Monday, January 31, 2011

Youth: Empowerment, Activism

Photo from Google Search
A coworker of mine made the candid remark that youth activists should shut up and get 'real jobs'. I immediately questioned the notion of what 'real jobs' are ... was he, for example, saying that activism was not or should not be considered a factual, actual, verifiable and payable occupation?

PS: In case you're wondering where the proliferation of posts about youth empowerment and activism are coming from, you can check the links below:

The Gleaner article that started the whole debate
In essence, this article explains that in an Editor's Forum meeting, The Gleaner discovered that some of the nation's youth leaders are dissatisfied with how Minister of Youth Olivia 'Babsy' Grange is handling their portfolio, and expressed preference for the youth portfolio to be paired with education, instead of with culture, sports and information.

The response to the youth leaders' claim
In this article, Senator Warren Newby basically says that he wishes the youth leaders had directed their comments at him instead of at Minister Grange, and disclaims some of the points they raised.

One youth leader's response to Newby
Tafari Grayson, president of the Portmore Youth Council, disagrees with Senator Newby's response, stating that any comments regarding the handling of the youth  ministry should be directed at Minister Grange, since people voted for her and not for Newby.

Then there was the meeting held in camera ...
... to which the media was not invited or allowed... and about which we have yet to hear anything substantial.

... and the one measly report about it
... which clears absolutely nothing up!

Then we have the commentators:
Betty Ann Blaine, Observer columnist, commending the youth for their bold step
Ken Chaplin, Observer columnist, saying youth leaders need greater organisation
Niawak, Jamaican blogger, asking 'what advocacy?'
Tyrone Hall, Jamaican blogger, student, calling our youth leaders 'baby blowhards'
JYAN's response, detaching themselves from the controversial youth leaders
The Gleaner's editorial, calling for deeper discourse

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Laid back, detached and YOUNG!

How ironic that while the Gleaner was trying to contact Youth Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, or someone from her office,  for a response to the many accusations/complaints levied against her administration by national youth leaders, Minister Grange and her officers were busy preparing for the Prime Minister's Youth Awards for Excellence, and therefore unable to respond to the urgent cries of the nation's next set of leaders.

A fitting metaphor of the country's current crisis.

The Gleaner's Editor's Forum has struck gold with their revelation of the dissatisfaction being experienced by Jamaica's youth leaders, sparking debates that have culminated in the issue of youth empowerment and development coming to the fore in print media. It is my sincere hope that this time, it will evolve from bickering, blame-gaming and naysaying into constructive discourse and the consequent implementation of workable solutions to what are, doubtless, important national issues.

The Gleaner's main story on Sunday, January 23, titled 'Boot Babsy', reported that the nation's youth leaders were extremely dissatisfied with the management of the youth portfolio by the minister with responsibility for information, culture, youth and sports, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange. There were suggestions by some of the young leaders that the portfolio should be paired with the Ministry of Education, which, in my view, is a suggestion that should be explored.

While some youth get highlighted and glorified by the nation's leaders, others - the majority - are often left unempowered and underrepresented. To be honest, I can't identify any point in my lifetime when I felt that Jamaican youth were receiving comprehensive, deliberate, consistent attention, whether through programmes or other such initiatives,  that led to sustained growth and development in that demographic.

When I first read the news stories of young leaders expressing  dissatisfaction with the lack of attention  received from Government, especially the minister with responsibility for them, I thought, "Finally somebody is listening to us. Bravo, Gleaner.' Then I realised, sadly, that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

While these young leaders raise a ruckus and demand more attention, they will, once they get it, most likely become satisfied with pushing their own agendas and programmes, which, it can be reasonably argued, in most cases, will NOT be representative of the needs of the wider youth populace. It will, instead, represent what they think the needs of the youth are, based on their often limited and myopic understanding of the demographic they claim to represent.

As a friend pointed out, our young leaders sometimes remind me of politicians who scream and cry to get their hands into the kitty for the many good and virtuous causes of their constituents, only to miraculously forget all notion of goodness and virtue once that access is obtained. And woe be unto the constituents thereafter.

I sincerely hope that I am proven wrong. I hope that there will be sustained, lasting, positive change in our Government's attitude to youth,  in our youth leaders' attitudes to the people they claim to represent, and in our youth's attitude toward themselves, for, as Marcus Garvey so aptly noted, "There shall be no solution to this ... problem until you (youth), yourselves, strike the blow for liberty."
More to come ...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Many Great Maybes ... maybe?

I read through my draft posts today;
I looked at all the 'great' posts that almost were ...
I saw all the potentially explosive material that never was published, and maybe never will be.

And I thought of what it must be like for God, looking through the files of our lives ... seeing all the potential that lies dormant inside us. All that would be if ... , could be when ... , was supposed to be ...

And I made one resolution for this blog. This year, there will be no maybes, no what-ifs, no coulda-woulda-shouldas. I will finish and publish my posts, following the golden rule – keep it honest and simple.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What A Difference ...

Some quote-on-quote 'celebs' stopped by my office the other day. They won the Digicel Rising Stars competition on 2006.

I didn't readiy recognise them. I knew they had to be some sort of popular personalities, but I couldn't figure out who they were.

"Who are they?" I asked a coworker.

"One-third." He replied. I couldn't believe it. They looked nothing like the guys I remembered from four year ago. In fact, I would never have guessed who they were if he hadn't told me. They looked very different, with edgy mohawk-type dos and the like ... very (for want of a better term) 'uptown'.

"What a difference a year makes," I said out loud.

"Well actually," another coworker interjected, "What a difference a hair makes."


Monday, January 3, 2011

Dreams Turned Hostile ...

I will not stop this quest of mine.
I will see this thing through to the end.

He remembers the first time he came here - a little over three years ago. Bright, young, eager. Anxious to please. Eager to prove. Ready (he thought) to show up and show out. The question was never whether he was ready for them, but whether they were ready for him.

Then it happened. All at once. The next thing he knew, he lost his bearings, lost his ground and ooof! A huge, brawling, sprawling fall. He lost his illusions right there - in that minute. He slowly became this other person. Speaking only when spoken to. Answering only when called. Barely looking up from his computer's monitor, absorbed daily by a million and one insecurities - the infinite list of little things that offend, change character ... he lost his propensity for magnanimous dreams and larger-than-life hopes. He became tamed. Subdued. Broken.

Bruised and belittled by the savage machinery that overrides good sense in the corporate world, he has become a slave to what was once his desire. He has begun to think less wistful, more somber thoughts: of years chained to a desk, of savings accounts slowly depleted. His hope seeps away. He is unconsolably unhappy. His life is being drained. But this is what he must do to pay the bills.

I passed him yesterday. There he sits, swallowed and drowning in the routine of a life he never bargained for and never fully understood until it was too late ...

He's not alone.

Across Jamaica, around the world, there are people -old and young- who resent the faces they now see in the mirror. They hate and abhor what they have become. They, too, have forgotten, what it means to dream. On the altar of 'getting by', they have sacrificed their heart's fire; trading the gleam in their eyes for a monthly pay cheque, the spontaneity that once defined them for accursed routine.

I grieve for a people who must live not as they want, but as they are compelled to by 'circumstances beyond their control'. This new year, may we all find the time to rewrite our missions, recharge our ignitions, and go get those dreams before it is truly too late.

Happy 2011, and thanks for making it a wonderful 2010.