By Yvonne Sam
Clinging halfheartedly to the age old maxim that confession is good for the soul; let me forthwith confess that I am not big on giving gifts at Christmas, Kwanzaa or anything else.
The holiday season has taken on a life of its own and has become so distorted that most children believe that Jesus was born at Toys ‘R Us and Santa Claus is only an app away.
I strongly and firmly believe in giving gifts of love and upliftment, nothing less or else will do. So in this festive season I thought that it would be ideal to give a gift of love to the community. Please overlook or forgive any hint or vestige of sarcasm but that’s just how I roll.
Sometimes when facing the problems that are so pervasive in the black community, one has to laugh to keep from crying. As we each do our part, I remain optimistic that things will gradually get better for Black folks. Anyway, here are the gifts that I would like to give the community for Christmas.
While many of us are choosing to be better educated to the best of our ability, graduation rates are still plummeting, literacy rates are at a low, and reading some Facebook posts can be likened to trying to learn Chinese.
For the youngsters, the most disturbing and saddening thing about walking away from education is that education is the key to freedom. When you choose to keep yourself ignorant, then you are volunteering for oppression and various forms of slavery in a capitalist society.
What I find extremely irritating is when our kids can easily memorize the lyrics to an over-sexed, violent song but cannot remember a thing in their school textbooks. Certainly WE must find a way to do better.
I wish the community lots more wealth. The levels of wealth of Black families continue to be a fraction of that of white folks, and most of us do not know the difference between being wealthy and having a high income.
A fact worth keeping in mind is that rich folks remain rich by living like they are broke. On the other hand broke people stay broke by living like they are rich.
It is apparent, even to the blatantly myopic that this wealth level inequity, along with the educational gap is one of greatest hurdles for black communities. This gap does not exist because all the black people got together and decided to spend money on Coach purses, Michael Kors handbags, Dolce & Gabbiano sunglasses or gold chains. The gap exists (as I have afore-stated) because from time immemorial to present, we were never the ones to pass on wealth to our children.
However, as a community, and by extension a people, there are things that we can do to fix this problem. Learning how to invest and produce rather than spend and consume is the first step. If all we know is to work for a paycheque, that we then go out and waste on a week-end, then sadly we will always be slaves to the corporation that gives us the money to feed our children.
Next, I wish the community a little bit of political power. Believe it or not but Black people have enough votes to turn the tide in any election, but not enough votes to make politicians move. We must discover a new paradigm of empowerment.
Grassroots political activism may be the solution, along with credible coalitions to pursue our interpretation of the black agenda. Any politician who is not dealing with the current issues facing Blacks is not worth the time of day.
It is difficult to get excited about voting when your only options are those who will ignore you and those who will sovereignly and linguistically separate you.
Another wish is for some courage and passion as a community. Strangely, but one of the many challenges is that so many of us can get so caught up in the paper chase, that we forget what really matters.
You go to university, buy the big house, fancy car and impressive job title and somehow or other you become convinced that you have accomplished something that matters to the world. Read my lips, but capability and capacity mean nothing if you lack the courage to act and commit to something greater than yourself.
Without the courage to transfer your success to those individuals in the world who need your example, you may live and die without anyone knowing or caring that you were ever here.
Anyway Merry Xmas to all, and may the year ahead find the black community striving to stand tall and significant to all.
Aleuta — the struggle continues.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.