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Politics

The Lie that is Emancipendence

Couple of weeks ago I watched the 2001 Jamaican documentary entitled, Life and Debt by Stephanie Black, watch it here, and it made me curious about the political history of Jamaica; more importantly Jamaican politics and its relationship with money. The film touches on the failed Free Zones of the late 90’s, the drop in sale of bananas and the near lock down of the dairy industry in the early 2000’s as well as the role that The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had to play in all of it. All this is juxtaposed with the lie of prosperity that Jamaica sells and that the tourists choose to believe. Watch out for: Dr. Michael Witter, whenever he is on screen, the man steals the show, and pay close attention to the the arrogance and bigotry of the rat-faced IMF bastard who is interviewed (sorry not sorry). Lastly, it was through the film’s interview with former Prime Minister, Michael Manley that I became more respectful of his vision for Jamaica during the 70’s and 80’s; however I am not sure he’d be proud of where we are more that 40 years later.

The Beginning

According to Mr. Manley, after Independence we were barely on our feet as a new but uninformed nation however, it was not until the 1973 increase in oil worldwide, that we quickly began to sink. We turned to the IMF who gave us money rather than a long term solution. It was The Organisation’s restrictions that really caused the problems. Jamaica could only spend so much therefore we had to cutback on certain sector projects that never had much funding in the first place like: building new hospitals or hiring better trained teachers. So, if we couldn’t improve our core sectors how could we grow economically?

Devaluing the Dollar

Jamaica needed to increase exports and  decrease imports so the IMF’s plan was to make foreign currency more expensive which would help the economy. Now, I am no economist but even to me that sounds like a bad idea. The effects of  a devalued dollar included:

inflation, the cost of goods and services like medicine and healthcare increased; there were wage freezes, so the same salary could buy less things; increased globalisation/creation of the free market, where Jamaica competed with the rest of the world  at an unfair advantage. Foreign items were cheaply produced and cheaply sold therefore this pushed aside our chance at self reliance.

So it comes that we do not meet the IMF targets (shocker), what to do? We don’t have another choice, we borrow another loan while the debt rises. It is an elder Rastafarian at minute 30:07 in the documentary who says,  “You see we are so poor that these rich people use them money to really jus’– [they] push them money before [us] like is a gift but it really a trap.” Preach!

Jamaica 55

The way I see it, 55 years later, the government is still screwing us over. We have managed to replace one white master (The Crown) with another white master (The IMF) and now we seem to be getting two more (The Chinese and for young people, Social Media). I don’t think any other journalist has summed up the lie of Emancipendence this year more than Ian Boyne. In his article for August 06, 2017 he writes:

“In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, our young people were idealistic, fired up with zeal for building a truly independent and strong Jamaica.  Young people were interested in ideas. They were talking about Black Power, Rastafari, African liberation, cultural identity, socialism, nationalism… Today our young people know more about what is going on in American pop culture than about what is going on in Jamaica… In times like these, we have a dancehall artiste like Ishawna dissing cultural icon Miss Lou, flaunting her cultural backwardness and ignorance.”

So no, as a young person I don’t feel freed from slavery, and I don’t feel as if we are particularly independent either. Most young people I know are looking for a way out of Jamaica or a way to get rich, the crime rate is sky high which suggests no one is their brother’s keeper; it is all about what I can get and who I can get it from rather than what I can give. I want Emancipation and Independence celebrations to feel like a privilege not an obligation, like they are days earned not  given, so when we gather at the National Stadium to watch the fireworks explode in the sky, it feels like an occasion that I can’t miss rather than just another holiday. — Bless.

[cover art by : Mac Tey]

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Creative Media

2/4 | June

This is my final article for the month of June. Thank you for reading and I will see you in August!

Today I want to share with you some of my favourites from the second quarter of the year.
Listen

Songs:

Do You…” by Miguel

I believe that Miguel is a needed  presence in the evolving Rn’B scene. He keeps his sound identifiable and dreamy, there is no darkness or insecurity, like what I hear in modern Rn’B crowd. This maturity is especially evident in his 2012 album,  Kaleidoscope Dream. This was the record that introduced Jamaicans to, “Adorn” but my  personal standout is, “Do You…,” a guitar led love song that uses whispered notes and falsettos to express sincerity and need. Lines like, “What about matinee movies/ Pointless secrets/ Midnight summer swim, private beaches/ Rock, paper, scissors/ Wait! best outta three!” feel so euphoric and innocent yet there is a serious intimacy there too. And, yea, Miguel may very well be the Prince of our generation but his success is always somehow undercut by poor promotion. 

Miss Your Sex” by Raheem DeVaughn

Taken from his his fifth album, Love Sex Passion, the album is a collection that marked 15 plus years since DeVaughn has been an Rn’B artiste. From the record, “Miss Your Sex” is the most special to me because behind the lascivious lyrics there  is a layer of passion and heartbreak backed by these grand instrumentals that soar towards the middle of the song… it is just awesome. Two other favourites are: “All I Know (My Heart)” that has the type of slow narrative I grew up with– and miss– from Rn’B artistes like Jaheim (Won’t you sit ya self down and take a seat/ And let me ease ya mind girl) and Maxwell. Immediately following that is, “Terms of Endearment,” a soft ballad that creates a beautiful atmosphere with Boyz II Men like harmonies backing up DeVaughn who glides on notes about how it feels to realize that you are in love and that you are loved in return. It is honestly the most perfect wedding song, ever. The whole album brings back a kind of nostalgia that goes back and forth between true soul and true Rn’B in a way that makes me feel like I have been reintroduced to the genres.

Album:

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Just to begin: Ms. Hill conceived the album at 22 years old. She was also single and pregnant with her firstborn, Zion. I Listened to Miseducation for the first time in full this month and I get now. I really do. Her album is not just a supernova inspiring and promoting blackness and fierce independence and self-expression, it is a symbol of Hip-Hop culture in a decade.

Miseducation is defined by its heavier themes like learning to cope with personal pain (“When it Hurt so Bad,” “I Used to Love Him” and “Ex Factor”) and intense observations of the world (“Forgive them Father,” “Every City, Every Ghetto,” “Doo Wap,” “FInal Hour” and “Superstar”) but my favourite section is the last third of the album that is dedicated to self-love. It is guided by a theme of reverence and as such is deeper than personal, it is spiritual.

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Lauryn Hill made history by becoming the first Rap/Hip-Hop artiste to win Album Of The Year also becoming the first female solo artiste to win five Grammy awards in one night. (photo credit: Steve Granitz).

In my favourite song, the titilar track, (if you want to make me cry just play this) Ms. Hill belts lyrics on self actualisation backed by a church organ. A church organ on a Rap album. Lit. She also asks the Higher Power for humility and strength on, “Tell Him” (… Make me unselfish/Without being blind/Though I may suffer/I’ll envieth not) and inspires on, “Everything is Everything.” John Legend, who played piano on this track whilst in college said of the record, “Lauryn had that blend of toughness and soulfulness, melody and swagger. She did it better than anybody still has done it. People are still trying to capture that moment.” I have never seen Hip-Hop/Rap and Soul and Reggae and Gospel dovetail in such an organic way on a record. This album has my heart, it is fully bad.

