The Catch-Up Game: The Importance of supporting each other.
For over 180 years since slavery ended,black people have been playing the catch-up game. We have been trying to level out in a race that is rigged,a race we joined when everyone else was halfway through the lane,whilst they oiled the lanes and threw marbles down our lanes for more dysfunction and to prevent any chance we have to finish the race successfully with our body parts, mind, spirit and dreams still intact.
I know this sounds like a dramatic illustration, but trust me, once I’ve explained and aided you in visualising this, you’ll see how the above statement is understated.
The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended the practice of slavery fully. This was supposed to be the beginning of something new. After this, we were allowed to finally start living. The black community started to rebuild and Wilfred Denniston Wood KA (born 15 June 1936) became Bishop of Croydon from 1985 to 2003, the first black bishop in the Church of England. He came second in the 100 Great Black Britons list in 2004,creating a safe space for black people to gather around and speak,organise, heal, but most importantly be seen (Moore, T. 1991).Whilst we were teaching ourselves how to read, write, the laws and how to make it work with the small land we were given, the opposing team was thriving. They were applying to universities and getting law degrees. Whilst we were building a safe space, a community and a system,they had already curated a few systems,policies,legislations and bodies of network. In order to be eligible to vote,one had to be qualified by academic qualifications or own property. The Representation of the People Act 1918 ended property qualifications for male suffrage,meaning black men were finally allowed to vote,84 years after liberation. However,this comes after a staggering 15,204 black men had joined and fought for the British empire in 1914,with more than over a thousand dead and over 600 wounded (Stephen Bourne, 2014), which is hilarious right? You can fight and die for a country that you cannot have a say in.
Once everything had calmed down and life was resumed nearly back to normal after the war, as the white people were expanding, solidifying and networking, we were building, creating and attempting, experiencing the trial and error our capturers had the luxury of trying with us by their sides. This is why now, in this modern time, we need to keep investing and keep giving back to black owned business, black owned organisation, and black owned entrepreneurs. We are playing the catch-up game. We joined the race in 1834 and with not being allowed to go to school to get jobs in prestigious establishments, and not allowed work that didn’t involve manual labour, whilst our opposition was thriving, we were still creating our lane, giving it direction and generating the rules in which the race will be monitored in. And whilst we practiced, they greased our lanes with the systematic laws, the right to vote, black and white children not studying together but there not being any black teachers, and the curriculum of black children being different to those of their white counterparts (Coard, 1970). In his book, ‘The ESN’ (Educationally Subnormal) Coard specifically stated that along with the different learning material, the poor self-image, self-esteem and self-belief the vast majority of the black children experienced was the reasons for this, and its consequences for their school (and later life) performance. This my friend, showcases how the oiling of the lane made it so that even though we ran, we would be in the same spot, like a -man-made treadmill, only this form of exercise is against you. However, this is not anything new to anyone who is aware and conscious of how society is run.
When the covert racism was exposed and they had to adjust their policies, they began to throw marbles down our lanes, with policies such as stop and search (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) to deter any advancement. With their police force killing us,their older generation preventing jobs and opportunities,their brands and company blackballing us,they just kept the marbles going. With the media behind them,who would call the referee to say this race is rigged? No one.
To be successful and to curate generational health and stand on your own, there needs to be a network of organisations that all aid the race in running smoothly. There needs to be a fair referee, there need to be supporters highlighting to you the strength you have, and there needs to be sponsors and volunteers whom are providing water and uniform, all to be within a chance to win. To have power and authority we need to sponsor more lawyers, technicians, mortgage brokers, youth centres, entrepreneurs, teachers, politicians etc.; putting ourselves in a position where we have people to back us, those individuals who have our best interest at heart and are willing to fight for us, because they know also, they have people that will fight for them.
But we need to do more because we need to catch up, we need to give everything it takes, every single penny, thought, time, breath, platform, and more back to the black community. It’s not just about buying the Cantu from the black aunty, it’s more than that, let her keep the change. How many Nija movies have you watched and positively rated on Netflix? It’s not just about the hashtag when we cry, it’s about the everyday, going the extra mile, so we can have a chance at catching up. Every single decision you make on a daily will count, so make it count.
Author: Naomi Macanda