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Getting what we want at a Price

In Culture, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on July 22, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Seeing ourselves in the media has long been a long fight among African Canadians and advertisers. Back in the 1990s, it was rare to see a black person on TV with a cell phone or advertising makeup; it was rare to hear the unique voice of the Caribbean in plays and on the radio and it was hard to find positive photographs of ourselves in the newspapers or magazines.

There still is a long way to go, but things have improved. Advertisers are starting to see that they can get the money of African Canadians by including them in the picture, or giving them voice. But getting what we want has come at a price.

The inclusion of African Canadians in the media, although a good thing, has placed us all in a position of keeping up with the Joneses, and Jones is a traditionally Caucasian name. Many of us strive to have the better things in life like luxury cars, watches, clothes, entertainment systems and shoes that are creating a bankrupt community. All you have to do is spend 40 minutes watching MuchMusic and a Hip Hop or rap video will come on that will give you the impression that having material things makes life better – the impression that being rich takes away all the problems. Many of these videos are advertisements for major clothing companies, cars and accessories.

I’ve been to communities with mainly blacks where the people didn’t have all these material things and were still happy. Their lives were based on values that go beyond material things like love of family, love of friends, love of your life partner and children and love of your God. African Canadians need to hold onto these values and not get swept away by the lures of materialistic advertising and learn to live within their means. I’ve had to learn this the hard way, let me hope that many of us, especially young people and those that come after my generation can value the free hugs from their friends more than they value their Juicy couture jeans.

I’m not saying to live like a pauper, but a balance between mind, body, spirit and media-generated material desires would be nice.

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