Why Emancipation Observances Matter

Why Emancipation Observances Matter

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 18)


September 1, 2011

…Emancipation matters because it marked a decisive legislative, political and social shift in the lives of Blacks. It was the taking up one’s bed to walk…


…Annually, Canada commemorates Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day is more than paying tribute to the soldiers who fell to preserve our freedoms. It psychologically reminds the society that the sacrifice of one’s life for country is the ultimate demand of citizenship. That 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.

My hope is we can move Emancipation forward to the point where people of African descent would gladly take time off from work for its commemoration.

Emancipation 2011: On Blacks Being A Cursed Race

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

For as long as I can remember, the trials and tribulations of people of African descent; our victimisation, failures, messing-up, misdeeds, missing out on opportunities, manifestations of self-hate et al, was credited to Blacks being biblically cursed…


Internalization of that blasphemous credo is at the heart of our psychological and racial incapacitation, the all too common culture of diminished expectations, our dysfunction, disunity, educational and economical poverty, impotence, lack of inner conviction, will-power and belief in us as a people, our abilities and in our potential…


Emancipation 2011: Renewed Songs of Liberation

Emancipation 2011: Renewed Songs of Liberation

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 16)

August 4, 2011


…Do not shop in places where salespersons do not care to serve us or pretend we are invisible. Avoid doing business with large chains that do not hire us…

Right Market, Wrong Vendor

Right Market, Wrong Vendor

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 15)

July 21, 2011

I can assure you dear reader that whatever fruits and provisions I have for sale is A-grade; is inspected and vetted so its consumption can be enjoyable.

I don’t know who among you have diabetes or high blood pressure so their fat, salt and sugar content are extremely low, thereby allowing you to season them to your taste and delight. But like anything else, there are those who will experience indigestion. They cannot handle “hard food.”

In this edition, Dr. Clarence Bayne took umbrage with some of my statements on community and leadership, and given their age, it is plain to see my words was stuck in his craw for a very long time.

Rather than display the intellectual acumen that goes with his learned status and logically dissect any one of my statements to prove my ineptitude and wrong-headedness, he launched a personal attack, exhibited the default position of a “standard seven” mentality.

I don’t know when Dr. Bayne achieved certification as a psychologist, but congratulations are in order. He diagnosed me as being “a turned off youth who did not benefit from a social and emotional development.”

What does the nature of one’s upbringing has to do with my condemnation of bankrupt leadership and calls for the transformational leadership, accountability of stewardship and transparency?

In impugning such an upbringing, as if it invalidates intelligence and voice, Dr. Bayne reveals his predilection to elitism and disdain to the environment so many of our people have, and unfortunately continue to  be socialised into, and to those folks themselves- people who are the salt of the earth and whom are always targeted for help.

While Dr. Bayne tags my space as of damned souls, he had no problems mining the same in his Aug. 26, 2010, column, “A Deeper Look At The Perils Of Our Community.” He says, “We drink the poison of serpents and kiss the hoof of the Golden Calf,” closes with “We are in the trap,” yet has the nerve to accuse me of “an out of body poetic rant.”

I have no time for obfuscation, intellectual masturbation, being disingenuous or sweet talk. I have no personal axe to grind in this space. The hydra-headed issues confronting our community preclude me from engaging in such pettiness. Extended months, possibly years of Winter is coming and our community is ill prepared for that “banga season.”

In this the United Nations designated “International Year for People of African Descent,” attacks against the race continue unabated, and not just in terms of racial profiling or exclusion.

The Los Angeles Times (07/08/11) carried the story of Michele Bachmann signing a pact that says among other things, African American children were better off during slavery than they are under the Obama administration. Bachmann is a Republican candidate running for the party’s presidential nominee.

Psychology Today had no qualms publishing (05/15/11) evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa piece of scientific racism, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?

The economic fortunes of Blacks continue to take a battering. Employment shortages make the race the last hired and first fired. Our businesses are hurting and we continue with the self-infliction of wounds.

I’m about engaged citizenship, community economical and political empowerment, racial elevation, pro-activeness, constructive critical thinking, analysis of the ways the community has been an enemy of itself, with the hope my musings and perchance elucidation would prompt new blood to step into the breach and provide the much needed bold and visionary leadership.

