By LENNOX FARRELL
Is there any other people in this hemisphere and country who have contributed as much and received in return so little? In placing the question, let me add some caveats.
One of these is that I am not reinforcing anything like a victim mindset, if only because the only victims respected in Western societies today are those able to victimize while claiming victim status.
I also do not subscribe to conspiracy theories against Black people. Of course, there are individuals and institutions with agendas inimical to our communities and people. Among these are the pharmaceuticals who guinea-pig sub-Saharan Africa as its continental laboratory. However, no conspiracy is as devastating as a low expectation, especially one self-internalized.
Low expectations are conspiracies on steroids. They are the primary reason behind the criminally absurd phenomenon of homicide being the leading cause of death among Black youth. These killings are partially spawned by controlling territory for illegal drug deals. However, youth from other communities also deal illegal drugs yet do not so frequently and as readily kill each other. For our youth self-hatred, not illegal drugs, is the primary cause of these deaths, seemingly senseless.
My final caveat is that none of us is responsible for how others perceive us, that is, until they meet us. After this, we bear some, if not all, responsibility.
Others have and will continue to have low expectations of us. However, each of us has the responsibility to carry ourselves honourably, with self-respect and self-regard, and to train our children and youth to do and be likewise. It works if one is consistent by precept and example.
But back to properties, cultural and otherwise lost to African Canadians. At a later date Africville, a settlement founded by Black Nova Scotians will feature.
This week, who hasn’t heard of, if not visited, the Montreal Jazz Festival? It, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, is an annual jazz festival held in Montreal, Quebec. Holding the 2004 Guinness World Record as the world’s largest jazz festival, it welcomes 2.5 million visitors, and annually features roughly 3,000 artists in more than 650 concerts, 450 of which are free outdoor performances.
According to Google, the founder of this jazz festival is a White French Canadian, Alain Simard. However, Haitian Canadians know more of Roue Doudou Boicel. So, too does the Montreal Gazette (1995) to wit, “The incandescent Doudou Boicel is the father of the Montreal Jazz Festival.”
Also, according to the 25th Annual Vision Gala Martin Luther King Jr. Award Winner, Doudou Boicel was honoured as “part of the history-indeed, the very walls-of the city of Montreal. He was one of the first immigrants of colour to contribute to Montreal’s cultural development. Doudou was a promoter of jazz, blues, salsa, R&B and reggae concerts, and also produced a number of radio and television broadcasts in cooperation with Radio-Canada.”
The Montreal Jazz Festival, with the support of the city, took this festival away from Doudou Boicel. Today it is privately owned. This, too, is the future of Caribana and its carnival. Others already see this. The Toronto Black community does not. Not as long as we could still, “jump up, jump up”.
Farrell is a retired educator and a former board member and chair of the Caribbean Cultural Committee, the owners of Caribana.