THE WINDS OF CHANGE
The winds of change for the Black man are blowing in the air and you don’t have to listen carefully to hear. It’s been a long time coming, and you can feel the winds of change, blowing and growing from a wisp of fresh air, to a gentle breeze into a strong storm and building up to a raging hurricane. It definitely is not the first and it might not be the last, but this is a chance to not relive the past.
Yes, it been much too long since Blacks have been trodding the wine press. It’s been too long Blacks been taken for granted and treated as mere “hewers of wood and drawers of water” and now put to the test. Yes, change will be inevitable, but what type of change should we demand and pressure the oppressors to get? Modification of emblems or eradication of an unjust systems yet?
THE EMBLEM VS SYSTEM
In the Jamaica Observer of June 25: an article titled, “GG rejects racist emblem: King’s House to seek revision of ‘offensive’ image showing white angel standing on black man’s neck”. According to the article, the Governor General (GG), Sir Patrick Allen, accepted as “offensive” a racist image on a British badge he is forced to wear on his breast on official duties.
Since Independence, Jamaican governors general have worn the breast star — one of Britain’s highest honours — with an image depicting a white angel standing on the neck of a chained black man, which has become a flashpoint in the Black Lives Matter protests against racism.
The GG, in an explanatory note, said the 19th century Star of the Order of St Michael and St George, two military saints, depicted St Michael, the Archangel (white/good), as being triumphant over Satan (black/bad). (The GG could have added that is what we are taught in school and at church. It is the system).
The news release. continued, “However, in light of the heightened scrutiny of our iconography in Jamaica under-girded by our history, the Black Lives Matter movement in America, and related issues in the global sphere, it is evident that the image can be offensive”. As such, the GG would “request for a revision of the image to the Lord Chancellor of the Order of St Michael and St George”.
This revision might be considered a noble gesture by the GG. It is an appeasement. After all, he is adding to a growing list of people and organizations that is petitioning for the emblem to be changed. Some are calling for the removing of statues and changing of flags.
How do you feel? Is it enough? Too little too late? Will this change the lot and parcel of Blacks? Will the treatment of Blacks improve and they get equal rights and justice? Will the blood of the martyrs smile with us from the soil?
Think about it. Isn’t an emblem a reflection or embodiment of the system? The emblem is a symptom of the problem of racism while the mindset, laws and institutionalized systems are the cause of racism. All good doctors know that to get rid of a sickness, such as racism, one needs to treat the cause not the symptom.
Imagine a hotel offering nude beaches, gambling, drugs, and prostitution as its main service offering. On its logo, there are images of nudity, card packs, coke pipes and a “madam” with a whip”. These images reflect the hotels services and normal business operations. They have been operating like this for years but recently some decent “Christian” people saw the logo and cried out in opposition.
The hotel is facing a dilemma: change the logo or change the services or change both. Changing the logo is simple and less costly in terms of money, value and effect on current customers. It is mere artwork. Plus, a logo change would appease the few miserable “protesting” souls, while keeping the hotel’s focus and clientele. This is also a more feasible alternative since “behind close doors” some of the “protesters” do participate in nudity, gambling, and prostitution. Furthermore, most people don’t know, don’t care two hoots about what the hotel is doing. However, it would not be a genuine attempt to stop the ignoble services.
The more noble action is for the company to change its operations (systems) and discontinue nudity, gambling and prostitution. This is the better option in terms of genuine commitment to changing the offensive behaviour and services. However this change would have far reaching consequences for the hotel and its stakeholders. Its core business would be gone. Its ardent and loyal customers would be disgruntled. Life as it knows it would never be the same. Uncertainty and even its very existence could be on the line.
CHANGING THE SYSTEM
As seen toppling statues and changing emblems will never change the dehumanization of Blacks. A simple apology for the over 400 years of English tyranny and colonialism and a change of emblems would be “smoothing feathers”. Unless all peoples are given equal rights and justice there will be throngs of unheard voices and a crowd and mob do not have a mind. They have a mood. Riots and rebellion will prevail.
