What they don’t teach you in School

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What they don’t Teach you in School

First thing, that piece of paper don’t mean one thing. That same paper they give you after three or four years of Slaving away in Babylon system, it don’t mean one thing.

(Of course, it mean something. What you mean? It mean everything)

Alright. Gwaan play fool. Is a set up. A Scam. Me never tell bout it?

First thing that toxic air of purpose should a stifle you. “You can be anything you want to be. Be the change you wish to see, make a difference, knowledge is power for true.”

Damn educated fool.

Them never tell you don’t?

Of course, man. Remember that lecturer from first year? You member her man. You didn’t like her because she was the first one to tell you the truth.

“Hey, some of you going to have to start invent jobs for yourselves.”

And she give that laugh. That same laugh you listen for whenever she break off into one of her stories.

(Same thing. That piece of paper don’t mean nothing)

And you roll your eyes and make up your face.

So how you end up here? Hmm? Not one strand of black hair leave on your head. A time to give the young people a chance. People like you must be telling your grandchildren ole time stories or sleeping under the sun on Seven Mile beach.

Now, that is the realest and most honest thing a teacher could ever tell a student.

You believe her now don’t? Bugger you. Yeah man. That fi reach you. Gwaan dream with your eyes open.

So, just imagine after four years and don’t call this a real job experience cause your granny did tell you. This is not a real job. This country don’t respect educated people. Some a them push up them nose at you.

Watch her to, after she no more than me. Imagine she bust her brain for three whole years and the two a we sit dung a yard. Only she lock up in her White House. A hide out.

“So, what you doing for yourself now?”

You think them give a rass everybody know say job hard to get. Think we nuh see you when you dress up in a pretty suit a march down the road like your Friday come? Yeah man. We see you. And we want justice to. No body no respect poor people neither. So, see, we is the same thing. Only you buss your brain. We don’t have to strain a muscle. Look pon you to, ‘bout you scrape up the people them good good money and dash pon government. Fi them bread butter long time. Good as all owe student loan to. Poor you. Now, a that you call gamble.

Think we don’t hear you from your granny window? Yes you. You with the stars in your eyes always ready to give an Obama yes, we can speech.

So after sending out how much resumes. Gwaan cross your fingers and pray over the paper. And what? Nothing? Gwaan pour water in a basket. Poor people pray to. We ban we belly and bawl. Drop and roll and bawl out fi Jesus.

So, imagine after all of that, now this internship.

(It’s not a real job) so don’t start with that song bout it’s the beginning of an extraordinary life. There is no such thing. You just nuff and extra and life just plain ordinary.

So, imagine now. You dressed for success. You just land. You just arrived. University Graduate and all your accolades.

Yes. Wear the brand-new Mk watch The rose gold one. And matching bag. Time to step into them Steve Madden nude heels. Girl you ready. A your time now.  You did even go church Sunday and get an extra touch of blessing. You shouldn’t wash off the olive oil. Yes, step out of failure and walk out into success.

You too nice fi walk pan road. My girl if me did a your man me woulda carry you pan my back. A so you careless you couldn’t even find a taxi man? Nice nice girl like you? Yeah man, gwaan like you too nice.

You can’t go sweat up in a government bus where all sort a nigger who not even have the decency to put on deodorant from Morning. No man. You need to get one of them fancy uptown taxi to exhort you.

How you mean, yes girl a you this. You ready.

But wait.

Driver, you sure this is the place? No? This is so and so Avenue, Kingston 10? You sure. See the sign deh, you can’t read?

This can’t be it.

What? You were meant for more? Say it nuh. You should be in one of them Skyscraper buildings on Knutsford Boulevard or Kings Street.

(My girl, come back to Jamaica, is full time you forget about the land of opportunities)

Driver you sure this is the right place?

(The man shoulda run you out of him car)

It’s just marl. Is what you want? Asphalt and a garden with a statue? Just step out in your Steve Madden heels and straighten your linen pants. You’re ready, this is it.

Remember, it’s not what’s on the outside that counts.

Touch up your makeup. And walk through like you own the place. Look at yourself man. At least them have a glass door. Look at you girl. Real boss lady, real independent woman. Smile a little not too wide man. Don’t overdo it.

But you try not to twist your ankle walking in the gravel.  To not soil your clean cream blouse on the rusty door. Try not to touch anything.

(Lord knows you don’t belong here)

You try not to remember the smell of dust.

