Tag: human rights

Zionism, mdern day Nazism

Zionism, mdern day Nazism

The Jewish people have been through a lot. Be it expulsion from Israel by the Romans, the countless pogroms in Europe, the many inquisitions and expulsions that they experienced, the second class citizenship the ‘enjoyed’ in the Middle East or even most notably the Holocaust. The Jewish people have been through hell and therefore one would find it normal and even just to sympathize with them, but some deserve no sympathy, not because of religion or ethnicity, but because the ideology that some of them hold is evil and to sympathize with them will have you ending up on the wrong side of history and being a partner to evil.

Yes, the Jewish people deserve our sympathy, but the state of Israel does not and should receive any world sympathy, it should be called out for what it is, evil. It is an evil regime that would make Hitler and his Nazi cronies proud.

Israel was founded on shaky grounds, a people without a home, a people who had just experienced the massive trauma that was the Holocaust, they were placed in the British Mandated Palestine and a deal was struck up (by the U.N) to divide the nation between the Jews (both newly arrived and the few who preceded them) and the local population (mostly Muslims but also quite a few Christians). The shaky deal fell apart (just who destroyed it is still up for debate though both sides despised it) and the first Arab-Israeli war took place, and following Israels unexpected victory we saw what was to become the hallmark (though even that would not be the high-water mark) of Israel, occupation of conquered lands (a direct violation of the UN that birthed them) and expulsion of its native inhabitants (another violation of the UN).

Following that, there was the capture of east Jerusalem after yet another Arab-Israeli war and that was the cementing of Israel for what it is now an apartheid state. Israel far from being the ‘shining and sole democracy in the Middle East’ is actually an explicitly racist (religiously intolerant?) nation with this codified in its constitution. Israelis of Palestinian origin live an existence that would make second-class citizens feel like emperors. With extremely restricted political representation, almost nothing relating to state assistance and a justice system that is set up to be extremely pro Jewish-Israeli, we see where the Palestinian-Israelis regularly lose their land in sham trials and where police and public abuse against them is not condemned but even endorsed by some government ministers.

The treatment of Palestinian-Israelis, however, pales in comparison to those unfortunate Palestinians who live in both Gaza and the West Bank, these people bear the brunt of the Israeli force as they look to impose a racial and religious purity on the land. They face the daily dehumanising policy of queuing up in checkpoints (most times to enter lands legally belonging to the Palestinian people), along with a blockade, a blockade that makes the Cuban embargo look like a joke. This blockade means that cement, gas, food and even medicine are harshly restricted to the point where the majority of the people regularly live teetering just above the poverty line while living in what really amounts to a slum.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, the Israeli state then adds the ‘cherry’ by saying that (firstly) that any criticism of Israeli policy, no matter how egregious or morally reprehensible those policy actions may be, is always rooted in blatant antisemitism and (secondly) that they have absolutely no dream for a greater Israel and they are actively seeking a two-state solution. If I may be frank, those lines that are oft repeated by Israeli sympathizers and members of their government are absolute bollocks.

Now I would and could never say with any honesty that none of the criticism levelled against Israel is antisemitic, that would be both crazy and a lie. However to state that persons saying that the using of white phosphorus is a war crime and the perpetrators should face justice, or persons who say that the shelling of beaches resulting in the death of children is a crime against humanity are all Jew-hating persons is a logical hoop I can’t seem to bend myself to fit into. As it relates to Greater Israel and the Israeli ambitions for a two-state solution, history and facts on the ground run counter to anything the Israeli state has to say on those subjects. With the continued blockade and the refusal to negotiate with all relevant parties (who can forget Israel punishing the Palestinian people for having the nerve to vote for Hamas as their representatives?) it is obvious that the Israelis have no time for an actual two-state solution and are quite happy with the status quo (a one-state solution along their lines) and are just waiting for the Palestinians to die off or leave.  And as it relates to Greater Israel, while it may be a ‘conspiracy theory’ along with ‘Israeli nukes’, they sure do not help themselves when MP’s and government members openly call for greater Israel while still retaining the Occupied Territories of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, areas that if fully incorporated into Israel (they are still, for the most part, a burden with settlers subsidised by the state) would allow Israel to oh so easily conquer the remaining lands that make up Greater Israel.

Stating that Israel is a nefarious state that is really up to no good is not antisemitic, stating that those who starve people and kill babies should be held accountable does not mean that one hates Jews. Zionism, the belief that Israel has a right to ride roughshod all over the Middle East and destroy the lives of the inhabitants is not representative of the majority of Jewish people and is a belief that should be reviled by all who encounter it. It is sad but here we are, Israel the state born out of the atrocities committed by the Nazis and created by a UN mandate are now the villains, acting just as bad as the Nazis with their slow starvation tactics (Warsaw Ghetto) and blatantly disregarding the international community (refusing to leave the Occupied Territories), take a bow Israel you are the true successors of the fascist past.

