We stifle our creativity to our defeat

Letters to the Editor

We stifle our creativity to our defeat

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The coronavirus pandemic is here to stay for the foreseeable future. This has left the Jamaican Government in a precarious situation to ensure Jamaica's economy gets back on track and working to mitigate the social gaps exacerbated by the pandemic.

However, this is also an opportunity for the Jamaican Government to take the socio-economic issues by the horns and work towards developing our human capital and, by extension, create sustainable changes throughout our society.

Interestingly, Prime Minister Andrew Holness stated that our survival as a people is often based on small businesses, such as corner shops or community bars, he called this “the economy around bars”. Based on anecdotal evidence, it could be argued that Jamaica has the largest number of bars per square mile in any developing country. Point is, Jamaica has a whole lot of bars. We may then ask ourselves the question: Why is this a cultural phenom in a place like Jamaica? Then we may start to think about the fact that, historically, we produce rum. We may also agree that bars are the poor man's escape from the harsh realities of Jamaica. The point is Jamaica has a lot of bars because our society has failed to develop human capital and nurture creativity for the development of other economic ventures outside of bars and small merchant shops across the island.

Jamaicans are talented people, but we must admit that we have failed poor Jamaicans by not investing in their development as a people beyond remedial education. We have many bar owners and shopkeepers who had dreams of becoming something else in life, as we say, but they have not seen many examples like themselves being authentic and successful.

Our educational institutions need to inspire people to be not just lawyers or doctors, but successful people. For many years human capital development has lagged behind because we have not taught our students life skills, to nurture creativity, and ultimately promote diversity and inclusion in the Jamaican society.

Jamaicans are largely descendants of slaves and, much like our brothers across the globe who had the same experiences, we are susceptible to poverty and anti-blackness in varied forms. Particularly in Jamaica, we struggle with colourism and classism.

We must teach our people to love themselves beyond the vestiges of colonialism and this will inspire Jamaicans to look beyond systems of oppression and cultivate their unique creative spirits into economic powerhouses. Instead, in the year 2020 we are scrambling to register these unregistered bars and shrink our informal economy. This is great; however, Jamaicans are more than unattached bar owners. We are diverse people with many dreams and aspirations. Jamaica needs to create room for this to enable each Jamaican to be innovative and successful. We can do this by employing meritocracy in our institutions, diversifying educational curricula to engender critical thinking, and, lastly, we should invest in reducing classism and social exclusion of minorities throughout our society. This will prove beneficial for our future and beyond.

Jamaica nice, but it can be nicer for everyone.



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