(Bet you is paper them sending you to file)

But them could a bright and facety, give who paper? Them muss rass mad. You know who I am? (I am… Graduate of the university– never mind that)

So, you try not to remember the scent of old dust, untouched like fresh ideas, like paper waiting to be filed.

(Everything in this damn country pile up).

Make sure you cross your ankles. Careful. Don’t let that tongue slip and chat bad. You know the way them teach at that prep school from your eye deh a your knee. Yes, speaky- spokey like you can’t mash ants. Sophisticated. Yes. Sophisticated.

You don’t belong here.

Yes man. Tell the lady who you are.

What?  The words them hitch up in a your throat?

You are a university graduate…

So of course, When the supervisor sends you to their other branch. My girl don’t ketch heart attack and drop down in a the people them place. Not even ambulance you want to pick you up here so. The Lord will work it out somehow.

Yes. Lord. God did know long time say you don’t belong here.

But you fail the test fair and square.

Yes, go home and wipe the marl off your shoes girl.

Matter of fact fling weh the blasted shoes. That is a whole other story.

Just imagine, after that long day with the shoes squeezing you so tight you walking like nail in your shoes.

On top of all a that the rain decide to fall. And you walking danity using the umbrella as a crutch. Walking like Miss Cindy who rock from left to right taking her own sweet time. Those new shoes squeeze you till your two-little toe bruise. Twenty- six houses until home. Alright. Left foot then right foot. Think about tomorrow. You know what just fling weh the damn shoes. What you working for if you can’t buy yourself a pair of new shoes? Just walk barefoot. Walk and wade through. Never mind the rain. It’s just a drizzle.

Yes. Tomorrow. If you want good your nose have to run.

Wake up before the cock crow with hope flooding your eyes and a prayer on your lips. Today is a different day. New shoes to fill.

Stick. A. Pin.

Now, this is what you call no man’s land. A really where them a send me. Not even a sign. Them even on google map?

Not again. This worse than the first place. More dust. More rust. More ideas stack up.

Just relax my girl you really that shallow?

Alright. It’s what’s on the inside that count.

This is reality now, what you going to do with it?

Dream with your eyes open?

(Lord God please don’t say make lemonade out of lemons)

So, no that it mean?

This is reality. What you going to do with it?

Now, you tell me. Show me what that paper means.

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This is how we Survive 

Some survive through art,                                    Music                                                                        Poetry.                  


And sometimes a calming voice,                   Dares us to rebel,                                                 To free ourselves.

How do you survive?

“They don’t want to see us unite

All they want us to do is keep on fussing and fighting

They don’t want to see us live together

All they want us to do is keep on killing one another.”

–  Bob Marley – Top Rankin’ 

The Seduction of Power and more…

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The Paradox of Power, the greatest enemy and ally.

“It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.”

     William Ernest Henley

I stand by my belief that to know the nature of anything, one must embrace it. The general perceptions of power often evoke images of dominion, a path to moral destruction. A world that is hierarchical and scarcity oriented, images that are both alluring and intimidating. The temptation of power has been a plague to all great men for centuries. It would seem that there is only darkness behind the curtain of power. And so naturally, my engaging introduction to Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of power, was reminiscent of Pandora holding the beautiful box filled with the ills of mankind. However, I share a different view on this duplicitous world in which Greene has created based on the laws of power and impenetrable success.

 

The nature of power can be summed up simply as man’s nature and desire for control. But control of what? For most, power holds the promise and glory of the gods. People often crave the power to become gods, but instead become things. Power in and of itself isn’t a bad, wanting it isn’t a bad thing either; it can be an enemy of an ally perhaps both. A critique of Green’s, The 48 Laws of Power characterizes it as authoritative, manipulative and corruptive, a device to acquire and maintain absolute power. Though his book personifies false standards of measuring success and embodies the fear of economical and mental impotence. From this ocean of knowledge, I was drawn to four of the laws outlined by Greene; which led me to interrogate the various definitions of power.  Through philosophical, psychological and sociological mediums, a provoking reflection on how and what people think about power, how one internalizes it and how one responds and is affected by it. To be honest power for me is a very complex word, one word that means everything and nothing. My first response towards my introduction to the book was, I need to know as much as I can; so that I can know the nature of power, whether to embrace or resist it.

Elaborating on the fanatical frenzy and propagandas of power…

“The measure of a man is what he does with power.” 
― 
Plato

Perhaps, it isn’t about control, about who can own whom, about who can play the dangerous ‘Game of Appearances,’ best. Perhaps, it isn’t about who towers over or trembles below. Or a forbidden fruit or a beautiful box filled with poisonous treats. Perhaps, it is a woman who sits in silence, cradling the dreams of men between her breast.

