Healing Haiti Directly

There has been much discussion on how we as Black people can contribute toward the rebuilding of Haiti.

As we are all aware, Haiti is the foundation of Black freedom in the Caribbean, being the first Caribbean island/country to fight for and win its freedom, only years later to have to buy their freedom again from the French, with a debt that would last 200 years, and cost them their economic freedom to this day.

Without Haiti’s rebellions, history for all Caribbean islands would look very different.

NGOs, charities and the UN are not providing the appropriate aid for the people. For example, USAid deliver toothpaste and other inappropriate aid to Haiti after the recent hurricane, as opposed to sending food, fresh water and building materials for houses.

NGOs and charities get grants for governments and countries in which their administrative base exists. In receiving these grants they are expected to carry out a number of tasks in countries and cities that require aid, including sending aid.

Unfortunately aid agencies have board members to pay and highly paid staff to employ, skills do not come cheap, so not all of the money that should go in aid can go the those in need, some of it is required for administrative costs.

So aid agencies need to be seen to be distributing aid in order to get their next grant, but they also have massive overheads, so the solution is to send aid that is not appropriate. That way you can say that you have sent aid, governments can continue to give money to these aid agencies, but nobody had said…was the aid useful to rebuilding the lives of the Haitians.

The Black Caucus recently sent representatives to Haiti, were we spoke to Haitians about the plight of their country.

They confirmed that the poor were getting little or no aid. Houses were not being rebuilt, rivers and waterways were not been cleared of rubble and rubbish and no efforts were being made to give people the tools to feed themselves and self sustain.

Of course there is also political and economic capital in keeping everyday Haitians poor.

Politicians and the rich whites lived in luxury in gated communities with armed guards at their doors. Money was getting into Haiti, just not getting to the people that really need it.

So what can we do to help these people to whom we all owe our freedoms?

How can we ensure that the money that we contribute goes to those who need it, and used in a manner that is good for them?

How about we bypass the agencies all together and give to money straight to the people.

How about each Black person across the world gives a small contribution to a Haitian family directly.

How about each Black family of any size, sponsors a black child through their childhood and school years.

But here is the difference, how about we do it directly.

How about you have the name and address of the person, or family that you are sponsoring.

How about you know about them and their lives, and can point them out in a crowd, rather than just knowing the name of the agency that collects your money.

Yes, there will be some mistakes, and yes some families may not put the money to good use, but if even one in three household used the money appropriately, we as Black people would have made a direct difference to the lives of those we have sponsored in Haiti.

Help them to help themselves, rather that keeping the dependent on aid.

Why is it taking so long to rebuild Haiti?

How can we bypass the aid agencies? We do not know, but one suggestion was…the phone book.

If everyone picked a name out of the phonebook, made contact and established a means to sponsor a member of that family, we would be on our way.

If not the phonebook, the national census, a housing benefit registry, or anything that would get us directly closer to those in need.

True unconditional charity to those that really need it.

This is an open idea, to all our reader and beyond.

Run with it, develop, it and put the money directly into the hands that need it.

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Interview with Kev Carmody (Part 1)

It’s not often you get an opportunity to have a chat with a famous Australian who you have admired from afar for many years. Someone who you admire for their music, for their activism, for their elder’s role in the community, for their earthy humour and for their story-telling genius. Recently I got lucky. I was fortunate enough to interview Kev Carmody, one of Australia’s most respected singer / song writers.

On the back of a brilliant performance by Kev at WOMAD in Adelaide in March 2016 I reached out to Kev and requested an interview. Kindly he said yes. After a 40 odd minute chat with Kev in April 2016 I now have an even greater respect and admiration for the man. I assumed our chat would focus on his music and his activism for black rights. Kev took these conversations and others and linked them, in his most natural way, to the big picture. Kev has such a natural, easy charm and turn of phrase. Effortlessly he steered our conversation across many different subjects, across many different points of view. I was left richer for the experience. Sadly this article cannot give full and just expression to our conversation. But try I must, across a series of articles, of which, this is the first.

Kev’s thoughts and outlook strike me as those of an elder who has seen many moons, has walked many miles across this beautiful earth and met people of all persuasions. He has an implicit understanding of people and of how things work in this world of ours. He understands what is needed to bring about significant change in a society: patience, maturity, consensus and the courage to act.

Kev told me a golden nugget of a story that I found quite remarkable. Kev sung at Gough Whitlam’s public memorial service in late 2014 with Paul Kelly. Kev told me that Gough, the man who pulled Australia into the modern world, wrote the script for his own funeral and specified he wanted Kev & Paul to sing ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ at his own funeral. Such was the significance of this song and its related events to Gough. Such was the regard that Gough had for Kev and Paul. The song was co-written by Kev and Paul in 1993, and is based on the story of Vincent Lingiari and his Gurindji tribe’s land strike in the 70’s as part of the Indigenous struggle for land rights and reconciliation. Gough is the ’tall stranger’ referred to in the song handing back the soil to its original owners, the Gurindji. The protest led to the Commonwealth Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. This event, the successful 1967 Constitutional Referendum and the 1992 Mabo High Court decision / 1993 Native Title Act (terra nullius) are all significant milestone achievements in the struggle for Indigenous rights in Australia. These hard won achievements and the patience and struggle needed to achieve them have obviously shaped Kev’s big picture view and his understanding of the world.

In current day Australia, Kev believes that the ‘Reconciliation movement will progress – it has to. Recognition is good but it must be a partnership – recognition in the constitution and coupled with a treaty for Indigenous people. Prior sovereignty needs to be recognised. And a treaty is needed as well. Our mob have to discuss it, right across Australia. This takes time and we need a partnership approach’.

