Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Preparing for the World's Backlash

Bruce Golding's interview, aired yesterday on BBC, brought out some of the best and worst of Jamaica, in the eyes of the world.

One the one hand we are a feisty bunch of people, who are unwilling to be be dictated to, or humbled by outside forces.

On the other hand we have an astronomic murder rate and there exists a widespread, open hatred of homosexuals that goes well past mere homophobia.

Last night Golding, who I admire in many ways, candidly responded that he would not have a gay person in his cabinet. His distaste and contempt seemed palpable to me.

He implied that the reason for this decision was to enable them to execute their duties "without favour, fear or intimidation."

I imagined Jamaicans looking on with pride, as the comments on the YouTube video of the interview reflected:

I imagined most of the world looking on in horror.

At that moment I felt what it would like to be on the receiving end of the world's lobbying efforts, with my country, Jamaica, arguing that it did not need to heed the calls from the rest of the world for human rights for an oppressed minority. We join China, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Myanmar/Burma and others in arguing that we should be left alone to determine our own future free of outside interference from the test of the world.

Our complaint should not be new as we heard it loud and clear when white South Africa made the same plea in defense of their Apartheid system

We have a bigger problem, however. Tourism makes up a significant part of our earnings (the second largest source of foreign exchange.)

Golding's words certainly won't help us attract more visitors.

It will probably attract more of the kind of attention these repressive regimes shared, as we implement our own Apartheid.

We continue to try to have our cake and eat it too. This point seems to have been lost on Golding yesterday, as he made what most around the world would agree were unusually divisive and bigoted comments. The undertone of his words was clear -- gays are just not.... enough to be in his cabinet. They are too.... to serve in that capacity.

He sounded like any Jamaican speaking here in Kingston, just a lot milder in his comments than the average man in the street. In Jamaica, it's said that he couldn't say his real feelings, because the world couldn't handle them.

However, in the rest of the world, I imagine, his spoken words on the BBC HardTalk programme are enough to provoke outrage, boycotts, demonstrations and calls for Jamaica to join the company of civilized nations. -- Click here

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At 5/22/2008 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A recent poll of "favorite ports" among people who cruise a lot had Jamaica _dead last_ against every other port in the Caribbean. The reason? Unfortunately, the people. Complaints were of hawkers that were overly agressive and men who agressively pursued women that wanted to be left alone. Of course, crime, robbery and assaults were also issues. Like it or not, the reputation of Jamaica is plummeting as a vacation destination.


At 5/24/2008 7:07 PM, Blogger David Williams, M.D., M.P.H. said...

How easily, the PM discounts and discards an entire group/class of people. Jamaica is in need of the skills and talents of it sons and daughters. However, with such a puiblic declaration Mr. Golding has told gay Jamaicans that their contributions are not needed. And he wonders why we don't make an effort to return home. The choice we face is go deep in the closet and underground or risk loss of life, limb, bodily injury and the ability to earn a living. Hmmm...I think I'll pass.

Dr. D

At 5/30/2008 12:23 PM, Blogger BlackMan said...

I saw the same BBC Hardtalk interview and what Golding was saying is basically he would choose people based on their ability not on the gayness or homosexuality.

I think you've picked up this issue, swallowed it, gotten indigestion then spewed it out whole all over the internet to infect others with your fear of the fear that you fear you fear...

At 5/30/2008 3:18 PM, Blogger fwade said...

Here is a link to the transcript of the interview in which the Prime Minister says "Not mine" three times when he was asked if he would allow someone who is gay in his cabinet.

But also, there is a video of the interview in my prior post.

At 5/10/2009 3:25 PM, Anonymous Trinidad. Adventist. Gay?! said...

In one sense I think that "gay" as an identity in Jamaica and the Caribbean is a non-starter; so it is unlikely that gays here feel "slighted" and "hurt".
The reason they may flee or stay away is because of violence; which I would also argue--unpopularly--is not fueled by the government either.
Golding could not have said otherwise. In Trinidad or Barbados our politicians could get away with a little weaseling. More likely the topic would not have come up.


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