Sunday, 25 June 2017

Poem-Why

Why am I constantly being overlooked?
Why am I being sidelined?
The system has failed us!
Crafted by those who have schemed and undermined others and have rewarded their corrupt cronies with positions of influence and power!
Where did we go wrong as a society?

Our silence mistaken for consent, 
It was not always like this.
In a bygone time,
one’s level of professionalism was enough.
Truth, commitment to task and respect for all were valued principles,
sufficient to move one up the ranks

Even with their power and position they are like empty shells
Void of any sense of decency and principle
Waiting to be cracked, exposing the rottenness within
They are the products of their own dysfunctional upbringing
They are perplexed and burden with a sense of guilt that cannot be masked forever

If only they would look in the mirror
And see what is looking back at them!
Shame! A most putrid state of affairs
Should I abandon those principles which my mother taught me?
Should I sacrifice my sense of self? Should I deny who I am? 

Why it is that corruption continues to be rewarded in the society
What is going to happen to the society if no one stands up?
History will be our judge.
Why am I writing this?
Why!

© Wayne Campbell

Saturday, 24 June 2017

A Culture of Greed And Corruption

When A.L Hendricks penned the words to the song “Jamaica Land of Beauty”, he must have foreseen the potential that this beautiful island had in this vast and increasingly complex world. Hendricks went on to seal his commitment to a new nation with the words. “We promise faithfully, to serve thee with our talents and bring our gifts to thee. Jamaica we will always in honour of thy name, work steadfastly and wisely and never bring thee shame”. The potential would have required such commitment to national development has been railroaded by consistent social indiscipline and political corruption. This genesis of corrupt practices in Jamaica is rooted in every aspect of society and its tentacles have no new ground to cover. On a daily basis, the vicious consequences of these illegal activities are being plastered in our minds through conventional and social media. Our nation is covered in the blood of victims, innocent or not, taken by the brute callousness of hardened criminals. Corruption can be simple in its manifestation, as well as, it and can be acquainted with regular everyday citizens, not just through the corridors of politics or commerce. 
A Culture of Corruption
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of listening to Cliff Hughes Online. During a feature called ‘Ask the OPM’. A gentleman called the talk show to highlight the corruption in the police force but before he was allowed to extend his point, he started out admitting that he was driving at an extreme high rate of speed. His admission was so alarming that Mr. Hughes was rather quick to castigate his reckless actions, and rightfully so. The caller went on to tell of his experience after being pulled over by the police. Instead of being arrested or given a hefty ticket, the police officer, according to this caller, was adamant in giving this reckless driver the option of “paying’ his way out of his trouble or being penalized by the law. Of course, the caller chose the former and provided monetary compensation to ease his rather awkward dilemma. Both the host of the radio talk show as well as his guests from the Office of the Prime Minister was alarmed by the caller’s experience with the police. My own reaction was a little different in that I have heard of numerous cases where members of the public have had similar interactions with the Jamaican Police. Why as a society Jamaica’s propensity for indiscipline and corruption remains despite various attempts to rid the society of this menace?
It is safe to say at this point that indiscipline has become rooted in our culture and over the years has gotten increasingly worse. Many Jamaicans feel that prosecution for criminality is usually nonexistent so this reality feeds the wanton disregard for law and order in many spheres of life, from road usage to political policies. I have driven on many of our roadways and it has become the norm for careless and often times reckless driving to take place on these sometimes busy thoroughfares.
Outside Perception
A few months ago I was in a barbershop in the small town of Davidson NC. As soon as the barbers realized that I was from Jamaica, one quickly and without hesitation asked why is it so terrifying to drive on the streets of Jamaica? The question came from observations made over multiple visits to what he himself claimed was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. However, he has always been terrified by the way Jamaican drivers used the roadways.  I thought about my response and with a smile started to give him my own interpretation of the vehicular skills of my countrymen. I explained that Jamaican masculinity dictates, as in every aspect of the life of a ‘real man’, he should be the best at what he does and he should be aggressive and confident in his doings. As it relates to driving a motor vehicle, the driver should be skillful in how he maneuvers that motor vehicle and the limits of this machine should be pushed to the extreme at all times. Should you as a man choose to drive within the guidelines of the road code, you may be considered interference to another man’s endless quest to be a ‘shotta driver’, a local term that denotes the superiority of his skillfulness. You will of course be subject to colourful colloquial expressions in an effort to demean your masculinity as a “ediyat driva” etc. It is not unusual for lawful road users to be occasionally bullied, verbally insulted or criticized while trying to use the roads in Jamaica.  After this caller was caught speeding by police, he certainly thought that he was now in trouble through his own admission, with the law. Nevertheless the representative of the law, the policeman, who swore to uphold the Jamaican laws in his commitment to serve and protect, sought to break that same oath through greed driven motives and blatant corrupt practices. Some may argue that the police in Jamaica are given an impossible task to curb the criminality in the society, yet they are poorly paid, given limited resources and have very limited access to psychological support. These instances of inadequacy cannot be an excuse for members of the Security Forces to be engaged in these kinds of unlawful practices. The officer may be finding it very difficult to make ends meet and sees his behavior as a means to subsidize his income. He is willing to destroy his reputation and the stability his job provides for him and his family.   
The Way Forward
We must seek to change the thinking that “ah so Jamaica run”. We need to move away from the ideals of paying our way out of trouble and draw the line between integrity and the scourge of corruption. Can we as a society continue to sustain this festering of corrupt activities and at the end of the day consecrate ourselves as a developing nation? The society must put measures in place to fight corruption in every form if we are to seriously contend with Hendricks’s ideology of steadfastly working to build a better nation. In order to maintain our integrity intact corruption must be addressed once and for all. It is only then can be have an inclusive society; one that is prosperous and progressive.
Kurt Hickling, is an educator and cultural studies advocate with an interest in the cultural dimensions affecting males.
I wish to thank Kurt for his contribution. You may send comments to Kurt, whether via email or through Twitter!
kurthickling@gmail.com
@jamteach1976
 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Poem-You