Kev reflected that he was a 20 year old at the start of 1967 and at that time he was not a citizen in his own country. The 1967 Referendum changed that and to this day it is Australia’s most successful vote. At the time, Kev noted, the global political movement for civil rights provided the necessary momentum, especially in the United States where Afro Americans were very active for change. Consensus for change in 1967 was found across society in Australia, Kev believes, because of this global movement. Do the same conditions exist today to give momentum to the Reconciliation campaign? Kev sees a lot more conversations needed to be had across Australia before we can reach a similar consensus as was achieved in 1967. Kev also pointed out that crucially consensus is needed amongst Indigenous Australians as well. His mob is divided on a number of issues. This will take time and patience to change. To reach consensus broadly across the whole of Australia it will take time, patience and most importantly, maturity. We need all our leaders across the spectrum that is Australia to speak up with a Gough inspired voice. To speak with a courageous voice that helps accelerate the growth needed to achieve this maturity. And then together we can ‘again’ pull Australia into the modern world.

A few times in our chat Kev returned to the same theme: Women. The respect for, the rights of and peace toward Women. I hadn’t expected Kev to bring this up. Which upon reflection was rather ignorant of me. It’s obvious to me now that Kev’s care for others extends far across all of society. His empathy has a broad reach. This is most probably inspired by his good parents and his strong culture. His songs and spoken word talk fondly of his upbringing and his mother especially. Also inspirational would likely be the strong Indigenous connection to Mother Earth. Kev spoke of the scourge of domestic violence occurring in the Indigenous communities. The level of domestic violence in the Indigenous communities is as bad as other parts of Australia. The common denominator? This disease in our communities across Australia is fuelled by alcohol and drugs and most critically by bad attitudes toward women. I am sure that Kev was raising this issue in our chat to keep the conversations about domestic violence alive. To keep working patiently towards the changing of attitudes.

At the end of our chat I asked Kev for any advice he could give me. Kev offered: ‘keep working on your intellect; make your intellect aware of the infinity and ancientness of this country; get a feel for this country; really feel it; get your being to feel the night sky’. This made sense to me. It reminded me of a time I was looking up at the stars at night in Papua New Guinea with no city lights to interrupt the darkness. I felt it then. I was in awe of the beauty of our cosmos. I also felt small and so temporary. I felt the weight of responsibility to preserve the beauty of our earth for those that follow in our footsteps. Just as the Koori people have done in this country for more than 40,000 years.

Author: Sam Evans

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Caribbeans in Australia – A community divided by colour

Recently the Caribbean community in Melbourne celebrated the launch of their book ‘Adding Pimento’.

The book is a well-constructed collection of community stories that discuss the trials and tribulations of the West Indians’ migration to Australia.

The book also talks about how West Indians were received in Australia and what they overcame to take their place in the wider Australian populace.

However the book stops before exploring the varying degrees of integration into Australia, and does not focus on the continued internal conflict within the community.

This article will take the first steps to objectively discuss the conflicts within our small West Indian community.

It will discuss the rise of that which was once a growing organisation with the potential for greatness, and the fall of the association amidst narcissism and corruption.

So to begin…

The West Indian community in Australia is made up of people from several islands in the Caribbean, spanning from Cuba and Haiti in the upper Antilles, to Guyana and French Guiana in the lower Antilles.

Due to the White Australia policy, white and light skinned Trinidadians, and Guyanese were allowed to migrate to Australia before their darker-skinned equals.

This was not only considered a privilege by these white West Indians, but also served to reinforce the established and misguided belief handed down by slave masters and their offspring, that they were in some way superior to their fellow darker-skinned West Indians.

In the West Indies, we still see examples of this ‘high yellow’ mentality today from politics and banks, through to shops and restaurants, where light skinned managers, senior staff and the overly successful, oversee their darker colleagues.

Unfortunately some white and light-skinned West Indians in Australia have brought their slave mentality with them from the West Indies, and consider themselves better than their darker West Indian equals.

This ‘Slave-master’s child’ mentality is well documented.

David Lowenthal in a paper for MIT Press states “The coloured middle class helped to sustain this hierarchy just as their forebears had during slavery.”

Again Lowenthal “light-coloured folk assumed the roles, and the behaviour of the whites.”

Edward Byron Reuter writes “The black race is separated from its natural leaders and remains … a contented and helpless mass,”

Back to Lowenthal who writes “The elite in Haiti, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Lucia is no longer white but light-coloured…

He also writes “Middle-class obsession with status based on colour emphasizes sectional discontinuities and keeps the whole structure precariously balanced….”

He continues to write “Almost every West Indian territory is dominated by a small white or light-coloured group whose way of life is both the unattainable envy and the dreadful burden of the predominantly black majority….”

For the record, the immigration story to Australia includes the previous wave of migration after the first and second world wars, as Black West Indian and Black British service men made Australia their home.

In a country which, according to the latest census 1500 people in the state of Victoria in Australia claim West Indian heritage, this light-skinned middle class misguided superiority has now proven to be destructive, and a divisive mentality within such a small community.

Carter G. Woodson in The Negro Professional Man and the Community (Washington, D. C, 1934), details this superiority complex when he talks about a Trinidadian’s frank phrase, “a path to another niche in the elite of skinocracy.”

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2901.0Chapter602011

But I will put that to one side for now, and focus on the beginning of the story, or at least my entrance, stage left.

I was born and raised in London, where the Caribbean community was a cohesive group, forged in the flames of the Brixton and Toxteth riots.

In London, we were able to identify people from other islands, but largely this did not matter because black people were under siege, much like Muslims in the 21st century.

Blacks were being spat on, marginalised, and beaten in the streets back in the 50’s through to the 90’s, first by the rockers, then the punks, then the skinheads, but always by the police.

In England, we had learned to put our petty differences aside, to fight a more deadly foe.

So, when I came to Australia in 2005, I immediately sought out my fellow West Indians, and found them organised in their latest incarnation called The CaribOz Family.

I watched from the outside for a couple years, before becoming involved in creating an exhibition at the Melbourne Immigration Museum.

