Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Must Not Forget

Most days, I want to think of myself as something pretty special. I want to tell myself that I am truly one-of-a-kind. I want to believe with all my heart that I'm a fighter... a survivor, and that I made it this far because of my hard work and on the raw force of will-power alone.

But other days, like today, I face the truth. I look myself in the mirror and tell myself what a lucky person I am. Because had my parents been any less devoted to my success, had my teachers been any less relentless in their demand for excellence, had the foundations and principles of my life been only a shade different, and had there not been a God, I would not be the person I am today.

Days like today, I remember: I may have seen this much and come this far, but I did NOT do it on my own.

I've spent the last four years living in Kingston: going to school, working, and getting acquainted with urban life. Yesterday, I sat at home in rural St. Mary remembering, for a good long while, how easy it is to forget the people and places that comprise the 17 years that precede the last 4.

Is it really that easy to forget the pride in my father's smile, the warmth in my mother's arms, the loud, cheerful rings in my siblings' laughs? Is it so easy to forget music-filled streets and Miss Mabel's corner shop, and the names of classmates who stayed home to help build their parish, while I was whisked away to urban Jamaica with lofty dreams, in search of something (supposedly) better... in search of something (supposedly) more?

I sat listening to my siblings' jibes. My sister is a woman now. And my brothers have beards, or stubble... How weird that they have lives -whole lives- that I have very little knowledge of. How weird that my parents are growing old. How weird that my teachers and neighbours and classmates have never forgotten my name, or my face, and that, with the extra wrinkles in their tired faces, they smile when they see me, and remind me -again- why I should never give up. Why I should never forget.

I must not forget past classmates carrying babies in their arms: theirs and their little sisters'. I must not forget street vendors missing teeth, the sight of once-firm flesh now sagging, jangling and dangling as they offer passers-by their wares. I must not forget scruffy young men, congregating on street corners, already beggars, drunks and drug addicts... I must not forget that for every step I take, someone gets left behind. That for every rung on the ladder I climb, someone stands on the ground, wistfully looking up or cluelessly gazing around... I must not forget that they toil relentlessly. And I must not forget why: because too many children, by virtue of location alone, are abandoned and forgotten. They're bright. They're smart. They're awesomely talented. But they're oblivious to how much they're being robbed.

They have no access to what this world calls success. No access to urban Jamaica and all the secrets it hoards and hides... They remain where they are: seeds of potential. Undiscovered. Undefined. Unfulfilled.

They look at me and smile. And I think they feel proud. But, really, what's there to be proud of? I am no better than these. I am a daughter of St. Mary soil, just like anybody else. While I am in Kingston trying to realise fairytale dreams, they are at home fighting through the despondence of habitual disempowerment, finding new ways to survive a world that denies them the privilege - nay, the right- to fundamental amenities.

And it's a long road ahead of us. We have a far way to go. But if we ever expect to look in the mirror and feel any sense of accomplishment, it must be because we never forget. It must be because I never forget.

I cannot forget... help me to remember... I must NOT forget.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Only in Jamaica

1. From the STAR (newspaper)
"There is absolutely no truth to the fact that he was involved in anything alleged..." (Uh... what?Is this legalese for guilty?) This from a lawyer defending his client.

2. From the Telly
"Children are different from human beings..." this from a gentleman explaining why children should be treated differently from grown-ups...

3. Courtesy of my own circle of friends
From Lee: "A three baby mother me have, and mi nah cheat pon none a them!"

Gabs: "I was in my room with my sister JJ when my brother, Jude, came in laughing. He told us about this American woman he saw on TV. The quizmaster asked her how many Eiffel Towers were in the world, and she replied, "I think it's ten, but I'm leaning towards nine." Me and Jude broke up laughing. JJ joined in after about a minute, then she left the room. Me and Jude were in the room having ourselves a good cry-laugh when JJ came back in and asked, "so, really, how many are there?"

Brandy: "We were in class talking about which planet we would visit if we had the chance, and everybody was giving different answers. Then one guy stood up and said, "I would go to the sun." The class went silent. "What?" I asked. "Dude, you can't go to the sun! If we so far from the sun and it so hot, you can imagine if you GO to the sun? You would roast!" The whole class was laughing at him when another boy marched in and ordered us all quiet. "Oh shut up," he asserted. "Di whole a unnu a eediat. Di bes time to go to the sun is night." Class mash up.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thought For the Day

Just because a body is doing nothing doesn't mean a body has nothing to do...


(maybe a body just doesn't know where to start...)


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Caribbean Newspapers Falling Short?

Things and times certainly have changed… and the big money says they will continue to do so as long as things and times exist. Newspapers and journalists cannot afford to have a myopic approach to the many new developments on the internet. We better turn with the tide, or else get turned over.

Speaking from a Caribbean perspective, I think a reanalysis of the relevance of (Caribbean) journalism to today’s socio-technological climate is loooong overdue. Caribbean news-houses, especially our newspapers, are lagging behind in their use of modern technology to optimise content and capture new, untapped audiences. And it’s funny and sad, because their online presence as a textual authority provides (in my opinion, at this point) many more opportunities for a wider scope and reach than other forms of traditional media outlets, which have not as yet even begun to make their presence felt online.

In her address to a US Senate hearing on the future of journalism last month, Google's Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, Marissa Mayer, explained that one of Google's latest and most innovative products, Google Wave, can be especially useful to media houses, if they take the initiative to use them.

Mayer’s points are well worth taking note of. And our newshouses must realise that whether or not they pay attention to what she has to say, her words still stand as truth and prophecies that, if not now accepted and acted upon, will be later remembered and (unfortunately) regretted. Google (with their awesome, enlightened selves) will continue to break new ground and be at the helm of new technological innovations. They will continue to reap the benefits of their insight and foresight, whether or not newspapers pay attention.

It stands to reason, therefore, that our newspapers should quickly act on this invitation to be a part of the 21st century, and see Google as friend, not foe. We should be making every effort to tap into the multi-million people market to which Google already has access. How else do we plan to optimise our reach in the face of ever-growing technological innovations? Best advice is to take Mayer’s advice: act fast, act now!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Recession

I was walking along Silver Slipper Plaza in Cross Roads. Just looking. When I saw them. I stared. I drooled. I downright ogled. I got all panicky in the tummy in that sicknsweet way that gives delight wrapped up in anxiety. My belly went jelly and my knees grew ridiculously weak. I nearly passed out.

Wow! Gorgeous... goh-je-uss!

They had to be the most beautiful pair of earrings I had ever seen. I had to get them. It was a compulsion. I could. not. leave. without. claiming those beauties.

Then I felt my pockets: Empty. Broke. I shrugged. And sighed. Oh well, they weren't all that fabulous. And with drooping shoulders in a dejected slump, I continued walking.

Recession? This too shall pass.