All the promoters of fetes at the recently concluded Carifiesta/Jamaica Day clash of festivities ended up with gaping holes in their pockets. Yet Dr. Bayne would rather I not assign blame to leadership and “those that have tried but fallen short of my standards.”

My standards are not arbitrary Dr. Bayne, but in line with the values espoused by civil society. Need I remind you of the parable of the ten virgins? Just as there is no room for the foolish, accolades are only meted out to those that achieve, not to those that tried.

How long have we been here? While each new wave of immigrants to Canada goes through a generation or two of discrimination, difficulties, issues of language, adjustment and social reorganization, they have all been able to extricate themselves and prosper. So, why are we still stuck in a time warp? I cannot award points for trying.

While we are here today not on our own strength, but on the backs of many who came before us, where are our griots, our authors, historians and filmmakers? Are there no cultural imperatives to document our stories so children not yet born can easily revisit our past?

In 2009, KOLA literary magazine celebrated their 20th-anniversary. The issue they produced I wouldn’t take for free, much more buy. It was poorly laid out, and in this day and age when desktop publishing makes it easy for one to put out a quality product. Up to now KOLA does not even have a website, so what does that say about its growth.

I’ve been a member of an All-Fours Club for the past six years. (I dropped out for two.) Its constitution was ignored (actually never made available). Rules magically appeared. Meetings were rare. One had to ask for a receipt. Financial statements were never made available, not even when there was an AGM.

We went out of town to play, hosted teams from out of town, and when we meet on Friday nights we have fun, and that, it appears, was all that matters. Why stay? To keep them honest and force a change in the culture.

That sort of self-sabotage and obliviousness to structures are played out in many of our organizations, hence my tone. My extrapolations are rooted in evidence and facts.

In February 2000, or thereabouts, Mayor Pierre Bourque and a delegation attended carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, ostensibly to get a feel so Carifiesta could be better appreciated, and quite possible properly funded. He then lost the election making it impossible for his administration to do anything for Carifiesta.

On account of the lack of vision, the Carifiesta leadership didn’t view the ex-mayor as an asset, someone on intimate terms with City Hall’s bureaucracy and who could advocate for them with the new management. They could’ve recruited him to be an advisor or a governor, as is possible under their Constitution.  There was absolutely no capitalization on his trip to Trinbago.

When we look at what Carifiesta has become, the blame must fall on its leadership and history of infighting. Still, Ruthven Licorish had no shame stating the City of Montreal sounded the death knell of Carifiesta.

It is under the present cadre of leadership watch including you Dr Bayne, that long established institutions like the Negro Community Center in Little Burgundy, the BCCQ and the Union United Church among others closed their doors. Yet, you sanctimoniously bristle over my comments.

Ownership imbues one with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Ownership of land and property empowers. We continue being witnesses to Israel and Palestinians locked in a deathly struggle over land.

While owners have the right to do what they want with their property, when ownership is tied to legacy and racial pride, selling such a property is looked upon as a betrayal of sorts. Case in point: Motown and B.E.T.

In this very paper Dr. Bayne, you threw out selling the Black Study Centre. “Rent rather than tie up scare resources in the maintaining of a physical building” you wrote. I won’t be mad at you. It has been a “white elephant” these umpteen years, so why not turn a failure into a profit.

Quo Vadis Carifiesta?

Quo Vadis Carifiesta?

By N Oji Mzilikazi


(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 14)

July 7, 2011

On March 13, 2011, the City of Montreal handed the Carifiesta Carnival Parade mandate to the CCFA- Caribbean Cultural Festivities Association, rather than the MCDF- Montreal Carnival Development Foundation, ending the wrangling that resulted in its cancellation of the 2010 Parade.

Carnival was back on. The Community was happy as pappy. Die-hard revellers couldn’t wait to get on “wotless”– shake off Winter’s dreariness, as well as the drudgery, privations and frustrations that qualify the lives of many in our Community.