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Doing right by the ‘gully queens’ will make us a better society

Doing right by the ‘gully queens’ will make us a better society

For almost a decade Jamaica in general and New Kingston, in particular, has been wrestling with what exactly should happen to the homosexual men who frequent the area and live in the Shoemaker gully, giving them the epitaph ‘gully queens’ as some of them engage in cross-dressing. There has been much debate publicly about what should be done with them and how they interact with the persons who both live, go to school and work in the vicinity of the Shoemaker gully as they have for some time now taken to crime to support themselves. Most have suggested just abandoning them to the gods and fate while others state that they should all be scraped up and sent to prison, both stances I feel are horribly wrong.

Instead of condemning these men who have been through and continue to live in a hell, not of their choosing we should look to help them and ensure that such a horrid situation is never repeated. These gay men are persons who are the equivalent of the ‘untouchable’ caste in India and they do not deserve the extra oppression meted out to them by living in conditions that most couldn’t even fathom let alone live in.

It is true that they haven’t helped themselves, they were at a J-FLAG house and because of their boisterous (see butu) behaviour they were forced to leave the premises, but that is no reason as to why the state or civil society couldn’t provide them with decent housing and accommodations. A recent article in the Jamaica Star has highlighted the fact that the ‘gully queens’ have started a GoFundMe page in order to either find a place to rent/lease or buy and live in, however, the project hit a roadblock as they have only managed to raise $9,014 of a $100,000 (USD) or $1,151,993 of $12,780,042 JMD. I feel that the Jamaican government in conjunction with some civil society groups should front these desperate men the rest of the cash and or provide them with the required housing, but they shouldn’t stop there. A big reason why they were kicked out of the J-Flag accommodations was that they were both butu and utterly destructive of the place and had no real regard for their surroundings. This place of refuge or sanctuary that you would be providing these runaway homosexual men could teach them the social skills needed to interact and operate in a society that sees them as abnormal and the threat of violence against them is constantly bubbling.

This is not a matter of whether or not you are in the pro or anti gay, this is about basic human dignity and decency. Yes they are not all that to look at, yes they are butu and yes they have committed crimes (some as serious as armed robbery) but just how are they any different from the MP who even after blatant shady actions is welcomed back with chimes of ‘second chances’ or the businessman who avoids jail because he is ‘contrite’ and shows his ‘remorse’ publicly? Let us put personal taste and do the right thing, because as Jesus showed in the parable tables turn and one day we may be the Judean laying dying on the ground only to be saved by the ‘unclean’ Samaritan.

Modern day feudalism and Jamaica

Modern day feudalism and Jamaica

The world is always changing nothing remains the same. We see this in technology medicine however one thing remains the same, the way we humans interact with each other. We see this from all stratas of society, human beings have seldom changed and the more one looks at it the more the situation reads like an awful novel.

Feudalism is alive and well in this society, though we all seldom speak on it for fear of losing secure jobs and possibly one’s life. We see this played out throughout the society but one example that I feel cements us in the mode of politics is the relationship between the area don and the girl children. The don (since he protects the area) gets ‘jus primae noctis‘ providing the masters with the right of being the first one to sleep with a womanThis phenomenon is not new to Jamaica, it has been going on since the inception of the garrison and yet we as a society, for the most part, remain silent as that type of madness, barbarity and utter backwardness continues unabated.

This feudalism in the nation can be found some more in the garrison where persons live the lives of twelfth-century serfs, beholden to the Lord of the land. We see this in the way that the don of the area is able to (usually by coercion) get the loyalty of the persons living in his ‘city state’ and they go off to war merrily to fight for him, for the spoils that will be divided and for the indulgences from the don, in the same manner as the Popes of old led the world to Crusade after Crusade. We see this neo-feudalism in the city centres and parish capitals as a crude ‘tax’, ‘protection’ or if you will just plain extortion is played out on a daily basis. Much like the feudal lords of the past who would take their share of the harvest (the best of course!) because the serf was unlucky enough to have been living under ‘patronage’ so we have the modern don taking the hard earned money of business persons and higglers who are unlucky enough to be in their zone of influence.

The political system while not explicitly built around the feudal line is clearly operated along the line that would make any feudal lord pleased that the trend continues. The political system that we currently have in breeds patronage and the creating and holding of fiefdoms (or garrisons in Jamaican parlance) and the handing over of that fiefdom to the chosen heir. Nowhere was this more open and blatant than the recent election to replace Dr Omar Davies in his ‘Jungle’ garrison constituency when he openly called for and endorsed Mr Mark Golding to be his eventual successor (and we see the tradition continuing with Portia Simpson-Miller openly endorsing Dr.Angela Brown-Burke).