The concept of power to most is like opening Pandora’s box it can get messy. So as my eyes skimmed the table of contents, I was captivated by 4 nations of power outlined by Greene   law 5, so much depends on my reputation guard it with your life. I partly agree with his theories my interest led to questions about his idea of “The game of appearances” the alarm goes off in my head, “deception, power dynamics, etc.” The idea of putting an appearance with a stamp of approval is questionable. The game of appearances, wearing masks? Why endorse such a culture? Though true that people aren’t what they seem or appear to be, there seems to be no line of right and wrong, no moral compass. Beneath Greene’s seduction of power is the ugly and terrifying truth that one must subscribe to these rules, to acquire and maintain the power that people want. The book is blatantly political. Greene introduces the laws prescribed to have power over people, complete domination of your position and total annihilation of your enemy. One might agree that his laws are there to prepare one to thrive “In a world where everything revolves around power and political dexterity. On the other hand, “laws are meant to be broken.” Be a rebel if you wish, yet one cannot live in alienation of this diverse complexity.

There is no doubt and Greene does make confident statements and provide adequate examples to illustrate these laws throughout the history of men. Virtue is tossed aside and one must write these laws in their hearts and commit to them. Ultimately, one become, “things” of power, rather than exercising human virtue and courage over the fear of quivering beneath the powerful. The trick is to intimidate one by making you feel powerless, this creates a desperation for it within. There is no virtue in playing the game of appearances. Like many controversial topics, Greene arguments / laws contradict each other. Rather than masters, we become slaves. In many ways we become slaves to our beliefs, fears and insecurities. Freedom comes with the ability to embrace your fears, to understand what it means to be whole and empty with equal measure. Molding power, without letting it run wild. The power and the money and everything will come as a byproduct, rather than something that you chase directly in trying to be superior to other people.

 

 

Beyond the screen and more…

Mobile Phones: Necessity or nuisance?

Technology Art

((PING)) and ((DING)) are the morning songs and bedtime lullabies of the era. The most pervasive and avidly used mode of technology now fits perfectly in the palm of 73 per cent of teenagers and scholars hand. The mobile phone has rapidly enslaved the teenage and adolescent population and has become a symbol of necessity. Everyone is slowly adjusting to the sleek and glossy device; the world is now at your fingertips. Mobile phones appear only to be a nuisance to the human mind, social relationships, and one’s personal development. Unless you’re a concerned parent, conscious driver or teacher who has to accommodate cellular phone breaks, then carry on. The mobile phone in and of itself poses no threat in particular as everyone one is absorbed in their own world.

Traditionally, the mobile phone was a signifier of communication, but it has evolved, with your phone in hand, anything is possible.  Beware of the evolution, from ‘Thinkers’ to ‘Clickers.’ The average teenager/college student falls asleep with their mobile phone in hand, waiting on a text, browsing the net or scrolling through their Facebook page with their fingers hovering over the ‘Like’ or ‘Comment’ button. People don’t interact with each other they interact with their phones. If you don’t have a relationship with your mobile phone, then you are probably not from the 21st century.

Welcome to the wonderful world of smartphones your one-stop store and apps galore; feed your appetite and subscribe to the social media where we peep into the lives of others as opposed to opening our chat box. Media bashing is on the rise, where you are absent from the world and present to the net. Superficially, the mobile phone is the perfect embodiment of human escapism and yet it is defective to the human mind and the essence of human relationships.

A powerful image was composed in the mainstream Hollywood Film Total Recall (2012) where a character was seen pulling the database and processor of a mobile phone from his hand. For the typical audience, this is an invitation or a glimpse into the future, “Cool, I want one”, would be the common cry of many viewers; however, for the critical viewer the phone has become an extension of the individual and is vital as an arm or leg is to the body.  Have you ever seen an individual without a cell phone, it is the most unsightly scene. The cell phone purchases aren’t going down. It is the era of free mobility, where individuals are plugged into their mobile phones; from the latest news to trending fashion and day to day business transaction, everything is a click away.

However, we have become defective, instead of shutting down our phones we are shutting down the vitality of the human mind. The world has remolded itself to facilitate this device, it is not one thing, it is everything. Everything is dependent on the use of a cell phone. In this era, it is indeed a necessity, where one indulges in cell phone reliance as opposed to self-reliance.  For one to simply detach themselves would be to amputate an arm or leg.

