It’s now Independence day year 2000, I just got through reading the story of a 24-year-old black male from an inner city community in Kingston, Jamaica; entitled “Diary of a Ghetto Youth”. My eyes are a little misty as now I am also 24 years of age; It so happens that I have not lived in the hostile ghetto but lived in a seemingly more laid back atmosphere of a suburban community, where the experience was more predictable and controllable; as I attended a traditional high school before now stringing together my stints of continuing studies in a first world ordered society.
The truth though, even with all the experienced gained in life nothing prepares you for discussing class relations, social inequities, gender or racial brutality issues. They have never been easy for me, especially in a society where you are not seen as an obvious victim, but rather viewed by the wider society as some middle person who have benefited from the system and who is continuing to help prop up Jamaica’s inequitable recycling of oppression.
Although some might think that, I will tell you straight up that my life has been celebratory because I have enjoyed my growing years with involved memories of prized academic achievements and leadership successes. I have learned that life is never easy or offered to one on a golden platter with wide safety nets for the preciously affluent. The journey has been one that has been full of sheer difficulties, roadblocks, and strife which I have had to overcome through diligence, courage and a disciplined ethic, striving to further master the hard nosed rough house life, embracing my honourable role of being a black Jamaican man.
I must emphasize that the moments of grief, mourning, and bitter sorrow that I have felt as a young black man growing up in Jamaica, and Miami/ Ft. Lauderdale reflecting on the plight of my fellow brothers and sisters of the wider community have been harsh and unsettling experiences. The longer I have lived, the more I have felt and actually seen the hierarchal system that many sufferers have complained about crudely at work. Government, Commerce, Social and Religious class structures working to protect their interest without any care for the ordinary man.
It’s a system that has turned out to be so ugly and deceptive that I hurt when I see the innocent lives being put to waste because this selfish greedy monster only cares about re-ordering the society through economic exchange, movement, and a fight for crude material things. Democratic Capitalism without any tight reigns or checks and balances is now a cultic system that thrives on rising chaos and leaves nations less balanced and less equitable as appetites are increased for high-flown luxury lifestyles that demand personal financial status. Safety concerns are now the last stage in this twist because the monster now has such an appetite that we are reaching a point where we cannot afford to feed all its many tastes and the result is hostile, volatile, criminal destabilized living.
The story of this particular fellow who struggled to a point of age 23 before being thrown into abject paranoia by this anarchic system of persistent crisis and gun violence out a street, has led me to believe that social transformation is what is most urgently needed to protect our communities from the onslaught of this oversized gluttonous beast.
Personal anguish and personal sadness caused by violence, corruption, deception, and other life threatening realities have been fuelling tensions that are deeply tribal, racial, classis, sectarian, gender intensive and even institutional. This has left us in a precariously postured atmosphere of perpetual war and rumours of war. Against that backdrop of this frightening reality, I thought it necessary to take special interest in assessing the current crossroads that our people have found themselves at here at the dawn of the 21st century. A crossroads that reads Hardship there are but the Land is green and the Sun Shineth …
The Dairy of a Ghetto youth made me recognize that I am apart of a generation that is suffering a enormous personal nightmare during these National and Diaspora related epidemics that have been sprawling unto our families doorstep. Personally having endured the obvious stereotypes for a while of being the sheltered youth, I guess this story opened my eyes for me to see that I am carrying wounds too. I am also being marginalized as a menacingly volatile culture has risen and is on a rampage to destroy all those who are young and innocent making it difficult for us to cope or adjust in a contradictory mix of extreme living.
In all this instability, sufferation, and murderation, I have been one to continue trying to behave in a calm sensible manner, soaking up the heat while patiently listening to and applying the rules and codes of morality and the prescriptions of civil society. Yet I wake up hearing from some peoples including the so-called intellectuals a gross misconception and over exaggeration of my life as they blanketly label me middle-class. This without any thought for the fact that I am also a Jamaican who may not be firing shots but who is yet opposed to the enslavement of all of our lives.
I keep hearing folks who don’t know me generally simplify my life and make me out to be the guy who has enjoyed all Gods gifts without memory of his brotha, all because I try to stay focused in search of truth, prudently planning a strategy and waiting for an opportunity to use my God given ability to overcome the challenge of the evil monster. This without becoming suckered by desperate, hostile, and wicked attitudes like them breddas whom have already began to adopt evil ambitions.
The society itself tries daily to silence the innocent by interpreting and concluding that we are locked away in some all-inclusive palace of luxurious amenities surrounded by pampered welfare made to fit our size. An assumption based on surveys and polls that conclude that there is a silent majority of apathetic impotent self motivated folks.