Carifiesta, for all its marginalization by the City of Montreal, reconnection to West Indian cultural patrimony, expressions of ingenuity and creativity, freedom from a certain amount of constraints like body image as an example, was catharsis; therapy.

In addition, Carifiesta is a revenue generating machine for the City. Something that the City, judging from its history with the festival does not care about, and to which successive Carnival administrations have failed to advance and exploit in order for the festival to obtain substantial increase in its funding, present a superb product, and have the respect it deserves.

There was no Montreal International Jazz Festival, Montreal Gay Parade or even a Canada Day Parade in Montreal when Carifiesta was launched.

July 9th, 2011 marks Carifiesta’s thirty-seventh (37) birthday, yet the festival continues to be a top spinning in mud.

While expectations are that the new management of CCFA will get the job done, the scars of ineptitude and lack of vision by past Carnival organisers are so deep that CCFA faces a steep uphill climb. That is further compounded as the City feels it is doing our Community a favour in allowing us Carifiesta.

CCFA is on probation with this parade. They must do it right; have it running smoothly, and by inference, present a quality product in spite of the short notice (three and a half months) and consistent annual low funding- 30,000$.

Defenders of the paltry sum points to the hidden expense of security, clean-up and the loss of parking revenue on the route and so on, which run into hundreds of thousands of dollars as mitigating, but it’s all b.s.

The City has no problem bearing those same costs for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Gay Parade and so on. Additionally, it has no problem with the loss of parking revenue when it shuts down certain areas to traffic for playoff hockey or to facilitate pedestrian traffic in certain areas for the entire summer.

Nonetheless, it is that “hidden cost” Montreal City Hall Councillor Marcel Tremblay, the brother of our mayor Gerald Tremblay used in 2005, as an excuse to question the relevance of Carifiesta, as detailed in “Fail or Prevail? The Choice Is Yours” in the previous Community Contact.

The City also demanded that the CCFA inform both residents and businesses along the parade route of the parade. This was a first. Anyhow it’s sliced; it cuts into the operational budget of the CCFA both in terms of manpower and finance, and given its budget…

Such a demand shows the contempt to which the City holds Carifiesta. By virtue of its office, the City has the machinery and money to make light work of that task. It’s akin to CCFA telling businesses, “Be prepared for an infusion of cash from Blacks,” but without reciprocity. The politics and attitude of City Hall to Carifiesta is obvious to the discerning.

Regardless as to what part of the world they are held, Carnivals are a tourist attraction and a generator of huge revenues. City administrations/government and businesses gladly invest for the economic benefits to merchants, restaurateurs and hoteliers among others and themselves is worth it.

According to our very own Quebec Winter Carnival website, its 2009 operating budget was $8.6 million and it resulted in “direct economic repercussions of $48 million.”

In 2005, the Ontario government invested $400,000 in Caribana and the City of Toronto $384,000. In 2009, the Federal government invested $415,000 into Caribana. The Ipsos Reid Economic Impact Study of Caribana 2009, released in April 2010, revealed it injected $438 million into Ontario’s economy.

The City of Montreal 30,000$ must be seen in the light of stinginess, and they not giving a damn about the festivity. Perchance because it emanates from Black hands and they believe they don’t need it because their economic cup floweth over from the City’s International Jazz Festival.

There was a time when the Carifiesta parade brought close to a million visitors to Montreal. People came from American cities like New York, Washington, Virginia, Boston, Philadelphia, and Buffalo, as well as from the Caribbean for the occasion. With Ottawa and Toronto just down the 401, thousands upon thousands of Ontarians with or without West Indian or Montreal roots descended upon our fair city.

Since the hotels downtown were filled by tourists coming for the jazz festival, all the motels on Rue St. Jacques were filled by Black tourists coming to town for the carnival.

Until its demolition and replacement with a Canadian Tire outlet, all the rooms in Belvedere Motel on Rue St. Jacques were annually reserved for the carnival weekend by Hawks International, a social club whose headquarters is in New York.

