A time for self-reflection

Although February is Black History Month, the celebrations have already started.

Last weekend the Ontario Black History Society held its Black History Month kick-off brunch in Toronto and as we enter the month of February, the celebrations will get into high gear.

The TD Bank, a major supporter for many years of Black History Month events, has announced plans for sponsoring a series of activities in February  2019  ” to celebrate our diversity, creativity, resilience and achievement.”

Our heartiest congratulations to the TD Bank for its continuing support for these events.

Black History Month is indeed a time for celebration. But it also

should be a time for self-reflection.

So while we celebrate our past achievements, we must consider where we and our children are and where we are heading.

We need to ask ourselves what role we  can play to improve  our  lives and  those of the people in our community.

Has the Black community in Toronto made much progress since it celebrated Black History Month in 2018?

We are pleased to note that in  recent elections – federal, provincial and municipal –  several Black persons presented themselves as candidates.

These courageous souls were making history, even though most of them were unsuccessful at the polls.

We believe that there are many more in our Black and Caribbean communities who can make significant contributions to the political life of our country and  can  become actively involved in a wide range of issues which  directly affect us.

Where  are they? And why are so many of them unwilling to step forward?

The theme of the  recent brunch, organized by the Ontario Black History Society, was, “Preserving our Past, Igniting our Future.’’

A  noble sentiment.

But how are going to ignite our future if people in the Black community are unwilling to step  forward with the torch of leadership?

We are well aware of the perennial problem of people who are unwilling to speak out  on issues which affect them.

The Caribbean Camera had started a column called “Views On The News” in which people from our community were asked to comment on topical issues.

What we found was that many people who had excellent ideas on various matters of  public interest, were unwilling to express their views in this column.

“Don’t quote me”  became a familiar refrain.

As a result, the column was discontinued.

We are still hoping, however, that “Views On The News” will re-appear sometime soon.

Why are so many of us who live in a democratic society afraid to speak out?

And as we get ready to celebrate  Black History Month, we  should also ask ourselves about what kind of history are we making when one community organization – the Caribana Arts Group  (CAG) –  announced that it is going to change  its constitution, held a meeting in a church basement to do so and then was not heard from again.

No news release, no telephone call, nothing.

What has that little CAG  clique got to hide?

Is  it going to  ignite our future by hiding its plans under a bushel?

Or is that small select group waiting to surprise us  when it is re-elected  at  its annual general meeting next month?

We hope that in Black History Month 2020, the  Black  community in Toronto ignites its future with the torch of  leadership – and empowerment.

And let us speak out so that we will be heard.