on renting in Jamaica (and Babylon)

Often we think about how Jamaica makes it difficult for people to achieve things we often look at the outer extreme of poverty. Centring those who live in extreme poverty is important since they are most often ignored in many aspects.
Only using that experience as a lens to understand Jamaica, however, leaves some other people out of the conversation and limits our understanding of what needs to be changed. And how we make independence and upward movement near impossible for each other in our own unofficial policies and preferences.
 
For example, the standard in Jamaica is that a person needs to provide first, last, and one month deposit before they can move into a home. That’s three month’s rent they need to have ready to go in advance on top of moving costs, application costs for light and water and cable and internet etc on top of cost of furniture.
 
Even if a person decides to tough it out and sleep on a mattress on the floor they still have to provide three months rent before they can get to the four walls. So for a rent of JMD 25000 per month I must first have 75000 put down just so to hand over before I can get the key. Now this may seem like a small amount for some but for a person who is only working 75000 or even less per month, who had to move to another parish for the job, who is currently cotching on a couch and good will, who perhaps also has a kid to feed or a parent…that’s a lot of money that will take a long time to amass.
 
and why do we do it? it’s not the official policy. and even people who have never had a negative experience with renters will demand it.
 
we do it because like most other things the Jamaican renter system is mercenary and developed to benefit the (historically white/wealthy/landed) owner while taking advantage of and pathologizing the (historically black, poorer) renter.
 
I get it, you need protection in case you place mash up. but you also walk into people place to conduct random checks as you have a feeling…or perhaps if you were doing maintenance like you should you would know what was happening before the person moves out.
 
just saying.
 
people, we claim that we want ‘di yutes’ to do good or rather blame them for not seeking independence. But so many of our policies make life unliveable for people who don’t come from money or earn ’nuff money or who can’t call on parents to back them up.
 
we can do better.
 
#carlamoore #thinkitthrough

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.

 

on using got ’til it’s gone carefully

while the sentiment ‘you don’t know what you got til its gone’ is true and helpful for people who are trying to heal, it should be used with care. sometimes we fixate on the idea that people don’t know what they got til its gone and fail to recognize that 1) some people never make the kind of connection with themselves necessary to have that realization and 2) regardless of how valuable you are some people will not recognize it despite their loss, also 3) no matter who you are there will be some people who find you to be a bad experience. this last one is hard to accept but in much the same way that the person you’re having a bad experience with may not seem bad to others or may be different in the future, some person may be having that same experience with you. it can be hard to swallow, especially when you’ve given your best and especially if someone hurt you. you’re sure they’re a bad person. and some people are. some, however, are just bad to you or for you. allowing for the fact that they may not be completely bad people doesn’t negate the pain they cause. and regardless of how pain is caused people will always have to pay for the harm they cause, especially if it is deliberate, especially if they harm a person who has tried to do the best by them. the universe does not allow that kind of imbalance to persist. but fair is fair (even if you’re too hurt to be fair right now) you could also be that person to them. so use it, use the sentiment to get you over the rough patch, but don’t hold on to it. do not hinge your healing on some mythical day when somebody will recognize the error of their ways, it may not come. recognize instead that with or without that realization, you are valuable. defy the odds: wish them well. if they hurt you to the point that they lost you, there’s probably some pain the haven’t dealt with that they need help with anyways- whether they know it or not. hold your own value in your hands, heal, and elevate, not because they recognize they lost you, but because you recognize what you have in yourself.

got ’til it’s gone

on re-claiming happiness and breaking down a break-up past the sum of its parts

often, when relationships end, we’re too destroyed by the pain and disappointment to recall (or even want to recall) the happiness we experienced while we were in them. this is natural, and i would argue integral to healing. but do not make the mistake of packing your happiness away with the other detritus of love lost. though it was shared with somebody else, that happiness is still yours. and while having a relationship ‘fail’ can *feel* tragic (and i say feel because sometimes its actually better that they end, but the *pain* of their ending is real) it would be even more tragic to forfeit your own past happiness as a part of getting over it. hold on to your happiness, remember that though you were a part of a unit in that relationship, you also were an individual within that unit. you gave happiness, you received happiness, you shared happiness. tell your stories, write the poems about your happiness, tell your friends about the time that the person did this, or the one evening when they did that. remember how that felt. because it is those memories, the memories of those feelings, that will call your next lover into being. if we all walk around with emotional baggage anyways, carrying bits of past lovers into our present day, why would we not choose to carry some of the good parts? if we keep calling the same kind of person to us because we have not healed, why would we not call the parts of love that we enjoyed to us by making them a part of our healing? if it is over, then it is over. and no amount of reminiscing will take you back there. or, conversely, perhaps it’s not over and you will go back there, but not now. the point is, if you have an agreement with yourself, if you have come to an understanding with yourself that something is not for you because the *sum total* of it does not work for you, then it is safe for you to take out the parts that did work for you and use them to remind yourself and the universe of the kind of happiness you desire and are capable of. not the kind of happiness *that* person is capable of bringing to you, the kind of happiness *a* person is capable of bringing to you. the kind of happiness *you* are capable of experiencing and the kinds of situations *you* want to create in *your* relationships. your relationships, are yours. the pain, is yours. so is the happiness. do not hold on to one but not the other, and do not pack them up together and cast them away. fiercely cling to your happiness, it is not the work of  one person, but the universe’s gift to you *through* that person. re-gift it to yourself daily. leave the person, keep your happiness. it is yours.

On Nelson Mandela’s Teachings and the Power of One: RIP Madiba

 

Imandela no passionf there is one thing we should have learned from Nelson Mandela, its the power of one.
If one man, one ordinary man…because he was just an ordinary man until he started doing extraordinary things….if one ordinary man could have done all the he did, what could ordinary you do?
There is no difference between you or I and Mandela, not when he started.
The difference is in the end, and that difference is hard work and commitment and courage. It is seeking and activating wisdom in his life. It is remaining indefatigable in the face of trial after trial. It is faith and a belief in self and a belief in humanity. He remained a person that believes in people. As many of us give up on humanity – and make no mistake giving up on person after person in your own life will eventually lead you to give up on humanity – we disrespect his legacy. If we are to call him Madiba, in affection and respect, we must honour his teachings. We must stop smalling up ourselves, we must stop accepting that we are mediocre, we must not only laud Madiba, but recognise we are Madiba. I think that is the point of his words and his life, we are the ones who must combine mind and heart. We are the ones who must make the difference. He is one of the few, but only because we ignored his call, we did not do what was necessary to join him. Rest In Power Madiba

mandela poverty

 

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