                                                                    Poem- You

Blurred lines
The envelope has been shattered
Psycho analyzing and deconstructing this new frontier
Boldness Perhaps

Hello miss, pardon me sir
May I have this dance?
It was unintentional or was it?
Have my excuse please

Unisex clothing allowing for freedom of space and bodies
Bleached skin- a currency for social mobility in a society steep in colour prejudice,
Parading in the hot afternoon sun wrapped with cellophane,
Without a care in the world.

Chased!
Beaten!
Stabbed to death!
Good riddance! Where is your humanity?
Deafening Silence!

A warning salvo for “others”-
To behave and know their place
How dare you?
Who do you think you are?

On the fringes of the society
Defenseless
Exposed
Jamaican!

 Wayne Campbell

 ©

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Fatherhood, Masculinity and Society


We live in a society and indeed a world where fatherhood is often downplayed, particularly, in the black community where many men have abandoned or relinquish their roles as fathers. Notwithstanding this there are many outstanding, caring and industrious fathers who take their role as fathers and the accompanying responsibilities very seriously. Fatherhood goes beyond a biological act; fatherhood is a self-sacrificing commitment to see to the welfare and wellbeing of another human being. The coaching, mentoring and oversight of a good father can never be counted in monetary terms. We often equate good fatherhood solely in terms of how much money the man comes home with. However, a child needs more than money, after all money cannot buy the affection and the unconditional love of a child. Many men are lacking, and to those men, it’s time to step up and be that father to your child and to your children. To those men who are doing what is required of a good father we encourage you to continue on this journey. There is dignity in fatherhood! My father, Fitzroy has always believed in, encouraged and supported me. Thank you! Happy Father's Day! Fatherhood often comes with a price, a sense of pride in being there for your child no matter what. On this father’s day I urge you to examine yourself, and do what is necessary to be the best dad ever. It is vital that as men you develop a relationship with your child. Equally important is your spiritual relationship with God! Have a fun-filled and family-orientated father’s day!  
Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Would You Invite Your Ex To Your Wedding?

