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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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russ-mills
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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