Montreal has no Black area or a Black neighbourhood. The Carifiesta Parade is not held in the vicinity where there are Black, Caribbean/West Indian or African merchants. White businesses remain the primary beneficiary of the expenditure of Blacks during Carifiesta. No merchant along the parade route is ever going to refuse a dollar from the Black consumer. Yet, as referenced in the last issue, Councillor Marcel Tremblay had no qualms stating, “No one wants us.”

Encounter with a racist mindset is not foreign to the black experience. People of African descent have long recognised that some would prefer us to disappear than embrace us. However, the State has a moral authority to be fair to its citizenry irrespective to skin pigmentation, religion or sexual orientation.

Rather than making “no one wants us” a card of trumps, so the City was doing the Community a favour, the councillor, as representing City Hall, ought to oppose any who seek to exclude Blacks from participating fully in the society. After all, Blacks have been in Quebec since 1406. Once again, leadership failed to put a knife to such a deserving throat.

On July 25, 2005, Mayor Gerald Tremblay and his wife Suzanne snipped the ribbon to kick off the Gay Pride Parade. In blessing the event, the mayor sported a VIQ badge – “Very Important Queer badge.” I can’t ever remember him showing any such solidarity or love to Carifiesta.

While St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the oldest street parade in the province, and is culturally important to the Irish, it does not bring tourism to the city or pump additional revenue into its coffers the way Carifiesta does.

Every major city has more or less their St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As such, that of Montreal depends entirely on the support from locals. Sure, its spectators are going to indulge in a couple of pints and Irish pubs are going to make some extra cash, but it’s a pittance compared to the overall boost to the economy that Carifiesta brings.

So in spite of Carifiesta outstripping St. Patrick’s Day in terms of financial contribution to the economy and attendance, there is a great divide in the way both festivals are treated by City Hall.

For starters, the Irish are given royal treatment. The City of Montreal paints its main thoroughfare green for their parade while Carifiesta’s route is on one side-street or another.

The City never saw fit to gage the economic impact of Carifiesta because they do not care for it. Sadly, the failure of leadership to make the economic impact of Carifiesta matter, to solicit corporate/private sector sponsorship, seek funding from Quebec’s Tourist Ministry as it brings tourists to the province, and to sell Carifiesta as part of the tapestry that makes citizens with Caribbean roots proud to be Quebecers and Canadians, have us in the current mess.

Carifiesta has within itself the potential to become a cultural and economic powerhouse for the Community. CCFA can only take us out of this morass if they’re willing to hire a worthy development consultant, or have a consultation committee to engage in brainstorming, strategic planning, to advise, inform and formulate sound business policies, and is given 100 per cent community support.

I have long been an advocate of rebooting Carifiesta to make it better and financially viable as evidenced by the Community Contact Volume 1, Number 11 May 1993, article, “Plain Talk Bad Manners: Suspend Carifete.”

In the article I decried the 35,000$ funding, felt that the two months notice given for its staging by the City was an insult. It undermined having a professionally executed and successful festival, and described the Carifete Committee as co-conspirators to ensure we remain an invisible minority.

The 2010 suspension of Carifiesta and the court case between CCFA and MCDF placed retooling the festival in limbo. It’s a shame that after three decades Carifiesta is still in diapers. My hope is that the CCFA does not turn out to be “old wine in new bottles,” but who we were waiting on.

It pains to see Carifiesta and Jamaica Day on the same day. But as Ms. Emmanuella Borgella, CCFA’s vice-president explained, the organisation was first given July 2nd, and then the City changed it to the 9th. In the spirit of cooperation they were cross-promoting Jamaica Day as well- attend Carifiesta then go to Jamaica Day. That being said, Happy Carnival!

Fail or Prevail? The Choice Is Yours

Fail or Prevail? The Choice Is Yours

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 13)

June 23, 2011

Sometimes I feel like
Throwing my hands up in the air
Sometimes I feel like saying
Lord I just don’t care
But you’ve got the love I need
To see me through.

The Source ft. Candi Staton – You Got The Love

Lately, I’ve been encountering folks close to the edge, verily on the verge of losing faith. I’m talking about ordinary people contended to be merely the Indians as opposed to being chiefs. They aren’t heroes. Don’t even want to be.