Again much like their feudal spiritual ancestors, the politicians practice a serious form of nepotism that would be hilarious if the results weren’t so harmful to the nation. Just look at the current parliament and one is shocked at the blatant nepotism, Andrew and Juliet Holness (husband and wife), Peter and Mikael Phillips (father and son), Pearnel Charles and Pearnel Charles Jr (again father and son), and that is just those who have immediate blood connections and are currently serving. If we were to add the second and sometimes third generations that are in our parliament and senate (such as Minister Johnson-Smith and Mr McNeill then most people would agree that nepotism is the order of the day when it comes to politics, I mean for heavens sake (and I admit this is a slight stretch), Bustamante, Manley and Shearer were all from the same family branch and all three took turns (Alexander, Norman, Hugh then Michael) running the country consecutively from ’44-92 with a brief interlude of 48 days during the tenure of Sir Donald Sangster and the premiership of Edward Seaga which lasted from 80-89, does that not strike you as some feudal politics?

It is not just the political system and the dons that function or are run in a feudal or neo-feudal way, society, in general, seems to operate in a way that is shockingly reminiscent of feudalism. The way that businesses operate and treat their employees (just take a look at any wholesale and you will see individuals working in conditions that can only be described as modern day feudalism), they are tied to the companies just as the feudal serf was tied to the land. Be it the cash advance that the company forwards to you, the loan with the unseemly interest rate that your job offers you (some call centers offer this treat) or the fact that you owe them for things such as travel and education (all of which sound reasonable until you see the unreasonable interest rates) one sees where this type of thinking and operating runs like a river throughout our society.

This just seems to be the runnings of things in this nation, we the citizens have allowed it to be so but it can change. The change won’t be easy but it can be done and is being done slowly, be it groups like NIA that are (trying at least to) calling out corruption or CAPRI, JFJ and the active social and political groups which in their own way seek to liberate peoples minds which is the beginning of the end of feudalism. This oppression in the nation will end, whether it is replaced by a totally new form of oppression or a system that is more just, fair and equitable is to be seen but it will end.

We need to talk about A.I

Artificial Intelligence (or AI as it is more commonly known as) is fast improving as are robots. They are improving at such a rapid pace that it is very realistic that in the next ten to twenty years we will be witnessing AI and robots taking over jobs that humans have once held. That is not new nor is it headline news, for since the dawn of man using tools and technology we have witnessed where people have been replaced by machines (be it people thousands of years ago who went from manual tilling of the earth to the ox driven tiller, or the spinning jenny that decimated the British textile cottage industry).

What needs to be done and what hasn’t really been touched on by local politicians, industrialists and unions is just how robotics and AI will affect the already precarious labour market. AI and robotic ‘theft’ of jobs are not just going to be a first world problem and is one that we must tackle now or we will definitely be left playing catch up in an age where things, technology and events are transforming at a pace never seen before.

Take for example the recent Jamaican economic ‘saviour’ the call centre or Business processing outsourcing (BPO). Yes, it is true that call centre jobs in the US and other developed nations have fallen off a cliff due in no small part to the cheap labour that is offered in nations like Jamaica, but what has also hit the call centre worker is technology. We see where persons have been laid off en masse in the U.S and replaced by technology (AI), call PayPal for example and see if you can and just how long it takes to speak to a human, one has to interact with what is really pretty decent AI. This is because it is massively cheaper to have AI (that requires no pay, insurance or benefits) and hire a few technicians to maintain the system. Will these companies who moved to Jamaica exclusively to maximise profits really continue to employ the projected 30,000 (that is the number we are aiming for) when the AI in the next five to ten years makes human interaction unprofitable?

This is not just in the ‘tech’ areas that we will be hit but also in areas that are now seen as the real domain of persons such as farming. Jamaican farming has not come all that far a way and in many ways is stuck in the mid twentieth century, all that though will change. If the government and those with vested interests are to be believed then in the next couple of years (again that ten to twenty year range comes up) farming in this country will be unrecognisable as we aim to bypass methods of both the mid twentieth century (which we use in abundance) and the late twentieth century and dive head first into the methods and technologies of the twenty-first century. This will mean the introduction of drones to replace the humans who currently manually check crops, smart irrigation and pest control eliminating the need for humans to either water their crops or apply a pesticide. Imagine the cane workers unemployed because of the smart thrasher/reaper that WILL be coming in in the next few years? Even the act of actually planting the seed will be done by smart technology shortly, saying nothing of the obvious introduction of twenty-first-century earth tilling technology, all of which will mean a loss of jobs.

