Jamaica Is No Paradise

My heart is aching for Jamaica. Words cannot describe the hurt that the recent events unfolding in Jamaica have caused me. The tears have flowed, and I have asked myself the same question over and over again; what can I do to help? The more I asked myself the question, is the more I realized that I am a part of the problem.

Growing up in Jamaica, I never took a stand against the injustices perpetuated against my fellow citizens. I sat idly by as the guns barked and innocent lives were lost. Instead of saying something, I found comfort in the belief that the violence in Jamaica was targeted; anyone who got killed was killed because of a bad deed. I took comfort in the fact that I lived in a community untouched by the harsh realities of the poverty which riddled inner city communities. My blessings disguised the harsh reality that some Jamaicans were subjected to.

As I grew older, and in the comfort of life in uptown (the terminology used to refer to life for people in the middle to upper class community of Jamaica) Kingston, I realized that there were certain attitudes and characteristics that defined Jamaicans. It became evident that in Jamaica there was an undercurrent of resentment and culturally misguided thought patterns that were eroding our foundation as a people. Throughout high school I saw students singled out because of their socio economic status in life. I saw people mistreated because they did not fit the status quo for what it meant to be a male in Jamaica, I myself being one of them. Young girls were viewed as objects by their male counterparts; a being meant to be subjected to any mans sexual desire. To my surprise, some women gloated in the fact that were dehumanized to mere species for sexual reproduction and gratification, rather than champion themselves as individuals for a higher purpose.

Jamaica is no longer paradise island
Montego Bay Jamaica – Photo courtesy – thesun.co.uk

It became evident that Jamaica had structured racial and social lines. There was the uptown Jamaica, and the downtown Jamaica. The Jamaican middle class did not exist. The rich typically came from uptown, and the poor typically came from downtown. The rich did not fraternize with the poor. It was through this class structure that racial lines were also drawn. Unlike the United States, there was not a two term definition for race (black or white). In Jamaica race was and is defined beyond ones phenotypic appearance. Those Jamaicans who had more phenotypic similarities to white Europeans were seen as more privileged and cultured than Jamaicans who were more afro centric. As a Jamaican with mixed ethnicity, coupled with my privileged position on the upper rings of the socioeconomic ladder, I witnessed a different Jamaica. I took comfort in the fact that I was not singled out because I was black. I was not subjected to extra judicial persecution from the police force due to residing in one of Jamaica’s poorest neighborhoods. But I did witness the mild animosity in high school, I did witness the bullying. I did witness the street protests, and the news feed on television. But I did nothing. My inaction has resulted in the further degradation of the country I call home.

Today we have a Jamaica where our murder rate stands as one of the highest in the world. We have a Jamaica where freedom of speech is not restricted by the government, but by the fear of retribution. One cannot freely stand (in some instances) and defend an issue they are passionate about for fear that they will be killed by their adversaries. Discussions regarding political ideologies and affiliation are limited in some regard, because you may be killed for being too vocal regarding your political allegiance. That is the Jamaica that exists today. Our white sand beaches and turquoise waters have masked the disgusting reality of life in Jamaica.

The success of our athletes and our success in the realms of academia, pale in comparison to the number of innocent lives lost each year. Innocent bloodshed lay splattered across every page of our history. Behind our victories on the field, lies our defeat in the realm of humanity and justice. I have failed to serve my country well. I have failed to live up to the promises I made every time I recited the national pledge of Jamaica, which reads:

” Before God and all mankind, I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart, the wisdom and courage of my mind, the strength and vigor of my body in the service of my fellow citizens; I promise to stand up for Justice, Brotherhood and Peace, to work diligently and creatively, to think generously and honestly, so that Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.”

I stood by passively in 2001 when the government launched a raid on West Kingston that killed 27 Jamaicans. I remained inactive when I heard of brutal slayings on the news in the years to follow. I was shocked, but did nothing when my friend was brutally murdered as she entered her driveway in November of 2009. My heart sank, yet I did nothing, when news reached me that a former schoolmate from high school was slain while talking to a friend by his car.