In fact, they’ll be the first to hightail it if or when things get outta hand. They are the people who go say dey eh see, but is the first ones to talk ’bout what dey aint see. Dey so mauvais-langue, sometimes ah man does have to ask dem if dey have court clothes. Whey yuh go do? Yuh cah get vex with dem. Actually yuh could, but I cah get vex. Dem is my people.

Dey happy to be rum-shop politicians. A lil drink in their head, and they can analyse and solve all the problems in the world. As de old folks does say, “Sense make before book.” “If yuh give Jim he gym boots and Jack he jacket, yuh must give Bagwansingh he bag.” So while no big highfalutin words does come out ah deh mouth, just plenty cuss, one has to respect the sense dey does make when dey making sense. And right now dey making plenty sense.

They feel betrayed, and by everybody. They expect their betters – those who went to “grammar” school and “big” school and have title and position to their name would do a better job in protecting and serving the community.

As much as I try to explain to them, that as ideal as those things are, the bottom line is reality and human nature can play havoc with principles, honour and integrity. People are by nature selfish and greedy, and when the complexity and politics of leadership meets greed, ideological backwardness and political blindness, pure ineffectiveness and commess is the result, dey doh get it.

I can empathise with them. God knows I’ve been down the road of frustration and bitterness over community apathy and traitorous leadership many times. Have thrown my hands up, but lucky me, blind faith in faith and a cultivated philosophical foundation have repeatedly pulled me away from the brink of darkness and despair.

Still, that “saving grace” didn’t mollify the sense that “we still eh ready yet.” Consider Jamaica Day, Carifiesta and our Steelband festival all on the same day this year, and both Jamaica Day and the pan jamboree in Parc Jean Drapeau.

On Wednesday, July 13, 2005, I watched Montreal City Hall Councillor Marcel Tremblay, the mayor’s brother on the evening news.  He stated that the $200,000 spent on Carifiesta in terms of police security, securing the parade route, clean up and so on was not worth the five hours of parade.

Continuing, he suggested moving the parade to Parc Jean Drapeau on Ile St Helene. And as if he was doing our community a favour with the proposal, he said that nobody, not even the Old Port wanted the 40,000 (Black) people that the parade attracts.

It is not today City Hall has plans about finding ways and means to contain its Black/West Indian citizens. Look at “Trinidad Day” at Angrignon Park. For the past few years, fencing have attendees kettled like cattle, so in the event of anything, the venue can be sealed shut with everyone inside. Drinking alcohol is restricted to the bar area.

There is no kettling at the Jazz Festival. One could walk anywhere on site with their alcohol. Parc Jean Drapeau affords kittling in that there is only way in and out of Ile St Helene. Its metro can be shut down to avoid ‘escape.”

Beyond that, except for Les Fêtes Créoles Internationales de Montréal, and Festival International du Merengue de Montréal at Parc Jean Drapeau, all Caribbean/Black festival at the 2005 Intercultural Festival was a flop, both in terms of attendance and community business. I’m talking about Jamaica Day, Barbados Day, the two-day Soca festival, and the Eastern Caribbean Day. So what would propel Jamaica Day to return to that site?

For as long as I can remember, the Steel Band Festival was held in Émilie Gamelin Park aka Berri Square. The beauty of the location is that passersby, both on foot or in their cars who had no inkling of what was taking place would find themselves dawn to the beautiful music. By moving it to Parc Jean Drapeau, only steel pan enthusiasts would go to the venue. So what would propel its organisers to accept that location? Factor in Carifiesta is on the same day.

Fans of Carifiesta are also fans of reggae and Jamaica Day. Carifiesta and Jamaica Day also allow community party promoters and community businesses to make money on both days. A small Black community, major soca and reggae activities on the same day… what a bam bam!

Is leadership so thankful for the $2 City Hall sends their way, they are afraid to say no, mount logical, moral and perhaps legal arguments and objections?

To be continued.

