Monday, September 28, 2009

The Mackinac Experience: Reaching Out Globally by Akindele Akinyemi

Everytime I go to Mackinac City and Mackinac Island I am fascinated by the Jamaicans who work on the island. Their hard work and determination to do what's right should inspire all urban conservatives. However. when I come back to my community we have blacks who simply hate on our West Indies community.

our Of course, for some who live in Detroit who have fallen for the cultural stereotypes of Jamaicans simply are ignorant. This is why I push for education because it is a tool that helps eradicate ignorance and stereotypes. While I was on I-75 coming back from Mackinac City I was in a intense discussion with some of my female friends on the phone from Detroit. They lambasted me because they felt that I was seeking a weaker woman in the Jamaican. They feel that Jamaican women will work for the crumbs that fall from the table instead of fighting for what is right. I could not believe that these women from Detroit were ridiculing their Jamaican sisters because they work in the service industry.

Then more stereotypes followed. "How many jobs do they have? 3 or 6? How many babies they have 10?" The other sister on the phone cried about how Africans and Jamaicans take jobs away from African Americans. They clowned about how Jamaicans cannot speak proper English. They both agreed to think that Jamaicans are better than African Americans and felt that I was a traitor to our sisters here in Detroit if I was to date one of them.

What they did not know that all of the Jamaican women I spoke to were married. The two sisters on the phone from Detroit were divorced.

It always depresses me when black people hold ignorant views of other black people across the Diaspora. No wonder our community is a joke here in Detroit. Being bi-cultural myself I have been targeted by other African Americans in this community as being better and not being in the in-crowd in terms of following the status quo. We practice so much cultural oppression in this community it is not funny. We clown the Senegalese women for braiding hair, and if that family is a Muslim them they must be terrorists. Nigerians are looked upon as scam artists and not wanting to help African Americans (which is false). Where are they getting this nonsense from?

What’s REALLY depressing about it all that essentially all black and African people have the exact same negative stereotypes for each other, the same stereotypes western Whites and Europeans gave us. You think people would listen to themselves. We’re all unceremoniously labeled as shiftless, lazy, morally loose, repugnant, violent, prurient beasts with animal-like behaviors who love sex and sensibility.

To show you how ignorant these sisters were they forgot that both groups suffered the traumatic experience of slavery (slaves were often shipped back and forth between the Caribbean and the United States), were cut off from our African homelands (forcing us to create a new identity in the new world), and both of us have black skin in a racist society. However, people from the Caribbean do not complain and use race as a crutch. Even after fighting wars, AIDS and malaria Africans come over to the United States and prosper. Meanwhile, some African Americans have a belief that government is supposed to take care of us instead of providing us the services that we need. Everyone else understands the role of government but we still think the white man who runs the government is against us. That sound like some who do not want government involved in anything.

Anyway, when I was talking to our Jamaican sisters on Mackinac Island they wondered why our women complained about everything. However, one Jamaican woman said something that struck a serious nerve in me. She said how come black people in this country blame racism for their condition when it was clear all they really needed to do was sacrifice and work hard for what they wanted. Pull themselves up by their bootstraps by working hard and invest in our communities. She said African Americans were too sensitive to the subject of race and politics.

It sounds like urban conservatives have been going after the wrong constituency all these years. I walked away from that conversation thinking that maybe we need to rethink our strategy in terms of outreach to black folks in urban communities and look towards something greater and something more international. Jamaicans, who come from intact households, appreciate hard work, love God like no other, and will support their men at all costs. I have noticed similar behavior traits with Nigerians and other people globally.

Black people in America will continue to vote Democratic in large numbers for whatever reasons. That will not change. However, I think Republicans, especially urban conservatives, need to reach out to other people in the Diaspora. They lean towards our values. The women are easier to get along with, the men are serious about family building and the children are serious about education. We do not need to keep reminding blacks in urban communities about what we did as Republicans in the 20th century. We need to reach out and communicate with people that look like us who come from other parts of the world who have come to America to seek opportunities.

My conversation continued with our Jamaican women in Mackinaw City. Another woman asked me "how come African-Americans could not simply “get over race”. We are operating in a new age where opportunity was abundant. Instead of complaining, African-Americans needed to apply their energy towards a career or an education and stop using race as a crutch."


It’s sad when people try to place their prejudices on others. I do not have anything against our people in Detroit or other places. I simply want to deal with people who are not afraid of commitment, afraid to speak their mind in a peaceful manner and think global. Some blacks here think too local and that leads to other issues that are counterproductive. We should not have to make our Jamaican brothers or sisters (as well as others) Americanized. We should allow them to keep their values. In fact, I like it when Jamaican women keep their values instead of trading them in for something corrupt. It shows me that they are serious about their culture and God.

The real problem is we are so far removed from our roots that we no longer realize how much we have in common. We don’t realize that our language, our food, and our traditions are similar even though we are thousands of miles apart. The more we learn these commonalities the easier it will be for us to unite.

This is why urban conservatives must create a new path of distinction in our community by connecting with those across the Diaspora. We have the same issues (none of us want higher taxes), are concerned about global education and want to improve the quality of life. Also keep in mind that we have African Caribbeans in the United Kingdom and African Canadians who are conservative and share some of our concerns. The same with our British counterparts. Urban conservatives do not make any distinction between Christians, Muslims and Jews because we come from our father Abraham.

Regardless of how confusing the media tries to portray people we are one family. Its time to stop playing politics and play policies that will work in urban communities. Reaching out to Jamaicans are no different. Urban conservatives both respect Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey the same way mainstream conservatives respect Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater.

I am not excluding our Hispanic brothers and sisters nor our Arab, Jewish, Asian and Indian families. They too are urban conservatives. We all need to kill the stereotypes about one another. I met a Puerto Rican woman at a store recently who wanted to teach me Spanish while she wanted me to teach her about the Yoruba in education. The point here is when we reach out to new people you will realize how much we have in common.

It's time for our community to expand our horizon in relationship building. Maybe the woman you are looking for is Jamaican or the man you looking for is Senegalese. Either way it goes open the door to kill the stereotypes. We may even begin rebuilding our families if we look past the stereotypes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your blog and Bless You for speaking out. I am a white 54 yr. old grandma and I think your commentary applies to all races including the white community. We all have our faults but it comes down to PERSONAL responsibility to feed yourself, house yourself, provide for your family, educate yourself and your children with no interference from the govt. Thank you for your insight and crusade to bring conservatism to people in the urban areas who always seem to vote democrat because they are told to. Surely they believe in family values as I do but just can't seem to justify voting for a conservative because of the color of their skin. Throwing more money and social programs at urban cities is not going to improve anyone's life until people start taking responsibility for the ills that plague them. Thanks again for keeping us informed.