Many other white collar jobs that we take for granted in this nation will also vanish as the rapid march of progress that technology is making continues. Take for example the job of a legal clerk. This profession mainly entails going to NLA, Tax Offices, RGD, the Companies Office and of course the courts to deal with the stamping, registering, signing and filing of documents. Anyone who does that job can tell you that while the backlog of cases won’t (or may never) be dealt with anytime soon, the modernisation of the courts is taking place at a rather quick (not speedy or Usain Bolt fast) pace. With the introduction of many more computers, and a better internet system we are already seeing where documents that used to be sent over from the registry to the printing department (human interaction) is being eliminated with these documents now being transferred electronically (from the registry computer to the legal clerks USB stick or by simply taking a picture of the document). With the NLA and RGD also pushing hard to go fully online we are seeing where searches, payments and requests that would usually in the past would have required one to go to the physical institution and interact with a person is being eliminated as these go online. All of this clearly poses a threat to the white collar jobs of not only those who are legal clerks (as less will be needed to do this work) but also those in the aforementioned institutions as the need to keep costly humans becomes less and less as the technology improves.

We already have been seeing this happening in our banking and finance sector where these workers (and us the consumer) have been bearing the brunt of the rapid increase of the sophistication in the technology and AI. We see this in banks now asking, nay, forcing one to use technology to bypass humans in instances such as the paying off credit cards, the paying of overdrafts, the depositing of cheques and the simple withdrawal and depositing of cash. Try going in a bank, not only will you be charged to actually withdraw and deposit your own money, it is also scant of people (employees) when compared to ten years ago and this is because people cost more money than the technology that is rapidly advancing. Even as Jamaica seeks to become a hub of high finance we are seeing where even those jobs are fast being decimated, the persons who once worked in those positions and commanding high salaries being replaced by computers with algorithms that can do in seconds what would have taken those person days. How exactly is a person to hold a job when a robot/machine can do your work both faster and cheaper?

These are just the realities of what is going on, this is both what is currently taking place and what will be taking place shortly. We should really have a serious sit down as a nation, hold forums and serious dialogues with the stakeholders and those who will be affected so that we can both prepare ourselves and evolve accordingly. This sitting down and doing nothing is akin to seeing the train barreling down towards you and you decide to stay on the tracks, it’s just silly. Politicians, Unions and the private sector must have a public discussion on just how the advance of technology will affect us all as workers, if not then we all could be in for a rude awakening.

The new dark age

History does not repeat itself, that is one of the first things drilled into anyone who has studied history, and  that statement holds true almost always. History cant repeat itself as the conditions that man faced during the 1700’s is totally different than the conditions facing mankind today in the twenty-first century. I repeat, history cant repeat itself, but as we know, current events almost always look, smell and sound very similar to past historical moments in time.

It is  my theory that the world is experiencing, and currently living through what seriously mimics the ‘Dark ages’.We are witnessing the birth pangs of a new era and history sows that it will be very messy before some order is restored. Examples of the world slipping into the darkness is all around us and is happening at a frightful speed. Take for example the collapse of the empire that is happening right now. We are seeing the great American empire disintegrate before our very eyes if only we care to take a cursory look at the situation.

America, much like ancient Rome has reached its zenith. Just as the Romans were the masters of the then known world, we have the Americans being the master of our world today. Much like Rome the american empire survives and is feared/respected because of its awesome military might. Much like Rome the Americans are the masters of soft power, so that foreigners look and hope with baited breath to become a citizen of the empire. And much like Rome then, the american empire dominates economically as well.

However much like its Roman predecessor america is entering a period of terminal decline, the kind of decline that precipitated the ‘dark ages’. We see the once great and vibrant american economy now on its knees and they are now a country where half of its working population is hovering precariously above or live in poverty (earning $30,000 or less a year is the benchmark for American poverty). It is a nation that produces nothing and it is a nation of many disgruntled persons who are unsure as to why their standard of living has plummeted off a cliff.

Along with a tanking economy we witness how person a social breakdown.The societal breakdown that we are witnessing today is a clear indicator of us slipping into the darkness.

Staying with America, it remains the preeminent military might, and that is the key reason for it still remaining a powerhouse. The American military is strong, probably the strongest in the world, but again like its predecessor Rome, the army is also eating away at the American empire even while they project their might. Like the Romans the American army is massive, however that fact alone is not killing it. The fact that it is an all volunteer army is however destroying it. It is destroying it because the army firstly eats up over half of the budget (and discretionary spending) of the American budget and quite frankly no one wants to join, except persons from the ‘redneck’ states or as is increasingly the case immigrants. Now i do not believe that the american army will go the way of the roman army and have troops loyal to a general and not to the nation, however much like the Roman army the volunteers are mainly from the poorer parts of the world and as such will think twice before going to war and collaborating with the enemy (as seen with the Romans found out with the Germanic legion that they implemented).

The fall of America is not however the only harbinger of our new ‘dark age’, a look at technology and how we use it also spells doom. The internet is the modern day printing press, and it going through all of the birthing pains that the printing press went through. When the printing press was invented it saw an initial explosion of knowledge as books became more available to the general populace, we see this in the internet that has also ushered in age of mass knowledge. However the internet, much like the printing press, is about to meet some hard times. Persons with vested interests will, are and already have in some instances but the brake on internet expansion and freedom.

