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


Robert Guthrie said...

To your coworker... um, governments have been changed because of youth activism. And would lack of healing of a medical patient mean that the doctor's work was not "verifiable" and therefore shouldn't be "payable"?

Sorry about that... I try not to be negative... Congrats for taking on your colleague. And good luck.

Ruthibelle said...

Good points Robbie. I'll let him know.

Andre Robb said...

Interestingly, I have thought about this very question. Largely because I found myself working (employed) in a capacity that required me to be an activist, though I doubt I would be paid if that was all there was to my job.

A major part of good activism is a genuine, intrinsic dedication to the cause, and should remuneration become offered for something then 'dedication' might that is no longer remain purely genuine. So in order to safeguard against the band-wagonists who will say anything for the cheddar, I'd prefer for youth activism to remain largely voluntary.

On the other hand, and this I know from experience as well, its real work that goes into good activism. If its something as routine as a media campaign to raise awareness around your issue, then there are hours of reading, application of specialized skills, multiple drafts of a single document and extensive calling and networking. This is similar to how lobbyists get their issues onto the table in Washington, and they are paid to do so. So maybe we could think about that.

Would that mean that youth activists would be one day seen in the same light as unscrupulous DC lobbyists? I say, if we can maintain a sufficient pool of competent activists, without muddying the waters with financial remuneration and keep the compensations to other benefits,lets. Then by all means let them be activists while having other 'real jobs'.

From My World said...

Well said Andre. I support your point.

Kawain said...

I like Andre's comment. I think he puts it right. Advocacy should no have blurred lines