Cannibalization In Maturity

Cannibalization In Maturity

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 12)

June 10, 2011

The sage Lao Tzu declared, “When things reach maturity, they decay of themselves. Thus a fruit ripen on a vine or tree will fall, ostensibly to die. History proves Lao Tzu’s observation to be true. Civilization, empires and societies attained a level of greatness, and poof! In one fell swoop or agonizing crawl they were no more; consigned to the dustbins of olden times and workplace for archaeologist…


Thomas Mulcair & The Exercise of Racism

Thomas Mulcair & The Exercise of Racism

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact Volume 21, Number 11, under the title “The Exercise Of Racism And Its Impact.)

May 26, 2011

On the heels of the best ever showing of the NDP, Thomas Mulcair, its deputy leader, stated on national television that he didn’t believe photos of a dead bin Laden existed. To hear such absolute nonsense falling from the lips of an experienced politician, former cabinet minister and a lawyer none the less, had to be a calculated power play; a step in supplanting Jack Layton as party’s leader.

When it comes to politics, its politricks include politicians making use of any opportunities to get their name in print, score points, and articulating positions they do not necessarily hold to be true, but which will find traction with the public or deliver votes…




Canada Election Lessons For Blacks

Canada Election Lessons For Blacks

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact volume 21, #10)

May 12, 2011

America with a 12 per cent Black population elected Barack Obama a mixed-race/Black person as its president, showing among other things, unification under the Democratic Party ideology.

Here in Quebec, the Quebec Hellenic Congress sent a letter counselling its members who traditionally vote Liberal, not to vote for the Liberal Party in the Montreal riding of Laval-les-Îles because their candidate is not of Greek origin. They were further advised to support another candidate.

In other words, the politics of ethnicity trumped the political manifesto of the Liberal Party. The candidate in question, Karine Joizil, is Black- of Haitian descent, female, and a lawyer.

According to the Montreal Gazette, (May 2, 2011) the president of the Quebec Hellenic Congress said their stance was neither personal against Joizel, nor were they against the Liberals. They were against the decision to nominate her and how it was made.  Regardless as to his telling, their obscene and offensive position was about exploiting ethnicity and by extension race for political gain.

I’m not mad at them though. They are about community self-interest, something people of African descent and the Caribbean community ought to take note.

The response I’d like to see from Black leadership is a call to make our dollars our politics, and boycott all things Greek, especially their restaurants. It can be explained as nothing personal, just an effort towards recycling our dollars in our community.

In July 2006, Casa Grecque was fined $1million for tax fraud. 28 of 60 franchises pled guilty to filing false tax statements to the federal and provincial governments. Since taxes go towards paying for services and the like, responsible citizens ought not support business known to engage in tax fraud.

Whether Blacks do or don’t do, have a university education or not, the exercise of racism exists. People actively discriminate and practice racial inequality. Therefore, it behooves leadership to advocate our self-empowerment and to make sure our interests are always on the table.

Lest we forget: In July 2007, one week after the Federal Liberal Party leader, Stéphane Dion, nominated Jocelyn Coulon as its candidate from the upcoming by-election in Montreal’s Outremont riding, B’Nai Brith Canada asked him to remove Coulon because of his stance on Israel.

Outremont is a Liberal stronghold with a Jewish population.

According to the 2001 Federal Census, Jews make up about 10 per cent of the Outremont riding. Consequently, B’Nai Brith request is akin to saying that the only person deserving of representing the area is one who has the interest of the 10 per cent, and it’s not in regards to Canadian needs and issues, but that of Israel.

In 2004, former Montreal MP, Yvon Charbonneau, was appointed Canada’s ambassador to UNESCO. The Conservative Party called upon the government to reconsider the decision for, “Charbonneau’s criticism of Israel in the past has offended many Canadians.” (Montreal Gazette, October 7, 2004)

Earlier this month, the City University of New York decided to bestow an honorary degree on Tony Kushner, a Jewish playwright. The honorary degree was vetoed by a pro-Israeli activist and trustee of the University, who accused Kushner of being anti-Israel. (UK Guardian, May 6, 2011)

As repeatedly played out in Canada, America and elsewhere, politicians (and others) are positioned to “eat the bread the devil kneads” if they don’t have the right Jewish/Israeli vision. All due to the power of their organisations, political machinery and financial investments towards ensuring their interests takes precedence.

