Ronald Thwaites | ‘Suck yu …’
That is what the sullen student told the substitute teacher when given a mild reproof last week. You fill in the blanks.
His is the story of deep self-disrespect which will defeat the 2030 vision, ‘5 in 4’, seven years of states of emergency, seven more zones of special operations and anything else we try – unless we deal with his situation, and the tens of thousands like him being spawned daily in a culture of post-modernism, where selfish feelings, profiling, and an intentional confusion between public relations and mass reality prevail. On top of those, add crushing poverty and the infections of history.
This young guy doesn’t even realise how insulting his curse is to the lady, his peers, and himself. It’s the jargon he hears daily in the gun-infested community where he lives. Uncommunicative, generally, and unwilling to apologise for his outburst, he waxes eloquent about the different types of weapons he knows. His life experience does not involve going to church.
His mother attends the disciplinary hearing dressed in her best clothes – full dancehall style with a flaming wig. At least she comes. But she hardly knows her son. She ‘gave’ him to his father when, with a months-old child, they stopped ‘talking’. Daddy later got the chance to go abroad, can’t return, nor can he repair the bond with a boy child becoming a young man who has been boxing around between a stepmother who, understandably, cared little and a grandmother who couldn’t control him. So he is back with mother (who has her own other family now) for the first time since infancy.
The “suck yu ...” event is the latest infraction by said youth. Homework is never done, just like about four in every 10 of the others in the class. The teachers are at their wits’ end. Expulsion seems the answer. There is a hold out on the school board who points out that school is the best thing going for this guy.
Without somewhere structured, however ill-equipped, he will lurch into one of the 281 gangs Horace Chang tells us about. After that, it will be GP or Dovecot for him, inevitably leaving a ‘dear friend’ and several children to mourn.
So they have decided to send him for counselling. Will he go? Will it work? Who will follow up? Is the malady which life has dealt him curable, anyway?
Contrast this true tale of woe with the stories of those students who, from not dissimilar backgrounds, are making good. That is great news, but do not be fooled into complacency. Sadly, it only takes the three to four per cent of the children who drop out of school each year to refuel the criminal culture.
It is bad enough when we cannot control the criminals of today. It is worse, fatal, eternal punishment for all of us when we incubate generations of them – incarnated in supposedly ‘prosperous’ Jamaica.
The motion in Parliament to determine why young men join criminal gangs and debate measures to prevent this will not be debated, coward and delusionary as some of us OJs and CDs are. This while the custos and the mayor join the chorus to extend the SOE just as young Mr Suck Yu ... deteriorates and multiplies under their noses.
There are three national priorities I would like to propose for 2020. First, an insistence on punctuality. Next, a sustained effort at comprehensive public cleanliness. Then, most crucial of all, a resolve to bring no more unloved children into our world. All three objectives lie within our power.
Ronald Thwaites is member of parliament for Kingston Central. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.