Watch

Films:

Train To Busan

Think the claustrophobia Snowpiercer meeting the horror and hysteria of 24 Days Later served with  a fun side of class conflict.  A South Korean family, a father and his daughter, are caught in the middle of a zombie epidemic which they find out about whilst leaving Seoul on the final train to Busan. The set up is not bloat heavy, so 15 minutes in, the action begins and I respect that. I also liked that unlike Hollywood films, Train To Busan has a moral struggle as well as several mini heros giving the plot some heft, and the action is also oh so sweet. As far as zombie movies go you won’t find anything exceptional in this film but it does everything exceptionally well and while watching it I kinda saw why Train to Busan became the highest-grossing South-Korean film in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore last year alone. It doesn’t miss a beat.

Captain Fantastic

This is an indie film detailing the lives of a family who chooses to abandon society for an eco-friendly lifestyle. The drama comes when the wife leaves and the father and his six kids have to reenter society, providing for some very humorous circumstances.  Can I tell you how inspired I was by this movie? Like, I want to raise my children like this. Swear. But what I really liked was that Captain Fantastic not only served to highlight how inadequate society is in terms social issues like, health care (“Why ar they all so… fat?”) and how it fails to help our children to think critically but it also shows us the disasters, albeit funny, that can happen when any lifestyle is taken to the extreme. Yo, parenting has never looked as interesting to me.

Television:

Fleabag

This is a six-part BBC Amazon sponsored series that is similar to Lena Dunham Girls, in that it is provocative and observant comedy about a sexually active woman whose personal life is in a tailspin, but Fleabag is more crude and more unorthodoxed than Girls. The star of, Fleabag is completely loveable; she breaks the fourth wall often to reassure us– her friends– of what will happen after she messes up but it is her step-mother who takes the series for me. She gives the word bitch new meaning by being sweet and demeaning while still managing to appear completely innocent and charming. You feel sorry for the title character until you understand how terrible of a person she is, but somehow you understand. She is self-destructive and selfish and full of self-hate because she is in pain and because she is lonely {sigh}. Fleabag is brilliant black comedy.

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Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and her sister, Claire (Sian Clifford) in a scene from the comedy series, Fleabag, 2016 (photo credit: BBCThree)

The Bullsh!t Award

So, the Cosby case in a sentence: more than 60+ women came forward to say that they were drugged and raped by Cosby; the defense in court said that never happened, if any sexual relations happened it was consensual and then the jury pretty much set him free.

Whether you want to attack the Bill Cosby case from the point of view of, what is consensual sex, or from the view of the power of celebrity, is your issue I am not here to take sides but The Bullsh!t Award for this quarter goes to the jury in the Bill Cosby trial who deliberated for over 52-hours and because they couldn’t make a decision, allowed Cosby to walk. Where is the justice in that? Feel like this is an O.J. Simpson situation enuh… Cosby will go free for this but they will catch him for something else hella petty in the long run.  I can feel it in my bones.


Honourable Mentions

The song, “Biggest Fan” by Lila Iké for being a budding female Chronixx in the making. Go read my interview with her, here.

The song, “Body” by Syd for being the finest single on her debut LP, Fin. It is a simple, sultry, smooth sex jam that incorporates lyrics about sensual predation typically used by male artists like R. Kelly only this time it is seen from the female perspective and that is something that I can really appreciate.

The French film, Elle for taking a complete opposite route on how it handles the subject of rape. Elle, a wealthy woman with an infamous past, in trying to learn the identity of her rapist, engages them both in a cat and mouse game that has a marvelous end. The film is deliberate and quiet in how it explores relationships like most foreign films I have watched and there are some grimy scenes that aren’t for everybody but if you can get through that you will see the amazing way in which a taboo subject finds precise and icy revenge that is just fresh and fearless to me.

[cover art by: Dan Bunea]


 

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Social Commentary

Jamaica: A Crime Story

In print media this week and last week there was a flurry of articles and letters to editors responding to the 19% increase in crime over last year; that is an average of seven killings per day since June. The crime rate was this high only during the 2010 West Kingston operation. If the news wasn’t leading with the the rains it was leading with the murders.

On Thursday June 15 The Gleaner’s Letter of the Day went to a writer who gave a 360 perspective on crime. The article stated three main social institutions that our culture has eroded: the community, the police and the justice system. A long time ago I read a psychological test written by Sharon Leach for The Sunday Observer’s Bookends, and upon remembering this along with the Letter of the Day, I decided to make my own test:

A young man who is in his final year at university leaves his friend’s house at night and heads to a bus stop no more than two minutes away to wait for a taxi that he’d called. On his way there he is robbed at gunpoint for his valuables: his cellphone and his laptop. The robber is a known member of a gang in the community and so no one dares to engage him. The young man pleads with the robber stating that he has important information on his cellphone and laptop but the robber insists that if he cooperates he will not be harmed. A struggle ensues and the young man is shot and injured. Persons in the community who hear the cries for help offer assistance to the young man who is eventually taken to the hospital in critical condition. A report is filed at the police station by the young man’s mother and paperwork is submitted by the officer on duty which is then stacked with a pile of others in the station detective’s office. Two weeks goes by, the mother visits the police station everyday and is told that the superintendent now has the case. Another week goes by, the thief strikes again and is arrested. In the three months that the thief awaits his court date, the young man dies at the hospital. The criminal then goes to trial and is acquitted because there were no witnesses who would testify. The thief is given bail and subsequently freed.

My question is: who is to be blamed for the student’s death and in what order? The community, the student, the police, the friend or the justice system?

Some people would blame the friend. It is obvious that crime is not new to his community so wouldn’t it be wise to be mindful of the study time if his friend is coming over? Even so, maybe the thief would be less inclined to attack a stranger if he was walking with a community member. Notice that the student did not for a minute consider staying the night with his friend and leaving in the morning, perhaps because he was never suppose to be at his friend’s home in the first place. Clearly this friend was not one willing to face repercussions from his/her parents for his schoolmate.

But we can also look at the community. A stranger is being robbed and everyone passing turns a blind eye. There isn’t the idea that if they form a herd to protect this young man the lone thief will flee. Obviously no one wants to put their life in danger where they could be tracked down and harassed either by the gang members or by the police as a witness to this crime. The cowardly community only offers assistance after the young man has been shot and after the thief has fled.

We can also look at the gunman himself. Why couldn’t he leave the young student alone, he is obviously not well off, what does he have to offer? And why steal a student’s laptop? It is a tool that holds the key to his university degree and to his future; and to make it worse he not only steals the young man’s valuables but to ensure that he is not chased, he shoots the victim who is unarmed.

Then there is the young man himself. Why leave your friend’s home when it is well known that the streets are not safe at night? And why fight for material things when your life is in danger? Another phone can be bought, notes and projects can be replaced from friends and from memory and if not, summer school can be attended if he happens to fail at school because of this setback. He however cannot do any of these things if he is dead.

Then there are those who will say the justice system is the first to blame. The defense obviously didn’t try hard enough to get other evidence, for example, forensic evidence (which in all fairness is an understaffed and overworked sub-sector in Jamaica), in the court but instead chose to rely completely on witness statements which the witnesses themselves could not even back up in court. And why was there this long delay, three months, to deal with a petty crime? The delay was so long that the young man not only lost his life but also received no justice because he could not attend his own trial.

Finally, of course there are the police officers. There was no sense of urgency to solve the crime. What if the criminal did not strike again? I am sure they would not have made an arrest otherwise. But more importantly, It is obvious that the police-community relationship is very poor and that the community lacks confidence in the force. How else could the gang have such as strong hold over the residents? Even though the creation of the ‘informer culture’ in Jamaica basically went like this, it should be known that police officers are really only as goods as their informants.