Its them same one who fail to recognize that, although we remain civil and try to follow the prescribed road to successful development, that we too are feeling the heat of a wave of boiling temperatures that are sweeping the entire Land. We are the ones who have been trying to find ways to solve our problems without destroying tools and resources that the nation may indeed need to continue the process of sustainable development of our communities.
Let me tell the judgmental this, I have had to endure constant loss of friends whom I grew up with and who I learned to call bona fide brothas and sistahs to the crack den, jail house, mad ward, sex alley, woman centre, not to mention the ghostly graveyard, all in less than a decade but yet the deceptive system does not stop the hate.
These are friends of mine who have become victims of crime/ violence, police brutality, incest, suicide, fatal accidents, high-risk behavioural disease, substance abuse, shacked up lifestyles imported by the image driven culture that beckoned us all to live in the fast lane. A get rich culture that gained prominence as we were all told that within this raw atmosphere none are guaranteed three scores and ten years of life, so we as well swing, float and huff our way into being.
It’s this deceptive system that has made up the idea that there is an upper, middle and under class of urban poor people, not even taking into account that there is rural poverty. Erroneously it has built up a perception that people are tied to classes in a society structure, somehow the class is based on heritage, material possession, location of domicile, exposure to formal academic studies or confirmed membership at a religious organization/ social club, maligning people into groups or segments of society that quite frankly none of us know if they really exist.
This illusionary simplification of our entire community has been caused by the over assimilation of economic language and political thinking into popular culture. Thus for domination and control purposes we are bleeding our hearts and have become bitter against the ordinary person next-door. These same persons who are our neighbours we are now hating them because we have been deluded by a perception of racial, economic, and societal bias that teaches us to draw lines and resist anyone who is not officially experiencing our pain, losing sight of the reality that we all are ordinary people who are suffering from the same wicked system.
Jamaicans are a blend of skilled and unskilled roots men, alley button, quashee and sufferer alike, and we are all in an inferno of intense chaos that knows no boundaries but is determined to make all of us extinct. We are unable to see it, because all we can think about is our so called subset of people, constantly playing the us against them game at the work place, at the sessions, at church, which only strengthen and tighten the domination and control disorder of multiple clans that only know tribal language.
This wicked rampage of real desperation hasn’t just taken away friends and relatives from me but now I have to face up to an ever challenging burden of being unemployed, a strange bondage that has made my life feel so messy, draining my energies and even pushing me over the edge into depression so many times I care not to want to remember. This, as I grapple with watching many of my family members including my Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Mother, Father and Sister, lose their jobs and join me in the ranks of the jobless.
All of us are well-educated, experienced career motivated persons even in the prime of our lives, embodying lots of creative energy and ethic for work and the sad reality is that some of us may never again hold gainful employment in our own country. Certainly not if the current trends continue in this perversely volatile environment; I am a Young black Jamaican man who’s dream has always been to live in my community of origin and help build my country of birth and preserve my family heritage, but a monster of crisis is shattering my dream. I am forced to ponder, will I ever get a real chance to survive in the yard. A place that is now being described as the most violent place on the planet for fear of murders and reprisals a heavy burden to carry.
The ripple effects of economic slowdown, restructuring, job volatility and clannish freeze on employment makes for more pressures, an enormous weight of emotional stress that is on my shoulders. Not being able to support a basic lifestyle means my manhood and existence are vulnerable, this leaves my family unstable, as some of us ponder taking the plunge and moving to foreign lands that we really don’t care for much, but we must make sacrifices, that’s the instinctive recourse or inborn release we use to limit and avoid acute depression. The move abroad is one that is also torturous, as we are forced to overcome even greater challenges in a den of hyper discrimination, and extreme tribal war just to garner the resources needed to stay alive while we cling to dreams of one day returning to our homeland with enough funds to shock the system.
No matter how we turn the picture the hardship of not being able to live peacefully is steering all progressive Jamaican men and women head on and we know we have to find a way out, some way, some how, out of this deepening worldwide crisis. Again this isn’t just happening to us alone on the native soil, but the entire community, my people, your people, our whole heartical country.
Jamaican songwriter and performer Buju Banton’s CD track entitled “Untold Stories” from his “Til Shiloh” album rings out …“What happen to the yute that full up of so much education yet cya earn a payroll” then he leads into… “Those who can afford to run will run but what about those who can’t they will have to stay, opportunity a scarce, scarce commodity”… “ Living in a competitive world full of low budget people, having to survive some way some how …
The truthful reality is that the whole of my generation is under siege, as right yah now I can just count the many friends who are sitting at home, some with their many decorated accolades, some with amazing talent, skills and abilities with not many options for progression. Even those who have been lucky to push a foot inna the trench of the mind fields of work are finding it so difficult to fill their basket.