The headquarters of CaribOz was based in Sydney, so for grant reasons, in 2009 we officially separated, and formed a separate entity, and that was how the Caribbean Association of Victoria or CaribVic was born, of which I was made President.

The committee was made up of people from diverse backgrounds, representing a mixture of islands, and a spread of age groups.

The organisation was designed to be an all-inclusive association that was aimed at all those who associated with Caribbean heritage. We had regular committee meetings and public brunches every month to provide the community with an opportunity to meet, and mingle with each other. These brunches also served to welcome new members to the community.

In addition there were more periodic events such as cricket days, dinner dances, cycling, and cultural days which proved to be quite popular.

The organisation was not-for-profit, and through regular consultation with our members, our aim was to put the money back into the community, for the benefit of all those who had contributed to CaribVic’s development.

Now I am not saying that it was a Utopia, and I am certainly not suggesting that we did not have disagreements, but I am saying that it was a completely transparent organisation that engaged with many of its members in diverse ways.

I was replaced as president in 2011 but still remain part of the broader West Indian community.

After all, the association is only one part of the Caribbean community in Melbourne. There are now a number of organisations that service the community in different ways, and the community is better for all of them as long as being a member of one does not preclude you from being a member of any others.

So, there is the rise.

However, so far all I have done is tell a story.

Like most things in life, the points of analysis, and detailed discussion, do not begin until the fall.

One of the key projects that CaribVic undertook back in 2006 was a collaboration with the Immigration Museum of Victoria, the state where I live.

Entitled “Callaloo: The Caribbean mix in Victoria”, the installation told the story of those with a West Indian background and their migration to Australia.

When we were creating the installation, the differences between the social constructs of class crystallised into disagreements about how the West Indies should be portrayed.

Members readily admitted that, were they back in the West Indies, they would not fraternise with others around the table.

This clash of the Caribbean was because of the construct of class that I mentioned earlier in this article, reinforced by the “50 shades of black” construct.

There had been no beatings of West Indians in the streets of Melbourne. There had been no mass rejection of the West Indians that had made it past the White Australia Policy. There had been no hardship to rally all Caribbean people of different colours and stations behind a common cause or enemy.

We see examples of this in the Islamic communities across the world. The more that the world forces them into a corner, by trying to force them to conform with what the world considers to be safe behaviour by denouncing a small percentage of radical elements of their community, the more they retreat into their religion, customs and identity which only serves to galvanise them further as a community.

Ironically, it would be this lack of oppression that would contribute to the downfall of CaribVic.

There were a number of factors that contributed to an accumulating disquiet.

  •  The first was a superiority complex that manifested from a highly privileged, class and colour culture.
  •  The second was a belief that citizens of one island should dominate the committee of an organisation originally designed to treat all countries equally.
  •  The third was the belief that age determines your position in the hierarchy
  •  And the final factor was the concept that people will naturally default to a way of thinking that they know best.

So let us explore these points further.

‘A superiority complex that manifested from a highly privileged, class and colour culture.’

In the Caribbean, as mentioned earlier, there is a conditioned mindset where light skinned people are identified as being privileged, even better looking and more desirable as mates.

This condition is perpetuated by those with lighter skin and, surprisingly reinforced by the darker skinned, who appear to accept this unsubstantiated superiority, and even subconsciously reinforce it.

We see this evidenced in the number of bleaching creams that are on the market and the number of derogatory slurs and insults that all involve how dark someone’s skin is.

This mindset exists all around the Caribbean, but has been found to be more prevalent in countries that also had a high Indian population, through the indentured workers brought into the Caribbean.

The Indians brought with them the same “white is right” mentality from British occupied India. They also brought with them a caste system, that complemented the class system imposed by the British, and amplified the belief that light was right and privileged.

Now what does any of this have to do with CaribVic?

The committee went from having a pretty fair representation from different islands and consisting of a wide spectrum of skin tones, to only consisting of members from one island (Trinidad) and dominated by, not only the light skinned from that island, but the privileged middle-class from that island.

Effectively through corruption and nepotism, the committee became a representation of the socio-economic elite of that island, a direct reflection of the political landscape of the island in question.

Edward Byron Reuter, in his publication ‘The Mulatto in the United States’ (Boston, 1918) writes “The mulatto, . . . flattered by a racial designation that separates him from the peasantry and imbues his superiority to it, maintains [an] . .obsequious and respectful attitude of mind toward his superiors.”

‘A belief that subjects of one island should dominate the committee of an organisation designed to treat all countries equally’

I touched upon this in my previous point but I will illustrate it further now.

The misplaced superiority displayed by the later committee members verged upon arrogance.

The committee stopped having regular meetings which members of the community could attend, becoming the only paid member’s organisation I know that did not have regular meetings for its members.

In fact, the association had become so dominated by Trinidadians, that it was now widely known by its nickname ‘TriniVic’.

‘The third was the belief that age determines your position in the hierarchy’

The committee that now consisted of people of a certain age, reverted back to activities that were of interest to them in their youth rather than listening to what the broader community wanted.

They believed that their age made them ‘elder statesmen’ and they drifted further away from the reality of community needs.

The concept of being an elder is one that is prominent and established in the Aboriginal community, but is still tentative in the West Indian community in Melbourne.

Lowenthal states that “Light-skinned, Middle-class people often profess to be more ignorant of lower class ways than they really think they are.” And this had become evidenced here.

CaribVic attempted to create and sustain a steel band, but as opposed to drawing a vibrant energetic youthful band troop, it became seen a pet pastime for ageing pensioners, funded by the fees of an unimpressed membership.

This was demonstrated by the other activities that took place, which had now become few and far between. Those which were held began to be less subscribed as the community became increasingly disengaged.

‘Finally, the concept that people will naturally default to a way of thinking that they know best.’

Occasional educational lectures were still held, but instead of dealing with complex issues like slavery and abandonment, the focus shifted to less taxing matters such as the history of Caribbean music. Once again, the interest tailed off.

