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Bad news for black entrepreneurship and black economic empowerment in SVG

Bad news for black entrepreneurship and black economic empowerment in SVG

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THE RECENT REVELATION of the impending acquisition of CIBC First Caribbean by the Bank of SVG is bad news for black entrepreneurship and black economic empowerment in general.

I’ll go further and declare that this development means that “the knee”, (as it was so aptly and vividly described by Vincentian professional and politician, Noel Dickson, during the George Floyd protests) is now even more firmly planted on the neck of black entrepreneurship in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean and beyond. There is clear evidence which indicates that Vincentians of African descent are victims of an orchestrated and ongoing strategy to keep us subservient. Vincentian farmer and entrepreneur, Hugh Stewart, correctly surmised, in a recent article, that Vincentians are being cultured to be beggars.

Dependent. “Learned helplessness”? Mr Stewart and I are not the only persons who have been sharing these observations on the subjection of our people.

Have you been reading the writings of Leroy Providence, Carden A. Michael and the Green Party’s column? We’re re-enslaved.

Why do you think, for example, the wise counsel in SEARCHLIGHT, from a well known “activist” to his long-time “comrade” (in which the “comrade” was advised to be mindful of overexposure [diminishing returns]” is being so blatantly and contemptuously ignored?

No slave (servant) can advise Massa (“Wilie Lynch”). Have you observed the difference in response when the demeaning “plate of food for vaccination” advice came from Massa’s kith and kin? Prompt and positive. “I would support……,” he asserts.

The attempt to tarnish the reputation of law-abiding, respectable and respected black professionals/personalities (some are role models and mentors,) by having them arrested and their homes raided by heavily armed police, speaks volumes. I anticipate more edicts and “incentives” under the guise of protecting us from COVID-19, but with the ulterior motive to subjugate, humiliate and divide black people. Massa is in charge!

We ain’t get the message yet?

Are we so caught up with our own vanity (high-sounding titles, ‘higher positions’, “I’m more educated than…”, “I’m more qualified than..”, I’m brighter than…”, etc.) and/or chasing rainbows (constitutional reforms, writing our own Vincentian history, medical cannabis, reparation, the removal of the Queen as Head of State and the Privy Council as the final Court of Appeal and the most recent ploy, the Africa-Brazil-Caribbean- Diaspora initiative)that we are finding it difficult to differentiate between a genius and a con man, especially when the con man is white?

The thinking by some, is that the descendants of slaves should/could only be servants.

Do you remember the statement that was made in reference to Arnhim Eustace after he was elected leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and became Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines? Not the one about not being able to recognize Mr Eustace at midnight had he been walking with President Bush of the US, or words to that effect. I here refer to the comment which indicated that Mr Eustace “was too long a servant…” I often wonder whether this comment was a ‘customised version” of a broader view which holds that we (the descendants of slaves) are good followers, never good leaders. I’ve found it necessary to jog your memory, in light of the utterances which continue to emanate (from time to time) from the same source of the disparaging (racist) remarks directed at Mr Eustace. Utterances, which seem to suggest, that here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the only “brains” and authentic leaders, who know how to and can get (source) and manage money, are Sir James Mitchell (aka, Nancy) and Dr Ralph Gonsalves (aka, Master of Contradiction, Dr Flip-flop, etc.). Two “white men”. How absurd!

It is for the reasons which I’ve outlined and more, that we should never let this deal between CIBC First Caribbean and the Bank of SVG to go through.

It is not in the interest of black people. What we would have is a glorified piggy bank at the beck and call of Massa. A bank under the full control of Massa, who is also known as Willie Lynch. Massa’s anti-black entrepreneurship record is well established. Leon “Bigger Big” Samuel, is his most prominent victim. There is a better and much more superior alternative to this proposed deal. Fortunately for us (black Caribbean entrepreneurs) who continue to face blatant discrimination in our respective countries (as documented in an inter-American Commission on Human Rights Report) some are able to “slip through” the barriers. I refer to black entrepreneurs to whom can look for inspiration. Rihanna of Barbados is one of them.

Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean are not reaping the benefits we can from the Rhianna “breakthrough” because the metaphorical “knee” which I earlier referred to, is on Rhianna’s neck, as well as that of her country’s creative sector.

Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, and Santia Bradshaw (the country’s Education Minister, who is also a creative) and other patriotic Barbadians need to examine the horns on board the Barbados ship.

I find it contradictory, to put it mildly, that while ”the knee” is on the neck of a proposed Caribbean creative sector-led global response to the Covid pandemic, St Vincent and the Grenadines is on the world stage appealing for a ‘fresh approach” to combat the spread of the virus. The usual lip-service and rhetoric designed to distract and hoodwink!

Isn’t a proposal for a “global soft power response” to COVID-19 “a fresh approach”?

Or does it lack such recognition because of it’s race and “arm of the entertainment industry” origin? “DJs” cannot advise Massa on development!

Accolade (a business initiative with which I’m associated) in a submission to the Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat in early 2020 (in response to a regional call from the Secretariat and long before the roll-out of any vaccine) boldly and strongly recommended that the Caribbean should spearhead a global soft power response to the pandemic.

“Soft Power”, to put it simply, refers to a level of global influence a nation commands which goes beyond military, economic and political might. It is usually manifested in cultural expressions- music, film, etc. The USA’s Hollywood, for example, packs a lot of soft power. So does the UK’s BBC. The Caribbean, as is well known, has been punching above its weight class in the music world for decades. Music is a development tool-economic, social, spiritual, etc.

The opportunity for a Caribbean global response to the current pandemic beckons. The ball is in our hands. This, after all, is the “Year of the Creative Economy”, as declared by the United Nations. It is also the 65th anniversary of the release of Harry Belafonte’s album, Calypso-the first album of any genre to sell platinum. The observation of the two significant milestones, professionally, skillfully and expertly interwoven in the proposed Caribbean-led global response to COVID-19, will add impetus and result in more respect for and wider acceptance and appreciation of the initiative.

We do not have to reinvent the wheel. There is already AMP SVG’s (Association of Music Professionals) music-based climate change awareness initiative- the brainchild of Edgar “Kwame” Lewis (aka Chatoyer Pickney). This initiative, which received initial funding from UNDP, can be tailored for the purpose of the creative-sector led global response to the pandemic. It is also capable of being configured to drive the global thrust towards Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), which encompasses pandemics, climate change, and other environmental challenges.

My choice to head the proposed Caribbean-led global response to Covid is the brilliant Vincentian international marketer, J. Robert Cato, who is currently in our midst.

What I’m here recommending is within my area of expertise. I’m an experienced Media and Communication professional with formal training, received in the region and beyond, including at the BBC, London, UK; and CARIMAC, UWI, Mona, Jamaica. I have an appreciation for development communication and the configuration/construction of music-based formats- broadcast and otherwise; simple and intricate. It is, for heaven’s sake, my field of endeavour!

Why is black entrepreneurship being stifled in St Vincent and Grenadines and being denied the opportunity to shine globally.

I refuse to remain a slave. The struggle continues. We shall overcome!

Bernard Joseph

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