Ever wonder what it’s like to live in Jamaica? Imagine this: Fear gripping you every time the sun sets in Jamaica. Throughout the night your heart races whenever you hear a suspicious sound in the dark. When the bark of the dogs gets louder you wonder if a man lurks in the dark with a gun waiting to kill you. You buy groceries and pull into your drive way, and you hurry to get the door opened, because each moment you spend without tangible protection is a matter of life and death. Every time a car passes your driveway you wonder if the windows will roll down and the bullet of a gun takes your last breath. You shy away from disagreements because you know that in Jamaica sometimes to have an opinion is to have a death sentence.

Life in Jamaica is no cake walk, and the eerie case above pales in comparison to life in the inner city. Living in the inner city means having your life controlled by a gang leader who dictates your every move. Crickets don’t chirp at nights in the inner city, the sounds of gunshots fill the air instead.

Jamaicans have become so desensitized to crime and violence in the nation that murders become a part of everyday life. No one seems ready to tackle the issues that undermines the nation. We are content to just watch Usain Bolt break world records, while our criminal gangs also seek a spot in the record books. We fight, we degrade each other, and we call people names. We suppress free will and civil liberties.

Jamaica failed because we all failed. Some say we are at a turning point in our history, but until we each realize that we have a role to play as citizens of Jamaica; Jamaica will never move forward. To residents of the inner cities, I appeal to you to not have countless number of children if you know you don’t have the finances to care for them. Invest in the education of your children instead of clothes and apparel for the next street dance. Citizens of Jamaica do not litter the roads with your trash, and then expect the government to rescue you when the roads flood because drains are blocked. Do not block roads and then complain about the deterioration of the road surface. Blocking the roads destroy the structural integrity of the very road you accuse the government for failure to maintain.

Maybe when we learn to teach our children to love and respect others, and not how to do the latest sexually explicit dance, maybe then we will move forward. Maybe when our women learn to treasure themselves for who they are, and not exploit their bodies, maybe then we will move forward. Maybe when our men decide that having multiple women and children has less to do with masculinity, and more to do with stupidity, maybe then we will move forward. Maybe when more males decide to be fathers instead of leaving the burden of child rearing to mothers, maybe then Jamaica will move forward.

No postcard or tourism advertisement will hide the fact that Jamaica is a broken country, and a broken system of governance. Frankly, I am disgusted with the state of affairs in Jamaica. I am done playing as if everything is okay. The colors of our flag are black, green and gold; colors which once symbolized the phrase: Hardships there are, but the land is green and the sun shines. If the flag is truly symbolic of a nation, it may do us justice to eliminate the green and gold, just black will do.

I don’t have the answers, and I feel helpless. But today I make the pledge to speak out against injustice when I see it. I pledge to defend the rights of each and every Jamaican, regardless if I disagree with their actions or lifestyle. I pledge to promote brotherhood by eliminating the seeds of discord that has been sown among us. I will hold our political representatives responsible for their actions. I will remember that I am just as important in the system of governance as much as a Member of Parliament or the Prime Minister. Jamaica is the land of my birth, I can never change that. Jamaica will always be a part of me, and until I can make Jamaica a better place, then I must always live with the stigma of being Jamaican.

They say actions speak louder than words…will you act today or will you continue to stand by as our nation crumbles?

Please check out Dimitri’s website HERE

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Dimitri Lyon is strictly prohibited.

Download The Jamaican Blogs™ App for your Android device: HERE


Download The Jamaican Blogs™ App for your Android device: HERE

Dimitri Lyon

A graduate of Texas A&M University-Commerce, Dimitri Lyon holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Political Science and Speech Communication. He also holds dual Master of Science degrees in Higher Education and History. Currently Dimitri works as a Senior Admissions Recruiter with Texas A&M University-Commerce, and works independently as a motivational speaker.

