by Perry Douglas
In the 18th century Britain, there emerged a group of local men who would “blacken” their faces at night to conceal their identity and would go out to threaten the ruling elite with guns…demanding money among other things.
They operated in southern England, first around Windsor Forest, killing deer and other animals and destroying fishponds. Properties of aristocrats were often damaged and even brunt down at times, and a continuous series of riots would ensue. The King and other members of the aristocracy owned most of the prime lands, which contained an abundance of sustainable resources, fishing, hunting, and gathering. Riots and protests were the only way for “The Blacks” to get a voice. However, in 1723 in an effort to maintain the system and suppress these various methods of protest, “The Black Act” was brought into law, to combat this group that would come to be known as “The Blacks.” The Black Act was a severe legislative decree which laid out more than 50 new offences punishable by death (Cruickshanks and Erskine-Hill, 358). The Act was designed for the severity of punishment, to “ensure the wholesale suppression” of the protesters by the ruling class (The Black Act 1723).
For the last 400 years, when it comes to black people everywhere, various forms of “Black Acts,” have been used repeatedly to subjugate black people in the lie of white supremacy, and black inferiority. In America, the move from slavery to Jim Crow laws was a “Black Act.” The present-day practices by US Republicans to suppress the black vote through the act of gerrymandering is a “Black Act.” Caribbean slavery’s transition from the plantation economy to colonialism was a “Black Act.” From the Boer settlers in South Africa to the Apartheid system, a “Black Act.” Independence in Africa and the Caribbean in the ’60s and ’70s left those newly independent states wholly unequipped to suddenly ‘govern’ after 350 years of colonial subjugation, dominance, and extraction of wealth was also a “Black Act.” To present-day neocolonialism whereby the European Union give Caribbean nations “climate change mitigation” funds, with the condition they must do with it what the EU says, is also a “Black Act.” By definition, Neocolonialism is the practice of using capitalism, globalisation, cultural imperialism, and conditional aid to influence a developing country instead of the previous colonial methods of direct military control or indirect political control.
A Black Act!
The history of freedom and democracy, wherever it may have come from, comes down to the fact that fighters must breakdown the entrenched systematic, and institutionalisation of the privileged few. Whether it’s the fight for pluralism by “The Blacks” against the noble aristocratic class in Britain, the French Revolution or the American Revolution, independence in Africa and the Caribbean, the Civil Rights movement, or now, Black Lives Matter. All are “Black Acts.” So, for blacks, the fight for freedom, equality, economic prosperity, and political power, seats in the corporate board rooms, requires a significant effort of protest, in many forms due to the magnitude of the problem. First, however, the required mindset for the gravity of the challenge must be settled.
“In response to the many injustices of racism, black people can protest and march, we can sign petitions, we can weep, but until we confront and overturn and overcome from the lie of black inferiority. We will not change this world that so profoundly devalues black lives.” Enola Aird, The Association of Black Psychologists.
In other words, the challenge is two-fold. First, we need to adjust our mindset and understanding of the formidable mountain of 400 years of entrenched white supremacy culture. Second, recognise that rigorous fact-based nonintuitive decisioning is the most viable path forward, for effective, sustainable, and executable solutions. In psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel prizewinning book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, two modes of thought are analysed: “System 1” which is fast, instinctive and emotional; and “System 2” which is slow, deliberative, and logical. Strategically, let’s avoid “System 1” and move right to “System 2,” and let new breakthrough Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies do the ‘fast’ thinking for us.
“Current research indicates that the idea evaluation processes of many firms are ad hoc or intuitive, with very few firms having defined methods. We propose a new approach to select the best ideas to pursue amidst different probable versions of the future. In support of “front end of innovation” processes, the approach emphasises the formation of requirements for any idea that can be prioritised and measured against possible future worlds.” Andrew N Forde, PhD, and Mark S Fox, PhD, Urban Systems & Industrial Engineering, Data Sciences, at the University of Toronto, Canada.
Therefore, intuition and emotion must give way to the extraordinary processing power, efficiencies, and effectiveness of AI/data sciences in solving real-world problems, by using data to identify the problem out of the ambiguity, then continuing to use scientific fact-based approaches to solve them in any particular domain. Otherwise, intentions and ideas humans generate remain genuine and good ones. If we can, with precision, identify the most probable and impactful ideas quickly, accordingly, leaders can then move forward confidently, with facts and data to back them up. At the end of the day, the common purpose is to effectively solve the problem. So, let’s quiet the ego, and make it about the problem. Let’s give science a shot; it has a good track record.
Today’s system is pretty much the same as its always been. “The Blacks” in the United States, for example, have been systematically shut out of the institutions of economic prosperity and political power, since their first arrival at Jamestown colony 400 years ago. The system today is one where the politicians have replaced the aristocrats; politicians have inherently become loyal only to the individuals and special interests that give them money. The laws of the lands are then influenced by the political cronies of the state, much like the aristocrats of the past, who bought into The System through the guise of political contributions. These rich cronies in effect control the politicians through their wealth, who come to serve the interests of their wealthy constituents, including the corporations and special interests. Politicians then select the judges who reinforce those same interests through the court systems (this is why the Republican Party, wants to win elections at all costs, as the winner appoints the judges.)
The entangled system of power, needless to say, influences the police who only serve and protect the interests of their broader constituent communities, white people of more affluent communities. The police then become emboldened, then put their knees on the neck of black people, because they know they are backed by the state. The entire system is intrinsically corrupt! Clearly understand this reality or tactics will be inherently impromptu and impotent!
The colonial legacy system of the Caribbean also exemplifies The System structure well. Barbados and Trinidad particularly, represent prime examples of the existence of The System. Where privilege and real economic power and opportunity still reside with the minority local white and ‘foreign’ populations there. Today, a small but powerful de facto ‘aristocratic’ class still controls both of these economies, which has also become non-inclusive. Black political leaders there have also been lured by status into believing that their political office is actually powerful when it is not. For too long, the people in the Caribbean have been falsely led to believe by their leaders that they are actually in charge.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement today, must be credited as one of courage and truth, bringing light to the repressive system. Those young black female founders and organisers of BLM must be commended as warriors of an uncomfortable truth! Institutional systematic racism, through the engrained culture of white supremacy, is that truth.
Perry Douglas is a Grenadian currently working in the technology space…Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Data Science.
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