The Passport Saga and the Contemptuous Middle Class

The government recently announced new rates for passport and passport services which will take effect on May 26, 2015. The cost of applying for or renewing an adult passport will jump from $4,500 to $6,500. That is almost a fifty per cent increase and will become another burden for the average Jamaican. In case we have forgotten, the minimum wage is still $5,600 per week and upwards of a million Jamaicans live below the poverty line.

I initially planned to do a breakdown of that $5,600 to show how hard it must be to live on, but I don’t know where to start – food, bills, healthcare, education – and it is stressing me the hell out.

On seeing that there will be an increase, people anxiously ran (probably literally) to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) offices to apply before the prices go up, causing overcrowding and the need for crowd control by the security forces to maintain order. That is an expected and reasonable reaction from where I sit.

Middle class contempt for poor people

Of course, middle class Jamaicans came raging in, on their usual high horses, turning up their noses at those barbaric Neanderthals who are always just searching for an opportunity to behave like savages. “They have money to spend on expensive hairstyles and to go dance”, they said. “It is not that expensive when compared to other places”, they said. “If they can’t afford it so be it, they can get National ID for identification purposes”, they said. “You don’t get a passport every day, so it’s fine”, they said. “It’s JUST $2,000”, they said. That reaction too, is expected.

The middle class is out of touch at best and holds contempt for the poor at worst. Ever notice how as soon as you start talking about poverty and the depraved way many people are living in Jamaica, the middle class swoops in with the very tired, largely exaggerated and stereotypical arguments about poor people choosing to be hungry while they spend money to buy expensive clothes and hairdos? Privilege is a hell of a thing.

Why should a passport be above the affordability of such a large section of the population? If our concern is more with the fact that so many people turned out to beat the increase or that people are protesting the increase then we are already lost.

Many people don’t and probably will never know the difference $2,000 can make in the life of someone who is existing on an impossibly meagre salary. Many will also never understand what it means to have to save for months to be able to get a passport. And we are generally not in the business of empathizing with the poor so there goes even an attempt at trying to put ourselves in those shoes.

There is the argument that a passport is not a necessity and therefore the hullabaloo is much ado about nothing. These persons are clearly unaware that there are many transactions that you need two government issued photo IDs for. Like encashing a cheque at a commercial bank. Unless you have a driver’s license (which is also not a ‘necessity’) that passport would come in handy. This requirement also applies to collecting 500 USD or more at Western Union. Lest we forget, remittances are the source of livelihood for many Jamaicans.

Another criticism is that “these same people pay more to get visas over and over”. And what? Where do I even start with this? Is it lost on us that so many people are trying to run away from this hell hole by any means necessary for the very fact that for many it is simply impossible to live a comfortable life? Are we also suggesting that poor people have no right to travel? How dare poor people harbour the thought of traveling! Stay in your lane!

These sentiments are age-old and are linked to the idea that most poor people don’t want to or don’t work hard enough or that they want handouts. This is simply not true and we are missing the point that the issue is that they are operating in a system that does not value them; a system that does not afford them the opportunities and skills to be autonomous and to earn a decent, dignified income.

Perhaps as the middle class shrinks and many of us find ourselves in the same positions the poor occupy, we will begin to recognize and understand the fallacies of our pronouncements and indictments.


Tangled: The Politics of Black Hair

Black hair is political.

Many black women have vivid memories of being a little girl with hair as thick as wool that you couldn’t wait to ‘do something with’. Depending on the type and texture of hair you had, it wasn’t uncommon to be teased for being a ‘tough head gyal’, for having ‘kaya’ or ‘picki-picki’ head and the many other variations of the basic concept of bad hair that we accepted to be true, for the most part.

Most of us would get a perm somewhere between 12 and 16 years old and oh, the joy! The joy we felt at having straight, soft hair! A perm was somewhat a rite of passage for adolescent girls. Now you were beautiful, with the flowing, lustrous mane of a goddess to show for it.

