Williams University, now Concordia University were the cause of the biggest student riot in Canadian history, and the impetus for the 1970 Black Power uprising in Trinidad and Tobago that almost toppled the government.

The core collective of AKA-X (Also Known As X) were university students with Caribbean roots from Concordia and McGill. Outside of their educational initiatives, rap sessions and community events, they were in the forefront of addressing police brutality.

In November 1968 Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers came to Montreal for the Hemispheric Conference to End the War in Vietnam.

Sponsored by the McGill University Debating Society, Dawson’s Black Students Union, the University of Montreal and La League des Femmes, Angela Davis came to Montreal for the 1974 Second National Congress of Black Women. She spoke at McGill University and at the NDG Black Cultural Centre.

Where did doing for self, respecting and protecting women and the vulnerable, building alliances with other ethnic communities, bringing in Black academics and activists – where did Black Power Go?

In the article, “Thinking aloud about Quebec and the Black Community” (Focus Umoja, No 18 May 1977) Dr. Clarence S. Bayne posits, “I do not care where the hell I die as long as I am secure in the feeling that I have not denied myself or sold my kind and their votes for a few material possessions and some fleeting moments of power.” How many of us can say that. Where did Black Power go?

Ever since Indentured Labourers from India or the “Gladstone Coolies” left Calcutta January13, 1838, on the Whitby for Guyana, and the Fatel Razack arrived in Trinidad on May 30, 1845, former African slaves and East Indians have an inter-connected narrative.

Blacks and Indians have slept with each other, married each other, have children with one another, attended each other weddings and funerals, party and celebrate together, yet after 160 plus years of sharing the same space, distrust, tribalism and ethnocentrism continue to colour their relationship- with virulent strains in Trinidad and Guyana.

Lawrence Sitahal, an East Indian once headed the Negro Community Centre in Little Burgundy. Given that the relationship between Afro-Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean peoples in Montreal is tenuous at best, where did that Black Power thrust of unity between two victims of colonialism go?

In the 70s and early 80s Afro Festival offered us a film festival, inter-community track and field, theatre, a jazz fest, Black Arts, music in the park, and the Family Day Picnic at Longue Sault Beach. Where did Black Power go?