Life is hard for the average Jamaican, not just because they have to deal with unemployment/underemployment, crime, lack of social mobility and general negativity. In this case, it’s hard for the youth because they have to get advice from some of the worst example setters this side of the hemisphere. That might sound harsh but the proof is in the pudding, there are very few role models in our communities, cities and country that is worth looking up or listening to.
In Hindsight, most of the older men I grew up around were functionally literate at best. When you are young, it is natural to look at those that come before you and try and emulate or surpass their achievements. This is human nature and it happens all over the world. Especially if those persons have something in common with you like race or religion. What makes things worse is, older Jamaicans act as if young people inherited a safe, prosperous country and then ruined it in the last 5 years. Youth blaming is now a national past time.
Kruff a lead Kruff
Young people are like sponges, they soak up what is around them. A lot of Jamaican young men are told that if they do not have a lot of children with a lot of women, then they are less of a man. As soon their pubic hair starts to grow they set out on this quest to prove their manliness like some kind of ancient birthright test. Who taught them this? the “elders” who came before them that’s who.
This cave man logic is one of the single biggest factors holding back Jamaica’s prosperity and development. Jamaican “elders” are some of the only people you will ever hear, argue that having 15 kids with 15 different women is normal and has no negative impact on those children. Rational people would clearly see that if one man is stretched so far, each child must miss out on their father’s time and attention greatly, and that is not even counting the financial strain. Any country/community with this mindset is always plagued with crime and social issues.
A lot of men think they are super dads because they drop off a new school shoe or send the kid’s lunch money on time. This is what they brag about because they can’t brag about hearing the kid’s first words or have intimate stories to tell that can only come from having a child around you on a daily basis. Guys are proud to tell you about their baby mother in “foreign” with a kid that barely knows who they are. These are the supposed role models who are guiding the next generation of young men in this country.
alot of successful Jamaicans are/were criminals
Let’s face it, young people mostly look up to people who live a fun/successful life. When you live in a community that has alot of successful people you immediately try to aspire to be like them. If your neighbour is the CEO of a successful company or an engineer that builds bridges and skyscrapers it makes people try and walk in the same footsteps. Normally role models are people who are in enviable positions.
What happens when the only people you see around you driving the nicest cars and dating the most beautiful women are criminals? For some young men, every one they know who is financially secure is a drug dealer so that is who they emulate. They do not want to be their parents, they came up seeing their parents struggle to make ends meet. They want to be the guy who has it in abundance, it might not be fair but that is how it is.
Have you ever notice how children who come from certain backgrounds just coincidentally end up doing what their family does? daddy was a teacher so they became a teacher, uncle was a soldier so they became a soldier etc. Young people follow in the footsteps of those before them, so what is the young man with 4,5 gunmen in his family likely to do? well, follow them. Sure, he might break the trend but the fact that criminality is normalised in his environment makes him far more likely to end up on the wrong side of the law.
take away sports and music, what do we have left?
Name 10 Jamaicans off the top of your head who are very successful and is not associated with crime, sports or music? especially black Jamaicans. I am sorry to break the news to you but Jamaican young men don’t identify with the ISSA or Stewarts families. The same goes abroad, black boys in America do not look at Bill Gates and think, that could be me. They see these people as distant and out of reach but the local don is within arms distance. You actually see him drive past on a daily basis in his BMW car and his pretty girl in the front. They can converse with him and take on whatever bogus advice he has to give them.
Until we can start to wrestle back the attention of these young men back from the criminal lifestyle, that is what they will be drawn to. We must wake up and realize that so far Jamaica has been a massive underachieving nation, outside of music and sports. The “elders” who have been tasked with guiding the youths are themselves failures. This is a country where even the role models end up serving jail time with the same people they gave advice to. Ninja Man, a Danchell icon who used to spend hours “guiding” the youths on his social media pages, just got found guilty of murder. Not even Hollywood could make this up.
From a personal standpoint, I accept my responsibility even though I am still a youth myself. Maybe it will not be our fathers and grandfather’s generation that turns the tide towards positive role models, but instead the youth. Even the Bible says “A little child shall lead them”. Scripture
P.S This article focuses on young men as they are the ones who are killing and getting killed the most. This is not a competition for who is most vulnerable, young women have their own issues and I will address them but this one is about our young men.