Thursday, August 21, 2014

We all deserve better, Jamaica!

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Observer column | Monday 18 August 2014

Today, the day after we celebrate the birthday of our first National Hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, we are still asking why the teachings of this great man are not part of our school curriculum.  Garvey produced numerous books – academics and authors like Professor Rupert Lewis, Dr Robert Hill, Ken Jones and Geoffrey Philp have explored his work and philosophy – there is a wealth of information that can be shared with children at every stage of their lives.  How I would love to hear our infant school children recite, “Up you mighty race – you can accomplish what you will!” Garvey’s passion for learning, enterprise and self-respect is what we need now more than ever. 

If our leaders, our educators, police officers had been brought up reciting his words, we would have reached so much further as a country.  This issue of self-respect goes deeper than we realise, because if we do not respect ourselves, we will have but a minus quantity of respect for anyone who looks like us.

Strange that a local policeman couldn't believe a Black youngster could drive a legit Benz!
A successful professional lady told me that she was afraid for her son’s life and would rather he live abroad than in Jamaica after he was pulled over and roughed up by the police. She had loaned her handsome cool-black son her Mercedes Benz.  “They accused him of stealing the car and refused to listen to him when he tried to explain it was his mother’s car!” she said bitterly.  She said her son was very shaken up by the incident.  I understand that the young man now lives in a country where he is part of a small minority of Blacks – yet he has experienced virtually no disrespect in that country.

Garvey would have wept

Demand Justice for Mario Deane
Mario Deane
Marcus Garvey would have wept over the Mario Deane story.  He would have wept not only for the suffering and loss of a young man in the full flower of his life, but also for his damaged cellmates and our spiritually wounded police force. Paul Reid’s report in last Thursday’s Observer that Deane was locked up over a mere ganja cigarette and was kept in a cell with a schizophrenic exposes a system with wide cracks through which too many are falling.
Even as we welcome amendments to our laws, particularly the recent passage of the Disabilities Act, we are aware that there are so many laws to protect our citizens that are not being enforced.  We need to love ourselves more, we deserve better but we have to believe that we do.
My family is a multi-racial one, and when my son (of African ancestry) reached ‘party age’ I died many deaths waiting for him to get home safely in the wee hours.  When I think of the terrible thoughts I have had as I counted the minutes, I cannot even imagine how the family of Mario Deane is coping. 
There was also a report that the sister of one of the cellmates accused of Deane’s murder had reported him missing to the Police several weeks before the incident, and only discovered the whereabouts of her brother when she heard the news report.

“O kinsmen, we have fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason!” 

The words of Shakespeare’s Mark Antony at Julius Caesar’s funeral ring in my head: “O kinsmen, we have fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason!”  Clearly, those of us who call ourselves ‘well-thinking Jamaicans’ have dropped the ball.  Have we been so cossetted by our tight social circles that we feel immune to the inhumanity around us?  Our Christianity is being tested – the pious politicians who read lessons at funeral services are being tested.  We need more Jamaicans to walk in the light and cease those activities in the dark of the night. 

‘see and blind, hear and deaf’

This system has forced good police to do wrong under threat of demotion and even loss of jobs.  Some have become thugs – the confession of a dying policeman as related to me by a health worker would make your skin crawl. Others have learned to ‘see and blind, hear and deaf’. One senior officer, now departed, was threatened by his colleagues because he turned in all of the millions of dollars he had found during an operation.  He came to me in terror begging me to identify for him, someone in the high command that I felt he could trust to share his plight.  I did, but it seems the threats did not stop and the poor man worried himself into a premature death.
If we do not resolve to choose a path of righteousness, we will all be affected and some who consider themselves safe will find themselves wringing their hands in grief.

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