On Monday the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago will celebrate the 188th Anniversary of the Emancipation of African slaves from the yoke of institutionalised slavery.
Amidst the parades, the re-enactments, and the fancy regalia that will adorn the bodies of countless citizens, there is both much to celebrate, and much upon which we need to reflect.
True emancipation is not only about disentangling ourselves from the yoke of the Privy Council as our final Court of Appeal, but also freeing ourselves from any oppressive structure or system that diminishes our self-worth and self-determination.
True emancipation is not about exercising our franchise every five years and then sitting back while the treasury of our financial, human and spiritual resources is plundered by those entrusted with its safekeeping, but rather, actively, consciously and continuously participating in the democratic process through every form of civil engagement possible.
And it is certainly not about abandoning individual responsibility for our behaviours, and casting blame upon the Government.
The truth is that there is a national dilemma amongst our young, black, male population, and no amount of self-serving political hand-wringing and pious platitudes from those with more options for wealth creation, educational advancement, and historical ties to power and privilege will get us through to the solutions.
The climbing murder rate and the increasing black-on-black violence amongst our youth population should be evidence enough of a problem that has persisted across generations and political administrations.
There can be no denying that a constant diet of hopelessness will ultimately darken the mental skies of our black youth population, making them believe that not only is their future bleak, but that the rising sun will offer no additional hope, resulting in the development of the self-destructive behaviour patterns so many of them currently exhibit.
Family disruption and the absence of male role models to help our young males navigate the journey to manhood, declining family support, social disorganisation, lack of resilience, and the debilitating code of the street are all contributory factors to the self-hatred young black men engage in when they murder each other.
Unfortunately, institutions like the family, school, church, and other recognised organisations amongst the Afro-Trinidadian community that once transmitted culture and traditions, are no longer embraced by black youth.
As culturally alienated as they have become, there is now little interest in, and appreciation for the contributions of their ancestors. Such alienation manifests in low self-esteem and self-hate, resulting in the relentless pursuit of physical and material success, too often buttressed by the delusional power that comes with the possession of lethal weapons.
As we celebrate this Emancipation Day, recalling the trials and tribulations of our ancestors, as well as their resilience in the face of such travesty, there is compelling evidence to suggest that we must also examine critically the travails of the present male youth population.
The solution will not be found in the rich and the powerful building more barns to store their wealth and privilege. Perhaps the results of the Synod will point the Church in the right direction, since they too are our children, our responsibility.