75
Leave a Reply

avatar
75 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
0 Comment authors
Sandra RichardsPhillip WoonDonald DaCostaGeorge D. Bobby BurnsBev Mat Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Joy Duncan-Cohall
Guest

Sorry you feel so hopeless. I am sure that there is much more you could do to bring hope to our country. I currently work in a large inner-city neighborhood in the US where there are at least 5 murders DAILY. Yes Jamaica is smaller in size and population, so our crime rate stands out but we have made progress. As a develoPING country, there are still many issues to resolve economically and politically. I think with all your degrees and insight there is much more you could do to help. How can you as a motivational speaker be so… Read more »

Joy Duncan-Cohall
Guest

Sorry you feel so hopeless. I am sure that there is much more you could do to bring hope to our country. I currently work in a large inner-city neighborhood in the US where there are at least 5 murders DAILY. Yes Jamaica is smaller in size and population, so our crime rate stands out but we have made progress. As a develoPING country, there are still many issues to resolve economically and politically. I think with all your degrees and insight there is much more you could do to help. How can you as a motivational speaker be so… Read more »

Irwyn E. Roach
Guest

Well said. Interestingly I live in Trinidad and I can fully identify with all that is being said. Once upon a time we felt it was a Jamaica or Guyana problem. Now we must acknowkedge it as a CARICOM issue.

Charles Miller
Guest

The fact that censorship, Comunisum is prevalent in Jamaica now,, adds to the blurred picture of truth. Case in point certain tourist sites are censoring the truth about the crime there especially in Negril. Dollar over life. Sad.

Nonie W. Arthurs
Guest

Bravo !! Thank you

Nonie W. Arthurs
Guest

Bravo !! Thank you

Carlton White
Guest

True words.

Trevor McPherson
Guest

I am 100 percentage agree with every word you say. The only problem is we who are dying to see a change in our lovely country, are helpless. I am now living in a foreign country and my greatest wish is to return to my country,a place call home. But I am scared. But one thing I will never give up on my dreams. I am hoping a change will come some day, The Eternal God please wave your hands over Jamaica for all of us that yarning for change Eternal God pleas bless Jamaica

Fran Chin
Guest

Can you guys do something about that Ad. that covers your article? It’s a deterrent to what could be a growing readership.

George Bond
Guest

good article dimitri..from the heart….heres a foreigners view of ja….british,lived here for 11 years….pure and simply Jamaicans are their own worst enemies…..I came here to retire…I renovated a 1 acre farm…I did most of what I wanted to do but it was against a constant resistance of Jamaicans badmindedness and gov agency tardiness……there is a constant awareness that at any time I can be targeted by badmen..they will lose if they do..but its a pressure that detracts from the so called ” paradise “….I intend to die here,my bit of Jamaica is great..my paradise..Jamaicans not included…I cannot imagine anyone from… Read more »

Paul Clayton
Guest

Everything said is correct but we all have to agree to educate, and remove the political tribalism that breeds hatered and violence. Not only to love the poor but to get rid of poverty.

Sweetland Photos
Guest

Well written piece Dimitri. I know you had to rely heavily on memory and on current events and media. I like the perspectives from which you deliver this article, you have touched on quite a lot of the problem that beset our beloved Jamaica. Jamaica is a mixed bag of good and bad as we excel in so many areas locally and internationally, but its the needling problem of crime that always get the headlines, like crying child who know how to get the attention of its parent and elders its us who need to figure out what the child… Read more »

Christopher CA
Guest

Wow. Well said.

Sandy Grey
Guest

Well said Dimitri.. I fully understand the feeling of hopelessness. which is something Jamaican’s in the Diaspora wouldn’t totally get. Degrees & intentions..they all pale in the face of systemic oppression and failed politics. Regardless of the global issues, there are some serious core local ones which only we can address. Take heart in the fact that the brave act of speaking out is a step in the right..or maybe I should say CORRECT Direction…change may take us some time, and we know it can begin with small actions. You are part of that change. You have acted!

Michael Abrahams
Guest

Dimitri I understand your sentiments and share your pain.

Garth Delapenha
Guest

thank you for sharing your thoughts here. As a Jamaican who lives abroad and who expresses a fair amount of social commentary with an activist’s twist, I have noticed that reaction to some of my more controversial ideas, from people who agree with my thoughts, have come to me in private. In fact, even the hostile reactions (they are many fewer), also tend to not be publicly expressed, by Jamaicans writing from there. I know that as someone who does not live there it is ‘easy’ enough for me to spout off at this keyboard without the fear or reality… Read more »

Lisa Fillery
Guest

I take my hat off to Dimitri every single word has profound meaning and truth if only this could be put into practice it will be so good !