This ageing committee reverted back to what it knew best, putting on carnivals, playing steel pan, and becoming a band of minstrels, rather than an association that encapsulated the needs of those it served.

The committee had become out of touch with its community.

Factions had begun to manifest within the committee along country and colour lines.

The organisation quickly lost credibility throughout the community evidenced, for example, by the very poor turn-out at its staple events like the annual cultural day and the xmas party.

The Caribbean Association of Victoria was now lost.

H.Orlando Patterson in ‘The Social Structure of a University Hall of Residence’ stated “West Indians like to say that colour no longer matters to them. They know very well that this is not true, though it is more true than it used to be. But they will not like to admit it to an outsider or to have it suggested to them by anyone else…”

This is reinforced by A. P. Thornton in ‘Aspects of West Indian Society’ which states “A great many West Indians, in short, are highly sensitive about matters of colour. As one observer put it, to talk about ‘the colour question’ or race relations’ is to pick a way through thorns while walking on eggshells, as even the commonest adjectives of description appear to bear allusive barbs.”

Now by this time, although I had long left the running of the organisation, I had not left the community it served.

I had become involved in other community organisations, including the Black Caucus, about which I am also here to speak.

The Black Caucus looks at world issues from a black perspective and with local focus.

Like many organisations, the question of how to engage the community as a whole, but specifically the youth, is always one that is difficult to master.

The organisation that I manage now makes every effort to reach out and engage the community through every aspect of social media as well as lectures, forums and conferences such as this. [Caribbean Studies Association conference – Haiti]

We make every attempt to listen to our audience and reflect their views, as opposed to just the views of the senior contributors.

We ensure that we tailor our content for all aspects of the Black community, from aboriginal issues, through Caribbean and Black British news, to African migrant hardships.

The audience sometimes demands that we deal with harder, more political issues and, as an organisation that serves the people, we can not shy away from this.

The structure of the Black Caucus is such that there can be no colour bias either in its decision making body, or its content. This is because the Black Caucus is driven by the content of all its contributors. These contributors have huge editorial control over their submissions and anyone with an opinion that they are prepared to put their name to can submit.

The success and direction of the Black Caucus is solely in the hands of the contributors and the consumers.

In conclusion:

The old slave mentality consisting of a colour hierarchy or “skinocracy”, reinforced by a self-serving age or elder structure, that is still evident in the Caribbean today, could not be sustained in a modern day, free thinking society.

Only an organisation devoid of these antiquated ideals will survive in an ever changing, increasingly equal society.

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Spectres of Colonialism: Citizenship and Freedom in the Contemporary Anglophone Caribbean

 Dr Aaron Kamugisha

University of the West Indies

Cave Hill, Barbados

 Wednesday, 6th May, 5-6 pm

City Flinders Campus, Room FS 1105

Any attempt to account for the banality of significant features of life in the Anglophone Caribbean postcolony and to understand the despair of those who reflect seriously on the contemporary moment requires interventions at several different levels. This paper proceeds on that basis, and attempts a philosophical critique of many aspects of life in the Caribbean, the common theme to all being the persistent denial of full citizenship to many persons within the nation-state. I use the term the “coloniality of citizenship” to describe this complex amalgam of elite domination, neoliberalism and the legacy of colonial authoritarianism which I suggest lies at the heart of the colonial state. This work situates itself within a long tradition of critique of the Caribbean post-colonial state, and aims to continue the long process of uncovering what Kamau Brathwaite has called the “inner plantation,” or rather, coloniality’s persistence in the contemporary Caribbean.

Biography

Aaron Kamugisha is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. His current work is a study of coloniality, cultural citizenship and freedom in the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean, mediated through the social and political thought of C.L.R. James and Sylvia Wynter. He is the editor of Caribbean Political Thought: The Colonial State to Caribbean Internationalisms, Caribbean Political Thought: Theories of the Post-Colonial State and Caribbean Cultural Thought: From Plantation to Diaspora.

http://cavehill.uwi.edu/fhe/CulturalStudies/staff/dr-aaron-kamugisha.aspx

The Black Caucus in conjunction with the Community Identity Displacement research network is proud to present one in a series of CIDRN seminars and public lectures on the City Flinders campus of Victoria University.

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Spectres of colonialism: Citizenship and freedom in the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean

The Black Caucus in conjunction with the Community Identity Displacement research network is proud to present one in a series of CIDRN seminars and public lectures on the City Flinders campus of Victoria University.

The event is to be held on the 6th of May at the City Flinders campus, room FS 1105.

The speaker is Dr. Aaron Kamugisha from University of the West Indies, Barbados on the subject of ‘Spectres of colonialism: Citizenship and freedom in the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean’

His extract reads as follows:

“Any attempt to account for the banality of significant features of life in the Anglophone Caribbean postcolony and to understand the despair of those who reflect seriously on the contemporary moment requires interventions at several different levels. This paper proceeds on that basis, and attempts a philosophical critique of many aspects of life in the Caribbean, the common theme to all being the persistent denial of full citizenship to many persons within the nation-state. I use the term the “coloniality of citizenship” to describe this complex amalgam of elite domination, neoliberalism and the legacy of colonial authoritarianism which I suggest lies at the heart of the colonial state. This work situates itself within a long tradition of critique of the Caribbean post-colonial state, and aims to continue the long process of uncovering what Kamau Brathwaite has called the “inner plantation,” or rather, coloniality’s persistence in the contemporary Caribbean.”

Aaron Kamugisha is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. His current work is a study of coloniality, cultural citizenship and freedom in the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean, mediated through the social and political thought of C.L.R. James and Sylvia Wynter. He is the editor of Caribbean Political Thought: The Colonial State to Caribbean Internationalisms, Caribbean Political Thought: Theories of the Post-Colonial State and Caribbean Cultural Thought: From Plantation to Diaspora.

http://cavehill.uwi.edu/fhe/CulturalStudies/staff/dr-aaron-kamugisha.aspx

The Black Caucus invites all members, readers and followers to this event and eagerly awaits discussing views on this and other subjects with both Black Caucus and VU audiences.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Adding Pimento: Caribbean Migration To Victoria, Australia

This week the West Indian community in Victoria welcomed a book which tells their story of migration to Australia for the first time.

