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In celebration of Black History Month, John Abbott’s Black Community club invited Mr. Michael Smith, president of the Jamaica Association of Montreal. He gave a delightful speech on Thursday, February 15th, at the Agora, where he told his own journey with success. If you missed it, here are five key points for you to keep in mind.
1. “Be proud of our history beyond slavery” . When we talk about Black history: we talk about slavery, we talk about how the United States of America was built on the back of Black people, among others, for over 100 years. But is this all that history has to offer us? Before enslavement, there was a “prosperous African civilization”, as Mr. Smith described it. Thus, in a nutshell, he was urging the Black community as well as the non-Black community to withdraw this short-sighted vision of history. He encouraged the audience to explore beyond America’s history whether it was in terms of Black history or any of the other subjects… be open minded!
2. “Sometimes, success is not about what you do: it is about how you affect other people”. Smith told the story of how, once upon a time, he was a soccer coach. One kid in his group couldn’t score, couldn’t kick the ball properly, and, for all intents and purposes, he hated the sport. However, Smith did not give up on him, and he encouraged him until he was able to score his first goal. A year later, Smith met the parents of the child, and they told him that the boy fell in love with the sport after that one goal. He has since been competing in it at a higher level. By influencing somebody to achieve something good, Smith felt successful.
3. “If I had my own business, the last thing I would have wanted is for an accountant to lie to me”. Smith graduated university with a Bachelor of Sciences, yet he talked about learning accounting. An accountant has the potential to enter a variety of fields, from marketing, to human resources, to management. So, whether it is business or another field, open as many doors as possible, and never stop learning.
4. “You will not get me out of my tranquility”. As a person of color (POC), Smith encountered people who labeled him the “n-word”. As a part of his identity, he grew out his hair and made them into dreadlocks. This look made people assume several stereotypes about him. Was he ever bothered by this? Sometimes yes, but he did not want to give people the reaction they yearned for. He was proud of his skin colour and of his roots!
5. Finally, the cheesy stuff. If you need a reminder, do not forget that success starts from the inside. This is your journey that will one day end, 6ft under the ground … or maybe differently. No matter what, you will end it alone. Do not allow society to decide your own grades or to set your own bars, as you must be the one to own them! Your friends aren’t supposed to get you in trouble; however, if they influence you badly, then the term “friends” might not be the appropriate term. Lastly, remember, YOU ARE THE FUTURE
Sports & News Editor
Originally Published in Vol. 47 Issue 9 on February 21st, 2018