A few weeks after Tessanne Chin won on the Voice, while most Jamaican have moved back to their day to day life, we have this article by Gleaner newcomer Keiran King
Sir, I so much disagree with you. You are wrong on so many counts. Where to start?
Firstly, everyone needs heroes… Bolt, Quarrie, Garvey, Rowe, Bogle, the Reggae Boys, our athletes, Rex Nettleford, McKenzie, Manley, Alexander, Henzell, West, Lee, Jody-Anne, Lockhart, the Jamaican guy waving that humungous flag at an Italian Serie A football match, the Jamaica bobsled team, Wint, Ottey, Ranglin, Nanny, Campbell, Daley, beauty queens, Chong, Marley, Tosh, Channer, Winston Watts,Third World… no doubt you don’t recognise some of the names. Likely most of them because you foolishly think that ‘International track meets aside, we’re not used to medalling at all’.
If you had done even the smallest of research, or even dipped slightly into that bag you call a memory, you wouldn’t be foolish enough to make such a misguided statement. Jamaica’s history is replete with major achievements beyond our track stars… and in many fields outside of athletic achievements. Just check. I know you are not a journalist and don’t need to check facts, but having some facts would help you quite a bit.
Chin is merely one of many, and she did so with direct Jamaican support, rising to the top of an internationally popular media hype. Now I don’t like American Idol styled reality shows. . I think its a stupid idea to give the public the general belief that they know talent. Also I know its nothing but a money rip-off. I voted only once for Tessane, but I didn’t dare to think that I should criticise other Jamaicans for what they did and who they supported.
You might call me a ‘bandwaggonist’, but that still would be missing the point, which is what you did. Chin didn’t just represent herself. She represented Jamaica, she represented reggae. Talent alone didn’t get her there. The Voice isn’t about talent, and w/o Jamaican votes, I doubt she could won. Her family and friend alone couldn’t accumulate those points.
Of course we aren’t her physically… but in spirit and metaphorically we are her as she is us. And because Jamaicans chose to freely invest their time and support (their borderline obsession as you call it), your article is a blatant slap in the face.
I suspect as a newbie columnist, you just want to create attention-grabbing headlines, much in the style of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. You should note Beck himself recently regretted those tactics. I see some in Jamaica foolishly lauding you as a critical voice. Obviously they have forgotten the likes of Morris Cargill and Carl Stone. You sir, are no ‘critical voice’… not yet anyway. Perhaps you need to just get over yourself, start slow and grow, instead of setting up yourself for a quick flameout.
You sneeringly speak of Tessane Chin as ‘privileged’, which is the ultimate irony in itself, should you choose to look in the mirror. We didn’t supported Chin because she is ‘privileged’, because we also supported Usain Bolt, Shericka Williams, Fraser.. and they aren’t ‘privileged’.
We supported them because they are Jamaicans, and every move to the top reflects on us, give us spirit, a sense of pride and accomplishment. All these guys are us… the winners and the losers.
You missed the picture totally. Of course our support mattered to her. Ask any athlete the difference between running in a stadium barren of Jamaicanness, and just seeing one Jamaican flag. Our support could not mean ‘diddly squat’. They were votes, and I’m willing to bet they gave Tessane a morale boost on that journey.
Of course Jamaica has negatives. But do you really think that Jamaicans are unaware of the challenges they face as individuals, families and as a nation? Really? Guess what Mr Columbus, you are not the first one to bring these things to our attention, and you won’t be the last one to slavishly use them as pawns to advance your agenda. We are used to the negatives of Jamaica, but unlike you, we are as aware of the many positives. You are too shortsighted to see them.
No sir, our sights are not ‘so low’… yours are because you don’t know Jamaica, the people or its history. We support ‘them’ because we support us, and their victory is our victory, at least if only for a short time. And whether you know it or not, we Jamaicans are continuously lifting ourselves. Why do you think so many of us are victorious?
Was Jamaicans support of Tessane Chin worth it? You might as well have asked years ago if Arthur Wint’s gold medal was worth it. Do you think that our athletes, singers, artists, scientists, teachers, politicians, come from a void? Each generation of Jamaicans are spurred on by the deeds of their forerunners. Without Wint and McKenley, there most likely wouldn’t be a Usain Bolt, w/o Jody-Anne Maxwell, there might be those kids who do us proud in ‘Spelling Bee’. That’s how a nation is built, by standing on the steps that others made possible. Our support of Tessane will inspire others, not limited to music.
And to state, “We are used to being irrelevant”… really? Other than yourself, how many Jamaicans do you know who consider themselves or Jamaica as irrelevant? Only someone with a deep lack of knowledge of Jamaica would make that statement… or someone with an obsession for the spotlight, at any cost.
Sorry my young colleague, your argument is entirely spurious and misplaced. Take the time and look at yourself, your motives and your agenda. Rewind and come again. As Bolt was inspired by those before him, be inspired by those previous columnists who were actually critical voices, and who showed that shortcuts will get you nowhere fast.
Do not sacrifice good people in an attempt to burnish your own star. It won’t work. You have done more harm than good to Jamaica… and the truth is you have done very little harm. And you certainly haven’t come close to doing as much good as those you are tearing down.