‘Adding Pimento’ is a book that has been in the making since 2006, when the Caribbean community in Victoria in conjunction with the Caribbean Association of Victoria, created an exhibition at the Immigration Museum called Callaloo: The Caribbean mix in Victoria.

http://museumvictoria.com.au/immigrationmuseum/whatson/past-exhibitions/callaloo/

This exhibition told the story of those with a West Indian background and their migration to Australia, both directly and indirectly from the Caribbean.

When the exhibition came to a close, it became obvious to the community that there were more stories to be told and, spearheaded by Dr Karina Smith of Victoria University, the work began to collect, collate and transcribe more stories from the Caribbean community.

Almost eight years in the making, the book is now available for all to enjoy.

The journeys to Australia are not only unique, but the motivations, inspirations and struggles behind the community stories are as individual as the faces that now add further contrast to the Australian populace.

The stories are joyous and warming, heartbreaking and inspiring.

The stories tell of how those who identify as West Indians have established themselves against all odds, in a land that some say even now, still echo the repercussions of an all white Australian policy.

‘Adding Pimento’ is a book written by the West Indian community, for a broader understanding, and will become a historic document of the migration of West Indians to Australia.

IMG_6745 IMG_6782 IMG_6781 IMG_6763 IMG_6760 IMG_6750

 

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Our self destructive obsession with having light skin

It is an unfortunate reality that engrained deep into the black psychology is the belief that light skinned blacks are somehow superior than their darker skinned equals.

This belief stems all the way back to slavery, where the white slave owners would have illegitimate children, born from and of their black slaves.

These illegitimate children were often publicly denied by the slave owner parents but given special ‘jobs of privilege’ around the slave owner mansion. These privileges were jobs such as chamber maid, or other tasks that gave them indoor privileges.

These illegitimate children considered themselves to be better than their other slave counterparts, often romanticising the horrific circumstances around their conception.

Such was the delusion of the black slaves at the time, that some parents would offer up their children to be defiled by the slave owners in order to achieve favour on the plantation.

Slavery, in that form, is no longer prevalent in the West Indies and Africa, yet the misguided belief that a lighter skin will make you more successful or desirable lingers.

Black people, Indians, Pakistanis, and Asians throughout the world flock to shops and salons to have bleaching cream applied to their skin in order to make them lighter.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27833833

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-27873464

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-21525456

These bleaching creams are readily and openly advertised in magazines, newspapers and in television commercials, teaching all generations, and the generations to follow, that it is desirable to have light skin.

Of course, Michael Jackson is the most obvious example of this self loathing, but there are other prominent people in the media who have also fallen victim to this form of self hatred.

There is a common diagnosis that this is ‘Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder’, however in labelling it as such, we take away the responsibility of the individual to rectify their thinking and realign their attitudes towards all members of their race.

This attitude of superiority is not just that of the light skinned, but is also subconsciously, and sometimes consciously, perpetuated by their darker skinned counterparts.

There is an implied privilege and superiority amongst some light skinned blacks that has been inferred by their darker counterparts to this day.

In recent Australian history, black aboriginal children were stolen from their parents. Lighter skinned aboriginals children were taken as the most desirable to the white settler families, and advertised in newspapers for white only adoptions.

The Australian government was not only trying to ‘breed the black’ out of the Aboriginals, but there actions were tantamount to genocide upon the Aboriginal race.

Other non white communities have in the past, and are currently voluntarily adopting, at least in part, the ideology of the Australian government policy against a black race.

The light skinned blacks worldwide still have privilege unduly heaped upon them as they were heaped upon their forbears.

Even now in the West Indies light skinned people get promoted to positions of seniority faster than their darker counterparts. Lighter skinned people are employed in preference to darker skinned people, and tend to get the better jobs. Lighter skinned people are considered more trustworthy, approachable, desirable than the darker skinned. Young men are still encouraged to bring home the light skinned girls while young women are warned off the “no good” dark skinned men.

The irony is that no matter how light that these light skinned people get, they are never seen as white by their white counterparts; only the black community accept them for who they are.

In Barbados, as in other black countries where whites are a small minority, enclaves of white communities huddle to themselves, managing to remain “genetically pure” for generations, actively protecting the genetic heritage of their slave owner past.

Black Caucus representatives have seen three generations of women in a supermarket in Barbados, clearly born and bred on the island, each generation managing to remain ‘blond haired and blue eyed’, despite being in a 1% minority on the island.

Black Caucus representatives have seen a massive family gatherings of ‘blue eyed’ Bajans sitting around a table in a restaurant. The gathering spanned several generations, yet there was not one black face among them. No husband or wife who had married into the family, no daughter or son of mixed race. It was amazing that this was possible when the local white community in Barbados made up such a small percentage of the population. With whom were these people breeding?

In an attempt by black people to obtain light skin they either, go to salons and have bleaching creams applied, or they buy the creams and lotions and apply it themselves.

The people who use these creams use words like “freshening their skin” or “cleaning their skin”. This practice is not limited to one gender.

What happens when two people who use skin whiteners reproduce and their offspring is a combination of the true colour of the parents? Do they start applying skin whitening creams to the child? At what age would they allow their offspring to start using these creams? Is it then the responsibility of those parents to teach the child to be happy with their own skin colour, or will they impose their own misguided values on their child?

Some of the chemicals that are prevalent in the creams have been linked to kidney failure and in some cases cancer, yet these creams readily adorn the pages of black magazines like Ebony and Essence.

Changing our own preconceptions of beauty and success is important to our healing process as a people.

