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This lost generation in our urban reality

Louis E A

Monday, May 28, 2018

I have been writing on youth, crime and society in Jamaica for nearly two decades. What' s more, I have observed at least two generations of youth killed off by rival groups. I have seen the lives of young men and women — often the innocent and hard-working among them — snuffed out to deafening silence.

Today, I sat around my computer to work and my mind was troubled. I feel most uncomfortable, as a human being firstly, then as a black man and Jamaican citizen. My thinking was centred on this lost generation in our urban reality.

All of this has been turning over in my mind since the brutal and vicious murder of Errol Anthony White over the past week on Grant's Pen Road. How can the members of the community, and most of all the political leaders, remain in deafening silence amid what is taking place in Jamaica?

It is not like we are still in slavery during which time the killing of slaves was like a sport. We are a free people, have fought many battles in the past, and now we are ignoring the local challenges of brutal and uncivil behaviour we have around us in our contemporary, everyday lived experience.

In times like these I think about the poem of Claude McKay, If we must die and the Bible verses I learned from my grandmother regarding being my brothers' and sisters' keeper.

In the rise of new forms of racism and an upsurge of violence against black people in the United States of America — including the reflections of the lynching of black people in Billie Holiday's song, Strange Fruit — Claude McKay used his craft as his entry into the war. It inspired many; giving hope in a setting characterised by hopelessness and fear. So powerful was this poem that when England was under siege and at the edge of destruction in the Second World War, Sir Winston Churchill saw it fit to use it in a broadcast to rally his people. England was then characterised by hopelessness and fear.

Jamaica is made up mostly of people who call themselves Christians, but where is the application of Christian ethics and morality in the everyday lived experience? I refer to them a few verses for reflection: Hebrew 13:1; Psalms 133:1; Proverbs 18: 24 and John 40: 20 to 21. Read them and think about these words and assess our Christian integrity. I beg you, remember the parable of the Good Samaritan. To what extent are we willing to get involved in the lives of others? You may attend your prayer meetings, pay your offerings and tithes to the Church, but where is your Christian integrity?

We must come together at occasions other than funerals and fight against the wanton murders. We must never accept that “a so di ting set”. We have got so accustomed to celebrating death that we may have lost all feeling for life. The very young, the students, the elderly, and others all are living in fear. As a result, activities in our communities have been restricted by the small fraction among us involved in crime. Youth delinquency is a product of the way in which the community is organised.

It is time for the community to rise up to protect themselves, especially the young and the old. The solution has to do with more than increasing penalties for violent crimes or building more prison spaces. The agencies of socialisation have lost their effectiveness, and agencies for popular consciousness, such as popular music and the Rastafarian movement, have not been able to lead change in new and positive directions.

I must congratulate dancehall artiste Rodney “Bounty Killer” Pryce on his insightful interview given to the Jamaica Observer at the site of his Labour Day effort on matters concerning the community, the youth and crime. Salute to the poor people 'Governor'!