Of course, ideas about beauty and our internalization of them are embedded in our psyche through centuries of colonial and elite domination. The denigration of the black body as unattractive, primitive and unworthy of love and respect is and has been a systematic undertaking. We learnt early that in order to be seen as beautiful and to attract boys we must aspire to Eurocentric ideas of femininity. A lot of the choices women make about our hair are subconscious and were fed to us before we had the ability to question and deconstruct them.

Personally, a great deal of my identity is linked to my hair. As an undergraduate at UWI studying Political Science and Africa and African Diaspora Studies, I embarked on a journey of self-acceptance through black consciousness and realized that I internalized Eurocentric ideas about beauty that weren’t in line with how I naturally looked. It took a lot of unlearning and relearning but at that point I decided to cut my hair and grow it out. I initially wore my hair for a number of years in an afro before I decided to get locs, which I have now been sporting for three years.

The reactions I got when I had my afro ranged from “yuh naa comb/do sumn to yuh hair?” to people saying they didn’t know I had ‘pretty hair’. By pretty hair they meant I had mixed heritage. The concept of ‘good hair’ peeves me and I usually ask what makes it good. For many who I asked that question it was an awakening because they had never stopped to think about why they held these views and what it means for themselves and black people generally.

We have seen institutional prejudice against natural black hair. It is treated as disdainful and women who dare to challenge the status quo and wear their hair the way it grows out of their heads are labelled untidy and unkempt. In Barbados, for example, an elite secondary school has banned its students from wearing twist-outs as that hairstyle was deemed inappropriate by the principal. And we all know of the state-sanctioned persecution Rastafarian men and women face(d) because of their hair throughout the region, and especially in Jamaica.

Fortunately, there has been an increase in the number of black women who are now embracing their natural, nappy/kinky hair. The natural hair movement is steadily growing and black women are forming communities – both virtual and physical communities – in an effort to provide support and encouragement for each other in the process of reclaiming their right to love their hair. This is a step in the right direction.

On the flip side though, these communities are often plagued with issues. Unsurprisingly, all black/nappy hair isn’t created equal and the politics within the natural hair movement as it relates to the hair types we celebrate often set us a few steps back. We tend to celebrate the loosely wavy and curly varieties while tightly coiled hair tend to still be the least desirable.

A lot of black women make excuses that their hair is unmanageable and that’s why they perm or wear extensions and wigs. I believe it is generally a cop out. Black women have been caring for their hair for centuries and if we want our natural hair to work then it can.

To be clear though, I am a proponent of women doing whatever the hell they want with their bodies and I do not negate the fact that many women want variety and to be able to do different things with their hair. That is perfectly okay, but if it is that the variety is everything except wearing your natural hair, then there are underlying issues that we must begin to unpack and deconstruct.

There is no denying that we are still walking around with a lot of the baggage that we were left with after slavery and colonialism. Our internalization of the supposed inferiority of nappy/kinky hair and our subsequent contempt for it is one such baggage. We must begin to untangle the roots of our oppression in order to forge our own path to self-love and acceptance.

Still I Rise: Reflections on IDAHOT

[This reflection was delivered at Prism on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia — in recognition of the resilience of the LGBTQ community in Jamaica]

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia represents a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities. The global focus this year is on youth and has created an unprecedented opportunity for activists and their allies at all levels to highlight existing initiatives and amplify their visibility.

To this end, J-FLAG has engaged with and provided opportunities for youth to be a part, and in fact the centre, of our celebration of the humanity and inherent dignity of the LGBT population. We’ve also sought to focus on the resilience of the community this year.

We have many stories of gloom and horror, but despite all of this the community continues to strive and to conquer in the face of every harmful act, every hurtful word and every hateful thought.

As an advocate I have lent my time and voice to a cause I deem to be paramount to the development of Jamaica. Without all hands on deck, without every citizen in every nook and cranny feeling that they belong here and that their contributions matter, we cannot be at our best.

As an ally and friend of the community I stand with all of you as you insist on and defend your right to be here; as you celebrate the progress you’ve made and as you remain hopeful that the best is still yet to come.

Being around and loving LGBT people, I have seen firsthand the effects of homophobia but I have also seen the strength and sheer will of LGBT people to live and love; to maintain in your hearts the true spirit of human dignity. You remain brave in overcoming all the obstacles you are presented with and I am often amazed at your ability to keep going when it must have been easier to roll over and die.