It is important for our generation, and the next generation of blacks, to change our ideas, to turn away from the outdated trappings of privilege, wealth and beauty.

We must shake off the old perceptions of our parents and embrace the diversity that exists in our ‘every shade of black’ community.

We must learn to love the skin we are in

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Our right to privacy

Recently we were informed that the larger telecommunication companies were at a summit in the UK. We were told that the summit was to find a way of stopping the download of illegal activity on the internet by making your internet provider responsible for your downloads.

We stated that we were against the idea of ISPs monitoring my internet activity but that it was easy enough for them to do, as they own the infrastructure that we are using to access the internet, they have to monitor the service in order to maintain and regulate it, and we have a contract with the ISP. Our stronger objection was with the government and law enforcement having an open invitation to also monitor my internet activity. We have no contract with them and we do not give them permission to invade my privacy.

“But what about the spread of child pornography?” was the argument. “You obviously do not care about the children. I am prepared to give up my rights in order to protect the children.”

A statement like that is an obvious, emotive argument that does not take into consideration the medium and long term ramifications of handing over the rights to your privacy.

That argument is not a quick fix as it does not stop paedophiles, who use much more sophisticated methods than typing ‘child porn’ into Google.

The spread of child porn on the internet is a very serious matter and a serious solution must be found. We do not claim to have that solution, but we know that forcing everyone to give up their right to privacy in order to catch the less than 3% of the global population who have been caught with online child pornography is not the answer.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (2005) Personal Safety Survey, of all those who reported having been victimised sexually before the age of 15 years, 11.1 percent were victimised by a stranger. More commonly, child sexual abuse was perpetrated by a male relative (other than the victim’s father or stepfather; 30.2%), a family friend (16.3%), an acquaintance or neighbour (15.6%), another known person (15.3%), or the father or stepfather (13.5%). It should be noted that these totals add to more than 100 percent (103.7%); this indicates that a small proportion of child sexual abuse victims (3.7%) were abused by perpetrators belonging to more than one category.

Source: http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/421-440/tandi429.html

Does this mean that males should never be left alone with children by law and be chaperoned by another adult with children at all times? Or is this a step too far, requiring a more refined approach to a very serious problem?

A long lasting solution needs to be more sophisticated. Governments, law enforcement and ISPs need to find a solution that targets the individual and not the masses.

They must find a solution that is the equivalent to a scalpel, and not a blunderbuss firing buckshot into innocent bystanders.

“But you should not mind being monitored, if you have nothing to hide”, came their response. The solution has to be far more complex.

Just because we have nothing to hide, does not mean that we want to give up our right to privacy.

For obvious historic reasons, Jewish communities in the UK have a strong aversion to governments that require intrusive and overt surveillance of the population. Large swathes of their communities value their right to privacy, a lesson learned from their bitter past.

One of our members went to buy a ‘pay as you go’ mobile phone sim card phone in Melbourne. He was asked to show them 90 points of identification, the same that would be required for an official government or financial undertaking. They scanned the picture part of his passport and sent off the details to their clearing company. After a few minutes, the clearing company came back to the shop with the message that there was no Australian visa associated with the passport that he had submitted. Apart from the fact that this was true as he had newer passport, how did they know this information?

He was applying for a mobile phone, not applying for a job. How were they able to access government records in order to establish my legal status in the country?

What right does the Australian government have to sell our information like that?

Surely our passport information should be confidential, but clearly it is not.

We are able to buy a house, a car, and obtain a job without anyone checking a visa, yet a commercial telephone company was able to check a visa status.

We object to our privacy being so blatantly violated for a commercial convenience.

There was a move in the UK a while ago to bring in identification cards, and to force everyone to carry them about their person at all times. In Australia, they do not have national identification cards, but everywhere you go people ask to see your driver’s licence as a primary form of identification.

What if you do not drive? I hear you ask. Then the police can issue you with a voluntary identification card, or you have to carry your passport and two utility bills around with you.

Some of our membership grew up as black males in a London that was still learning to see them as English, they were constantly stopped and harassed by the police. It was important for them to know and understand their rights.

The police could not ask you to turn out your pockets and then use the argument that “you should agree if you have nothing to hide”.

Shop keepers could not ask to see inside your bags (that is a bag that your own and not one that the shop has given you to carry your goods) just because you fit a profile of people that they believe steal.

If you let them look in your bag, “if you have nothing to hide”, why stop there? Whey not let them reach into your pockets and pat you down? After all, you have nothing to hide.

Black Britons, and that generation of non-whites in England, have fought too long and too hard to have our rights recognised, and we are not about to give them up on the back of some popularist, ill-conceived shock-jock soundbyte.

The same applies to the internet. Just because we have nothing to hide, it does not mean that we actively wish to give up our civil liberties. It does not mean that we want to be constantly monitored. It does not mean that we wish to be under constant surveillance and censorship.

There are always well meaning reasons for people to be coerced into giving up their basic civil liberties, but most of these mask the fact that they are substitutes for intelligent police work, or proper investigations that may be more costly and require more resources.

Crime of every description on the internet is a new frontier for the police of every nation. The law always appears to be one step behind the criminals, and the criminals have better resources.

However, this does not mean that we must “throw the baby out with the bath water”. We must not throw away the rights that we have fought so long and hard to obtain and preserve, under pressure from a government leading by fear.

It is important that we are able to have an academic debate about protecting the erosion of our civil liberties in modern society, rather than trying to win an argument from an entrenched position.

It is not only the responsibility of governments to think about solutions to 21st century problems. Collaborative thought is the only way that we will collectively find a solution to these very serious problems.

Maybe together we can assist in finding a refined and tailored solution to this difficult problem, rather than allowing governments and law enforcement with secondary agendas to implement blanket laws that dictate our fate.

The issue of privacy has been on our minds recently as the Australian government seeks to encroach on of privacy even further, by making the telecommunications companies responsible for storing our personal data for up to two years.

