Whenever I here talks of getting rid of Black History Month people dont realize we can still use it to address dire needs in our communities to the greater society. What do I mean by getting rid or the lost feel of forced 'obligation' instead of enjoyment of Black History Month. http://www.newhousenews.com/archive/tilove020806.html Thulani Davis is a New York journalist, novelist, poet, playwright, screenwriter and librettist for the operas "Amistad," and "Malcolm X," and most recently the author of "My Confederate Kinfolk: A Twenty-First Century Freedwoman Discovers Her Roots," about her search for her ancestors, both black and white. She is also a Buddhist priest. Cool and best of all she is African-American but on top of that she got some fame and fortune. So what does she say? Q: What is your take on Black History Month? A: I think it should be extinct. I got one review that said at the end, "affinity required." Black History Month has come to symbolize "affinity required" and there are plenty of Americans who may tune out once they get the feeling that affinity is required to appreciate the many PBS programs and the black book roundups that happen in the media during Black History Month. Well black history month doesnt seem to be wasted by our neighbors to the north Canada to swing open some political action in addressing dire needs going on in the African descent community. African immigrants seems to at least get their needs address with the general resident African community this month. Job outlook bleak for city's blacks 'Ethnocentrism' frequently to blame. Better education hasn't helped: Unemployment rates more than double provincial average JEFF HEINRICH The Gazette Tuesday, February 14, 2006 CREDIT: PHIL CARPENTER, THE GAZETTE Rosemary Segee of the Little Burgundy Employment Centre helps Claudia Warner during a training program aimed at helping the unemployed get back into the workforce. Blacks also have to educate themselves, says Brian Smith of the Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi de Cote des Neiges. Wilma Patterson came in to learn how to make a CV. Gladstone Ford needed advice on going back to school. Abdullah Djama complained about the immigrants who fired him from his last job. It was another morning in the life of the Little Burgundy Employment Centre yesterday, several hours in advance of a visit by Governor-General Michaelle Jean to the mostly black community in Montreal's south end. With black unemployment in Quebec at 17 per cent - more than double the provincial average - the problem of finding and keeping work when the job-seeker's skin is dark has never seemed more dire. But it's not for any lack of trying. "Who wants some authority when they work?" asked Dora Kartsakis, a Concordia University student trainee at the centre, helping lead a workshop on identifying job skills. "I don't want a job where I'm always down, down, down - I want to be up, up, up!," answered Wilma Patterson, one of a dozen job seekers - women, for the most part, black or South Asian - seated around a work table in the crowded Des Seigneurs St. centre. On a white board on the wall, a quotation from U.S. black writer Maya Angelou summed up the inspirational mood: "Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." For most of Quebec's 153,000 blacks, however, success is just a dream. Even though they're generally better-educated than Quebecers overall, they lag far behind economically. For example, according to the 2001 federal census: 10 per cent have no income at all, versus six per cent for all Quebecers; 40 per cent are on low-incomes and living with family, versus 15 per cent for all; $19,500 is their average annual income, compared with $27,000 for all. More than half of Quebec blacks - 54 per cent - are immigrants, and it's largely for them that a Quebec Immigration Department task force led by Liberal MNA Yolande James is getting ready to recommend ways to get blacks into the workforce in greater numbers. Its report is due at the end of this, Black History Month. In the meantime, centres like the one in Little Burgundy and other areas of the city with high black and immigrant populations are trying to help people overcome the hurdles of the job market. "Employers who are in decision-making positions, public or private, have systematically refused to hire people of colour. Why? Ethnocentrism, hiring people who are like you," said Brian Smith, projects co-ordinator at the Carrefour Jeunesse-Emploi de Cote des Neiges. "A black person often has to be two, three, four times more qualified than a white person to get a position," Smith said. "But we black people also have got to educate ourselves, so that we are armed with skills and the diplomas to get a position, and we need to network among ourselves and with the business community and the public sector," he added. "What counts at the end of the day is how many people are hired. We want people to get jobs." Trouble is, the jobs blacks do get aren't the best ones, nor do they last. The census data show that blacks in the Quebec labour force - about 60,000 of the total black population over 15 years old - tend to work less frequently and are not as often in permanent jobs. In 2000, 43 per cent worked full-time year-round, compared with 53 per cent of all Quebecers. Conversely, 57 per cent of blacks worked only part of the year full-time or part-time, versus 47 per cent overall. Gladstone Floyd is 34 years old, a high-school dropout and one of five children of Jamaican parents. At the Little Burgundy centre yesterday, he explained his Catch-22: he has a job already, at the Monkland Community Centre in Notre Dame de Grace, but can't get a better one because he can't afford to take time off to go back to school. "As a mature student in sports-and-recreation at McGill or Concordia, I'd have to go full-time, and if I did that I couldn't support myself," Floyd said. It's the same reason he never finished high school. He had to work. Abdullah Djama immigrated here from Somalia three years ago. A civil engineer back home, in Montreal the best job he could find was as a parking attendant at a big downtown hotel. Now he's fighting wrongful dismissal at the hands of his Arab supervisors, he said. "It's different when you arrive - you're not a normal person, you're like a lost child, and people abuse you because of that," said Djama, 45. "And as long as you're black, you're the lowest."