The complex issue of any relationship is rather fluid and filled with dynamism. A relationship is not like a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 sports car which can hit 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, or a Porsche 918 which can race to 60 mph in 2.2 seconds. Each society has norms steeped in cultural expectation and history which often serves as a guide or social control regarding the ‘dos and don’ts’ of relationships. One of the relational matters which always get strong opinions from both sexes is the perennial question: Would you invite your ex to your wedding? A wedding is supposed to be a happy and family orientated event in which the bride and groom take center stage. A colleague of mine, Alberto, not his real name, age 42, is of the belief that it is ok to invite one’s ex to one’s wedding. “I believe too many people have hang-ups about this person and that person. He added that if the ex is a great person, and we have a great friendship, I don’t see why not”. Alberto clearly takes a mature approach to the topic, a topic which is not necessarily in the category of most popular subject matter to discuss. However, in playing the devil advocate, one can ask the question, if the ex was such a great person, why is it that you did not marry that great person. Alberto adds, not everyone is meant to your mate, you may date, have a relationship and then you experience some deal breakers, like future plans don’t align or just some habits you can’t stand”. Alberto went on to say, “As long as she respects my wife and not trying to undercover, reconnect with me, and we have a healthy friendship, then I see no issues”. Alberto who is married revealed that he invited two of his exes to his wedding. He confidently stated that his wife knew about them. “As a matter of fact she has met them before and is even Facebook friends with them. You might be wondering if his exes turned up to the wedding. Take a guess, one made it, the other would have too, however, she had a family emergency. However, not all men are like Alberto. Kurt, age, 41, is also married and was quite adamant that inviting an ex girlfriend to one’s wedding is not a good idea. When asked if he would attend the wedding of an ex, this is what he said. “I don’t think I would go. Even though it may be good between us, the other person may not be comfortable with that”. A female colleague shared her opinion on the subject. I will refer to her as Miss Ting. Miss Ting also made it down the altar and is the mother of two children. “It is somewhat insensitive to invite an ex to your wedding, as such an occasion for the bride and groom is indicative of attainment, commitment, moving on and for the ex it cements loss, failure, inability to secure. So although the ex may be genuinely happy that such an individual is finding joy, even if that ex is married it’s almost impossible not to feel a sense of torture while the bride and groom experiences joy unspeakable”  Miss Foxy, age 48, sees this as a non-issue. “I would invite an ex with whom I have a good relationship and understanding after we break up”. Among the younger respondents to this rather informal survey are Black Princess, age 26, she was very unwavering that she would not invite her ex to her wedding. “Unless I was trying to make the person feel jealous and if that be so, there is some feelings”. Her friend, Shanna, age 24, said No, “ex is the ex, no feelings, even when they pick a number, that person must remain in the number lane”. Black Princess, agreed with her by adding, “remain ex lane, don’t cross the bounder”. One cannot switch on and off one’s emotion like a pipe. The emotional journey which one engages in while in a relationship often takes a longer time to come to an end even after the relationship has ended. Clearly the jury is still out on this subject. The decision to invite or not invite an ex to one’s wedding is not a right or wrong one issue. It all deepens on the individuals involved, the level of respect each party has for the other as well as the type of relationship which existed between the parties.  It bears thought that traditionally June is the month of weddings in Jamaica. On your wedding day the attention and focus should be on the bride and groom and not on some past relationship, or on issues associated with a past relationship. One’s wedding day should be drama free, unless you are doing a reality television show and desperate for ratings. Each person has to figure out what is best for them regarding their big day!

