I dedicate this letter to you, the citizens of the African Diaspora, and all those, who are suffering disproportionately, from the impacts of COVID-19 and anti-Black racism.
While it is difficult for many of us to see our way clear, during these uncertain times, I want to remind you of a few things, and provide insight into some key areas of community capacity-building.
My people, we are of uniquely strong stock. We have physically, mentally and spiritually endured the most egregious acts, ever inflicted on humankind.
From the invasion of Mother Africa, to colonization; from the trans-Atlantic slave trade experience, to the permanent separation from our loved ones; from the loss of language and the fragmentation of our traditions, to the subconscious adoption of the crabs-in-a-bucket mentality.
Through all of this and more, we have endured, and demonstrated, an unmatched resilience.
But that is not enough. It is now time to transition from resilience to brilliance.
Statistics show that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting us, due to pre-existing health and social conditions. So what is the takeaway from the data? How do we process this knowledge, and what do we learn from it?
Let’s talk solutions.
We may never be accepted, or respected, by the incumbent society, so what can we do, internally, that will render us truly independent of the need for external validation?
Education is a long-term solution that all but guarantees upward mobility. I am not referring to the Eurocentric education that damages our self-esteem, but an education that combines STEM (science, technologies, engineering and mathematics) with culturally-sensitive learning that includes a cross-section of culturally-aligned Africentric liberal arts. This pedagogy should be made available, and accessible, even if students are e-schooled, during the week and on Saturdays.
Community Trust Fund development will reduce the need to venture outside of our own community, to access the funds, required to start and scale-up businesses. It will allow for strategic investment in social programs, enhanced education and scholarships, which in turn, will fortify community advancement and social values. An ongoing and increasing investment in technological literacy and innovation will foster increased community confidence and new business ideas. Last, but not least, community investment in stocks, real estate, and promising young minds, will move communities forward, at a faster rate, with infinite growth.
Then, and only then, will we, as Robert Nester Marley implores, “emancipate ourselves from mental slavery”, and recognize that “none, but ourselves, can free our minds”.
Parenting, and in particular, fatherlessness, is an area of deep concern that has been plaguing Black communities, throughout the Diaspora, for generations. Colonization has systemically emasculated the Black man, and diminished his value in the eyes of Black women and children. The resulting impact has been generations of girls and boys, who grow up unbalanced, and unprepared, for adulthood and the real world.
My proposed solution is, to establish a more intentional community parenting model, where parental figures are assigned to provide moral, ethical and social support to families, in need of parental mentorship.
Economic Strategy is something the Black community has never applied as a collective. Our value to the dominant populations of the ECO-6 countries (countries with a critical mass, but not dominant populations of Black people) is disproportionately high, due to a number of contributing factors.
To be specific, “spending like there is no tomorrow” is a manifestation, aligned with the absence of promise. Similarly, spending, outside of our own community, is a manifestation of the lack of trust in our own people. Widespread, silo-ed behaviour is also a by-product of the colonized experience, and is derived from a confluence of factors, including: the thousands of languages spoken and streams of faith practiced amongst Africans, captured during slavery. This caused an individualism that was compounded by the ‘colonizers’ most effective strategy, which was to foster infighting and the ‘every man for himself’ mentality.
In order to gain the attention of corporate North America, we must recognize the areas, in which it is dependent upon us, and leverage that patronage against anti-Black racism. For example, if we were to collectively identify the major corporations that have a high dependency on the Black dollar, and advise them that we have decided to boycott their businesses and spend those funds with their biggest competitors indefinitely, they would be forced to advocate with the incumbent government for the implementation of policies that lead to economic parity, educational attainment, police accountability and social inclusion.
Finally, with respect to economic strategy, there must be an internal employment and entrepreneurial strategy. This would require intentional encouragement of elementary school students to pursue specific career paths that align with their interests, personality traits and skill sets, and contribute to moving the entire community and race forward.
Mental Health concerns are far more prevalent than we, as Black people, are aware; but there is growing appreciation for the need to understand and address the issue. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) are disproportionately more common in colonized countries, where people of African descent reside.
In fact, murder rates, per capita, are much higher in almost all of these very same countries. Addressing mental health wellness will reduce criminal tendencies, and address the symptoms and impacts, associated with a damaged cerebral frontal cortex.
Politics and Leadership are the mechanisms of transformative and holistic change. While the Black community is working, internally, to prepare for true inclusion, politicians and leaders have to be prepared as well. This, coupled with civic engagement, will increase the rate of change on a broad societal level.
The Final Step on this journey, is to inspire and reignite Black pride and a sense of belonging to Africa in all Black people. Every Black child and descendent of slavery should have the opportunity to visit Africa and witness its vast array of dynamism — from rural to industrial, historical to “Wakanda”.
Then, and only then, will a true sense of belonging flow through our veins. Then, and only then, will we, as Robert Nester Marley implores, “emancipate ourselves from mental slavery”, and recognize that “none, but ourselves, can free our minds”.
With undying love,