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Why we've no time for any more "new black organisations"

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Paul Lawrence at a 2014 protest against the 'Human Zoo' exhibit which denigrated and de-humanised the black image (image credit: Link Up TV/YouTube)

LAST WEEK was the 70th anniversary of the Partition of India and thus the creation of Pakistan.

My education in Jamaica was notable in that it provided misinformation in one main area, namely, history. You see, back in the '70s we Jamaicans were force-fed the British Empire's version of history. The gaps in some of my historical knowledge led me to ask a rather simple question on social media: 'What was the true role of the British Empire in the Partition of India?'.

The word ‘partition’ is so politely British that my adult 'woke' self detected BS, which the young Paul would have no doubt missed. Within perhaps the first four replies to my question, a theme arose - divide and conquer. This, it seems was the weapon of choice for the empire, and by all accounts, it served them well.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine, Nia Imara, became notorious for telling people point blank that he had no time for any "new black organisations". Far from putting a downer on such groups, Nia’s point was far more elegant. He asserted that instead of starting-up new groups, the black community would be best served if new entrants joined forces with existing groups. There was and remains undoubted logic behind Nia’s stance. Nia himself is the creator of the National Association of Black Supplementary Schools (NABSS) so clearly he is not against groups, just duplication.


TOGETHER AS ONE: The National Association of Black Supplementary Schools (NABSS) is a living example of the power in unifying groups who have the same aim (image credit: NABSSS)

Look around you. Use Google for say, 10 minutes. If you do, you’ll find a multitude of black organisations, active and inactive. What you will struggle to find is a single black organisation with the critical mass to impose itself on our society here in the UK. Instead, we have hundreds if not thousands of little mostly ineffective groups. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that there are plenty of groups doing great work, but at best they are only able to stop us from going further backwards. I challenge anyone to show me a black group pushing the black African social agenda ahead at anything but a snail's pace. Sure, we get the odd win now and then, but I think we can agree those wins are few and far between and rarely are we in a position to capitalise on those wins.

One such win was the cancellation of the Human Zoo exhibition in 2014, an exhibition which used black models in heart-rendering poses and included the use of slavery-time chains and manacles; which was cancelled after campaigner Sara Myers rallied the troops. She came to me and asked for support, I went to others and did the same, but importantly we never formed another group. On the day of the big demonstration, The Nation of Islam turned-up. Pan Africanist groups turned-up. The 100 Black Men of London turned-up. OBV turned-up. City workers turned-up. University students turned-up. Bus drivers turned-up. Black journalists turned-up. Black actors and artists turned-up. Mothers and their babies turned-up. Lee, Zita, Mike 'the picture guy', drummers and ShakaRa turned-up. In short, black Brits turned-up, not because we were all the same, but because we all knew what had to be done, and it was.

UNITE AND RULE

Our oppressors have kept us from our rightful position in this world via divide and conquer. Might I suggest it is now time to turn that on its head - let's unite and rule. Let’s not create any more small, and ultimately ineffective groups, no matter how noble the cause or how respected the leader, unless it is truly unique.

If you become socially 'woke', seek out groups already doing what you want to do. If they are not perfect, help make them better. Forming a new group should be the last resort. And there are good reasons why. The more groups you have, the less like-minded people you’ll have to go around. The lack of head count means fewer hands to do the work, greater cost per person and eventually burnout.

All that results from multiple groups is the division of resources. I work with four community groups, and all suffer the same burden - the lack of resources.

Ideas? We have plenty. Motivation? We have plenty. But people to execute those ideas are the thing we lack and yes, a lot of this is labour-intensive.

Final word to black Men. Ego is far too often the reason for the creation of new groups. We need to stop it. We cannot expect our youth to unite if we refuse to. We have to admit that what we have been doing so far is not working.

The logic of my argument is unassailable. The system is equipped to handle multiple small, poorly-resourced groups. It’s time to test it against a large well-resourced group, not because we all think the same, but because we want the same thing.

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