Ok, I’m not one to quote the Greek Philosophers, but that ol’ boy Socrates was certainly on to something when he uttered the very introspective phrase; “An unexamined life is not worth living.
In light of the poignancy of this truth and because of its perfect placement in the context of the following rant, we’ll let the Athenian abide… for now.
Caribbean people in the diaspora share one common bond that you’d assume would unite us no matter what. However, a closer examination of our behavior displays a much darker reality. One in need of some serious dialogue, assessment and execution. In light of the marvelous achievements of 21st century technology, in further light of the much aggrandized “advancements” we have ostensibly made as a people, it still seems virtually impossible for us to do what should be as natural as waking up – and that is to conduct business amongst ourselves like other people who orchestrates their social and cultural affairs in a harmonious fashion.
Administering policy and regulating the necessities that all people on Earth need to thrive are the areas that we need to be most vigilant and progressive in. But these things cannot be achieved with the slave mentality that plagues black folks today as a whole. Right now we need to deal with the flag waving, jump and wind, proud people we claim to be as members of the Caribbean nation.
Stigmas rule our every point of view in our walk of life and thought. Tradition is a beautiful thing and no people can sustain identity without it, but we must call to task some of the habits we have picked up in our sojourn as slaves in recent centuries. That is to say, some of the norms we practice need to be evaluated and those which are useful should be kept and cherished. But those habits we posses which perpetuate division, self hate and distrust, along with the folklore that borders on just plain old ass backwards, need to be dug up and scattered to the four winds.
Our Reggae culture, which has been one of our crowning achievements and artistic contributions to the world, is also rife with the stigmas that plague us as a people. Contradictions internally fueled among the artists and the industry as a whole spiral out of control as artist such as Sean Paul, for instance, are outcasts due to his particular interpretation of the Reggae/dancehall music genre. Likewise, other more “cultural” artists artist don’t work together and sometimes resort to engaging in rap style ‘beefs’ complete with confrontations and refusals to share the stage with rival artists and personalities.
In the interest of full disclosure, I feel compelled to point out my unique perspective as a hybrid of both cultures: I hail from both West Indian and black American black parentage. Because of this I can observe these matters from various perspectives. I recall going into Jamaican restaurants with my black American buddy and taking bets on how nasty the person at the counter would be to us when taking our order.
We would both scratch our heads in wonder of why the person behind the register would almost look annoyed that we were patronizing their establishment.We would sometimes play games like not announcing what we wanted when we walked in just to see how long it would take for an employee to greet us with, ‘Hello how can I help you?’ Or. ‘What are you having today?’This routinely placed us in a position of not knowing whether or not we should offer thanks when we left the establishment.
And don’t get me to talking about the island to island divisions. When the colonial ships were dropping off our ancestors on the various islands they weren’t dividing us on the ship like, ‘Ok these are the Guyanese we’ll leave them in Guyana; and make sure the Trinidadians are ready because we will be arriving in Trinidad soon.’ Please! These divisions came after the fact. The accents and language divisions resulted from our evolved use of English and were further divided by our immersion in the cultures we encountered on those islands and the masters we were made to serve.
So yeah, it’s kind of cute and fun when we swamp the parkway on Labor Day and flag for the world to see our spectacle. But when our island identities evolve into political divisions and impede our progress as one people, that’s just plain ugly!
So take notice: Post 911 America and the rest of the world has left people scrutinizing who they are and where they stand in light of the alarming changes in legislation, economics, and world policy. So this ain’t time to ‘mek joke’!
As one of our most outstanding orators, Stokely Carmichael aka Kwame Ture from Trinidad, demanded, it is time to “Organize our people! Organize our people! Organize our people!”
And tell that lady behind the register at my favorite beef patty joint I said to smile dammit!