The government are seeking these powers under the guise that the are a handful of military trained fighters in Syria that are heading back to Australian shores and the government and law enforcement wish to keep tabs on them.

So in the eyes of some, all Australian citizens are expected to hand over even more of our civil liberties simply because it is considered by a few to be the easiest solution.

Instead let us invest more funds and resources into law enforcement.

Let us invest resources into establishing a truly credible secret service that does not rely upon hit and miss tactics, but instead uses sophisticated intelligence gathering strategies to identify, seek out and monitor credible threats, not the entire nation.

“The needs of the many, far outweigh the needs of the few”, and the many do not wish for our rights to be eroded further.

Twice a year, the Australian secret service ASIO goes to the government and ask for ever increasing powers to spy upon the citizens of Australia, not just criminals and those under suspicion, but all Australians, because to ASIO all Australians are under suspicion.

However while ASIO are happy to infringe on our privacy and civil rights, they themselves seek to have their own privacy reinforced by proposing new laws that will jail journalists for revealing ASIO secrets.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-defends-new-laws-that-would-jail-journalists-for-revealing-asio-secrets-20140717-3c3ex.html

Let us not forget that while a few journalists can provide us with mindless entertainment, the majority have integrity and are professionals. These hard working women and men seek out the truths that lurk in dark corners and uncover everything from criminal scams to government conspiracies. These rights, for our own sakes, must be protected.

However governments are not the only organisations that cover their own privacy while selling ours to the highest bidder.

It was revealed in a recent wiki that Google chairman Eric Schmidt does not believe individuals have privacy rights to protect our own data.

In what can only be described as a hypocritical move, he would fight for the right for Google to protect their private information on ‘competitive’ grounds, however individuals are not afforded that same right.

Individuals also have secrets that they do not want publicly revealed.

To those that use the ‘nothing to hide’ argument, we would ask “What do you not want the world, or even specific individuals to know?” Any individual, just like a corporation, can have secrets they do not want revealed in order to maintain or create a competitive advantage over others in a competitive labour market or to keep their self respect, or to maintain their standing in the community. To Schmidt, corporations are allowed this right but not individuals.

In another twist Schmidt did not have a favourable reaction to CNET publishing of his personal data.

As stated earlier in this article, the UK government have used emergency powers to push through draconian data surveillance laws where governments and law enforcement can monitor the data of civilians. The powers used to implement these laws are only supposed to be used in a time of ‘actual’ war, where the enemy is at the gate.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/jul/13/edward-snowden-british-surveillance-law-video

These laws are being forced upon the British people with no debate and with no consultation, laws that instead of being extended should now be repealed.

Australia is following blindly into the constitutional mind field, where ASIO are seeking powers to increase surveillance on the people when the country is not at war.

However the Australian government want to protect privacy on certain things

In recent move, parliament took steps to protect against the invasion of privacy by drones.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-14/call-for-stronger-privacy-laws-to-protect-from-drones/5594950

However what appears to be a noble act, is in fact a push from commercial business like ‘free range’ livestock suppliers, who are constantly plagued by animal protection activists.

Activists regularly survey the properties of ‘free range’ farmers by flying drones over their land to document infringements and provide proof that the ‘free range’ products, for which we pay a premium, are in some cases not compliant with the already lax government laws.

So where is the opposition government in all of this? Can we rely upon them to provide balance?

Unfortunately not, because this week’s opposition government is next weeks government, and they also want to have the power to carry out surveillance on the population. All it would take is for an incursion of some description to occur on Australian soil and any politician who had opposed these draconian measures would be finished.

Under the legislation introduced into the Australian Senate on Wednesday by federal Attorney-General George Brandis, spy agencies will be given the power to access a third party’s computer.

So this is not the computer of the criminal, this is any computer that they consider ‘linked’ to that computer, regardless of the activity of the machine or the individual who owns that machine.

This means that your PC, your laptop, your phone, your tablet will be open to surveillance.

Edward Snowden in a recent interview made a startling claim that a culture exists within the NSA in which, during surveillance, nude photographs picked up of people in “sexually compromising” situations are routinely passed around.

In the same interview he continued “If you think your HIV status is secret from GCHQ, forget it,” he said. “The tools are available to protect data and communications but only if you are important enough for your doctor or lawyer to care.”

We must have open and honest debate on this subject. We cannot have decisions made in fear or out of sheer laziness to find a more refined solution.

We must equally not shy away from the real dangers that exist in the world today and strive to find a legitimate solution to this 21st century problem.

However the only way for us to find an appropriate and effective solution is to collectively debate the issue and together, as a nation, make an informed decision.

This is the Australian Privacy Act: http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-act/the-privacy-act and these are the proposed changes: http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-act/privacy-law-reform

This is not the thin end of the wedge; this is the wedge.

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Utopia

On the 31 May 2014 SBS showed the John Pilger film called Utopia.

This film looks at how Aboriginal people are treated throughout Australia.

The Black Caucus can not stress enough how important this film is to better the understanding of the Aboriginal plight in Australia.

http://utopiajohnpilger.co.uk/showings

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/08/john-pilger-utopia-is-one-of-the-most-urgent-films-i-have-made

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht8_5UlcgSQ

http://johnpilger.com/videos/utopia-trailer

The film is a hard hitting and unforgiving look at Australia, its history with the indigenous people, and its relationship with the Aboriginal people.