These persons with vested interests much like there middle age predecessors do not like, want or desire the populace being informed and are working hard to stop it. Be it the ‘Great Firewall of China’ or the simple blocking of Twitter and Facebook by the Turkish authorities we are seeing where the explosion of information has been tamed. Those actions mimic those of when the monarchs and clergy of the day put a brake on the expansion of knowledge by regulating the printing press.

Just like the middle ages (dark age) we are witnessing a mass movement of people as persons flee nations failing, escape war, to just make a better life or (as is increasingly the case) to escape a land with no more vital resources (such as water). This mass migration during the middle ages caused much distress and played no small part in keeping the world ‘dark’. In the middle ages this mass migration resulted in both new nations and the re-configuring of others. While we are yet to see the birth of a new nation due to migration, we have witnessed the destabilizing and re-configuring of existing nations.

A casual glance at west Europe confirms this view. We have nations like France, Germany and the BENELUX countries all experiencing serious demographic shifts as members of the old colonies displacing the native population. They experience this when the native populace continues to have a low birth rate while the migrants retain the high birth rate along with them coming in en mass. Just as the middle ages saw the Magyars enter the Hungarian plains we see the Congolese enter Belgium or the man from Ivory Coast lands at Marseilles, and just like in the past we see where the newly arrived rapidly change the face of the nation in ways that are violent or through the gradual wearing down of the existing status quo (as seen in the UK where sharia law is used in some legal cases).

One way we are also entering some ‘dark age’ is the retrenching from globalization. Just as in the middle ages we are witnessing a world with countries looking more inwards rather than outwards. We see this in action with the demagogues who are either in power (Donald Trump) or through the labour unions that demand some isolationism as they seek to rebuild a manufacturing sector.

This retreat from each other was also a hallmark of the middle ages and played no small part in the conflicts that erupted during those times. We are seeing nations retreat from each other and starting to be more insular and as a result we are seeing nations act in ways that could inevitably lead to a conflict that would dwarf any past conflict we have witnessed as a species.

Finally another harbinger of the age we are approaching is the war and thirst for conflict. The west led by the Empire has been at war for sixteen years and it doesn’t seem like it will end anytime soon. The nations are bleeding their coffers to remain at war (against an idea) at the expense of their populations well being and we are witnessing the fruit of that blossoming. The nations are spending billions yearly to conduct these wars and they are fast becoming bankrupt as a result. The wars that the west is waging is playing a large part in the ‘dark age’that we are witnessing. As the military becomes the be all and end all of a nation it does so at the expense of the citizens in that country. Just as no one during the time realized they were living through the one hundred year war which broke Europe in terms of manpower and expense so too are we are living in our own hundred year war, and we will not know it until decades later when we have long been broken and poor.

Break the chains of classism and racism in our minds

Jamaica has a lovely motto ‘out of many one people’ which implies that despite our racial differences we have come together in a large melting pot creating the Jamaican culture. This mixed culture provided us with many things such as food, music and dance but this in many ways hid the outright racism that was inflicted on people not white at the time. Jamaica in many ways has gone past our early post-colonial state, we see where black and white persons are married and have children. So by all accounts Jamaica should be a perfect paradise where everyone is in one with nature.

Unfortunately that is not the case, for while outright  racism is less than before (though persons still harbour the racist thoughts) we see where classism has taken root deep in the heart of society. Classism interspersed with some good old fashioned racism is now the new norm in Jamaica, we have become a nation so blinded by the race to get at the top of the class (pun intended) that we treat our workers and those in the lower class like chattel.

We can see the racism cum classism in how we dress and carry ourselves. Persons are constantly bombarded with images of “true beauty’and images that the majority of the viewers cant hope to attain. We then cuss these same persons in the lower class when they aim to be like their ‘social superiors’ and purchase the weave and fancy outfits, all while praising the rich for using (more expensive) weaves and wearing outfits whose cost would make those who we chastise blush with embarrassment. How can we chastise persons who only wish to emulate those who appear in the social pages of the local papers who just happen to be of a fairer skin complexion?

we see the classism again raising its head when it comes to domestic workers (helpers). Very often helpers are treated like lepers, forced to shy away from people if company, forced to uses the ‘wuttless’ utensils and given only the worst handmedowns. This is just another form of classism that has taken a deep root in our society. We hear horror stories of helpers being abused and molested and no one believes them simply because the alleged is a society big wig while the helper is viewed as a nobody.

The classism is rife in this nation, it is so rife in the nation that we don’t realize that that s the way the society operates. It can be found to be most prevalent in our language and how we speak to each other. The local dialect (patois) is shunned and relegated to that of second-class status, even though there is a vast swath of persons who only speak patios. That in my opinion is where the classism meets our subconscious  racism. The vast majority that speak patois are black (hardly a coincidence, and they are relegated to the status of higgglers and handymen while those who speak the queens English cam be found to inhabit the upper  echelons of society and are of a light complexion.