In the end I guess this is not so much a psychological test but a cautionary tale: there are always different sides to a story, there are always different perspectives, but for the victim ignorance is never an excuse, you are always first responsible for your welfare. It really does take a village to raise a child and for 2017, based on the crime statistics, that child now more than ever, is Jamaica. — Bless.

[cover art by: Simon Bull

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Social Commentary

Society likes Labels but claims to be Fluid | A Rant

I am a daddy’s girl. When I was younger I liked to go with him into houses on weekends where he would do electrical work. While he was in the ceiling or on a light post I was on the ground passing tools to him even before he asked for them and if I came back home clean and spotless that was a fail for me. I hoped to have more qualities from my father than my mother (not because I love my mother any less) only because I was and still am, a daddy’s girl. I liked going with him rather than playing with dolls or learning cheers. In fact, every doll I had I cut her hair, stripped her dress and marked her body with ink, giving her a new birth.

Maybe this sounds like the intro to: …and now this is my ‘coming out’ story. But no. I am just a tomboy. Even now still. Today’s society tells me the opposite though and if I did not have my head on my shoulders, this article would probably be a very different one.

Impatience

I am yet to grow into wanting to wear heels instead of sneakers like my sister and her friends, who are one step away from being high society clones (love them but still), said I would; I generally respect more males that I do females; make-up does not interest me, I liken it to heart surgery… and it has always been this way. I still wait patiently for my late maturity into womanhood but some people have me all figured out already, it seems.

It’s great that we are more open to gender identities: lesbians, gays, transgenders, bisexuals and queers have organizations that stand up for them and we are more tolerant than dismissive more than ever before however, there is a drawback. When there are so many identities and lifestyles people feel the need to define you early.

Back in April there was a New York Times article entitled, “My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy,” where a father comes to the defense of his 7 year-old daughter who most mistake for a boy. Too often he’s had to handle people’s confusion. He writes:

“I just wanted to check,” the teacher said. “Your child wants to be called a boy, right? Or is she a boy that wants to be called a girl? Which is it again?”…While celebrating the diversity of sexual and gender identities, we also need to celebrate tomboys and other girls who fall outside the narrow confines of gender roles.

The common consensus I have seen is because I do not behave like a girl therefore I am something else. Too many labels. Too much impatience. And one consequence of impatience is that one may end up like Snoop (from HBO’s The Wire) who was a tomboy until she was  ‘turnt out’ by her uncle. Unreal.

Perversions

On top of the labels are fear masquerading as values, and hypocrisy. It seems gone are the days when if a male wore a bright pretty pink shirt, people joked about it and moved on, maybe gone are the days too when a girl could wear a big shirt and hammer pants and not get double takes. Now apparently that type of ‘behaviour’ advertises your sexual orientation (yes, but not all the time) and may even create aggression/hostility and rejection. I see a trend were face value is taken so seriously it breeds ignorance. Example, some males won’t eat fish (transpose fish for bag juice if you wish) in public because people will believe that they are a ‘fish’/gay. Who endorses this sh!t?

On the other end of the scale are those who commercialize this ‘new’ sexuality. I see that pretending to be someone who you are not– females wearing boxers for show, males wearing makeup– and even going as far  to create stories to add to the fake brand, just to seem more interesting, because mystery is good for business. No. It is an insult. If you ever feel that strong a need to pretend to be somebody else then you should not have been born in the first place.

People ask who they are a lot. I look to my parents for that answer even though they wanted me, still want me, to be more like my sister. Daddy did not like me coming with him even though he never said it in so many words– “why you do that to the dolly?”– he was still hoping I would get over the phase. He is still hoping. But even for him, this daddy’s girl is not going to rush into ‘womanhood’ because it’s the thing to do, I am not going to humour the jokes that my mind is telling me that I am one thing because of the clothes I wear. Bullsh!t. And listen, I may very well be queer or what ever else but best believe I am ‘coming out’ when God says that I am ready, not when man does. And based on how I think He works, that day will never come. — Bless.

[cover art by: Russ Mills]

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Politics

The Spies Coming in from The East

This is my final article for the month of April. Thank you for reading and I will see you in June!

High school History traces the reasons why the early settlers came to Jamaica and how they helped to shape our motto: Out Of Many, One People. The Spanish, The English and The Africans take up a big chunk of our history, this is why we spend so much time on Columbus and Slavery and Emancipation. However, the section of history after Slavery, the part that helps to make up what Jamaica is today culturally and economically, is indentureship and it is rarely expounded upon. The ethnic groups that cement themselves among us have done so pretty easily and nowadays these races, namely the Chinese, are extending from family owned stores to big conglomerates to impose on Jamaican livelihood.

This type of influence is dangerous especially since our law makers have a history of shortchanging brand Jamaica with poor management practices. Those from The East are eager to fill these shortcomings with a lot of their own criteria but, as a people, how aware are we of it all?

Waste, Debt, Borrow, Owe, Sell. Waste…

Jamaica is a country of sectors not industries and the main reason for this is because we are generally always in debt. Sometimes, if the debt is too high, we sell. It if for this reason that some people say that Jamaica hardly owns anything Jamaican. For example, our bauxite and sugar industries are owned primarily by the Chinese; the Spanish own a large portion of our hotels, the Japanese loosely have their hands in coffee and the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) is owned 40% by the Japanese, 40% by the Chinese and 19.9% government. We even sell parts of our public roads to foreigners; recently the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) sold some Chinese store owners parking spaces for $200,000 last year.

We should then be economical and strategic when it comes to administration because of our debt, right? This week I saw that Minister of Culture, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange doesn’t seem to think so. After opposition Culture Minister, Lisa Hanna accused Grange of creating a pattern of hiring personnel consultants instead of local agencies within her portfolio, Grange this week gave a confession. She stated that she was unaware of the details in a contract to hand over $15 million to a consultant for the 2016 Grand Gala. She stated:

I was not aware of the details of the contract and was not involved in any way in the engagement or contracting of Mr. Nairne (consultant). This was handled by the JCDC (local agency) management team whose prerogative it is to enter into contracts on behalf of the commission.

Sure, but why wasn’t the Minister aware of the details in a contract so large? Seemingly harmless mismanagement techniques have put us on a self destructive path as a nation. Another example was in 2011 when Air Jamaica was sold to Caribbean Airlines because of  poor decisions made while under the government and the private sector. With Ms. Grange I am irritated because if Hanna didn’t force her hand, would we have known? More importantly, what else don’t we know?

Adaptable, Dependable, Organised, Wary. Adaptable

It this kind of attitude that leaves room from slow movers, observers and opportunists– qualities that have roots in espionage if you think about it– to swoop down and offer to save us. I say ‘espionage’ because if you observe ‘Mr. Chin’s’ and even ‘Mrs. Singh’s’ families they both ‘behave’ like spies. For example, they watch our interactions and adapt in a short time to speak our patois (not our Standard English) for better communication yet they will talk about us openly in their mother tongue; they blend in to the point where people often ask, “Have you ever seen a pregnant Chinese woman?” They exist but we hardly see them because Asians are never flashy like the average Jamaican; their deep distrust of us is obvious because they only operate as a family unit, they will own a business for generations because they keep it in the family and they encourage marriage within their own race.

holness-chinese-signs-deal-for-parliament.jpgPrime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness signs the MOU with with China Construction of America for the commission of the new Parliament building and Government offices, March 2017 (image source).