The “Dairy of a Ghetto Youth” introduces me to Claude, a rugged edge brother from the inner-city, who I learn achieved four CXC subject passes and would have fended for himself and his younger brother five years junior to him, as both their mother and father went out of their lives when their father brutally killed their mother at Claude’s tender age of 12.
Now 24, this “YuteMan” now feels he has nothing to live for after his Kid- brother Courtney 18 years of age was gunned down in a drive-by, dying in his arms while trying to speak with two wounds to his neck on the way to the hospital. Claude, you later find out, was saving all he could from his little gig to send his brother to University at the start of the new school year.
In great disillusionment amidst the jungle of ghetto blues, Claude a prospective role model and hero for Black Masculinity and Black Nationality starts a trek of vicious emotional imprisonment, eventually becoming so bitter that his earlier triumphs of fighting and surviving the entrapment of the underworld, presented conflicting loyalties and led him into moments of weakness which he wanted so badly to escape. The struggle of gun violence, gang warfare and drug abuse was sucking him in he laments, as his character was being tested by a recycling of fear and trembling that eventually led him into a continuous mode of resistance and aggression.
His appeal for help comes, through his wish of finding a stable job to fill the vacuum of so much personal loss in a society he honestly feels is rejecting him, he starts to wonder if he really belonged in this community of diverse people. In cold ruthlessness he reveals how in a few seconds one’s mind, the true vessel of ones heart, decides whether to live in hope or in hatred. By asserting fictitious claims of himself killing the three suspects implicated in Courtney’s death, hoping for some relief, some rest, he highlighted to me the fact that the act of killing takes place in the mind first long before we actually pull the trigger. Claude then jogs his memory and relives the horrendous moment he endured when he had to kill a pig in the country for dinner, this happened in his childhood but he still remembered the blood and traumatic internal impulse that forced him to throw up, as he couldn’t handle the carnage.
The magnitude of Claude’s trauma goes on until he reveals further how he suffers nightmares daily as scenes of his brother’s body lying in a pool of blood repeats itself over and over. He feels that some enemy from within the ghetto, or the forces of the state will soon get him. Finally armoured in hardcore toughness he wraps up his story where he started it, hoping for true rest to come soon when he will join his dear brother. Indeed another marginalized young black man like mi self in fearful anxiety, bubbling almost like that of a chemically imbalanced schizophrenic who is racing with psychotic paranoia that we too will be the next victims of the killing fields in a murderous country, or will the anarchic work place disorder stifle us into poverty while crushing our spirits.
A truly sad story that appeared in the August 7, 2000; Independence Day edition of the Jamaican Daily Gleaner, a newspaper of international acclaim that has helped sketch our past as Jamaicans and tried to help the democratization process speedily along, by allowing us an opportunity to try to cope with our unpleasant realities. The great dialogue and the hope of finding solutions towards social transformation of our people are presented to us daily through our many communities, national institutions, and personal tragedies. Claude is now a Staff Reporter for this media entity and continues to write about what it means to be a young black man in Jamaica.
Claude’s story is just one of many, but since we are brothers of the same age and from different parts of the society his chilling story has helped to strike that cord of empathy with me, I know now that we all are having a difficult time at it.
Yow I-yah, the overt fact is that there are many more black brothers, many more minority brothers, like us all across the villages, towns and urban centres of the third world and surprisingly too in huge metropolitan cities of civilized world, where a massive out cry continues for black on black male brutality to cease, the loud shouts to stop racial profiling of young black men by cop killers is still in season all year round in places where supposedly the quality of life should be so exceptional.
I honestly believe that we can and will overcome our challenges and fears, but we have to remain positive. We have to be motivated to take the bad and the ugly and turn it into light by constantly motivating and inviting each one of our brothers into the family of our nation to celebrate all that is good and worthy of praise.
We, the suffering generation, who are jamming straight from yard want to invite you to the Assembly Hall, for a party where we all put aside our differences and fears, and begin reflecting through honest interaction sharing in our testimonies. These stories of our most testing moments, obstacles faced and erased, struggles championed to a position when we become in Jamaican par lance bull buck and duppy–conqueror, potentially empowering you to discover a re-birth in your existence.
Encouraging within you a renewal of hope in a community and a nation that is waging war upon itself, floundering in a state of moral and spiritual bankruptcy. I move to encourage the renewal of the creative capacity of us the marginalized, the battered and black brothers who are faced with personal Armageddon daily. Let’s prepare ourselves for action not a bag of mouth, as we awake from our slumber and answer the call to do battle in a steadfast ever- united spirit.
Yow… you and I have a choice we can either sit and become another statistical victim wallowing in malignant depravity, and be charged with condemning ourselves to a role of the spiritually bankrupt generation who led a revolution in reverse. Or shall we stand and fight back the tide of violence with a spirit of strength and courage backed up by a loyal obedient heart willing to re-engineer our characters with a conscientiousness and consciousness of the real heroic Black men.