As such, should we insist that the GG resigns? After all, he is the head of state and represents the Queen and her institutionalized system of degradation and enslavement of Blacks all over the world.
Should we insist that the government of Jamaica be dismantled and a national referendum held to determine a replacement for a truly independent Jamaican administration?
These are profound question that the weak of heart will find discomforting and even anarchically . Yet, a systematic institutionalized system cannot be changed by simply modifying an emblem. It requires action that will change the system from the core out. It’s a dilemma. Between the devil and the deep blue sea.
HOW MANY OF US
By the way, how many of us are brave or committed enough to ask that the laws of Jamaica be repealed so that they represent and reflect the wishes and conditions of most Jamaicans which is Black? How many of us would support the vocabulary of the English language be amended to remove or redefine words such as blacklist, black mail, black sheep etc?
How many of us would ask that the heartless mechanism of capitalism be replaced by a medium of exchange that shows brotherly love rather than “dollar for dollar and pound for pound”?
How many of us would support reparation payments for the 400 years of enslavement of blacks?
How many of us would boycott the products of cosmetic companies such as L’oreal, Johnson and Johnson and Unilever in Jamaica? Not only do these companies promote racism, they also benefit financially from the perpetuation of this crime. They use devious words such as “fair and lovely” and invariable all ideas of beauty are Caucasian based. The damage done to Blacks especially black women is irreparable. They teach us to hate ourselves.
Also, how many of us would sign a petition to outlaw Christianity and any religion that promotes inequality, a white God or any colour god? How many of us would support the burning of all religious artifacts and pictures that depict a white god or Jesus?
THE BLACK WHITE MAN
Without being facetious, the prospects of most people wanting a change to the entire system would be like that of a snowball in Jamaica in any month. Sadly to say but most Blacks would find it appalling rather than appealing to topple the existing system that holds them in captivity and degradation. They would find a multitude of reasons why changing the entire system is not advisable.
Actually, you see, many black men/women are white hearted individuals. They process their children’s hair to socialize them to look “white” or even worse, bleach their skins too. They support the horrendous if not gory idea of their daughters’ ears being pierced to “beautify them”. They strive for vain and worldly progress determined and measured by white values. They discriminate against their own black skinned brothers and harbour thoughts such as “ black and ugly like”; nothing black no good, black like sin etc. They even buy their kids white dolls.
A friend of mine calls them Oreo cookies, roast breadfruit, zebras and uncle toms. He believes that Blacks wearing white people’s hair and paint and bleaching skins while protesting that black lives matter is a farce. Blacks striving to be rich by white and capitalist standards is hypocritical. Blacks talking about love and caring and every four or five years voting for a system that doesn’t give education free or provide basic needs for the Black population is patronizing. Blacks supporting a system where the economy prospers, and the Black population suffers is as mentally deranged as Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”. Blacks worshiping a white god is confusing. Indeed, worshiping any god with a colour is deceptive or deception. Sadly, many Blacks are a part of the problem.
APARTHEID ALIVE AND WELL
The winds of change are blowing but we shouldn’t expect our ship to sail to its destination without some rowing and navigation.
So as the winds of change blow and the struggle against oppression continues let us remember that Apartheid did not come toppling down because of changes to an emblem. It was done after years of defiance, sacrifice and loss of lives that resulted in a change of government by ballot. As Peter Tosh said, “we have to fight, fight against apartheid”. Indeed, I am indebted to Peter Tosh for his contribution to the Black struggle and his song Apartheid could easily be one of the anthems for the current protest.
Peter’s Apartheid chronicled the ignoble regime that had our brothers in captive and degradation in South Africa. Peter Tosh was instrumental in pushing for the freedom of Blacks worldwide and it was regrettably that he died in 1987 before South Africa was set free in 1994. Although not around, Peter left us with profound words and his Equal Rights Album is memorable. “I don’t want no peace. I need equal rights and justice. Gve me my fair share of equal rights and justice”.
