By Yvonne Sam
Political and Social Commentator
It is easy to identify and unite with others when they are fighting for the same cause, especially for humanity and freedom. There is absolutely nothing wrong with universal solidarity if it is support to all involved parties.
Over the centuries, Black people have been the victims of great injustice, from being enslaved, to being flagrantly disenfranchised. When Blacks see struggle taking place, we are quick to jump in and say “ Brother… Sister’’, we understand and will stand with you.
Are there individuals that choose not to do this, yes there are, but in large numbers we will fight in solidarity with others that are disenfranchised.
Again I say that there is nothing wrong with understanding the struggle others are going through; however, as a people, we cannot fight every battle. History has shown us that when we fight our own battles, we help others to do the same.
Now is the time to focus on the needs of our communities and the individual causes that are in our faces. Our kids are in great need of an adequate education that keeps them on the path to success, and not piped towards the prison system.
We must also begin to look at each other as the answer to the violence, drugs and robbery in our community. None of this will be easy, but our march to freedom has never been a path of ease.
There has to be an improvement in the relationship between the Black man and the Black woman. It is time that we truly acknowledge the propaganda elephant in the room, and cease applying our individual experiences to ALL men and women.
White feminism may very well be detrimental to the healing of our men and women, as is the concept of white patriarchy. Deeply embedded in us are some behaviours that are not to our benefit by both our men and women. The blame game must stop as we have all been at fault, for unity on all fronts will be necessary to first heal, then grow our communities.
Firstly, the idea of community empowerment and self-reliance must become a serious priority, which simply means that we would not have the time or the energy to attend to the fight of every disparaged group. This is not intended to be cruel or uncaring towards others, nor to make it appear that Blacks are the only minority fighting injustice. With that being said, our people tend to stand with others with a force that is not reciprocated in the same manner.
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the struggle of the women’s movement, mistreatment of our First Nation individuals, Muslim disenfranchisement, the LGBTQ movement, nor the struggles of Asians and Hispanics. It is only human to understand and recognize the pain of others.
However, at some point — when the government works to trample on our basic rights;, when the police brutality is blatant as our people are slain even in their own homes; when we have businesses operating in our very neighborhood, owners of which treat us with blatant disregard; and certain crimes land us before the juridical and penal system faster than others — we must ask the question: are we alone?
It is of prime importance that, as Blacks, we recognize those that do stand with us as we fight the injustices that directly affect us, in a battle that has been going on since time eternal. Yet, at the same time, we must also be honest about the different minority groups that tend to make their communities’ needs the priority, and who have, to a degree, believed, and continue to believe, the false propaganda already promulgated about Blacks.
Capture in your imagination what it would be like if ALL minorities in Canada stood in solidarity for justice for all? It can be argued that justice would arrive much faster, but that has not become our reality yet.
Until universal solidarity occurs, Blacks need to make themselves the priority, lending support to others when we can, but not to the detriment of our own movement.
We cannot fight every fight.
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.