An obvious observation can be made that cell phones are escapist and entertainment devoid of any larger meaning. Mobile phones more or less endorse the popular and dominant culture which has less to do with one’s moral or social development.  It resonates a dismal future for social interaction, but a hopeful future for daily transactions. Say goodbye to long lines, poor customer service and God forbid if you ever have to interact with another human being, the motto for the new generation, Don’t talk, Scroll, Don’t think, click.

It is highly problematic and ironic that the very thing to make our lives easier and exceed possibilities will outweigh the mysteries and essence of the human mind. Technology will grow and the human mind will become invalid and outdated. Shouldn’t our lives be fuller and daily reactions less shallow, why should we become preoccupied with forging new identities? If the power goes out, will you be praying without end that your phone is charged up or will you engage in a refreshing conversation with someone in your household? Our vision has become as wide as our phone screens, why not look beyond it? While we wait for that flickering light on the screen we ignore the dimming light in the world.

 

Little Blackbird

“We could fly all right, but it wasn’t any magic to it.” (The Invention of Wings)

Blackbird

Aren’t we all like little blackbirds, flapping around in our cages?

Sue Monk Kidd wrote, “be consoled in knowing that the world depends upon the small beating in your heart.” So, be still in those moments when that thud in your chest overpowers the soft whisper of reason; the part of you that desperately wants to come home to yourself.


 

What Colour are you? Are you a camouflage? Shades of Success or a fading dream?

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“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

  • Robert Frost

 

A few weeks before I started my first degree as a literature major, I had a dream. In the dream I was in the rural parts of the country, it resembled my great-grandmother’s house. It was a late night and it was pitch black. I was walking down a road, I could tell from the landscape that there were little roads and as I moved along that diverging path, I heard my aunt’s voice pulling me back, “You are going the wrong way…”

I woke with the consciousness that dreams were a manifestation of one’s fears and anxieties. I now recall telling my cousin who had finished college and who had asked me, “how is school and don’t tell me what you tell everyone else?” I took a deep breath and replied, “I feel like I’m falling free into a deep abyss.”

Today, approximately Two and a half months since graduation after being awarded my Bachelors as a Literatures in English Major, that dream haunts me. It is one that’s synonymous to my dreams of being a writer.

Where I come from a first degree means nothing, when you live in a developing country, you compete for a job, you are placed on a waiting list, waiting for a relative or  friend to make a link for you. You sit, waiting for life to happen, waiting for a job, a rich boyfriend or a stroke of good luck for your life to begin. Waiting, for someone to decide where you live, the car you drive, waiting for someone to tell you that you’ve made the wrong choices and that perhaps you should make better decisions to get us the Benz, the house in Red Hills, you wait for someone to enlighten you about The American Dream. (I suppose that it is easier to steal and share another’s dream and make it your own, than it is to walk that dark road).

The American Dream is a global production. It is wound, coined, and fed through the blanking press of society, to be manufactured in other parts of the world.  There are, approximately, 7.392,788,921 billion people in the world. This population of 7.3 Billion is fluctuating between life and death. Out of this 7.3 billion, some are getting their Money instead of their Masters (In other parts of the world, a first degree is enough instead of getting your Masters you go get your MONEY) “The rest is just reading.”

Very few achieve that margin of greatness. Very few acquire true success. (The Car, the House, The Ideal Husband/Wife, the beautiful children) because that’s what true success really is right? Even so, very few achieve happiness, more less than often very few achieve their dreams.  Some are cowards, afraid to embrace the  passion to travel the dark road of dreams. Some are alive, but are dying to live, owning nothing but a borrowed dream, a shell of a life, empty, bare and losing visions of their true selves. The rare minority is still perfecting bravery, they are the exception. So many are counterfeit, stamped and sealed by that manufacturer of social commodity. In being false to their true selves, they become like everybody else.

What colour are you? Are you a camouflage? Shades of success or a fading dream?

Greatness is a thing to be feared. The person you are destined to be, exists. Through faith, hard work beyond the limitations of life. And that one thing we’re all afraid of, sacrifice. It exists beyond the fear of what lies on the other side. So yes, you must lose things, just as a tree blossom and shed its glorious leaves to bear fruit.

We are all afraid of  the dark aren’t we, that frightening realization that all we are and ever hope to be lies within in us.  We are afraid to confront those questions that many have asked before us.

“What marks our time here?”

What defines you and how do your choices measure you?  Who do you honor in those choices yourself or others? So many are still trying relentlessly to fit the status quo. We are afraid to say what we want aloud; it is easier to sing the other man’s song than it is to write your own.