Bob Stewart
Guest

Well said..unfortunately we need more of our people to be on the same line of thinking…one man alone cannot do this we need strength in numbers only then will be able to make inroads to change the system and the mindset of our people. We also need the elected members of our society to realise that they are the custodians of our constitution and therefore it must be guarded in the interest of the whole nation and not just the parties in office. I implore all Jamaican to rise up as one unit and start building the country and politicians,… Read more »

Claire Nelson
Guest

Dimitri..WHINE FOR YOURSELF>> Most of us who are actively working to change things are PROUD JAMAICANS .. WARTS.. and ALL> We feel NO STIGMA! You need to check yourself.. Sure this was written three years ago.. But since then what have you done.. besides WHINING .. You really need to take this post down.. as it does not make you look like anything other than a cowardly Lyon.. THree years after you penned this emotional sob story.. What have you done to MAKE a diference in JAMAICA>> Do you now belong to any of the various Diaspora Organizations working hard… Read more »

Jamaica Queen
Guest

No one has a right to take another person’s life. However, I believe if jobs are created for the people, there will be less crime. I also believe that citizens who you have referred in your article from the ghetto have truly being ignored by those who are of certain socio-economic class. This sort of discrimination brought forth resentment and only affects these individual mentally with blinders to see no other way out, but to be involved in crime. You are forgetting the American Television that corrupts the mind of many Jamaican youths. The baggy pants, the tattoos, the nose… Read more »

Stephanie Vanpetterson
Guest

Jamaica is Paradise BUT the people are destroying it. Excellent read though and we need to make a change.

Kevin Fisch
Guest

The Zeitgeist Movement.

Michael Diamond
Guest

An interesting personal perspective. Jamaica is a true paradise to many, even those subjected to the harsh realities of post- colonialism. There are significant progress being made for the island nation and the people are waking up and taking responsibility for their part in bringing sustainable change.

Wally Greenwood
Guest

The first step towards solution is to acknowledge the existence of a problem. Jamaica’s problem is dynamic, complexed and multi-dimentional. It has incrementally evolved over many years and in some instances eluded the response and scrutiny that would have been afforded an acute presentation. The concerns that you have articulated represent a sampling of the real conditions and complexities. Unfortunately, there are many privileged Jamaicans who continue to exploit resources that are provided to address and hopefully remedy the status quo. The prevailing attitude of entitlement has eroded the work ethics and sense of personal satisfaction that were once the… Read more »

Rudy Robinson
Guest

I read your article with interest, and was not surprised by your feelings of hopelessness. As you said, you are from uptown Kingston, this implies that you were never trained or educated to deal with the problems of your homeland only to observe and comment on them. Instead you would have been schooled to migrate to “greener pastures” where you will have a family, grow old and live out your days on a handsome retirement plan. I’m not attacking you personally, your reality is that of about 80% of all tertiary level graduates that grew up in Jamaica and the… Read more »

Granville Morgan
Guest

Talking is what we do very well, now that the discussion continues, lets take the next step to act!! Dimitri Lyon take the lead with this one as you have displayed the necessary skills to capture and keep the attention of many. lets start the changing process!! i am on Board!!

Maurice Tucker
Guest

Funny how people who are not in the mix can talk a lot of shit talking will not solve anything what are you doing about it now

Ingrid V Lambie
Guest

Good comments perhaps Jamaicans living abroad can unite to find viable solutions.
Regards Ingrid

Devon Gordon
Guest

Dimitri, I always like your writing. This is a sad, but well written article. I left Jamaica at the age of six, when Jamaica became independent, I was born and lived in the country, I’m now almost 60. Having visited fairly regularly, I have seen progress from a material standpoint. I remember pit latrines as a child, now when I visit, no one that I know has a pit latrine. That is a significant sign of progress. As an outsider, I have also been touched by the killing, robbery and physical assault of family members who were simply trying to… Read more »