It is these qualities of being adaptable, dependable, organised and careful that have allowed Chinese and Indian immigrants to excel in the corner stores and restaurants and electronic and furniture dealerships and also to excel in our playing field. Chinese companies are building our highways and the Logics Hub, but the most recent example of their influence in Jamaica is when it was reported that the new Chinese funded parliament building would pay Chinese workers while local contractors would be asked to “volunteer,” as well as when Chinese companies began to build local hotels over local firms.

Historically, Jamaica does not seem to see the need to critically invest in our sectors, our assets or our capabilities. We would rather undermine ourselves and our capacity to develop as a nation in the long run by out sourcing help from countries that have instilled self reliance and vision in its people instead of nourishing a strong backbone for independence and duty at home. The Spanish colonized us, The English demonized us and The Africans defined us but what about those who brought self-management and entrepreneurial skills to our shores? History class should encourage us to learn from the ones who are steadily voicing their influence in Jamaica’s Finance and Economy and maybe this would allow us to see what real life spies actually look like. –Bless.

Footnotes: so, in January of this year the government spent $800 million dollars on an island wide debushing and drain cleaning exercise. They wanted to eradicate the possibility of disease being spread by vermin like rats and mosquitos. The project was expensive; even public figures like Damion Crawford went to Twitter to express realistic expectations. Now cut to last week when heavy rains flooded Clarendon, St. Elizabeth and St Thomas. In Clarendon cars were fully covered in water, people were swimming in water to go home, people were moved through water into shelters. The damage is estimated run the government nearly half a billion dollars to fix. I wonder what happened? Was there a draining problem? The Minister of of Local Government says yes, there was a draining problem. Shocker. All those mosquitos that were worried about their future… dem jus’ a live the dream now doh? You know what they say, good things always come to those who wait.

[cover art by: Johannes Stötter]

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Creative Media

LIFE SHORTS DESIGNS

Life Shorts Designs 
By Lenaugne
Based on true events

BLACK
FRAME OPENS

“The First Time You Meet, People Tell You Who They Are”

EXT – SCHOOL CAR PARKING LOT – DAY

Set The Scene: This is sixth form. My first day in a new school. I am going back and forth from the classroom to the main office because I don’t know what else to do. I have used up small talk on everybody I’ve met and I want to wait until tomorrow for them to pry me open some more.

Action: I am coming back from the office and a guy my height stops me to ask if I am new. The tight shirt, the bow legs, the asshole smile. Jesus. So it begins. I am honest and crass, let me see if  that loosens things up. It does. He starts to open up to me: he has daddy issues, is not sure about his future. I am touched, but not really.

WE ARE TALKING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WALKWAY. THE BELL RINGS, SCHOOL IS DISMISSED. PEOPLE PASS US, EYEING ME

I know this looks really bad. The gyallis and the new girl. He seems more comfortable with me when he offers to walk me to my stand. I realize that this is the time to listen. Yes. Just shut up and listen. He starts to babble, trying to impress, to get me to laugh, matching my tone.

RAIN STARTS TO DRIZZLE

I pull out my umbrella, the ni**a doesn’t even offer to hold it for me… kool.

SILENCE FOR A WHILE. WE JUST HEAR FOOTSTEPS IN THE RAIN

Then he tells me, I tell you no lies, in the exact words: “I am not a good person,” (I think, that is a really nice line. Very Mr. Rochester/Mr. Grey) five minutes before asking me for my digits.

Plot Twist: I come the school the next day only to find out dude is a model student. Loved by all. Teachers adore him. His best friend is a tomboy. I kinda feel like a bad person. Yet, something tells me that people in that school see what they want to see. And that brings me to my next lesson…

CONTINUE:

“Respect/Like”

EXT – UWI –  AFTERNOON

Act 2, Set The Scene: I am a strange character my first year in university. I end up with most of my friends being males, they are similar to me, our personalities match, they make me laugh and I feel like I have brothers. In March comes this guy who is everything that I despise: loud, rude, arrogant and snobbish but he is honest about all of it. We never became friends but he taught me the best lesson of the three.

Action: My friend and the asshole sit down beside each other. I am to the left, on the end. After a while I become aware of the polar opposite personalities. I observe and remain polite:

Friend (to the asshole):

So, what do you plan to do with your leadership position next year?

Asshole:

Whole heap a tings

Me:

What leadership position?

FREEZE FRAME
IMAGE: THE VOTING PROCESS. THE TICKS IN THE BOX BESIDE HIS NAME, PEOPLE CHOOSING THE ASSHOLE KNOW-IT-ALL. OUTSIDE THE VOTING BOOTHS PEOPLE SAYING, “Y’MAN, IS A GOOD YUTE.”
CUT TO:
INT – BEDROOM – YEAR’S END – MIDNIGHT

Act 2, Scene 2: I am packing up suitcases contemplating the friendships that I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned in a year.  Suddenly, I realize  that the asshole has to be on the list because he taught me that honesty is the greatest form of self empowerment. People end up having nothing to use against you, they can’t hate you with reason, they can’t manipulate your faults, because you have no secrets, and you become untouchable in that way. Thus: #RespectOverLike.

BLACK OUT
TITLE RISES

“Use Love and Kindness to cut through Fear (and Anger). They are also the only things that can maintain true Beauty”

INT – FLASHBACK – FIRST DAY OF LABS – ESTABLISHING – DAY
STUDENTS SHUFFLE IN. THE PLACE IS STERILE, QUIET. PEOPLE HALF LISTEN TO THE FIRST LESSON. MOST ARE LOOKING AROUND, REGISTERING FACES. THE WHITE LAB COATS ARE CELESTIAL

Set The Scene. Voice Over: This one is dedicated to one of the the most amazing persons– outside of my family– that I have ever met in my lifetime. I do not say this lightly. The first time I saw her, the thing that got me was that she was so still and self-possessed. There was this quiet confidence that I have come to admire in the few people I see it in. She solidified this, as well as the first two lessons.

INT – LABORATORY – DAY

Action:  My first day of labs is intimidating. I feel as if I don’t know anything. I fumble, drop sh!t; I nearly break a lightbulb with a moving stool that I hoist above my head. The professor looks annoyed. I want to sink into the floor and die. A few days later, we do something new and I ace it, everyone watches me, nobody says sh!t. She is the only one to hail me up. Respect…

Voice Over: A lot of times people are full of it. Flattery and smiles are a part of a long con, but this girl was consistent.  That is what got me. She treated everybody the same, same indifference, same personality, same attitude, same love, same kindness. And, because of that she shone. Like a diamond. 

SNAP TO BLACK
END

Footnotes: a young woman gets a business degree from UTech in 2010 and after graduating she immediately gets a job in a bank. She knows that she is lucky. She is there for four years. She complains that living in Kingston is expensive and the company it seems, is not keen on giving promotions; she is living from hand to mouth. Luckily, she does not have student loans so she manages to save for a plane ticket to the US to stay with family. In a little over a year, after she gets a small job, she sends down papers for her father to sign. She is getting married to ‘keep her stay.’ So, the other day I was reading a WordPress post from, ShaffieCTV about Millenial struggles and on the same day the documents come, and everything just hit me hard: weh degree a goh in deez times? The filter getting narrower and it is just adapt or die. And I think it hit me especially hard because she is my blood, my sister… Jah know. It real, man. It real.