On the other hand, people of African descent are always quick to show how nice and accommodating they are to others, and are unwilling to close ranks to advance community interests.

Despite the fact that the Black community has always been looked upon as dangerous, dysfunctional, given pariah status and left alone to fend for itself, leadership and prominent citizens act as if the race is going to get a better grades, and they increased political capital for showing how committed or supportive they are to the cause of others.

In December 2005, Representatives of the Black Coalition of Quebec, the Muslim Council of Montreal and the Indian community joined forces to denounce the kidnapping of four humanitarian workers in Iraq, and to criticize the backlash on Muslims for the acts of their fanatics.

Where were those organizations when Black Montrealers were being victimized and vilified prior to 9/11? Up until 9/11, the Muslim community, although comprised of Blacks as well, was invisible, identified and benefited from intelligent, hard working, peaceful and successful immigrant status.

In fact, Quebec was happy to bring in French speaking Muslim immigrants to boost its francophone population. Given all that has taken place with the Black community since that show of unity, I have yet to see reciprocity from the others whose cause Dan Phillip and the Black Coalition supported.

Palestinian and Jewish Unity, a Montreal-based human rights group launched a boycott of an Israeli made brand of shoes sold at a particular retailer.

In January 2011, Marlene Jennings, Liberal MP for Notre Dame de Grâce-Lachine, and the first Black woman from Quebec to sit in the House of Commons as an MP, made it a point to go to the store to buy a pair of shoes, as is her right.

Conversely, I’ve never seen the distinguished MP, convene anything specifically towards Black community empowerment, and can’t remember the last time she lent her voice to any of our issues. Interestingly, after 14 years she lost her seat to a lesser known rival.

To Be Continued.

New Year Wish List For Our Community

New Year Wish List For Our Community

By N Oji Mzilikazi

(Originally published in Montreal Community Contact volume 20,#24)

December 16, 2010

Rebirth of a Central Organization:

Individual associations if island based or community oriented are limited issue organisations. Attending to the complex and multitudinous issues confronting/affecting our wide and diverse community limit their effectiveness and detract from their mandate. Furthermore, they have no real power to negotiate meaningfully with municipal authorities, the government and or private corporations. Therefore, it makes sense to have a strong central organisation.

The power of the collective ensures better access, better services and even better funding. Since blueprints already exist a la the Black Community Council of Quebec (BCCQ), my wish is for persons with influence and committed to community to initiate dialogue with others towards the rebuilding of a central organization.

A Report on Reports

In July 1992, the brightest minds from various organizations spent a weekend in Val Morin working out strategies and structure to best advance the interest of our community. Having obtained a copy of the document the conference produced, I can attest it is verily a blueprint for success, yet its implementation never materialised.

In September 2005, Premier Charest mandated public consultations and task forces on the state of the province’s racial, ethnic and religious minorities towards their betterment. I don’t know whom, or what organization took the lead on ours, “The Full Participation of Black Communities in Québec Society,” but something is amiss when given our present circumstance, none can say to Premier Charest, “You promised instant action on recommendations from those task forces but x, y, and z hasn’t been implemented.”

Far too many things have been done to improve our community and in the name of community for us to be still treading water. My wish is for concerned community members to rise up and demand accountability. Our stewards past and present owe explanations. It is not a witch-hunt. Sins will be forgiven. We are in need of information and clarity so our next leaders won’t be fumbling or look like bumbling idiots, or be treated with disrespect by the City and others. My wish is for those involved in the two aforementioned processes to come forth in this newspaper or in a forum and enlighten us.

New Leadership

My wish is 2011 will bring a recommitment to community by its long serving members as well as new faces to the fore. Our community is in need of the service of those who are financially astute, intellectually brilliant and committed to its rejuvenation. These emerging leaders must commit themselves to the promotion of education, technical certification, fiscal responsibility, and economic empowerment, and they must be the morally courageous, fearless, respectful and of the highest integrity. Leaders who understand that selfishness, negativity, hopelessness and evil prosper when people lose faith, and people lose faith when leadership falls short of ideological expectations, is morally compromised, duplicitous, arrogant, abusive, and self-serving.

Happy Holidays to one and all!