The specter of classism also rears its ugly head when it comes to education. We see this with the tuition free education that  is now the law of the land. Now as decent, noble  as this, this will only help widen the divide between the haves and have-nots. The have nots will be left to wander the school system while the school crumbles around them because the increased  government is still not enough to fulfill the needs of the school and parents have been led to believe that they don’t need to partake financially in the school and curriculum development. All while those who attend the traditional high-schools will go on to greater things as the child in the traditional school will have access to not only government aid but also a healthy alumni cache that will only lead to them (the schools) being even more successful in terms of academia (the one thing that is truly the great equalizer .

The insidious classism rises up and shows itself even when it comes to health and healthcare. One only needs to look at the ‘free medical service’ that is on offer in this country. While those who are at the top of society can afford the care that is offered at UHWI, that is normally as far as they would go to being in a public hospital. While the monied class aims to stay away from places like KPH and Jubilee, places that would have them interact with their ‘lower class’brethren even though KPH has one of the best trauma wards in this hemisphere.

The legal system finally is the most raw and open wound of classism in this nation. The class divide in the legal system is so abhorrent that one cant believe that we wish to rise up as a nation out of the mire. In this legal system we see kids being dragged off to jail over some petty crime while the child who has the silver spoon in their mouths will never be accosted by the security forces. The police (who are the vanguard of the upper class) constantly arrest the poor for some trivial matter like a spliff or over two ounces of weed and as seen in the Mario Dean case where the mentally impaired man was left with violent criminals and subsequently died. The short fact is that the class you were born into really decides who succeeds and who does not when we look at the Jamaica case. The rich can go gun-toting as seen at the recent carnival and yet they are still allowed to go on living an uninterrupted life while those on the lower end of the social scale are forced to look over their shoulders as society has a target on their back.

Classism in Jamaica can become a thing of the past, however it will require some hard work. Let us hope that we break the chains of classism and instead embrace our rich culture and start living up to what our national motto says because the only way that this country will get better is if we all acknowledge that in spite of our racial and class differences we are out of many one people.

Sometimes the hair is necessary

 

Recently more and more people are becoming ‘concerned’ about the poor and how they live. Those who reside in upper St. Andrew sit around their dining tables while preaching and pontificating that those dastardly poor refuse to spend wisely and that is why they are in the predicament that they are in. In short according to those in their ivory towers it is a simple matter of prioritizing and those in the lower classes just can’t seem to get that they say. Things get even more degrading and sexist when you have statements like the one said by the reverend last year who lambasted some women for putting ‘$5000  hair on a $5 head’, now that statement is both repugnant and totally missing two key facts.

The first fact that is seldom spoken aloud in Jamaica anymore is that of beauty and what beauty looks like. We in Jamaica have a very eurocentric way of viewing beauty, a legacy that slavery has left for us. One must ask oneself how often have you heard people commenting on ‘nappy’ hair or ‘bad’ hair? the simple fact of the matter is that in Jamaica beauty is defined in a European context, is it any wonder then why these women wear those weaves> they are doing it conform to our national beauty standard which states that anything negro is bad while the negro must try and elevate themselves to that status of the ‘browning’

Women all throughout this nation put costly weaves in their hair, when UPT does it no one says a negative thing and the ladies are praised as paragons of beauty. However when a poor person does it then we all kick up a stink and then they are called names on top of it, thus  we see the subtle classism and racism that is entrenched in the Jamaican society and psyche.

Then we come to the main debating point, priorities and how they are listed, or economics if you will. Now many persons who see a poor woman in expensive clothes, weave etc believe that they have blown their money on these fancy trappings, but again I think they are missing something crucial and that is the economics. Yes many women (rich and poor) have no business being parents, and yes many a woman goes to a dance leaving the children at home alone.

The sad reality is that a lot of these women dress up and go dance in order to support their kids in any way possible. And while it may sound disgusting, but that is what is being done a lot of times at these dances. And if i may put it so bluntly, the woman in the ghetto with the ‘nice’ hair is far more likely to get a man unlike her natural haired sisters. The sad fact is that rather than have a debate on the issue and see why these mothers put themselves in harms way and feel like they have no way out, however they do and their kids do too which is why so many persons both rich and poor wear these things.

In conclusion, while many mothers are bums (uptown and downtown) it is clear to see that some form of change is happening, but it must be done at a faster pace. We are the nation that birthed Garvey and yet to this day we have persons bleaching their face and other things that are only done when it is sacrifice. We must ensure that we are proud of our, where we came from or how we got here, It will be a long slog but in the end we as a nation need to do this

Do we love our women?