[cover art by: Francoise Nielly]

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sunday-morning-leroy-campbell-shadyshardonix
Religion

A Newer Testament

It is Easter. Another holiday, another reason to go to church. My family is not deeply religious; when I was younger I was not forced to got to church like most people I know but as I go older I came to see the happiness and the solitude that faith offered, on my own. It is only recently, like in the last 20 years or so with the increase in media scrutiny and the atheist wave, that the church has been sidelined to special holidays or dismissed by some young people entirely.

Religious holidays bring out one of two evils in people: this time is more about beach days, turn-ups and sleep ins and less about reverence while for some it is the only time you will ever catch them in church for the year. With the way things are going now, Christianity needs a 180 and if you look carefully you will see it among the young’uns, just not the way the older people would probably like to see it though.

The Church Today

The church was once consistent, critical and honest, it aimed to be an institution of moral purity. And it still is. However, there are holes in it’s reputation from years of media finds: like pastor infidelity and nepotism and sexual abuse and thieving. But even worse is in recent years the general close mouth stance Jamaican churches have chosen to take on critical issues, like the above mentioned on their pastors is abhorrent yet they choose to create uproar over the cover of  telephone directories. This has cast doubts in the church’s ability to be objective and responsible. The amount of churches springing up at random, like in business plazas of all places, is not making it better either:

The church is now a business, complete with materialistic tv evangelists shouting praises through screens for a fee and churches opening from 9-5 like banks, recycling the congregation daily. All this adds fire the atheists’ pot. Now more than ever is the hardest time to convince people to step foot into a church without occasion.

Resurrection

Yet there is hope. Always. So, I have had two friends who are deeply religious. Only, one was a hypocrite and one was the real deal. (I keep attracting these people I find. People often confuse my innocent appearance as a confirmation of being a Christian. It is sadly, my greatest con.)

The true Christian made me want to be like her. A born Kingstonian, girl used the word ‘goodie’ as our personal moniker, you look at her you don’t see a Christian lest she tells you. The other one shopped for church clothes every other day (like, who does that?) and told her mother that I was ‘bruking her out’ after we happened to stay out after 6 o’ clock one Friday evening.

My point is that the Christian zeal is high among young people and nowadays that is a cool thing. With the way the church looks today it would be wrong to send young people into that dense hypocritical air. (it all feels like that final scene in Earl Lovelace’s, The Wine of Astonishment when Soca music is born out of Calypso. Do you feel it?)

Young people may not go to church every Saturday or Sunday and be hold-fast Christians in the traditional sense (“She says I should stay away from you. The Sabbath is a serious thing to uphold.”) and they may not cram into overcrowded benches to hear the same story about the death of Christ every year just to say they were in church, but you will see their consistent, critical and honest commitments in: the youth groups and the college Gospel fests and when they come to their pastors on their own time to help explain confusing scripture and when they advocate for religious positions on the school councils.

So, don’t worry when you don’t see us this Easter Sunday or Monday. Don’t throw judgement because we don’t like the building with the cross on it, it means something different to you than it means to us. We are doing you a favour. In our own way some of us are creating a new world for the young Jamaican Christian to live in. — Bless.

Footnotes: I was watching the National Debate Competition the other day. Ardenne high vs Clarendon College on the moot: Dancehall Music Contributes to Anti-Social Behaviour among Teens, or something like that. Ardenne surprised me because they were not particularly convincing, or inventive. Clarendon College was golden yet Ardenne won. I was shook. Some days before the same thing happened with Kingston College, they won without merit, many said. Jamaica is in this deep tangled web where privilege and tradition ad metropolitan living has taken precedence over fairness. You see it at university too, prejudice between: country pickney and town pickney, traditional and nontraditional high schools, rich and poor. It’s bad enough in the real world but in competition where one argues on merit and evidence and conviction, on an equal platform, what is the point, is there no hope, if a school like Clarendon College can’t get a head, even there? Somebody pray for us while we pray for ourselves, please. 

[cover art by: Leroy Campbell]

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Creative Media

1/4 | April

Today I want to share with you some of my favourites from the first quarter of the year.
Listen

Songs:

Impatient” by Jeremih is the better of Late Nights’ two best singles. The album was quietly released in 2015 without much fanfare but this song is a gem. “Impatient” makes me see Jeremih in a new light, he is a true Rn’B artiste not just a pop hybrid. The song is a slow jam: Jeremih’s voice is smooth– he oftentimes drops into deep sensual whispers making you float– his voice brings back a R. Kelly’s “Your Body’s Calling” vibe from the 90’s. Ty Dolla $ign is here too with a line about lotion that is the funniest thing to me. THIS is my 2AM song.

Without You” by Lana del Rey is the song said to have inspired Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.” Taken from her best album in my opinion, Born to Die, the song has a grand operatic, orchestral feel that swallows you and abandons you at the same time making you understand the pitfalls of love. It is synth heavy but it’s also a dreamy 1950’s love song only with lyrics like, “Though you’re so dope/ Your love is deadly.” This a fusion that Del Rey is well known for. I am not a fan of her music, all her songs sound the same to me, but sometimes, once in a while, I get caught in the hippie web and go searching for new music and it so happens that I ended up finding something worthwhile this time. Unlike some people though I don’t copy what I find (ahem, ahem).

Album

Intro by Dexta Daps. Can I tell you how happy I am to see that Jamaican artistes are taking album releases seriously? 12 free songs, 12 hits, 2 features: 1 with Alaine and the other with Daps’ protege Blakkman. ⅓ of the album is for baby making (parental advisory, strong language), but the rest go from songs about innocent and tortured romance like in, “Love Again” and “Be Good”; to a Lovers Rock Reggae song so clean the Jamaica Tourist Board should use it for ad coverage (“Love Vacation”); to a celebration of life and blessings in,“I’m Blessed,” “Superhero” and “Toast,” and finally to a brutal dissection of ghetto life in, “Coke” and “Grow Rough.” Few talking points: “Owner” is Rn’B fire. The Gospel used in “I’m Blessed” is mad overlooked, it is straight out of Chance the Rapper’s hand manual. “Coke” with the “Stranger in Moscow” guitar notes told me that this album was going to go places. “Only U” holds me down for reasons that I can’t explain. “Toast” is now my anthem and lastly, the video graphics for the album makes the collection even more beautiful. One word for Intro: versatile. A great start for the young don.

Watch
The Night Of.

John Turturro and Riz Ahmed in a scene from season 1 of The Night Of, 2016 (photo credit: HBO).

The Night Of

An 8-part HBO miniseries that came out last year detailing the worst night of a young Pakistani’s life and the trial that followed. A college student, Naz has a hazy night with a mysterious girl, wakes up to find her dead, and is then arrested for her murder. The Night Of is as much a coming of age story as it is a mystery; in prison Naz meets Freddy (Omar from The Wire) who breaks and molds him into a man. (BTW, I just finished watching season 4 of The Wire and I tell no lies when I say that the show has my heart entirely. My soul kryptonite. Swear.) At home, the series shows the realistic and unglamorous struggles of a family of colour with a son in prison, how important money is but also how invaluable integrity can be. His lawyer, John steals the show though. He manages to be funny and pity worthy in a single shift and his season finale speech… the man needs an Emmy nod.  