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
@WayneCamo
waykam@yahoo.com

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Guard Young Against Lead Poisoning

We are all at risk of being poisoned by lead, however, our most vulnerable in the society, our children are at a greater risk of being exposed and affected by lead poisoning. The curious and free spirited sense of adventure in children put them at the fore for exposure to lead poisoning. Disturbingly, in many instances our children are not adequately supervised and they are left to explore, touch and taste all that they come into contact with including lead-coated objects. Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the Earth’s crust. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the widespread use of lead has resulted in extensive environmental contamination and significant public health problems in many parts of the world.  Once lead enters the body, it is distributed to organs such as the brain, kidneys, liver and bones. Interestingly, the body stores lead in teeth and bones where it accumulates over time. The WHO states that undernourished children are more susceptible to lead because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium, are lacking in their diet.
Long Term Impact of Lead Poisoning on Children  
Many Jamaicans have a tendency to believe environmental matters are only issues which affect first world societies. We cannot underscore the responsibility of adults to safeguard the health and well being of our children. Exposure to lead can have extremely serious consequences on the health of our children. At high levels of exposure lead attacks the brain, and central nervous system. According to the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital website, exposure to lead can result in a variety of effects upon neuropsychological functioning including deficits in general intellectual functioning, ability to sustain attention on tasks, organization of thinking and behavior, speech articulation, language comprehension and production, learning and memory efficiency, fine motor skills and poor behavioural self-control. The same source states that the result of these neuropsychological deficits for the child is often rather debilitating and includes poor academic learning and performance. Research indicate that children who are survivors of severe lead poisoning maybe left with mental retardation and behavioural problems. Most medical studies conclude that lead poisoning affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), reduced attention span and increase anti-social behavior. According to research conducted by Dr. Aisha Dickerson, postdoctoral research fellow in the departments of Environmental Health and Epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, a number of toxic heavy metals are present in Jamaica’s soil, water and food especially in bauxite mining areas. These include arsenic, chromium, cadmium, zinc, copper, mercury, uranium and lead.  According to studies, Lalor 1996; Johnson et al, 1996 the level of lead in Jamaican soil is more than four times the global average (44mg/kg compared to 10 mg/kg).   
The Way Forward
As a society we need revisit the subject of recycling and disposal of waste, in particular the burring of waste, which releases dioxins and several heavy metals in the air. In many cases our response to these critical areas of recycling and waste disposal, put us at unnecessary risk to exposure to lead.  Developing societies tend to ignore environmental matters for the sake of economic expansion and investment. However, we must realize that an unhealthy population will not be able to enjoy the successes of economic growth. More research on the long term impact of lead exposure from the local medical community is urgently needed, especially in light in the growing number of Jamaican children who are now being diagnosed with behavioural difficulties and learning challenges. It would be useful to know how many children die annually from the effects of lead poisoning in Jamaica and identify the areas of highest concentration of exposure of lead poisoning.  A few years ago there was a major concern regarding lead in pencils and crayons used primarily by children. There is an urgent need for the society to conduct a study on the areas surrounding the landfill at Riverton City as well as other landfills to ascertain the impact if any of lead poisoning on those children. This is critical since much of the lead in global commerce is obtain from recycling.  We should be mindful that lead can be found in paints as well as in crayons and pencil. We need to safeguard the future of our country by ensuring that our children are protected from exposure to lead poisoning.  Exposure to lead also impacts the health of adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Pregnant women are also at risk for miscarriages, premature birth and stillbirth from exposure to lead poisoning.  Exposure to lead poisoning is clearly a public health concern and the necessary resources must be found to tackle this problem. The society needs to formulate guidelines on the prevention and management of lead poisoning. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), lead exposure in 2013 accounted for 853,000 deaths, with the highest burden on low and middle income countries; this is unacceptable especially since lead poisoning is entirely preventable.  We need to raise the awareness of exposure to lead poisoning to highlight the dangerous and often irreversible effects of lead poisoning.  The health of a nation is paramount to the growth and development of that society. We should therefore be mindful that Goal 3, of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG’s) speaks to ensuring healthy lives and the promotion of the well-being for all at all ages. There cannot be sustainable development without a healthy population.  In the words of Nelson Mandela, there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues. 