Life as a woman is not easy, and life as a woman in Jamaica is especially hard. This is a nation where we men claim to love ladies and women but that for the most part is a lie and that can be seen in the actions that our men and society in general take towards women. We claim to love them but for quite a few men that is truly not the case as one can’t love something without showing respect or humility, without showing the decency and respect that one deserves for being a fellow human being let alone a potential love interest.

Women in this country must run the gauntlet on a daily basis and the outcome is never a sure thing. Take for example cat-calling, something that a lot of men in this country see no problem with. Cat-calling in this country is not a subtle and romantic ‘hey baby you are looking fine’ or something along those lines but is instead a crass, vulgar string of words about the ’roundness’ of the lady, the mans sexual prowess and how he (in most instances) intends to work her sexually. This is meant in the mans warped world as a compliment and if the woman does not reciprocate or worse still verbally spurns him then she is open to a torrent of abuse, mainly verbal, but sometimes physical. Women live with this fear everyday they walk the streets and frankly this is something that we men need to clean up, it is crass and the furthest thing from the sign of infatuation and is instead the sign of a mind that has little respect for women.

The pressure for sex is also a battle that our women face on an almost hourly basis if i may exaggerate (or is it?). Imagine for a minute being out with a man who has at least eighty pounds on you, who is a little boisterous and drunk and he is asking, nay demanding you as a woman for sex. Is it any wonder that we have so many women who would rather live alone than chance it with the modern Jamaican man who is so heavily influenced by the thug culture? Men, it is time that we stop pressuring our women for sex. It is time we stop with the line ‘if you love me you’ll sleep with me’, that is not love, that is emotional blackmail and the taking advantage of someones feelings, it is wrong and is in no small part leading to our women slowly closing themselves off from the opposite sex.

The threat of rape is one of the unspoken factors of being a woman in Jamaica, and while concrete data is hard to come by, anecdotal evidence tells us that rape and sexual assaults are a frequent enough occurrence for us individuals to know of at least one story personally. We as a society in general and men in specific seem to have little to no issues with sexual violence when it comes to our women, we see this in songs that glorify rape and the ways that our courts treat cases of sexual assault and rape, we see where sexual violence is the order of the day whether uptown or downtown and it needs to stop now. The formation of the Tambourine Army in many ways is very heartening as women seek to empower and liberate themselves from the way that society perceives and treats them but they cant do it alone. Men we need to stand up, be counted and demand that this straight up disrespect towards our women, mothers, aunts and sisters stops, if not who I ask do we expect to bring forth life or be life companions?

The onus however is not just on men only, this is a societal issue and one that can only be tackled and cured once we are open and honest that we as a society have created these norms where women are treated like chattel and are treated with little or no respect. While women’s education, rights and empowerment has come a long way we still treat our women as lower class citizens and expect them to play the role. We as a society put a premium on a woman having babies, which leads to families living in abject poverty. We teach our girls to be kept and looked after and then we are shocked when a woman is killed for having a main man and six ‘boop’s’ one of whom finds out and is none too pleased. We see this warped teaching when we teach our young women that the only way to keep or get a man is through the vagina and then we again act shocked when we read stories of girls at sixteen having had over fifty sexual partners.Don’t be surprised or show faux shock and anger, ones sows the wind and reaps the whirlwind.

The Jamaican society must change how we view our women and we must change how we treat our women. Everyone came from a woman, everyone has a mother or and the vast majority of this nation were raised by a woman, be it granny or mummy so how can we allow  these atrocities to continue towards our women? Women deserve our love and respect, not just because they provide life or because they look good when all dolled up, but for the simple fact that they are humans with feelings and emotions. Let us try to aim for a better way in how we treat our women and girls, because at the end of the day i’m sure that most if not all of us would be very ‘dark’ if what happened to women on the street happened to our mothers or sisters.

Jamaica’s Lost Voice

Jamaica is silent, she along with the rest of CARICOM has lost her voice and seems to have lost her drive in this new century as it relates to internationalism and the causes of mankind. Lest we forget that Jamaica was one of the first countries to speak out against the regime and system in South Africa, lent moral support to the liberation of sub Saharan Africa, denounced the atrocities committed in the Americas while being vociferous opponents of the open brutality meted out by the former USSR and her allies.

That was the past, as seen starting with the illegal war in Iraq, Jamaica and the region has been silent. We once spoke loudly and punched well above our weight and gained much kudos for it and we are in serious danger of letting it, like so many others, rot.

We as a people are not unaware or uninterested about international affairs or the plight of our international brethren, we are the home of Garvey, we are a hodgepodge of immigrants (the majority of our ancestors forced as slaves) and as such we care deeply about what happens abroad. Go to any bar, talk to people on the street, even read the recent articles on the palestinan issue and allepo in our local publications, the citizens care, yet our politicians remain silent.

How powerful would it be if Jamaica with the largest Chinese population in the Caribbean (and strategically important I may add) condemned openly what they are doing to their own people? How strong a message would it be if Trinidad, with the largest Muslim population in the Caribbean were to condemn the house of Saud for the atrocities it commits on an almost daily basis to its own people?

