oh Jamaica 1/who knows

I find more and more my relationship with Jamaica is a conflicted thing full up of resentment and growing short on hope.

I hate the feeling.

The latest thing I am trying to make sense of is the vendors who beat a Rasta man and left him for dead because he started (him alone mind you) chanting against their jerked chicken and saying it smelled like dog and was polluting the place.

The whole thing bothers me for a number of reasons:

1. Is it that easy to kill a person now? Anything they say that’s against you or displeases you deserves death? What happen to all the shades of responses in between and why more people inna the crowd never recognise say it was a mob against one man and that never fair? And when we going to realise that this particular brand of badness can only ever benefit a select few while taking advantage of most…rather, when we going to recognise that our time as the ‘bad’ is limited and soon we will all fall from power and become the beaten?

2. I know somebody is going to say

‘well you haffi consider say wah him a do coulda did a interfere wid the people dem money…some people nuh play bout dem money’.

This I understand. When smaddy a ramp wid you money it nuh just easy fi siddung and watch. But that draw up even more question fimme: a) people really in such desperate situations (that kind that warrants killing a man fi piece a bread) or we just tell we self say things desperate as a way fi excuse we self fi treat one another terrible? Because sometimes me feel say we turn the sufferers story into the national identity and use that justify anything we do. Not everybody is at the ‘anytime me hungry again you a go see mi nine’ state. Some a dem nuh even hungry but dem a tear out people neck and headback like dem a starve. We, the not hungry,  tell we self say Jamaican dark lakka midnight inna every situation and go from there. Fi why? To what end? And what cost?

3. Now as me write this round and brown me know say smaddy a go tell me say

 A middle class browning like you cyan chat because you have privilege  and you belly full and you will never understand

Yes, me have privilege. Cyaan deny it and the impact it have pon me life. And me nuh waan take up too much space in a conversation that is not about and my experience. But the fact that I am privileged does not mean I am blind and don’t mean me cyan call out foolishness when me see it. And this is it: One Rasta man chanting fire on a whole slew a jerk man never did a go cost them business, dem cudda shout him down and run him dem never need fi do him physical harm. Dat a just people feeling like anybody come against dem must be exterminated because them a pest. That a we feeling like black people easy fi kill and deserve fi dead. That a colonial ignorance and foolishness. That a summn we need fi puddung.

4. Why is it so easy for us to sing about and talk about and actually do harm to black people? Because me sure a white man woulda never get beating and me nuh see white people a sing bout killing niggaz nearly as much as black people. So wah di deal?

5. Why all now Rasta cyan get some respect. This many years after defining some aspects of Jamaica culture internationally, after the many atrocities including Coral Gardens, after everybody wanna be a Marley, people still cyan see Rasta as anything but dutty foot mad man.

The more I think about my future in Jamaica the more deeply riddled I am with doubt.

What do I see?

An upper class that manages to thrive because they have enough social and economic buffers to make a world inside a world. To live in the Jamaica we wish we could inhabit. Some of whom have grown mercenary in their relationship with the lower classes.

A middle class that is being held accountable for the country’s debt through taxation. Some of whom have grown mercenary in their relationship with the lower classes.

A lower class that has managed to resist and recover from crippling under development. Some of whom have grown mercenary in their relationship with the middle and upper classes.

Criminal activity passing for culture. Violence as a marker of national identity. And hopelessness.

Inside of that beauty and hope and children growing businesses opening and people living their lives.

When I think about my future here I don’t know what I see…and with the love I have for the country…this burns me.

It actually makes me cry.

I want to scream that we can do better but I’m not sure who is we and who I should scream at first. Perhaps at the colonisers and the ones with the whip. Perhaps at myself.

 

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One Reply to “oh Jamaica 1/who knows”

  1. I am right there with you, in the concern and the frustration and the feelings of hopelessness.

    The acknowledgment of privilege makes every day experiences that much more complicated. All well and good when you brown and insulated and can just look at that story through the lens of “What is wrong with Jamaican people??” It’s a different thing when you start to consider people’s motivation, people’s ability to handle minor (and major) upsets, and how on earth we gonna go about improving that.

    As a nation our reserve for dealing with any kind of stress is so tapped out. We feel powerless to effect any real change, so we take out frustrations in any way we can. Goes back to the badness theory – yes every badman will be out-badded one day but we are so desperate for something anything that gives us the illusion of control, even if it means robbing/raping/killing our own. But where/how do we begin to fix that?

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