Youtube

The Nerdwriter and kaptainkristian

Two channels that round up interesting media in a visually appealing way. Whether it be music, artistes, comic origins, politics or culture, each channel produces content with precise details that comes from keen observations. You are educated and entertained at the same time like with Nerdwriter’s analysis of Michael Mann’s style and story execution in my favourite movie of all time, Heat as well as his explanation of how to examine art (mad helpful). There is also stuff like kaptainkristains praise of Childish Gambino’s confluence of talents and how necessary this is for his type of art while he also informs his subscribers about the comic origins of Bugs Bunny. Enlightening and fascinating. I wished I learned this much in school.

Bring the Pain and Killin’ Them Softly

So I decide to watch a stand up comedy show once per week because I think comedians are the smartest people on the planet. I go back and skim through specials I watched when I was younger until I find Dave Chappelle. He’s signed that $60mil deal with Netflix and is in the news a lot so I say let’s go back to the year 2000. Let’s go back to back to Killin’ Them Softly… then to Bring the Pain. If you watch/rewatch Killin’ you will see Chappelle’s undoubted influence by Chris Rock’s 1996 Bring the Pain which changed the game, Rock turned black anger into entertainment gold. It is probably the best comedy show I’ve seen to date; Rock is  jumpy and well-rehearsed but also observant and timeless for this (I haven’t seen Pryor yet so this may change). Both shows are poignant and sadly still accurate today. Rock’s Back People vs Niggas, “Who’s more racist: black people or white people? Black people. You know why? Because black people hate black people, too.” is something which everybody still uses today. Chappelle’s delivery is more relaxed and you are fooled into thinking he’s telling you an off hand story but his analysis of what white vs. black people can get away with, male and female relationships and America’s deep seeded racism are deeply thought out and blurs the line between fact and fiction. And, if nothing else, you will love his, “white people voice,” there is nothing else like it. Watching a special a week is the best thing I ever did for myself in recent memory.

Read
Lily's letter.

Lily’s Letter to President Obama which The President answered (image credit: The White House).

The New York Times article, “To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation.”

The article details a journalist’s interaction with The White House team which dealt with the letters that President Obama received daily. “President Obama was the first to come up with a deliberate and explicit practice of 10 letters every day.” 10. No less, no more. But more important than the number was the order, the journalist noted of the lady who did this job, ”She could set the president up with a letter from someone gushing about the Affordable Care Act and then another from someone on the margin whose life was made worse because of it [and]… “Sometimes on Friday, particularly on Friday, we’ll end with one that’s like, ‘Hey, I like the way you tie your tie.’ ” She called that a chaser.” There is also a small interview with the man himself in which you learn the process by which some of the letters are answered. The article is fascinating, you get to see a select few yourself, and you get to understand the love and the hate that the American population has for The Obamas vs. other administrations. It’s a lengthy read (took me 3 days to finish while I read it on and off) but well worth it.


The Bullsh!t Award (inspired by A Girl With Something To Say )

Bruh, I ain’t heard “shETHER” or “Another One” since “No Frauds” was released in March. YYYYYY? Couple of facts first: “shETHER” is on the top 10 diss tracks of all time list but Remy killed herself with “Another One.” Nicki disrespected the Rap culture by 1. not responding until she felt like it and then 2. by responding with sh!t. All 3 songs she released, 3 of them don’t add up to 1 when compared to “shETHER” but Hollywood just proves without fail, that fame trumps talent mo’ time. #ImAFanOfTheArtNotTheArtiste and so Nicki Minaj and her fans get The Bullsh!t Award for the quarter.


Honourable Mentions

The movie Hush. It’s the new thing in seems: creating home invasion movies with a disabled victim. A deaf woman is tormented in her home by a sadistic killer. Hush is the yin to Don’t Breathe’s yang. If this film does nothing for you, it should at least teach you the power of your own weaknesses #walkingparadox and that is a good thing.

Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” by Wet and “Focus” by H.E.R. “Focus” speaks for itself, it is a dreamy, soft Rn’B track that merges the presence and voice of Bryson Teller and Kehlani to help create the mysterious artiste’s sound. Beautiful and sultry but not new. “Don’t Wanna…” is the best single from Wet’s 2015 EP Don’t You. The song is just under 3 minutes but it feels like you move in slow motion, like this is what forever feels like. With both songs, you listen and feel textures, moods and everything else that Indie and Rn’B music ought to give you. Listen to both with headphones for the full ‘pressed effect.

Etel Williams and Hanna vs. GrangePolitics is a messy business. In the recent UWI Mona Student Guild elections one of the candidates was disqualified from the race and the dark underbelly of The Guild’s role at the university reared its head. The Guild has a responsibility to protect, inform and represent the student polution yet the response to the disqualification was lacklustre and pitiful. The Guild pretty much threw Etel under the bus as if he was the first to breach the very vague rule in the  constitution; offered a poor explanation to the students as to why he was disqualified– they instead chose to cast full blame somewhere else– and then moved on with business as usual. Once more it is proved to me that The UWI Guild is more ornamental than functional.

And then this month Lisa Hanna aired The Culture Minister, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Granges’ dirty laundry without hard, concrete evidence (rookie move) in parliament showing that even in one of the highest offices in the country women just can’t keep petty cat-fighting alone. Well done to both student and government representatives, Jamaica’s moving along nicely as a political force thanks to the both of you.

[cover art by: Thomas C. Fedro]


 

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Creative Media

Blogger Recognition Award

This is my final article for the month of February. Thank you for reading and I will see you in April!

Rules for Blogger Recognition Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you for this award and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers to give this award.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

Much love and respect to Lexie Jungling for nominating me for this award. You’re amazing for including me in your list, thank you.

| LENAUGNE | started off as | shadysardonix | at the end of summer ’16 when I felt an itch to create something that was authentically mine; something that was expressive and pure and honest. I feel as if every young person goes through this. Some people find music, dance, sports, fashion… I found blogging.

I would advise new bloggers to:

  • Write honestly. Make sure your work is yours. I’ve seen bloggers write about their day or a normal conversation that they had with someone and the nuances of their space, their personal perspective, their sense of humour make regular subjects great to read about. I like when writers make the ordinary extraordinary.
  •  Read widely. Support your fellow  bloggers. Support does not necessarily mean follows. Taking the time to read and comment on someone else’s work means that you and the writer are partners in their ideas, in their thoughts, in their world, even if only for a minute but that means everything. Personally, that means more to me than follows or as Chronixx would say, “We dweet fe the love, we nuh dweet fe the likes…”

My 15 nominees are:

ChitterChatter: she writes poetry that is very atmospheric to me. Think an empty beach at dawn with Coldplay in the background.

Shannydelioness: I am new to her work but her post on celibacy and singledom just caught me off guard. The post was so open and strong, it struck something in me.

The Mumbler: a lifestyle blog that features a lot of reminiscing about Jamaican life as well as the present day-to-day. The Mumbler is your everyday young woman.

jamaicachange: a politically aware and very witty blog that dissects local and international politrix.

Two or More: a blog that focuses a lot on knowing one’s self through the connections between family and childhood.

A Girl With Something To Say: I just found this blog and I love how blunt and unapologetic the writer is. This young woman has sass and it’s evident in her work espcially her Billshit Awards series.

The UnSchool: this guy has found the perfect formula: he writes about common things from a Jamaican perspective.

Razor’s Edge: written by the legal manager for Jamaicans For Justice, an advocacy group. I have much respect for this young man and his opinions on Jamaican society.

