By PAT WATSON
We all know that what we refer to as the ‘Black community’ is not one monolithic bloc. We are as diverse as this city is. Yet, the constant cry among many community members is that for us to succeed as a people we must unite.
The singing prophet Bob Marley set it out in lyrics that paraphrase Psalm 133:1:
“How good and how pleasant it would be before God and man, yea-eah!/ To see the unification of all Africans, yeah!/ As it’s been said a’ready, let it be done, yeah!”
The march of time has given much evidence that such sentiments are a long way from becoming a sustained reality. Yet, those with a Utopian vision continue to hope.
Which brings me to the current divide over supporting the polarizing personality of Mayor Rob Ford, stripped as he is of many of the duties of mayor, due to his erratic and recalcitrant behaviour.
But this is not about Ford. This is about understanding ourselves as a people when a wealthy person from the dominant sector pays a little attention to those who are starved for such.
There are Black people in this city who feel that they must be accepted by the dominant group in order to feel validated. They hunger for it. It is not enough to be accepted by one’s own community, apparently. Some feel they are not good enough until a White person tells them so. This is sad and saddening.
More saddening is that this validation can come from any White person, even one who uses racial slurs as a matter of course. Even one who will vote against funding social and community development programs for high needs neighbourhoods.
The people who support Rob Ford need to ask themselves what it is they are really supporting. Is it their hunger for the weakest of tea that is White people’s approval?
If there are Black people who need an official Black Validating White Person, then they should organize around that, rather than waiting for crumbs. If people want a repairman-at-large, then they would best serve themselves by organizing for such a municipal position and then support Rob Ford for the position, because fixing your broken lock or broken window is definitely not in the job description of mayor.
There is another blatant reality that this Ford factor tells of: We are an underserved, largely ignored and much maligned sector. Consequently, anyone who makes a show of service, however superficial, will get the nod.
In contrast, as well loved as former Mayor David Miller was downtown, he was mayor in absentia in the ‘burbs, where real estate and rent costs are lower and where more low-income Black families can afford to reside.
We are all by now familiar with the narratives that the dominant group attaches to Black people. Much of it paints us in a very negative light. So anything that looks like a halfway positive gives some of us a warm, fuzzy feeling, but in reality mistaking crumbs for a meal. Consider this the effects of societal rejection and unabated denigration.
Another thing, unless a person has lived in Jamaica and has become immersed over the years into the language, that person affecting ‘Jamaican patios’ is a culture vulture. Or, if you want a more academic take, the person is attempting to appropriate Jamaican culture. It is, in my opinion, distasteful.
Finally, never mind the fuzzy, feel-good of basking in the glow of this person who is unrepentant about using racial slurs, the important question that individuals need to ask is how has your daily life improved in the past four years that this individual came to the office of mayor due to what was essentially a protest vote?
There is a lot that is wrong with the way politics manifests at all levels of government. The reality is that in a battle of compromises and varied vested interests, there are always winners and losers within the governed population. It is frequently and unfortunately a zero-sum game. For this diverse Black community, the problem is that we are far too often the losers in that formula. So much so, that many are willing to allow themselves to be swayed by yet another carpetbagger, hustling for votes.
A note on military insanity…
Israel, Palestine; Arabs, Israelis when will this insanity of violence end?