On June 11th 2008, Canada’s Prime Minister created an historical act by apologizing on behalf of his nation for abuses and other atrocious that were committed against some 100,000 native children during the course of the country’s short history. In the past many of the nation’s aboriginal children were forced to become fully integrated into the culture of the Canada through special educational. It is believed that this and other form of sexual abuses and isolation of their children have forced many of the aboriginal groups to become victims of drug abuses and other social problems. It is not unlike similar force integration movements that were fostered on Australia’s aboriginal groups and their children by European conquerors and colonizers. That society has experienced similar social problems of alcoholism and other forms of drug abuses.
Canada closest neighbor is the USA. They too have an aboriginal population that has suffered immensely from similar forms of forced assimilation and efforts at social integration into main stream American society. In America is a special place in that it has always been the place where millions of immigrants have sort refuge and the chance of a better life. It is a challenging prospect for many, a can be even greater based one education or socio- economic as well as social support mechanisms that are in place to aid the transition. It is clearly the case that American immigrants more than most in other industrialized countries, tend to experience an easier part to assimilation especially if they are prepared to buy into the age old notion of ‘The American dream.’
Afro Americans are a unique group when it comes to this complex debate assimilation verses immigrants. Contrary to the distorted portrayals in the media, most are very conservative, law abiding, spiritual, family oriented, enterprising, and goal centered people. They are passionate in their views and with few exceptions love themselves and their culture- whatever that is. A huge paradox prevail however that can explain the dichotomous behaviors that was brought out in public in the recent Rev Writ diatribe on his beloved country. Many can be very critical about this country particularly with respect to domestic policies-but at the same time are very passionate about it and will defend its name and honor at every given opportunity. After all, who would not want to defend the name and honor of what is perceived as the greatest country on earth. In addition this country is all they know- and that is one of the paradoxes. The second one is, tied up in the question of who really is an American. How many generations must past before that honor is bestowed upon a group?
I was quite amused recently when I listened to a speech of a strong and respectable reparation proponent that wanted monies bestowed on descendants of exslaves in this country based on how many generations the family lived in the USA. So let us look at that long forgotten promise of ‘40 acres and a mule.’ In today’s language it might represent a Lexus and perhaps a million dollars. That is, if you can trace your ancestors back to the plantation. If not…… well you can imagine how complex this can be both from a logistical and political stand point.
So where does that leave this much maligned, disgruntled and neglected group called African Americans? The point is that this group has exhibited many of the same issues and deep-rooted social problems that are experienced by the several aboriginal groups that I referred to earlier. In addition they too in many cases and with few exceptions are reluctant to adopt most of the values and cultural patterns of behaviors much favored by the mainstream, dominant majority and- in their case- ancestral slave owners. The results are a very large underclass population. Many are suffering bouts of despair, anger and frustrations that have transcended several generations. Not surprisingly, some of the harshest critics to immigration of all races and classes are African Americans. The problems are that many are clueless as to why. It is surely a classic case of misplaced venom. Where there should be solidarity, divisions prevail. The greater complications are the identity crisis and other prevailing problems that are creeping in to the lives of children of Immigrants groups that belong to the Diasporas from African, Caribbean and other places across the globe. We certainly have much more work that needs to be done. ,but I am an optimist.