While we still have quite a way to go, I have also seen the progress that is being made in many sectors of the country. Indeed, there have been significant strides made in the race towards equality for gender and sexual minorities.

For the last two years I have been working on a health project where we train healthcare workers to treat effectively with the LGBT population. I have seen the growth of many of the participants as they become more and more understanding of the unique issues that plague the community.

We have also seen much improvement in other areas. Last year we saw the launch of the Respect Jamaica programme — a corporate Jamaica initiative which attempts to engender positive changes in the Jamaican society. The programme addresses discrimination related to colour, race, class, sexual orientation, those with special needs, the youth and elderly, among other things. The Respect Jamaica programme calls on all Jamaicans to stand in support of the marginalised and vulnerable in our communities – whoever they may be – to build our nation.

We also saw the acceptance of LGBT people at Christ Church in Vineyard Town. An ally of the community, Father Sean Major-Campbell urged the congregation and by extension the Jamaican population, in his sermon on International Human Rights Day, to uphold and respect the rights of each citizen, live together in peace in spite of our differences, speak up in defense of the human rights of the vulnerable, and to use the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as our guide to healthy living. In solidifying his message, Fr Sean washed the feet of two lesbians as a demonstration. He also invited a transgender male to share his experiences living in Jamaica.

These are but a few of the initiatives that are being undertaken to make Jamaica a more inclusive home for every single Jamaican. Let us celebrate the big victories as well as the incremental ones as it won’t happen in one fell swoop.

Progress will sometimes move at a glacial pace and we may become impatient because we should not in the first place have had to fight for basic respect and for our dignity to be recognised but remember justice never sleeps.

I stand with you as you defend your individuality. I continue to speak out with and for you, making it clear that your humanity is not in question because of your sexual orientation or gender identity; that you deserve the same respect that is afforded to every other Jamaican.

In the spirit of resilience and of this event, I would like to end with a poem. A poem that reflects the indomitable will not only to survive but survive as a human being.

Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise:

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.


Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.


Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops.

Weakened by my soulful cries.


Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own back yard.


You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.


Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?


Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.


Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

Let’s Talk Sex

Jamaica is a strange place. We are simultaneously hypersexualized and sexually repressed. We have a very sexual culture but we’re at the same time afraid to talk about sex. As I said, strange place.

I recently wrote about some of the issues plaguing our young people in my post “Child Month: Rhetoric or Real Commitment?” and I would like to continue that conversation with a focus on sex and how we are shirking our responsibilities to our children and youth.

Our teenagers are having sex. Ideally we wish they weren’t but they are. I imagine it is easier for us to bury our heads in the proverbial sand and pretend young people are saintly pilgrims of God who are waiting for marriage. Nonetheless, we absolutely must avoid the easy path in the best interest of our youth. The responsible thing to do is tackle the problems head on, regardless of how uncomfortable they make us.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the facts objectively and have a frank discussion about where we are falling short and what we must do in order to fix the situation at hand.

The 2008 Reproductive Health Survey published by the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) found that the mean age of sexual initiation for the 15 – 19 age group was 13.9 for boys and 15.3 for girls. The 2005 Jamaica Youth Risk and Resilience Behaviour survey also found that 12.8% of adolescents 10 – 15 reported that they had sexual intercourse. This is cause for concern for a number of reasons. Are these young people equipped with the information and tools to protect themselves if they are indeed engaging in sexual activities?

There is a raging debate going on about whether or not condoms should be made available in schools. While I empathize with the people who are against it, as I too believe young people should wait until they are physically, emotionally and financially able to take on the responsibilities that come with being sexually active, it would be remiss of me to not consider the fact that taking such a position is likely to do more harm than good. No amount of preaching and moral crusading will change the fact that many young people are having sex and need to protect themselves.

Along with not providing condoms, we have also been neglecting to teach children about the effects and consequences of sexual activity as well as other pertinent information to their successful development into conscientious and productive adults. The ongoing melee surrounding the HFLE curriculum proves how uncommitted we truly are to aiding and facilitating the development of our young people. Our discomfort with sex and sexuality cannot be reason enough to avoid teaching them important and valuable life skills (including information about drug use, sexual health, high-risk sexual behaviour and conflict resolution).