Okay. Okay. Bob Marley did contribute to the Black struggle too but he was not, debatable, a firebrand as Peter Tosh. Interestingly, I recalled Bob Marley erroneously, in his “Trench Town Rock” song , saying that “one good thing about music, when it hits you feel no PAIN”. Yet, I am sure you will feel some pain, oppressor or the downpressed, when you listen Bob Marley’s song, titled, Babylon System. Could be an anthem too for the Black Lives Matter movement. See lyrics below.
We refuse to be
What you wanted us to be
We are what we are
That’s the way it’s going to be, if you don’t know
Babylon system is the vampire, yea! (vampire)
Suckin’ the children day by day, yeah!
Me say de Babylon system is the vampire, falling empire,
Suckin’ the blood of the sufferers, yeah!
Building church and university, wooh, yeah!
Deceiving the people continually, yeah!
Me say them graduatin’ thieves and murderers
Look out now they suckin’ the blood of the sufferers (sufferers)
Tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth
Tell the children the truth right now!
Come on and tell the children the truth
‘Cause, ’cause we’ve been trodding on ya winepress much too long
And we’ve been takin’ for granted much too long
Got to rebel, y’all (rebel)
We’ve been trodding on the winepress much too long, yeah! (rebel)
Yeah! (rebel) Yeah! Yeah!
From the very day we left the shores (trodding on the winepress)
Of our Father’s land (rebel)
We’ve been trampled on (rebel)
Oh now! (takin’ for granted) Lord, Lord
This video may get you teary eyed yet joyful and hopeful. It was shot in South Africa and depicts how a set of buffaloes saved a young one from lions and crocodiles, despite the situation. It shows hope and what can happen if a set of preys or victims unite against their predators and victors. If you noticed at times the herd is unsure or afraid of the vicious lions but as soon as ONE buffalo charged the rest followed. Unity is strength and ONE can make a difference.While watching, be flippant, imagine the buffaloes are Blacks and the lions and crocodiles are Whites and Yellow respectively.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN
The solution to the problem of victimization and racism lies in the question “Who made me my brother’s keeper? Needless to say there are some White men who are more of a brother than Blacks are brothers to Blacks. Indeed, many times we are stabbed in the back by a man whose skin colour is black.
Summarily, as we strive for change, let us seek a change that uplifts all races, creed and nationality. A poem of mine from the 1983 “View” collection is fitting.
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER – Clifton BUTTA Neil (1983)
We should all be our brother’s keeper
This would make life much easier;
With me looking out for you
And you looking out for me too.
Are you being your brother’s keeper?
If not so, what are you waiting for?
Do you realize you are the one
Who is putting the pressure on?
Be your brother’s keeper.
Help him to overcome.
If you are his keeper
His things are yours and yours his.
PRESSURE, MAKE WE PRESSURE THEM
Of course, I couldn’t complete this blog without sharing my Poem “Pressure”. It’s a tribute to George Floyd and all those in the struggle of good over evil. Of course, the wind of change is not just for Blacks but for everyone who is downpressed and deprived of equal rights and justice. Let us keep the pressure on.
INTERESTING GEOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL FACTS
The Triangular Trade which consisted of 1) England financing the slave ships to 2) Africa where they collect slaves in exchange for trinkets and then transport them to the 3) West Indies and Americas as a forced/enslaved labour source for the plantation system in Jamaica which provided sugar, molasses and rum which was sent back to 1) England.
The middle passage or route from Africa to the Caribbean was facilitated by the trade winds which blew the ships with slaves from North Africa all the way to the Caribbean and Americas. It is this same wind that carries storms and hurricanes to the Caribbean, and it is the same wind that gave us the dust storm, June 21 to 24.
The main time black is used positive is with accounts. When you make a profit, you are in the black. Make a loss you are in the red.