PartyHeart: a blog that gives a straightforward review of some of Jamaica’s well known parties and stage shows.

Speaking From An Open View: a conscious blog about life, struggle and growth.

Petchary’s Blog: this lady sees all and knows all, she is the mother of Jamaican blogging to me. She was the first person to follow both my blogs and she is on the constant look out for more young’uns. Greatest of respect to Petchary.

And my 4 favourites:

seen by LYNCH: Young. Creative. Bold. #BadOne. Follow him.

Gerby: says everything most Jamaicans think about our society in a succinct and realistic voice. Follow him.

Sagba Chronicles: is the funniest blog on this list. The definition of a storyteller. Follow him.

Jamaica Woman Tongue: Provocative. Outspoken. Unapologetically Jamaican. Follow her.

— Bless

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Social Commentary

Yo Adulthood, Where are You?

The law says I am of the age but the truth is that I don’t feel like an adult at all. Is adulthood: having relationships were you acknowledge instead of ignore the shades of grey in people, pushing your own key, being more rational than impulsive, living in a world where you read The Gleaner instead of The Star?  Is it all of these or is it none of these? Nowadays I am slowly realizing that even though the topic of knowing who you are along with understanding your dreams and putting those two factors together to drive success is deeply internal and personal for everyone it is also a generational thing too. And no, knowing that everyone is kinda going through what I am going through doesn’t help as much as I need it to.

We are Rewriting the Norm

The world is too busy applying  pressure, giving us less time us figure out this adult thing. We are growing up in a time where the average university student graduates at age 22 and success  is expected immediately thereafter — Zuckerberg became a millionaire at 23, the average trackstar or artiste is 24 — so we end up achieving more but maturing slower. A New York Times article speaks of current young people saying that:

The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain un­tethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments…  forestalling the beginning of adult life.

ludwick-marishaneLudwick Marishane became the youngest person to hold a patent in Africa. He started his own business aged 18.

Being in our 20’s today is much different from 20 year olds of the past. We feel less rush to marry and settle down with children because of the general acceptance of casual sex, domestic/co-living and as well the fact that we’ve been disillusioned with marriage from seeing how that ended for our parents. Selfishly careers come first then life later. The article goes on to  blame our lack of development on our closeness to our parents: we have more opportunities but it doesn’t feel like it because we are walking home in the shoes that daddy bought us and going to the university that mommy said we should… but what does this all mean?

Too Cool to Too Cold

I think it all means that we don’t develop as fast as we should nor do we feel the need to. To explain, I personally feel like I am trying too hard but I also feels like I’m not trying at all. For example: I find myself watching my facial expressions when I am around other people, I check to see if my introversion will pop up as something that is rude or something that demands pity because the popular consensus is that introverts should be saved from talking in public… I struggle with the urge to sit and sulk rather than talk to people who are talking to me; small talk annoys me, it makes me too aware of how boring I feel to other people and it makes me feel the need to put on a face to impress…  I fight with the urge to end friendships because I have mild anxiety that people are waiting for me to loosen up, to give less reticent answers, to surprise them, only they don’t know that this is all they will ever get  from me…

But I also have prejudices against others: I loathe when extroverts come around me because it feel like their peeling me a part whole. They ask too many questions. I never really know what they want… I also don’t think of marriage, I don’t think of boyfriends the way other girls do. People who do this are to me, setting a death trap for themselves… 

Most of what I listed above are personality traits but a lot of it is selfishness, and a lot of this selfishness is something a lot of young people suffer from (in different but no less strange ways from those on my list) and a lot of it  is being normalised.

For example, I sit with my friends at a table for lunch and looking around I see people will talk for 20 minutes out of a 1 hour lunch and the rest of the time they spend on their phones being somewhere else. There is a laziness, an apathy for us to connect, to form concrete relationships and keep those relationships solid over time with people who are not currently in our immediate circle.

So back to my question of what adulthood should feel like. Am I just a product of my time where too much attention from the adults has made me soft, dispassionate and slow to see the light? Or am I an a$$hole who uses my personality as an excuse to keep myself shielded from exposure — exposure that is necessary to crack, break, set and remould childish ways to reveal the adult in me?  OR should I just shut up, stop rambling and realize that maturity is an ongoing process, not a fixed destination, and that continuously striving for self improvement is the cycle of life? #MutlipleChoiceStyle. Lemme know what you think. — Blessings

[cover image: Kaye Parmenter]

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Education

School Does Not Prepare You for the World of Work

I have attended two high schools in my lifetime. One for lower school and the other for the completion of upper school. The two schools were very different in their representation of the quintessential successful student and now as a university student–employee (*beats chest proudly*) I see that only one of those perspectives makes for the ideal worker.

Common Sense

Co-curricular activities aside, high school places too much emphasis on one thing. The 5 years spent preparing for CSEC for example, does not provide room for experimentation. The aim is to pass and that’s about it. Branching from the grail of curriculum offers little forgiveness and it’s for this reason that free thinking is limited. Except for Literature– 6th form Literatures in English that is, English B is already so dissected it’s basically a recital– which allows one to spring any interpretation as long it can be proven, few subjects showcase skills like self-control, resilience and self-motivation. These qualities are far better predictors of success in the work world than high grades.  

Nowadays we see that #CommonSenseIsNotSoCommon (this is suspiciously obvious in college) for this reason. Being overtly intellectual does not equate intelligence, I had to learn that the hard way.

Emotional Intelligence

At my second high school I realized that the requirements for the teacher’s pet (and generally everyone’s favourite) fell from the mild mannered, well behaved student who could beam with pride due to the the A’s that webbed student and teacher together in a quiet bubble to the outspoken, crass, fiery student who would put teacher on blast if he/she happened to pose a challenge to a freshly taught lesson that teacher could not answer. Teacher and student then became friends in a web held together by mutual and open respect. In my experience, the latter student is still a rare commodity.

I suppose this is why I forced myself into presentations early, they made me feel as if I was actively growing, even though I hated them. At my first school we had Dionne Jackson-Miller like discussions over a topic and we had debates that would feed into lunch time because they were so heated but these were limited to The Arts and they were never consistent, they were never ingrained in the curriculum. Subjects like Math never had presentations like these which I find to be problematic. That type of teamwork fosters new interest in boring subjects, it builds bonds that emphasize soft-skills. These are things noone tells you you need until you’re working (the building bonds part, not teamwork).

Right now my boss–coworker, coworker–coworker people skills are mad poor. There are people with kids, people much older than me, people who’ve worked before, people who are starting over who I work with… and I never knew I had so much hang ups on the requirements needed for me to connect.

My first high school taught me to see differences not similarities: the borders the separate professor from student, driver form passenger, I was inadvertently taught to know my place… if you’re not a Millennial, I’m sorry, what are we talking about again?

My second high school gave me more school trips, more guided volunteer work, a 50/50 approach to theory and practice in all subjects. I was introduced to things that helped to bridge the gap.

Maybe doing more of the latter could develop emotional intelligence. This is the part of us that develops solely as human first before anything else; something that the, “generation that wants to be emotionless so bad” in my humble experience, desperately needs to have.

The real world demands self management skills and relationship building abilities that have foundations in emotions like empathy. I shouldn’t have had to go to two separate (traditional) high schools to understand what one school should have prepared me for.