Children and young people have a right to effective sexual and reproductive health services. This includes making relevant resources and information available and accessible to them. Are we giving young people the information needed, such as those around sexually transmitted diseases and infections, including HIV and AIDS, to make informed decisions about their sexual health? We are simply not doing enough.

We must begin to question the strategies we have been using to address sexual attitudes and behaviours where our young people are concerned, as they are clearly not working. Let us take the proposition to raise the age of consent from sixteen years old to eighteen, for example. While that sounds like a good idea in theory, it does not hold water when scrutinised more rigorously. What exactly are we trying to achieve and what are the consequences of doing this? For one, we will be effectively barring many young people who are already having sex and many who will become sexually active from the necessary sexual and reproductive health services they need. And then of course we will feign surprise when they become pregnant and/or contract sexually transmitted diseases. It is an incredibly frustrating and unproductive cycle.

The hour has long gone for us to move past the stage of wishing chastity on our youth to actually making policies and acting in a way that reflects the reality of their situation. It is the responsibility of duty bearers, including policymakers, teachers, health practitioners, religious leaders and all of us who claim to have their best interest at heart.

Stop Policing Women’s Vaginas!

Calling women outside our names seems to be one of the favourite past times of many – both men and women – who hold very conservative views about women, their sexuality and how they express said sexuality. Bitches, hoes, sluts and most recently thots, are only some of the names we call women who may dress or behave in ways that are contrary to commonly held views that women should be sexually pure as well as conservative in their mode(s) of dressing.

Poor batty-rider loving me is already exempt from all the shackles perks of being ‘modest’. Woe is me.

In contrast to men, women shouldn’t have or have gone through too many sexual partners (read: more than 2). Otherwise, she is a thot. Such women should not be ‘wifed’, become a mother and should certainly not even be considered for a serious relationship. Because you know, her sexual history ruins her if it is not very circumspect. God forbid a woman enjoys sex and wants to have lots of it! *cue the ending of the world*

What’s even more ridiculous is that these same men enjoy women who are sexually experienced and adventurous. I often chuckle at the cognitive dissonance a man inadvertently experiences when he admits to enjoying a woman who can hold her own between the sheets (or on the fridge top, but that’s for another day) but thinks he can never allow himself to admit he wants more than sex from her. She has to, or at least appear to be, as close to virginity as possible for him to openly date her.

On the flip side though, she also can’t appear to be too nun-like. Lest she be called a frigid bitch. Why can’t we ever win? Sheesh.

These ideas about what women can and should do with their bodies are of course shaped by very outdated ideas we have about masculinity and femininity. Additionally, they result in many problematic societal norms.

Let us take slut shaming, for example. This is the act of calling a woman a slut (and other derogatory names) because of how she acts, what she wears and her choice and number of sexual partners. This is socially dangerous as it leads to the legitimization and acceptance of sexual offences against women. It is much easier to see rape as acceptable when we deem the victim to be ‘loose’. We seem to take pride in ripping women to shreds about their sex lives; in calling them sluts and whores. We revel in slut-shaming without understanding the consequences of our actions.

Contrary to popular belief a woman is never ‘asking for it’ or ever deserves it. It is NEVER the victim’s fault that she was raped, no matter what you think of her lifestyle. If a woman chooses to sleep with multiple men concurrently that is her prerogative. Do encourage her to pinch, leave an inch and roll but that’s as far as your input goes. The truth is, whether she has two, twenty or two-hundred sexual partners, it will not be a deterrent to a rapist. Rape is never about the victim’s choices but about the rapist(s)’ decision to forcibly have sex with another person.

Corrective rape is another issue we have to contend with because of these problematic ideas we hold about what women can and cannot do with their bodies and vaginas. Corrective rape is the act of forcibly having sex with a woman who is attracted to or appears to be attracted to other women. How dare a woman reject the awesomeness that is men (and their penises)?! High treason!