This article contains facts lifted directly from the film:

  • Jay Creek was a government reserve where Aboriginal children were originally taken; these children later became reportedly the first of the stolen generations.
  • The ‘eugenics movement’ which ran the Aboriginal facilities was linked to fascism.
  • Many of the Aboriginal children became domestic servants in middle class homes.
  • Known as ‘the bungalow’, the Aboriginal children taken there were regularly sexually abused by their white carers.
  • Over 37 children were taken from Lighting Ridge in NSW one year after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology.
  • Black children were taken from their homes and given to whites in 2013 as part of a new stolen generation, a practice that is still taking place to this day.
  • In the north of Queensland over 200 Black babies have been taken from their mothers in hospitals, straight after their birth in recent years.
  • In one year the government spent $80 million on surveillance and enforcement to take black children away from their parents. This is compared with $500,000 on supporting poor families.
  • In 2007 the state of emergency intervention only applied to Aboriginal people. The intervention was launched on the lie of paedophilia in those communities which was propagated by poor journalism at the ABC.
  • The public propaganda sell for this was based on the ABC programme ‘Lateline’. Lateline used footage from communities that were hundreds of kilometres away from the Milajura community and claimed that there were gangs of Aboriginal men abusing and facilitating the abuse of Aboriginal women and children.
  • The government used this claim to move into the territories and were controlling people’s lives and their land. People who did not hand over the leases to their land were denied essential services. This was known as Top End Secret 2
  • The government suspended the Racial Discrimination Act in order to implement the laws.
  • There is compelling evidence that “The Intervention”, which was led by Prime Minister John Howard, appeared to be a mask for the discovery and mining of uranium that was then found on the Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory.
  • Mining companies earn profits of $1 billion a week on minerals they did not make on land that they do not own.
  • In the 1980s, the Labour Party pledged national land rights to Aboriginal people, but these pledges were abandoned once they came into power.
  • The mining tax was reduced to nothing and the revenue lost was estimated at $60 billion, enough to fund the national land rights and take the Aboriginal people out of poverty.
  • Lang Hancock, a mining magnate, wanted to herd Aboriginal people into remote areas and “dope” the water in that area to make them sterile.
  • Edmond Barton – Founder of the white Australia policy said “The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to those who weren’t British or white skinned.”
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that almost one third of Aboriginal people are dead before the age of 45.
  • The history wars – A group of academics and commentators claimed that there had been no invasion of Australia, no massacre, no genocide. They were attempting to rewrite Australian history and erase horrors of the past.
  • Rottnest Island in 1838 was a brutal prison and became one of Britain’s most isolated concentration camps. The prison was known as “the quad”.
  • Western Australia is a state of imprisonment for Black Australia. A prisoner called Mr Ward was being transported to a prison. He was so hot that he cooked in the back of a transport van on a 50 degree day.
  • Western Australia is “racking and stacking” black prisoners. This is the practice of double bunking Black prisoners in the same beds and cells.
  • An Aboriginal prison to be fully populated with only Aboriginal prisoners, which make up less that 3% of the population, has been built in Derby.
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that today, black Australians are among the most imprisoned people on earth.
  • Protective custody in Alice Springs and the Northern Territory means that the police can take people from the streets who have committed no crime.
  • The rate of incarceration of black people in the Northern Territory is six times as much as South Africa during apartheid, and West Australia is eight times as much.

The Black Caucus believes that this film may not be balanced in its reporting, but certainly goes some way to redress the balance of misinformation that has been fed to the Australian public through lies and misdirection.

This film is an exposé on the actions of government policies inflicted upon Aboriginal people since the first “settlers” set foot onto Aboriginal land.

This film should be shown widely, discussed, and debated. This film should raise questions from the public that need to be answered by the government. This film should hasten the question of how to resolve these issues from debate into action.

Let us all make the Aboriginal plight more public. Let us all understand the issues just a little more than we did yesterday. Let us all find a solution as a country, from the premise that we should treat all races and cultures equally and with the respect we all deserve.

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The Citizenship debate.

This week in Australia, the foreign minister Julie Bishop announced that she will revoke the citizenship of those 150 Australians that are fighting in Syria, and refuse to issue passports to those who wish to join the militant groups.

She stated, “I have used my authority under the Australian Passport Act to cancel and refuse to issue passports where the government suspects an individual posses a threat to our security.”

Australia has joined other countries including Britain who are using the right to citizenship as a way of controlling any undesired element in their countries.

This concern is understandable, as governments do not wish for these highly trained and potentially radicalised soldiers to return to their shores, looking for a new war and using their skills to endanger their fellow citizens.

However the Black Caucus wishes to debate the precedent that this might set and how the Australian Passport act might be abused in the future.

How will governments define “…threats to our security”?

Is a threat someone who will cause physical harm? Is a threat someone who will cause civil unrest? Is a threat someone who does not agree with a government or populist opinion?

Maybe citizenship would be revoked on something as intangible as whether your actions are “unAustralian”

Will the government skip past the traditional concepts of crime and punishment of its citizens to simply ship the problems off to the shores of someone else?

The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Bret Walker SC in a report that was tabled in parliament this week stated:

“The INSLM is concerned that the concept of dual-citizenship raises issues of divided loyalties and does not see why, as a matter of policy, an Australian citizen should also be able to be a citizen of another country.”

So not only is Australia reserving the right to revoke your citizenship, but it is also revoking your right to go anywhere else.

Does this recommendation apply to all Australians with dual citizenship, or just those who have citizenship with traditionally non white countries?

There are two main issues here that both deserve an article and debate of their own.

The first is whether a country has the right to control its citizens, not just by laws, taxes and punishment, but now with the fear of being disowned by a country in which they were potentially born, raised and paid taxes.

The second is the fact that the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor does not believe that Australians should be entitled to dual citizenship.

If you have two passports in your possession, which one would you give up?

The Black Caucus does not support terrorism and does not support the atrocities around the world.

This debate is about the meaning of citizenship.

What does it mean to an individual to be a citizen of a country?

What can an individual expect from their country?

What must a citizen give to that country?

What does it mean to a country to have citizens?

What freedoms and restrictions can a country legitimately impose upon its citizens before they start to impose upon their civil liberties?

In a country founded on continuous immigration, are we all really so unsophisticated that we suddenly cannot grasp the concept, rights and responsibilities of dual nationality?

If everyone with a dual passport left, would that leave an Australia in which you would wish to live?

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