Archive civil rights
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Community organization and leadership The considerable misunderstanding concerning Caribbean organization and their leadership in Britain, have stemmed from researchers on race relations who are rarely bothered to acquaint themselves either with the history or political sociology of the Caribbean. Misconceptions about black groups One researchers assessment had the view that Caribbean group either withdraw from society or became hostile to white society. Another commented Caribbean people prior to coming to the UK did not have the opportunity to experience membership to unions and political parties. While nothing could further from the truth, these negative views served to inform wider academic and official perspective. Aims of black organization Among the main aims of African Caribbean organization in Britain there has always been a wish to ‘engage and participate’, in the mainstream of wider society, though not at any cost. The African Caribbean engagement in public affairs or affairs which concern the whole community, are deep-rooted in the humanist and democratic traditions of the English speaking Caribbean, reflected in UK organization. Black organizations are mixed by nature A second major characteristic of the Commonwealth Caribbean traditions being pointed to here is that people of Caribbean background in Britain are ill equipped to mobilize ethnicity as a political resource. This is on basis that membership of organization tends to be mixed in terms of Colour, even in days of black power organizations when they stressed they were exclusively black, in reality they tended to be mixed membership. This is not surprising given that many families tend to be ethnically mixed through marriage and decent. Organization Caribbean organizations tend to exhibit unusually high degree of formal constitutionalism, that is to say, groups nearly always set out carefully drafted constitution stating aims and objectives, officers, and rules, regulation governing particular circumstances. This constitutionalism can be misleading in few cases for two reasons, firstly an observer may believe there is a large membership because of the constitutional make up of the group, but in reality it only exist on paper. Secondly constitutionalism can be a distraction with in fighting for position such as Chairman, president, secretary, treasurer etc. Acquisition of this post can lead to officers sitting on their laurels, while the organization may simply die, whilst the status may be used for gaining positions outside the organization in the wider community. Leadership All organization anywhere in the community, require commitment of individuals who determine their failure or success. In cases where communities are dispersed geographically, finding individuals with the time to give freely to their communities is a major obstacle. In communities where such services are linked generally as in economic activities buying, sellers of goods and employment leaders are more visible and readily available. Many leaders also emerge for the family and kinship network may help to promote effective leadership. Contrary to the view that Caribbean groups are aggressive and seek to disengage themselves from the majority society, the picture that emerges is different. Caribbean groups have tried to engage and participate in affairs concerning the public as a whole. Rejection from mainstream society has forced Caribbean people to construct groups which would aggregate and articulate their aspirations, needs and demands, none the less generally they correspond to those of the majority of people irrespective of ethnic, racial etc, backgrounds. In short, it was the rejection of Caribbean peoples, as a migrant group, who naively held the idea that ‘England was the motherland’, and of citizens rights that cause the rapid re-think. Caribbean groups can fall into several l categories among which are welfare, cultural, health, education, women’s special needs, centers for the elderly, young, ex offenders to name a few. The best known and successful of these groups are the black-led churches, which experienced rapid development at a time when white-led churches were experiencing decline. Far from withdrawing from mainstream society, Caribbean Christians found themselves unwelcome in white churches, and therefore established their own places of worship. In the early days these were mainly a room in one members home. Similarly, rejection at social clubs, some pubs and elsewhere made it necessary for Caribbean people to find alternative places for leisure and entertainment. In the 1970’s one major concern of welfare groups was the cultural roots of black people in Africa and the Caribbean, and forging solidarity with African Americans across the Atlantic. In the 1980’s and into the 1990’s the emphasis would appear to be the day to day problems faced in specific communities and by specific groups such as the elderly, the homeless, mentally ill, ex-prisoners, single parents and so forth. Not unlike in other communities, the vast majority of Caribbean groups in Britain are welfare groups, if not in name, certainly in their functions.