Men who engage in corrective rape often believe that a woman simply does not know what she is missing and that’s why she has ‘resorted’ to sleeping with other women. One experience with his magical dick and she will be cured from whatever demon she must be afflicted by. Such a Good Samaritan, just looking out for those who’ve lost their way.

Men seem to think women are here on earth merely to satisfy them. It is unfathomable to many that women can and do dress, behave and have sex with whomever they like and are comfortable with. Somebody should tell them this is 2015 and we will do whatever we wish with our bodies and vaginas. Go police that!

[N.B. Parts of this blog first appeared here.]

Child Month: Rhetoric or Real Commitment?

It is Child Month and we will of course be paying a lot of lip service to the importance of children and their development. You know, all those nice things about the children being our future and yaddy yaddy yadda. Things we are not actually doing much to ensure materialise.

This year, we have an apt theme “Children Safety and Security – Our Priority”, but I’m beginning to wonder if we are truly invested and committed to the welfare of our children. Stop for a second and think about all the gruesome stories of children being raped, molested and/or murdered over the last month. Now ask yourself what future.

What future will our children have when we keep damaging them in so many ways? We are physically violent towards them, we abuse them emotionally and psychologically, we deny them basic rights, and the list goes on.

We have a plethora of ministries, agencies and organisations that deal with children and youth issues including, but not limited to, the Ministry of Youth & Culture, Child Development Agency (CDA), Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), Office of Children’s Advocate (OCA) and Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), yet we are thus far unable to substantially curb the maltreatment of the most vulnerable in our society. We obviously need to revisit the roles, functions and ability of these entities to protect and seek justice for our children and youth.

A knowledge, attitude, practices and behaviour (KAPB) study (2014) regarding child maltreatment commissioned by the OCR and UNICEF found that “eighty two percent (82%) of the children sample[d] reported that they have experienced at least one incident of child maltreatment in the past three months.” This accounted for, among other things, physical and emotional (including being shouted at and name-calling) abuse by adults. Additionally, 46% of the five hundred (500) children studied indicated that they had experienced or witnessed physical abuse in the past 3 months. These are alarming figures. It is clear that the nation’s children are in trouble.

The Jamaica Observer reported in January of this year that “In an opening statement to the committee [United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland], Hanna said that the Government of Jamaica has “intensified strides in advancing the rights of the child to access to education, protection against violence and ensuring that those who come in conflict with the law are given equal rights and justice consistent with the provision of the UN convention on the Rights of the Child”.” Have we really Minister Hanna? In light of the continued violence against our children can we really stand by this barefaced lie statement? What exactly have we done to protect them against the many different forms of abuse and violence at the hands of parents and other relatives, teachers, the state, religious leaders and other adults? I have not seen the fruits of that labour to be frank.

What are our leaders actually doing? Organising marches. Yes, you read that right. On Saturday Angela Brown-Burke, Senator and Mayor of the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) organised a march in which scores of our leaders and the general public took a stance against child abuse, in light of the recent flare up of violence against children. Marches are great – they raise awareness and demonstrate the need for collective effort and action – however, the mandate of our leaders does not include parading their helplessness as if they do not have a sworn duty to protect children and the general population. Our leaders, both elected and appointed officials, should do their jobs of making and enforcing laws and policies and leave citizens to organise marches and pray for divine intervention.

Additionally, let us not pretend that all blame is on our leaders. As a people we have a hand to play in this malady. We are collectively failing our children. How many of us call the relevant authorities when we see a child in danger? Whether from severe beating at the hands of their parents/guardians, when we know they are being violated, sexually and otherwise, by family members, on becoming aware of adults taking advantage of their vulnerabilities etc. We have all become so detached from our collective responsibility that we turn a blind eye when we should be acting.

This child month, and moving forward, let us do more than say pretty things and actually make a commitment to improving the lives of our children in whatever way we can. That may range from simply hugging a child to reporting maltreatment of children and a host of other meaningful things in between. Must we wait for another child to be violated, damaged or killed to act? We can and must do better for our little ones.

The Utility of Violence: Does the End Justify the Means?

