I'm going to be honest, as a race we lost our way long before the 'white supremacists', 'European bigots', 'red necks' and 'racist clans' launched concerted and random attacks against us, our families and our children. Given the recent spate of police violence towards Black people in America, everyone is up in arms and insisting that the police, government, established institutions etc. should start recognising Blacks as fellow human beings. Though noble, this message is misdirected. It's not OTHERS that should start recognising our worth, it is WE who need to start recognising that our lives matter. You think this is irrelevant? Let me highlight some problems that we have but take for granted:
- Lack of Unity
Unfortunately, we have nurtured divisions among us from as far back as the time of our ancestors. Not only has this given the Western world a jump start in progress and development (all on the backs of our sweat and tears) but our own division has also set us back. This is despite the fact that we have proven time and again that we have the potential to not only prosper but thrive. Take the slave trade for example. For many years, our history lessons in the Caribbean was littered with horrific stories, gruelling pictures and harrowing accounts of how Africans were viciously torn away from their families, forcefully captured, inhumanly transported across the treacherous Atlantic and thereafter doomed to a life of torture, abuse, squalor and ultimately, death. However, there was very little account (or room for analysis) of how much Africans themselves contributed to this whole affair. The Europeans didn't just arrive in Africa with the fore-knowledge of how to negotiate the continent's difficult terrain and neither did they automatically know which pockets of communities were weakest therefore easiest to target. Their cultural and local language awareness was pretty much non-existent and like the Caribbean, it's hard to believe that they could have survived the harsher environments of the continent without help. So there is no doubt that Africans were accomplices in this lucrative Trans-Atlantic Slave trade.
African Chiefs Urged to Apologise for the Slave Trade http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/nov/18/africans-apologise-slave-tradeWhat remains unforgivable is the fact that even when we have a hand in our own demise, we always manage to benefit the least because we are often short-sighted. The African slave traders thought short term when they traded their fellow brothers and sisters for European wares and currency. Their paltry profit stands in stark contrast to the huge benefits that the Europeans gained from what pretty much propelled their economies to be the superpowers and first world countries that they are today (How Slavery Helped Build A World Economy http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/01/0131_030203_jubilee2.html). This problem of 'selling out', 'selfishness' and 'self-preservation' has been the hallmark of our race. Look at the following examples which mainly highlights Jamaica as a case in point:
Argument Against Africans' Contribution to the Slave Trade http://www.asante.net/articles/44/afrocentricity/
Historical Eye Witness Account of Africans' help in the Slave Trade http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/slavetrade.htm
Tourism industries in the Caribbean benefiting foreign companies most http://www.sivglobal.org/?read=185Outside of personal gains and successes, we fail to progress on a larger scale because we fail to see the bigger picture. Therefore, if Black lives mattered, then at the very least, our leaders, representatives and compatriots should act as such.
Jamaica's IMF and World Bank debt affects its people's social welfare http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/apr/16/jamaica-decades-debt-damaging-future
Two-sides of the argument for Britain's repatriation of Nigerian, Somaliland, Jamaican etc. criminals back to their home country while sweetening the deal with so-called 'monetary aid'
Multinational companies and the harms they cause to local economies (including that of Black majority countries) http://www.laborrights.org/in-the-news/14-worst-corporate-evildoers
- We Don't Even Consider Ourselves Beautiful
I recently wrote the article 'I'm Not Beautiful But I'm Worth It' because from a very early stage I was fed a preconceived notion that beauty involved having long soft hair, fair skin, a slender body and pretty-coloured eyes. As if that wasn't bad enough, it was the parents, grandparents and potential boyfriends and husbands in my society that fuelled this nonsense and embraced it as an 'ideal'. Had I not acquired true self-awareness in time, I would have probably resorted to bleaching my skin (See video about this growing problem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y-a87ClNW0). I would have also continued to break my hair through harsh processing and unhealthy hairstyles and would have even approached my adulthood with a sense of being unworthy of the same respect and attention as my fair-skinned counterparts. You say Black lives matter? Then why are Black parents and grandparents reinforcing the stereotype that being 'light-skinned' and 'white' is synonymous to beauty and worth? Why do the Black men in our lives choose to remind us that we are a 'downgrade' when it comes to mate selection while the light-skinned woman is crème-de-la-crème? Why do Black women turn up their noses at a sista that chooses to rock her natural beauty yet are happy to fund a multi-billion dollar industry (which we don't even own by the way) through routine purchases of fake hair, weaves and extensions? Why do we even need fake hair and makeup to feel beautiful? You cannot parade around the streets showing yourself to be an avid advocate of the campaign 'Black Lives Matter' when your kids have no true sense of self-worth, when you fear embracing your own natural uniqueness and beauty, when you happily speak ill of another Black individual on account of the shade of their skin or physical features and when you don't even value yourself enough to wait for someone who is worth your time and will treat your right. You can't demand that people see you or your fellowman as valuable when you don't even believe that yourself.
- Culture of Baby Fathers and Single Mothers
Black men have gained notoriety when it comes to cheating and being unfaithful. In fact, this habit is so prominent that many stupidly wear the label of 'cheater' and 'womaniser' as a badge of honour. Now Black women are partly to blame for this habit because they have either tacitly accepted that all men will cheat or they have happily embraced the role of the 'side chick'. That is another issue altogether that I know will make for a lively debate. However, my focus is on our Black men. Again, we say Black lives matter? Then why is it easy for these men to walk away from the off-springs that they have fathered? How do they expect their children to fare in this cruel and cold world? Who do they expect to raise them? If you can't even value your child that holds the seeds of tomorrow and carries your legacy within their very DNA, how can you expect others to suddenly see them as valuable? Abandoning your child is akin to casting your pearls to swine yet in the face of police brutality and discrimination, you wish to fly the banner of justice and human rights? What is human about leaving your child with an uncertain future when they didn't ask to be born? How is it justified to wantonly flit from bed to bed, spreading your seed without any careful consideration as to the kind of individual your resultant offspring will become? If the system is built to stifle Black progress and inhibit Black success, how is adding a string of 'fatherless' children a way of alleviating the problem? People will insist that the police is against us, the State is craftily conniving to blight our future, the economy is built to inhibit our success and it is all a conspiracy against the Black race. I will say this, if this is all true then we are doing a brilliant job of adding to our own demise. If it isn't, we have done an even more superb job of being our own worst enemy. Our race is resilient, feisty and resourceful. If we have been unable to relinquish the chains of poverty and discrimination, it's simply because we continue to custom make and build these very chains that we happily yoke ourselves with.
BLACK LIVES WILL START TO MATTER WHEN WE START TO LIVE LIKE IT DOES.