By Meegan Scott
February-Black History Month- is that time when we focus on the successes, struggles, and oppressions faced by Blacks and other people of colour. It is also a time when we revisit the atrocities committed against our forefathers, freedom fighters, and heroes. Yet we fail to take time out for introspection, to look at the oppressions and barriers to social and economic success that we, as a people, continue to place in the path of our own people.
Although the negative impact of slavery or the effects of modern day racism by other ethnic groups against Blacks cannot be denied and should not be trivialized, I believe Black racism against Blacks poses the greatest threat to our social and economic progress, our culture(s), health, and well-being. We demanded and fought for an end to slavery by colonial powers. In the same way we must fight for and demand the end to both social and economic racism by Blacks against Blacks. Like the oppressors of our past we owe reparation to each other in the form of guarantees to end those daily acts that contribute to the ongoing suffering of Blacks and which also serve as social and economic barriers to our progress. We should develop systems for ensuring families who suffer loss as a result of Black on Black crime are compensated by the criminal and his or her family.
Acts of racism within black family units serve to enfeeble the ability of the family to function both as the cornerstone of society and as a decision-making unit. As a result, we face higher levels of economic hardship, underachievement and low self-esteem. Very often acts of racism within the family is unrecognized for what it is. So we are angered when we read the stories of highly educated and qualified black professionals who cannot find jobs that offer the challenge and economic rewards that they deserve. But we fail to be as outraged about acts of jealousy and financial abuse of those among us who have sought to uplift themselves and their families.
Stories of ongoing strife and pain that manifest when one child who got the same start as any other in a family, lands a good job or graduates from university are rife. Families fall apart as parents are then accused of having spent more on one child when the truth of that child’s struggle with student loans, working and studying, sacrificing the pleasures of a social life or family of their own is well known. This occurs even when that successful child continues to invest financially in his or her family.
Arrested economic progress and low levels of self-actualization among Blacks are often exacerbated by racism that makes it easy for us to pass negative judgment about the services and professionalism offered by our own without first assessing the value offered. We bring a lens of colour and lack of self-confidence to the evaluation and that is why we are comfortable with offering pocket change to our domestic helpers, professionals, tradesmen and business owners.
We refuse to recognize our intellectuals until they are recognized by others. We refuse to embrace and recognize our culture and talent (outside of sports and music) unless they are deemed “civil” and accepted by others. For example, many Christians among us will listen to Country and Western and other musical genres with the same civility of language and addressing the same theme but will not listen to a Reggae or Calypso piece because they claim that it is secular music.
Time is life but we disrespect the time of the Black person with whom we have a meeting or appointment because they have no prospect or network from which we might benefit. We dish out poor customer service to our own. We assume that other have higher social and moral standards that our own and as such we level acts of social racism in the form of disdain, lack of trust, and mistreatment of our own. We marry and tolerate humiliation and mistreatment in order to “profile” with people of other ethnic groups while spurning the love and respect of our own.
The ease with which Blacks reject and doubt their own cultural traditions, pass judgment on their own institutions of learning and their failure to proudly educate and share our culture and traditions with our children leave us uprooted and susceptible to racism by others. Our acceptance of stereotypes related to crime, dead beat Black fathers, in addition to our failure to respect the rights of others to peace and quiet, are manifestations of black racism against black that reinforces racism by other ethnic groups.
We have difficulty translating our own language of love but we crave fickle shows of affection and proclamation of love by others. Condescension allows us to restrict the depth of knowledge we share with our own to our demise.
Unless we take time to focus on correcting the ways in which we continue to hinder the progress of our own by erecting barriers which are themselves acts of social and economic racism, we will never be truly free; neither will we attain the social and economic success that we deserve and seek as a people.
We will never be in a position to fully command or demand justice or to achieve peace, if we fail to address
the racism among us. Multiculturalism and your rights and rewards will remain unattainable. And to our disgrace and degradation, we will forever squander the legacy, blood, sweat, and pain of our forefathers.