I, along with the men from the heartical society, want to invite minority youths from across the globe to what we call our “National Groundation” or “Peoples Assembly”. No this isn’t a “Million Man March”, an event that actually turned out to be a media fest that came and went. This instead is an opportunity for us as young men to reason, dialogue, celebrate and forward the process of building a strong and upright community spirit, by listening and learning from the heritage of a young black nation.
This interactive connection will inspire you the ruff and tough Ragga-muffin yute man AKA: Rude boyz, the sons of the N-yah men, the Bongo and Natty dread, and Rasta man, the designer dread, Face boys, Heavy corn, Cane row dudes, including the Christian, non-Christian, Muslim, baldhead, thug boyz or afro-puff standard bearers. Its time to rise up and take your rightful place in being the best that you can be; turning back the clock while closing the gap in a race that they the evil enemy are going to get really tired of seeing our bright and shining new faces.
A new face of collective consciousness, and collective action that is vested in objective truth and our passion for goodness that we must learn if we are going to win the battle of good over evil.
The voices of our prophets, visionaries, and leaders have been silenced by the confusion of Babylon for far too long. We the conscious race need to move away from confusion and groove our way forward into a positive future for black men and women and all races and ethnicities across the earth in memory of Zion.
Our primary common interest is our Nation and although the national spirit coupled with the commitment to building a compassionate society seem to have lost its bearings. We the yard core men from the inner city, we from so called suburbia or we the down pressed in deep rural, know we cannot as the strongest segment of the black community stand by and watch our nation become a wasteland.
We the tough and rugged cannot in the prime of our lives watch the ghetto paradise black communities, metropolis black communities, and township black communities make the omens of evil from ancient Sodom and Gomorrah, wicked Port Royal, or ancient/ mystery Babylon trap our younger brothers and destroy the legacy of a chosen race.
I am from the race that has been given a most precious piece of land along with a powerful legacy of commitment to strength, courage, purpose, honesty and the brotherhood. I am also from a generation that has learned to be black and proud in a nation that has declared the message that it is our time, black man time. Time to represent the community with strength and dignity. Despite our many untold stress this nation knows more than any other that black men can and must protect, support, and enhance good among us while shaming and silencing those who are determined to be evil.
This generation hails from a long lineage of peoples, descendants, forefathers, and fore blood brothers and sisters who wrestled and fought for a new vision in a new world that had no law and order, truth or justice. They our ancestors suffered with the hope that us, their children and grandchildren their cousins children and grandchildren, that us their tribesmen, children and grandchildren to the next generation and generations to come would some day live in freedom, love, joy, peace and happiness as one united family. An eternal family that we would set out to nurture and grow up together and work together for the new promise in a new Land of our own that we would call home.
This is undoubtedly the narrative of a truly authentic bunch of I-drens of JAH-Maker, those of us YAH-dies, who were born during the ideological divide of socialism and capitalism that released us into a shower of deliverance. We know not of a God saving our queen but of a God who has blessed us with a Land that we indeed Love.
A Land where friends reason to find solutions to their problem prone realities in a rugged but vibrant dialectic conversation, impassioned by a vision and purpose of objectively unearthing truth and equitable justice for all. We are Jamaica’s One Love Generation, singing a new song of freedom and redemption for all JAH World to hear.
We are aiming to be Jamaica’s first generation to rise up and take its rightful place in forwarding the advancement of the human race triumphantly. This is the generation that still believes in the vision of building a new Jamaica. You think I am crazy nuh true, well this Jamaican is serious about his mission and along with mi bredda Claude from the ghetto and other proud black Jamaican brothers from across the divide we invite you to come share with us and lend your mind to reason the vision for the new Jamaican at the start of the 21st century.
This is the Black mans experience through the eyes and voice of the new Yahd-core Jamaican male who accentuates the goodness of being a Rudie with that of being apart of the generation of Love. We who have experience the bitter perilous obstacles that managed to ravage our lives as young citizens in our own country, yes we know how to be sufferers, yet we have not shamefully forsaken the masters creative power, but will use our bitter licks to groom nurture and sculpt fresh characters.
We want to let Gods name be known in all the earth and we want to shout with our mighty voices of LOVE using our Livity to express in this Land that thy Kingdom Come thy will be done on earth as it in heaven. We believe that the trumpet has indeed sounded through the opportunity for redemption and that the people shall answer the call. Almighty God made us in his image and through the word that became flesh our brother the Christ he commanded us to Love God with all our heart, minds and soul and love our neighbours Bredda, Sistah, Auntie, Uncle, Cousin, Moddah, Faddah, honouring everybody with respect. Rendering us all with one mission as One Nation with One God, One Destiny because we are of One Blood, a people out of many that must now live as ONE.