It’s 2017, let’s get realistic about ‘fixing up’ education in Jamaica now, man. #WheBookKnowledgeAloneAgo? — Blessings.

Footnotes: So, The University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI) is in the news again for student–money issues (surprise, surprise). First there was news that the university was going to demolish 1 hall of residence, Irvine Hall (apparently the first of many) to build new towers for cash-grabs then the news was that this part-demolition of Irvine Hall will be a single incident for the purpose of remodeling. There was a frenzy where students had to (and still have to) find housing at the only available and the most expensive, 138 Student Living at a cost more than double their annual residence fees. Pure wickedness. UWI for some holds that single key to equality in Jamaica. (UTech has dug itself into a hole with debt and poor accreditation standards and NCU, I wouldn’t go there unless I had to.) A tertiary education provides a viable bridge between Jamaica’s wealth gap, UWI knows this but I naively thought that they understood that responsibility, I thought that UWI was more than just a school. Guess not. So now imma start preparing to be one those South Africans who are crying over their skyrocketing university fees. It’s nice when true colours are finally shown, thanks UWI. I know what your real values are now.

[cover art by: Leon Zernitsky]

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Creative Media

2016 Year in Review | My Favourites: People

This is my final article for the month of December. I will return in February. Thank you for reading and I wish you a Happy New Year!

Today I want to share with you some of my favourite personalities from this year:

Chimamanda Ngozi ADICHIE

There was a girl in my class who was really obsessed with this one professor. She would call her by her first name (“I’m going to Kerry’s class right now”), celebrate for days if she acknowledged her in tutorials and praise her beauty and intelligence (“I love that she is a great bullshit spotter.” She told me once after Madam Kerry shut down a boy who asked an excessive amount of questions in one lecture). Her admiration got so annoying that one day I asked, “do you like her or do you want to be her?” She took offense and I forced an apology for by bluntness to save face. But now I get it. CNA (I even gave her a nickname) is everything I want to be. She is beautiful and poised in a way that makes me think that this is what African princesses looked like in the past; she speaks like an author which is something I love and her education is never flaunted but is apart of her– that last one is what makes her most amazing to me honestly. There is this self awareness in her interviews and in her speeches where you see her check herself before she answers a question or says something humorous to make sure that whatever she is says is hers. Like here where she shuts down a Donald Trump supporter in a way that even the interviewer overlooked. CNA reminded me and still reminds me to think for myself, redefine what ever the world has already defined (that TED Talk, anyone?) and to be open to changing the conversation. Krystal Tomlinson reminds me a lot of CNA actually: she is truly rooted in her culture and she makes sure it’s something she endorses and promotes in all things. For example, in everything she wears and everything she says. The bottomline is CNA is my Kerry. 

chimamanda-ngozi-adichieNigerian author Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie (image source).


Damion CRAWFORD

Damion Crawford represents the, ‘be the change you want to see’ quote to me like nobody else in media/politics. He is the symbol of every Jamaican who works  hard and has bright ideas. His radio talk show program, Straight Forward With Crawford perfectly represents who he is in the topics he chooses to discuss and how people respond to him when they call in. I tell my mother all the time that I want to marry somebody exactly like him when I grow up (she says he smiles too much so he can’t be trusted). I listen to him talk and he inspires me because he gets it. He is aware of the opportunities it takes to make it and the pitfalls that will most likely cause you to fail; he is street smart and ‘book educated’ in that 50/50 way that is rare with the males I talk to nowadays; he talks about his father a lot; talks about entrepreneurship a lot; is loyal but not a blind follower to the PNP; has some of the best ideas I’m surprised people have not come up with yet (on one program he mentions advertising speed to overseas players in their off season to build Jamaica’s sport industry. Genius!) and he never forgets where he came from. Mr C. forever advocates for the poor and that last one is something I love whole heartedly.


Dionne JACKSON-MILLER

 It was never just one instance that made me like her it’s an overtime kinda thing. This  year though her interview with the Prime Minister and her interview with DPP Paula Llewellyn and Deborah Martin after the X6 Murder Trial sealed the deal. I really love her program All Angles which is strange because when I was younger I hated it, the intro alone was like fingernails on blackboard to me, but maturity is a beautiful thing. I especially like when she interviews youth (I found out that UTech had a Student’s Union because of the All Angles program that aired on AIDS Day 2016. I mean, you never hear about them. #toopetty) she really listens and probes and connects with us. Her facial expressions while she listens too are amazing, I’m surprised she isn’t a target for memes. Overall she just seems really cool and down to earth.


Mutabaruka and Dr. K’adamawe K’NIFE

Every generation we needs a Muta and a docta K’nIfe. We need people who will analyze, break down and rationalize politics, culture and history as well as predict the future (based on our current  paths) in a way that everybody will understand. My dad was a fiend for former radio personality Mutty Perkins when he was alive. He respected his reasoning and his intelligence (Mr. Perkins was his CNA) but I never really could connect with him in the way that my father did. He was very bright yes, he was the ‘poor people’s professor’ yes, but he was never really one of whom he defended, do you understand what I mean? Notwithstanding this, nothing should ever take away from his work and his character but he was never really for me. The teachings of Rastafari as well as the humour Muta and Dr. Kn’ife inject into dissecting certain issues are soo raw and authentically Jamaican… these are things I needed that Mr. Perkins never had. These two men are Jamaica’s conscience, they help to keep us relatively sane.

mutabaruka-shady-sardonixPoet and radio personality Mutabaruka (image source).


Issa RAE

So I watched Insecure and I was really impressed by the creativity in the storytelling so I decided to do some minor research. Eventually I stumbled upon Rae’s radio interview with The Breakfast Club and fell in love with her personality. Who wouldn’t love somebody who claims to be the awkward black girl? I AM an awkward black girl, I mean, I have that same silent throw your head back laugh she has. But what I love most is how she used that feeling of being an outsider to create the Awkward Black Girl web series back in 2011 and certain things she’s done are things that I’ve done too like how she said she dumbed herself down in certain subjects in school to fit in, how she says she doesn’t take compliments well and how this new found fame with Insecure makes her uncomfortable  because she is still introverted… like guuurrl, I think I found a new soulmate. I mean, you see that discomfort in this interview with Jimmy Fallon but she makes it look cool. She’s helping to pave the way for creative silent types to have a voice, to be openly vulnerable, while still being uncomfortable with attention #walkingparadox. There was this TED Talk by Susan Cain that highlighted the power of introverts (that talk helped to change my life) and Issa Rae perfectly represents that movement for me right now.


Dame Maggie SMITH

People either know her for Harry Potter or Downton Abbey but forget about those things. Watch her interviews. Even though she doesn’t do much talk shows (I think her last one was with Graham Norton?), she is charming and hilarious and brilliant… she has the most deadpan, wittiest personality I’ve ever seen. She is 100 percent British in the most AMAZING way. A fantastic woman. A legend. I love her.


Honourable Mentions

Nadiya Hussain for being one of those people who as you see her you like her. She seems unintentionally funny (the best type of funny) and honest. I don’t bake and my personality is nothing like hers but I love how naturally friendly she seems.

The Scottish actor James McAvoy for being the mischievous, cheeky brother that I always wanted but never had. EVERY single Graham Norton episode he is on is a blessing for me.

Charlamagne Tha God for being America’s conscience. Not only does he often try to analyze present day USA for my generation but he also says the things that no one will say about people who are famous and in doing that CTG makes them human.

[cover art by: Eric Zener]

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