Over the past few years I have had cause to question the direction of our Community. I believe that there is a consensus that we are in reverse gear; however, it is becoming quite apparent that we may be forgetting who we are and where we are coming from, basically our culture, our legacy.
Our lack of engagement in the Political and Civic arena places us at a complete disadvantage, taking into consideration that at one point we were the recognised minority group owing to our gritty determination to stand up for what we believed in and not accept second best.
Today we do have people that aspire to good things; however, the community as a whole is not aspiring to its full potential.
I ask myself these questions time and time again:
What has happened to the fighting spirit that our parents came to this country with?
What has happened with not settling for scraps?
What has happened to stand up and being counted?
Why are we not supporting each other proactively in our continual fight for equality?
Why are we not turning the discrimination we face into a positive, in order to move forward?
Our parents faced “No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs” and they did overcome this through their resilience and doing things such as throwing partner and buying houses, hence, transforming their lives by pulling together against an oppressive society that seeks to keep the disaffected where they are.
However, I conclude it is our fault, as some of us are comfortable and to coin a good old British phrase”I’m alright Jack”, but is this true. At a time when we face major inequality in employment, poverty, health, the criminal justice system, education and Political representation. What future is there for our children?
We seem to have fear of even registering to vote and using it, hence, being taken advantage of by the Political establishment. I have heard some say “forget about the black community, many of them don’t vote and when they do it’s for us”.
The fact is I firmly believe that we are forgetting who we are and that instead of focussing on Ackee n Saltfish, we strive towards Fish n Chips. Well I think its about time that we face reality, the other aspiring communities here in the UK clearly know who they are and their journey to this point, therefore, is it not right that we educate our community of who they are, before being referred to as a group of people that were here.
I recently spoke at the Kingsley Burrell March for Justice (a black man that died in custody following a section 136 detention) and a lady came up to me afterwards and said “Desmond we have a lot of work to do, in order to get back to where we were, without even then working out how to move forward”. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
It’s about time we shake off the latest stereotype of Jerk Chicken and Reggae Music and replace it with something more tangible, in order to regain the respect that we deserve.
It is clear that the only way to fight the inequality that we face is by having committed people at decision making tables as we are on the outside looking in and this cannot continue.
We can have all the workshops and meetings in the world; however, it all just doesn’t make any sense unless we start speaking with our actions. We may use intellect, but without any strategic action it is meaningless.
We can only have change if we decide to leave our comfort zones and try something different.
If we don’t then we may well loose our identity and indeed replace Ackee n Saltfish with Fish n Chips.
Its time now to get involved by applying to become:
1. A Magistrate.
2. A Custody Visitor
3. A School Governor
4. An Independent Monitoring Board Member at a Local Prison
5. A member of a Police Independent Advisory Group
6. A Local Residents Group
These are just a few things that we can do in order to create greater engagement here in the UK. Those with Political ambition should be embraced and they will face many barriers, but, we can challenge the system if we come together and under the umbrella of unity.
Our legacy, our destiny, our future is in our hands and its time for us all to take control.