MELANIN:

IS THIS LIKE ‘KRYPTONITE’ TO SOME BLACK PEOPLE?

By Valerie Dixon, MBA

 “Everybody sooner or later sits down to a banquet of consequences.”  Robert Louis Stevenson

Posted 3 October 2011

I believe that everyone has heard of Superman and I believe that everyone knows that Superman has enemies who hate him and want to destroy him.  These enemies know that Superman has a weakness in his physical body and that if he is exposed to ‘kryptonite’, a radioactive material; it takes away his super powers and makes him very weak.  If he is exposed for too long a period, kryptonite would destroy him.  No one knows this better than his arch-enemy Lex Luthor.

        In 1712, it seems that Willie Lynch became the Lex Luthor of Black people.  It is said that he told a group of fearful white planters in Virginia, that they must stop lynching (hanging) black men in particular who were rebellious and disobedient.  Instead, they must control them by using and exploiting the differences in the colour of their slaves’ skins to “pit them against each other”.

   He knew that the pigment called ‘melanin’, which gives skin its colour would become like kryptonite, a poisonous substance.  It would poison black people’s minds and render them helpless to rise above the racial prejudice inflicted by ignorant and fearful white people almost three hundred years ago.

        In 2011, it seems that the Willie Lynch syndrome is alive and well in Jamaica, as evidenced by a newspaper headline that screamed “Brownings Please” Sunday Gleaner, September 11, 2011.  It is as if we have stepped back into the past and have regressed to a time in Jamaica’s history, when only fair-skinned people would be hired to work in the more prestigious jobs and places.  Black-skinned people, no matter how intelligent and knowledgeable, were relegated to mainly low-paying and menial jobs.

        In 1968 all this changed when Walter Rodney came to Jamaica and ushered in the Black Power era and all of a sudden we heard slogans like “Black is Beautiful”; Nina Simone’s hit song was “To be young, gifted and black”; James Brown belted out his hit “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”.  Marcus Garvey must have danced in his grave to feel and hear the sentiments of those days- 43 years ago.  He gave up his life so that we might have Black pride and Black dignity and it was happening.

        To this day I do not know what happened, but it has been one of the shortest lived eras in our country’s history.  The so-called leaders of the Black Power ‘Revolution’ succumbed to their “kryptonite” and by 1980 they were no longer shouting “I am Black and I am Proud.”  Rastafarian locks were cut off, dashikis and karibas were exchanged once again for the suit and tie and a number of black wives were replaced by ‘brownings’ who were viewed as trophies to show that “the man had arrived”. 

        I watched, in my Afro hairstyle that I still wear to this day, in total disbelief as these so-called revolutionaries who marched with Walter Rodney from the university campus in Papine, to the clock in Half-way-Tree, morphed into black “white” men.  They became the very thing that they claimed they were going to change, in order to have a “more equal society”, as soon as they received the “power” from the black masses.

        Today, 43 years later, some still have the “power” and what do the masses have? -  Lots of ‘melanin’ that has become like the radio-active kryptonite that cripples Superman.  In an effort to secure jobs, many who are ignorant, are bleaching the melanin from their skins, in the hope of becoming ‘brownings’ because ‘nutten naw gwaan fi black people inna Jamaica’.  What an irony!  A country ruled by so-called black leaders, black scholars and a black intelligentsia and the percentage of illiterate black people in 2011, is just as high as the percentage of illiterate black people in 1834, when the slave masters were making preparations to “set their slaves free” without any skills or education.

        Our black leaders have set our Education policies since Independence and the days of Democratic Socialism in 1972, until this present day.  The dalliance with Communism failed and every social programme that could have uplifted the black masses was turned back.  Does anyone remember JAMAL?  It was a programme that could have made the majority of the Jamaican black people literate and numerate.  If a man/woman can read, they can become anything they want to be in life, because information is contained in books and now in technology. 

      It is pathetic what is taught in schools about one of the world’s greatest black leaders, Jamaica’s national hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey.  I am convinced that some of our policy makers still believe the propaganda that says he was a thief, a baboon (monkey) and a buffoon (uppity idiot).   It is also their policy, that our high school students be exposed to the works of English playwright William Shakespeare, a white man influenced by the Black Moorish Civilization and the Black story-teller, Aesop.   Their History books tell students that their ancestors were “savages”.  Is it any wonder that many black people in Jamaica and elsewhere view their skin-pigment ‘melanin’ as kryptonite?

        Dr. Sultana Afroz, a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, has done original work to uncover a vast and glorious history, heritage and culture that our ancestors came to Jamaica endowed with.  It was so fascinating and so alive and dynamic, that to prove her work, I went and had my DNA tested in Canada. 

       The first three tribes listed in my maternal ancestry, proved that her findings are not conjecture, as her detractors would want us to believe.  Again, anything good revealed about black people must be beaten down, ridiculed and thrown on the rubbish heap as ‘conjecture’.  Her book entitled “Invisible yet invincible:  The Islamic heritage of the Maroons and the enslaved Africans in Jamaica”, will be published soon and it will tell us our History from an Afro-centric point of view, so we can now decide whether we came from savages or from noble kings and queens, scholars from Timbuktu and other worthy professions, who were forced unto the slave-ships at gun point and we will also learn why our ancestors were forced to work for white people, who had no knowledge about the planting and manufacturing of sugar.

        In 1712, Willie Lynch (it is said) prophesized that his method of ‘mental slavery’ would control the black people in the West for 300 years.   So here is what I am praying for in 2012, that a greater percentage of black people will become conscious and find their “I am” again.  “I am Black and I am Proud”.  “I am young, gifted and black”.  “I am proud to be black because my ancestors were great and noble people.”

        It is my hope that every black person who will graduate as a doctor in the West, will know that the Greeks and Romans got their knowledge of medicine from Imhotep, a Black Egyptian who lived 2300 years before Christ was born.  So although doctors take the “Hippocratic” Oath that is named after the Greek physician, Hippocrates; he lived 2,000 years after Imhotep.  This is just one example of the pervasive and deliberate denial of credit and mis-attribution of Black people’s achievements.

        It is sad that a new breed of employers has entered the Jamaican business environment.  Many of them are not well schooled, but are extremely wealthy, as many obtained their ill-gotten wealth through illegal and nefarious means, which means that many are just common criminals who have a whole heap of money. 

         They are some of the employers, who have asked the state-run training agency to send them “Brownings please”.  As Glenda Simms in her article (Sunday Gleaner, September 18, 2011) said “We have lost the skill of selecting the best for the job.  If being a browning is enough and appropriate qualification, how will we ensure that these bimbos and their henchmen are not keeping our country in a state of underdevelopment?”

        In closing, I hope that Willie Lynch will be right about the time that this foolishness called racial prejudice will end and that we will take the words of Marcus Garvey to heart when he said that we, Black people, must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, as none but ourselves can free our minds. 

         To some of the black leaders who have turned their backs on the black people of Jamaica, I leave them this quotation from Robert Louis Stevenson “Everybody sooner or later sits down to a banquet of consequences.” 

           To black people who view the melanin under their skins as kryptonite, I say, educate and qualify yourselves, as this is a better way to boost your self esteem than bleaching your skin and trying to be what you are not.   Otherwise, your melanin will indeed be your kryptonite, as you will remain crippled and helpless due to ignorance.

 

Other works by Valerie Dixon can be read here