Violence has a long history of getting shit done; of getting oppressed people heard. Slavery and colonialism were their own special brand of violence and people who were subjected to the vileness that came with these oppressive systems could not be passive and expect Massa to treat them fairly and with dignity. Riots, uprisings and revolutions were therefore common place, for the simple fact that the oppressor only responded to the language of violence.

Imagine my dismay then, at seeing (black) Jamaicans chastise the people of Baltimore who resorted to rioting to air their frustration about the wanton ways in which the lives of black men and women are taken by agents of the state, after peaceful protests about the killing of Freddie Gray went largely unnoticed. These comments largely pander to respectability politics which says black people just have to follow the law and be upstanding citizens and the white supremacist state will honour their lives. Except…

Telling people who have been oppressed and suppressed by violence in the first place, that responding with violence makes them barbaric is the epitome of hypocrisy. If violence didn’t work why did Massa find it necessary to use violence to keep us in our place?

See, this idea that if we follow the law and act right then we will get justice has been disproved time and time again when we see how often unharmed black men and women who pose no threat to law enforcement officers are killed.

The truth is, PROPERTY MATTERS to the oppressor. That is precisely why there is now attention being drawn to the situation in Baltimore. When we stop focusing on the life that was lost and put all our attention and energy on the property that was damaged we are telling those people that their lives do not matter. Broken windows and damaged property can be replaced, that life is gone forever.

We are so vehement about the wrongness of violence that we are missing the point of why all of this is happening. I don’t know what it is like to live under the constant pressure of my life being in danger every single day of my life and so I will not propose to demonise the people who do because of their response to same.

I would love to hear from the people who are criticizing the use of violence. What do you propose? #HashtagPolitics? While there is a place for online activism, the truth is, the powers that be will not respond adequately to such a benign strategy. Every time I see the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag I can’t help but rhetorically quip “to whom?” in my head. I mean, we wouldn’t be peddling #BlackLivesMatter so much if it truly did. Black lives absolutely don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. That is why black lives are being taken at the drop of a hat by agents of the state who are tasked to serve and protect all.

We cannot pretend that all people have access to power and to the formal systems that can effect change. Some people can perhaps make a call and have the ears of an individual, organisation or the state that can address their issues. Some of us however, must confront power in order to have our plights dealt with. Justice and freedom cannot be taken for granted when many of us are obviously still fighting for those rights to be respected.

It is absolutely mind boggling to me that we expect people to remain silent, passive and peaceful in the face of these human rights abuses.

Let us consider a case closer to home. In August of 2014, Mario Deane was arrested and taken to a lock-up in Montego Bay for having a small amount of ganja in his possession. He was later killed while in the custody of the police. From the very beginning people were incensed at the injustice they felt occurred with the killing of Deane and started online petitions as well as organised peaceful protests several times. These protests were arguably ineffective when we consider that justice has still not been served.

Over and over again young men in Jamaica, usually from poor backgrounds, are abused by agents of the state. Like with race in the United States, men from poor backgrounds are systematically targeted. These men do not have access to many of the privileges that their more economically resourced counterparts have. This includes access to justice.

While I am not arguing that riots, or violence in general, is the only way to solve these problems, I think we have to be honest about the difference in response from the state and wider society to this as opposed to other methods. When we have a system that is unresponsive to the injustices meted out to a section of the population then things will escalate. Additionally, people know that at the very least there will be some attention and interests will be piqued when they use these methods to get justice.

In her work “Disciplining the Nation: Considering the Privileging of Order over Freedom in Postcolonial Jamaica and Barbados”, Maziki Thame (2014) argues that the privileging of order “[is] problematic given the historical place of order as a means to disciplining Africans on the totalitarian slave plantation and under colonialism in the Caribbean.” I would argue that this can be extended to violent protest, in the context that our insistence that order should prevail is at the expense of freedom and justice for people who have been wronged and have no other recourse.

I hold the view that violence is indeed a legitimate political strategy. Insofar as we continue to marginalise some members of our communities, we will have to contend with the fact that justice and freedom are not the reality for many and they have a right to use whatever strategy gets them to that goal.

What say you? Do you believe the end justifies the means?