THE EDITOR, Sir:
EMANCIPATION SHOULD have us reflect on those who were responsible for our dilemma and for our being in the diaspora. There is no country in the Western Hemisphere where the black man was not taken into servitude, whether North America (of course, Canada included), Central America, the Anglophone, Francophone, Dutch, Spanish or Danish Caribbean. Emancipation has given us ex-slaves the freedom to determine our destiny but, strangely, the economic destiny and achievement of black people is less than desired. Let's not talk about professional jobs or the achievements in culture, especially pop culture. The fact is, for several reasons, as emancipated people, we have failed miserably to enrich ourselves collectively.
United States presidential contender Mitt Romney, in a recent speech in Israel, stated that the success of particular countries/ethnicities is because of their culture. Referring to Israeli gross domestic product, which is much higher than that of the Palestinians, he attributed Jewish culture as the reason for the differential. It is easy to understand his argument, because in black countries like Jamaica, a similar thinking or statement could be made. The ethnic minorities do better at business and are generally more prosperous. Of course, many races in this island got their legacy from slavery, but weren't the Irish Jamaicans next to slaves in the early days of colonisation and didn't the Indians come here with nothing? So, it is useless to argue totally against statements like Romney's.
There are other issues and reasons why we are not financially emancipated. Whether we are peeved by this statement, all empirical facts are there to support Romney, if we examine that statement from a Jamaican perspective. Without a doubt, the most successful economic agents and business people are non-blacks - Jews, Chinese, Arabs, English, and even Indians. If anyone can prove otherwise, please do so.
Since Emancipation, blacks are pitted against blacks and black jealousy persists. In the Jamaican vernacular, 'bad mind' prevails, but this is the same throughout the Americas. I have spoken to black people from across the diaspora and they admit it is the same. A member of my Independent Baptist church family in Colombia, who has traversed Latin America, was really concerned that in every country in Latin America, people of African descent, were at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Too much divisiveness
As a fact, black Jamaicans have come a far way. Much more could be achieved if there was not so much divisiveness. It is reflected in the politics. Instead of unity, it is a situation of nepotism, party and partisan alliances, corruption, black-on-black violence, community tribalism, petty bickering, and being pawns of the hegemonic elites. While the hegemonic elites consolidate power by economic, financial and family mergers, blacks only support those who are close to them and those from whom they can benefit. The 'friend and company' syndrome drives the culture and soul of people in this island and the diaspora.
Professor Damien King, in an interview on TVJ on the morning of July 31, 2012, argued that the plantation system had positioned societies like ours the morning after Emancipation into the elites and poor. Arguing that both political parties had not addressed the situation to enrich the masses, King failed to see that, irrespective of politics, there is a historical, cultural and psychological problem of black division which stems from Africa. Evidently, if all had gone well in terms of the best economic programmes and job creation by the parties, blacks collectively would still be at the bottom of the society and in a dilemma because of their nature. Jamaica is no exception, the division is there in nearly all countries of the diaspora and on the African continent. For example, a country like Equatorial Guinea, with just over a million people and vast oil resources, displayed greed by small ruling-class cliques living like kings while the masses, of similar tribe and ethnicity, are like vagabonds below the poverty level. While the ruling class purchase chalets in France, the majority of the people live in substandard homes. How many countries of opposite ethnicities disenfranchised their own race? I can't recall any.
So whether freedom bell rings loudly for those of us in the diaspora whose forbears survived the Middle Passage, full emancipation is yet to come, at least from an economic perspective. The divisiveness is as live as it was among the African tribes. The result is such culture does not synchronise well with free enterprise and, therefore, the capacity for human development, nation building and solidarity is tainted by the baggage of blackness. While other ethnic groups in Jamaica progress, and progress exponentially, black Jamaicans facilitate themselves as pawns in a post-colonial society while indulging in the destructive culture of "me and myself".