@WayneCamo,  waykam@yahoo.com
&
Emma Lewis is a writer and social activist  

@Petchary, petchary@gmail.com

Friday, 2 June 2017

Pan-Africanism & Socialization

The average Jamaican is seemingly not concerned about issues relating to Pan-Africanism. This was evident in the low turnout at a recently held Pan-African public symposium at the University of the West Indies. Despite, a population of more than 90 per cent African ancestry, a significant percentage of the populace do not view themselves as descendants of Africans or Afro-Jamaicans. This separation and arguably denial of our history is largely due to how the society has been cultured and schooled. To a large extent the society pays little attention to our historical grounding and this lack of historical significance is demonstrated in the in the growing number of our young men and women who bleach their skin.  It bears thought that for many of us a sense of self and personhood is the missing link between believing in our own sense of self and how we fit into and contribute productively to the society. Additionally, the issue of poor self-esteem exhibit by some of our students’ stems in part to an education system in which History is optional at the secondary level. A significant number of students shy away from the subject. It can be argued that the society’s level of black consciousness is largely dormant, added to this the education system in part fosters this quiescent attitude. On Friday, May 26, 2017, the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work in collaboration with the UWI Pan-African Consortium of the University of the West Indies, Mona, hosted an African Liberation Day Symposium. The theme of the forum was “Peter Abrahams: A forgotten Pan-Africanist”. The presenters Professor Rupert Lewis, Dr. Michael Barnett, Dr. Shani Roper and veteran journalist, Earl Moxam all did a excellent job at discussing aspects of Peter Abraham’s life and work while making the connection to African Liberation Day which was commemorated a day earlier on Thursday, May 25.  The presenters were excellent in highlighting how involved Peter Abrahams was in early years of the Pan Africanism movement. In fact, Abrahams was the last surviving member of the organizing committee of the Fifth- Pan African Congress held in 1945 at the time of his death in 2017.The turnout for such an important event was low, thus reinforcing the perception that the scholarship and activism surrounding Pan- Africanism is rooted mainly in the halls of academia. We should not fool ourselves; we are still on the plantation. What we now have are new colonial masters, very much steep in the Anglo-Saxon culture, far removed from our historical journey and socialization. We must remember that many decisions which affect our daily lives are made in European or North America even though we political independent. Despite the progress we have made as a society and as individuals, it can be argued that collectively we are still shackled in this era of neo-colonialism, chained by institutions and processes which are Eurocentric in nature and scope. Professor Rupert Lewis argued that fiction writing and journalism were central to Pan-Africanism as embraced by Abrahams. Professor Lewis was also concerned about the sociology of the elderly. He added that the elderly are at particular risk to criminal violence. The society was shocked and outraged recently at the rape and murder of 88 year old, Nettie Rowe, of Runaway Bay, St. Ann. Regrettably, Abrahams himself fell victim to the level of violence which targets the old and vulnerable in the society on January 18, 2017 at age 97. Dr. Michael Barnett, bemoaned the fact that so few outlets are available for Pan-Africanism in the media landscape. It must be noted that while we commemorated African Liberation Day, we are mindful that many of our African leaders have plundered the coffers of their respective countries and in a sense have caged their own people resulting in the continent of Africa not realizing its full potential. The time is now to revisit and recast a new vision of Pan-Africanism in order to move our people of African descent to that level where entrepreneurship becomes the engine of growth and advancement.  Pan-Africanism is an ideology and movement which promote and support solidarity of Africans globally. We all need to get involved in some form of advocacy and activism in order to keep the awareness of black pride and consciousness alive. In the prophetic and powerful words of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, a race that is solely dependent upon another for economic existence sooner or later dies.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo
#elderly #panafricanism #blackconsciousness #ideology #activism #advocacy #racism