More and more I think that words often function like pieces of a puzzle scattered all over the earth, some surrounds us, others we have to go out and find and others they are like echoes that last beyond human life.  I find moments of enlightenment to be a breath of fresh air, intoxicating even; so I will forever seek it.

One of those moments was and this seemed to be synonymously connected to other moments where words spill out of me or in most cases I listen to the voices of others. And the enigma that is the human race unfolds like a caterpillar cocooned to bloom into a butterfly.

So back to the question asked, it was probably my third re-run of one of my favorite television series. The words were etched in my mind, a question that I’ve never attempted to answer up until now or as one can see, it generates more questions. I found a part of the answer when I was introduced to a contemporary poet, Tyler Knott Gregson, “What if all we ever wanted isn’t hiding in some secret and far away dream, but inside of us now?” This seems to be more of a suggestion rather than a certainty. I’ve learned well that nothing is certain and that all things of great significance will become insignificant.

I’d like to think that it means, once you embark on a journey that each bump in the road will be looked at after as a necessity, not so much as a bump that seems separate from the journey itself but it becomes a part of it. All journeys are similar, it is said that the journey with fear brings us fearlessness and so one must embrace it, whatever it may be, to have control, to mediate the next course of action. In order to learn and know the nature of anything, love, fear, courage, we must surrender to it.

I’m often forced to recall my childhood mostly because it’s all still a blur, but one thing remains constant. I never want to lose that childlike wonder and so I chase it, I nurture it. As  a child, I was fascinated with Peter Pan, still am and for one reason alone, he still has a little magic left in him. I crave it.  That shelter and security of our dreams, “when we grow up we forget,” that there is something magical inside of us, whether it be our talents and gifts, it is there waiting to blossom into something beautiful, the very thing that will define us. I was told once that one should never forget your talents, whatever it may be, it is who you are. So in the mean time while you’re trying to meet everyone’s expectations, never forget your own.

We often forget and distract ourselves, suppressing our desires, yet creating a restlessness in our souls. Raging a war within,  to be ourselves in a world that is trying to make us like everybody else. Think of the one thing that you’ve always wanted to do, can you see it? Why aren’t you doing it? Do no not fear greatness or fight against the very thing that will define you.

“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

      -Thomas Edison

The inability to exhaust our maximum often propels the failure of courage. I was enlightened by the beautiful author Sue Monk Kidd, she spoke primarily about the inner life and the failure of courage. Why are we so afraid of the very thing that will fulfill us? Is it “the seduction of an artificial sense of urgency” that she mentioned or is it just fear? Why aren’t we doing what were are supposed to be doing? Is it the risks, the things and people we have to lose along the way? It is highly unrealistic to think that we can make it to the other side without giving or losing parts of ourselves. I am hesitant to make that declaration because there is nothing more terrifying than losing myself or the mere idea of it. But isn’t that’s what it’s all about, those who constantly chase the light within themselves must in fact find it, then lose it, then find it again?

I am only certain of that desire to find the magic within me and share it. I believe that we must act on those desires, because we are always wishing to go back and alter parts of our past. But it is also okay to stand still for a while and figure it out because many are moving and are going nowhere. Some are irretrievably lost without a destination. Find the magic in you and never lose it, begin the journey towards an extraordinary life. It is yours, it lies within. Have the courage to know what you want, to do what you want, to be who you want to be.

DEAF NOT DUMB …aka Time For Jamaica’s Deaf Community To Join The Conversation

“My experience with the Jamaican education system as a Deaf Jamaican has not been a good one,” notes Shana-Kay Goodman. She is an outspoken colleague of mine. We work alongside each other as part of a youth core of over 20 youth advocates known as Y-KLICK, an initiative sponsored by Respect Jamaica and UNICEF.

Through Y-KLICK, the 21-year-old from Old Harbour, St Catherine advocates on behalf of Deaf Jamaicans across the country. Part of the challenge she personally strives to overcome as a Deaf Jamaican are issues with the education system and its inability to meet the growing needs of the Jamaicans within the deaf community.

PBM_8853 Shana-Kay leads discussion during Y-KLICK Development Retreat 2015

Here, she tells Yuh Zeen her personal story of hardship.

Growing Up Deaf

“I was born deaf. I grew up with the disability and that journey was not easy for me. Age 12-years-old was the first…

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Sir. AJ Turtellé

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“(He) breaks from the blue-black skin of the water, dragging (his) shell with its mossy scutes across the shallows and through the rushes and over the mudflats, to the uprise, to the yellow sand…”
– Mary Oliver

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