Shivon Cooper
Guest

This is a good read but I feel like the article is putting alot of blame on the lower class Jamaican people for Jamaica’s inability to move forward socially and economically. We need to understand that there are systems of oppression in place here. There are institutions oppressing lower class Jamaicans and upper/middle class Jamaicans are oppressing lower class Jamaicans. How can anything change if we can’t even acknowledge our own privilege over lower class Jamaicans? In order for a more egalitarian Jamaican society people need to be willing to give up some of their own privilege. Are we willing… Read more »

James Henkle
Guest

Even as a tourist a permissible attitude towards corruption by local officials at the international airport that I arrived at, was noticeable. I was interrogated and almost threatened with extortion because my personal belongings were ‘too nice’ by their estimation. It’s sad to see such a beautiful country so troubled. There were others that I met, that had been ‘taxed’ for their belongings being too nice, that money did not go towards the betterment of the country, it went into the pockets of the officials on duty. I blogged about my recent trip there. I met another couple in my… Read more »

Emily Mwate
Guest

see what “Independence” does ??? Jamaica should of stayed under the commonwealth (the queen) things would of been a lot better for the country and its people

George Bond
Guest

good article dimitri..from the heart….heres a foreigners view of ja….british,lived here for 11 years….pure and simply Jamaicans are their own worst enemies…..I came here to retire…I renovated a 1 acre farm…I did most of what I wanted to do but it was against a constant resistance of Jamaicans badmindedness and gov agency tardiness……there is a constant awareness that at any time I can be targeted by badmen..they will lose if they do..but its a pressure that detracts from the so called ” paradise “….I intend to die here,my bit of Jamaica is great..my paradise..Jamaicans not included…I cannot imagine anyone from… Read more »

Claire Nelson
Guest

Dimitri..WHINE FOR YOURSELF>> Most of us who are actively working to change things are PROUD JAMAICANS .. WARTS.. and ALL> We feel NO STIGMA! You need to check yourself.. Sure this was written three years ago.. But since then what have you done.. besides WHINING .. You really need to take this post down.. as it does not make you look like anything other than a cowardly Lyon.. THree years after you penned this emotional sob story.. What have you done to MAKE a diference in JAMAICA>> Do you now belong to any of the various Diaspora Organizations working hard… Read more »

Emily Mwate
Guest

see what “Independence” does ??? Jamaica should of stayed under the commonwealth (the queen) things would of been a lot better for the country and its people

Fran Chin
Guest

Can you guys do something about that Ad. that covers your article? It’s a deterrent to what could be a growing readership.

Trevor McPherson
Guest

I am 100 percentage agree with every word you say. The only problem is we who are dying to see a change in our lovely country, are helpless. I am now living in a foreign country and my greatest wish is to return to my country,a place call home. But I am scared. But one thing I will never give up on my dreams. I am hoping a change will come some day, The Eternal God please wave your hands over Jamaica for all of us that yarning for change Eternal God pleas bless Jamaica

Ingrid V Lambie
Guest

Good comments perhaps Jamaicans living abroad can unite to find viable solutions.
Regards Ingrid

Joy Duncan-Cohall
Guest

Sorry you feel so hopeless. I am sure that there is much more you could do to bring hope to our country. I currently work in a large inner-city neighborhood in the US where there are at least 5 murders DAILY. Yes Jamaica is smaller in size and population, so our crime rate stands out but we have made progress. As a develoPING country, there are still many issues to resolve economically and politically. I think with all your degrees and insight there is much more you could do to help. How can you as a motivational speaker be so… Read more »

Rudy Robinson
Guest

I read your article with interest, and was not surprised by your feelings of hopelessness. As you said, you are from uptown Kingston, this implies that you were never trained or educated to deal with the problems of your homeland only to observe and comment on them. Instead you would have been schooled to migrate to “greener pastures” where you will have a family, grow old and live out your days on a handsome retirement plan. I’m not attacking you personally, your reality is that of about 80% of all tertiary level graduates that grew up in Jamaica and the… Read more »

Jamaica Queen
Guest

No one has a right to take another person’s life. However, I believe if jobs are created for the people, there will be less crime. I also believe that citizens who you have referred in your article from the ghetto have truly being ignored by those who are of certain socio-economic class. This sort of discrimination brought forth resentment and only affects these individual mentally with blinders to see no other way out, but to be involved in crime. You are forgetting the American Television that corrupts the mind of many Jamaican youths. The baggy pants, the tattoos, the nose… Read more »