Jamaica has wasted it’s international standing and goodwill and has sat idly by. As our government sits quietly the Palestinians still live in an apartheid that the South Africans of old (whom they aided and abetted) could only dream of. As our minister of foreign affairs (and all of them since ’03 are complicit) say nothing masses of persons are being ethnicly cleansed in Mayanmar cum Burma under the watch of a Nobel Peace laureate.Syria has been burning for almost seven years and we don’t even have the conscious to let in the Christians and minorities who are being exterminated and who would find cultural links and common folk in Jamaica, and even if we say no to that at the very least condemn in the strongest terms the madness that is going on.

The nation that gave us Michael Manley, who, whatever one thought of his politics, always spoke out against injustice and oppression is now a silent onlooker. The nation that literally helped invade a country (see Grenada) because we believed in something and had principles is nowhere to be seen on the international scene. And while some may say ‘we’re broke’ or that we have our own issues is no excuse as we stood up all during the 70’s-80’s when our economy was dying and the seeds of violence were sown.
We the people need to address this, we have to speak up and demand that our politicians of both parties revive our dormant tradition of speaking out loudly, especially at the non-aligned summits. We need to regain this voice for we are becoming a parody, a nation that is thought of only in terms of sunshine, beaches and a big head spliff with cool reggae playing in the background, a people who are thought of as docile and uninformed.

We need to push our politicians on this issue, we must demand that they find their voice in the international sphere. We are a small nation of 2.8 million that is true, but when we speak it carries weight, especially with the large diaspora community that we have. The same goes for the region, we must stand up and let our voices be heard. Caricom must stand up and speak, speak loudly and speak on the issues that trouble us all currently in the world from global warming to the permanent war that is the war on terror, issues that affect us directly and issues that don’t, for if we allow our leaders to shirk their duties then we the citizens will have to answer to not only our children, but also to the sufferers in the international community.

Prison woes

Jamaica has two major prisons, one, the Tower Street Correctional Facility (G.P) in downtown Kingston, and the Spanish Town prison in St Catherine. Both prisons are over one hundred years old and look the part. They are pest riddled, overcrowded, dilapidated and filled with inhumane facilities like the infamous bucket latrine. They are in short not fit for purpose.

Not fit for purpose. We keep hearing that, but what is the true purpose of a prison? Some think, and truly believe that prisons sole purpose is to keep the bad guys away from the good guys, to be a warehouse for criminals where they are either forgotten about or treated in ways that would be unimaginable on the outside. That however is not the purpose of prisons, not in the sense that we know it and it hasn’t been viewed that way for some time. Prisons are there yes to house criminals, but not so that they can be forgotten, but instead so that they can be rehabilitated and made fit for society and able to meet it’s demands upon there release.

We in Jamaica currently have the backwards view on prisons, and we have the prisons to show it. We however act surprised when persons who enter prison for minor charges but are generally decent persons end up leaving prison as learned criminals with a heart hardened to the state, authority and those who he perceives to have allowed him to suffer such conditions. In short we are surprised at the fruit that is bearing, the shame is that it is we as a society who planted the poisonous seed that has now been blossoming.

Prison instead of being a holding cell for societies unwanted and undesirables who are treated like dogs should be a rehabilitation center. What that means is that in the prison, a man who for example is in there for paradeal larceny, should be taught to farm. It means that persons who enter prison with no subjects should be educated so that when they leave they can make an honest living. Rehabilitation means that persons are taught skills such as welding, construction, tile laying and plumbing so that they don’t have to rely on crime to survive on the outside. Rehabilitation means that prisoners are given constant counseling and pych evaluations to see why they are so angry and how they can better control it, counseling so that they understand why they are in prison and that what they did was wrong.

Jamaica desperately needs new prisons to meet the demands of our local criminals and for the hundreds of deportees who, statistics tell us, will commit crimes. Unfortunately the state is skint and the party that currently forms the government scoffed at the prison deal that the British were touting. They should, if they really care about Jamaica and wish to make a lasting dent in crime should along with the opposition sound out the private sector for funds.

Jamaica’s private sector may not like to admit it, but they are awash with capital. Jamaican companies make up some of the wealthiest in the Caribbean and are in sectors that could be utilised in the rehabilitation program. The Jamaican private sector may be more than willing to listen, especially since they seem to have woken up in the past fifteen years and realize that crime has a negative effect on the economy.

Whatever the answer to the prison question, it is one that should be high up on the agenda of any political party that wishes to form or currently is in government. Crime is far too high, and while catching criminals is good and prevention is better, keeping people caged in conditions that most upper St Andrew persons wouldn’t keep there dog only makes the few and the caught even more dangerous, and that my friends is counterproductive, not rehabilitation and leaves us in our current state.