Devon Gordon
Guest

Dimitri, I always like your writing. This is a sad, but well written article. I left Jamaica at the age of six, when Jamaica became independent, I was born and lived in the country, I’m now almost 60. Having visited fairly regularly, I have seen progress from a material standpoint. I remember pit latrines as a child, now when I visit, no one that I know has a pit latrine. That is a significant sign of progress. As an outsider, I have also been touched by the killing, robbery and physical assault of family members who were simply trying to… Read more »

Shivon Cooper
Guest

This is a good read but I feel like the article is putting alot of blame on the lower class Jamaican people for Jamaica’s inability to move forward socially and economically. We need to understand that there are systems of oppression in place here. There are institutions oppressing lower class Jamaicans and upper/middle class Jamaicans are oppressing lower class Jamaicans. How can anything change if we can’t even acknowledge our own privilege over lower class Jamaicans? In order for a more egalitarian Jamaican society people need to be willing to give up some of their own privilege. Are we willing… Read more »

James Henkle
Guest

Even as a tourist a permissible attitude towards corruption by local officials at the international airport that I arrived at, was noticeable. I was interrogated and almost threatened with extortion because my personal belongings were ‘too nice’ by their estimation. It’s sad to see such a beautiful country so troubled. There were others that I met, that had been ‘taxed’ for their belongings being too nice, that money did not go towards the betterment of the country, it went into the pockets of the officials on duty. I blogged about my recent trip there. I met another couple in my… Read more »

Wally Greenwood
Guest

The first step towards solution is to acknowledge the existence of a problem. Jamaica’s problem is dynamic, complexed and multi-dimentional. It has incrementally evolved over many years and in some instances eluded the response and scrutiny that would have been afforded an acute presentation. The concerns that you have articulated represent a sampling of the real conditions and complexities. Unfortunately, there are many privileged Jamaicans who continue to exploit resources that are provided to address and hopefully remedy the status quo. The prevailing attitude of entitlement has eroded the work ethics and sense of personal satisfaction that were once the… Read more »

Garth Delapenha
Guest

thank you for sharing your thoughts here. As a Jamaican who lives abroad and who expresses a fair amount of social commentary with an activist’s twist, I have noticed that reaction to some of my more controversial ideas, from people who agree with my thoughts, have come to me in private. In fact, even the hostile reactions (they are many fewer), also tend to not be publicly expressed, by Jamaicans writing from there. I know that as someone who does not live there it is ‘easy’ enough for me to spout off at this keyboard without the fear or reality… Read more »

Bob Stewart
Guest

Well said..unfortunately we need more of our people to be on the same line of thinking…one man alone cannot do this we need strength in numbers only then will be able to make inroads to change the system and the mindset of our people. We also need the elected members of our society to realise that they are the custodians of our constitution and therefore it must be guarded in the interest of the whole nation and not just the parties in office. I implore all Jamaican to rise up as one unit and start building the country and politicians,… Read more »

Michael Diamond
Guest

An interesting personal perspective. Jamaica is a true paradise to many, even those subjected to the harsh realities of post- colonialism. There are significant progress being made for the island nation and the people are waking up and taking responsibility for their part in bringing sustainable change.

Sandy Grey
Guest

Well said Dimitri.. I fully understand the feeling of hopelessness. which is something Jamaican’s in the Diaspora wouldn’t totally get. Degrees & intentions..they all pale in the face of systemic oppression and failed politics. Regardless of the global issues, there are some serious core local ones which only we can address. Take heart in the fact that the brave act of speaking out is a step in the right..or maybe I should say CORRECT Direction…change may take us some time, and we know it can begin with small actions. You are part of that change. You have acted!

Granville Morgan
Guest

Talking is what we do very well, now that the discussion continues, lets take the next step to act!! Dimitri Lyon take the lead with this one as you have displayed the necessary skills to capture and keep the attention of many. lets start the changing process!! i am on Board!!

Close