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The Ponderings of SCsquared

The musings of my self-discovery

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My Heart

There’s Just Something About @Chunchi!

To know her is to love her. That’s the most accurate way to explain Chunchi. There is no other way to explain our friendship or our tolerance of each other. In fact, I don’t think our friendship works in the “natural order of things”. It really doesn’t. Chunchi 2016

I mean really, we have pretty much nothing in common. Continue reading “There’s Just Something About @Chunchi!”

He Said I’m Strong

You know Shikisha, I’ve always admired how strong and independent you are. You always did things for yourself, no one had to do it for you.
-Uncle Fred

Continue reading “He Said I’m Strong”

I Honour You

Growing up with a father like mine was good, bad, adventurous, chill, and all sorts of things in one. As a child, I thought my father lit up the night sky and pulled the sun out of its slumber every morning. As a teenager, I loved him but resented his work. In my early 20’s, all I wanted was his approval and respect. Now, I adore him and appreciate who he is, where he’s been and most of all, the relationship we have.

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I honor him not because he is my Daddy, but because of the man he is. The man I grew up with. The man I respect. The man who mentors me.

When I was very little, my dad always had money for the many persons who reached out to him for help. Even when we ourselves were stuck with tin mackerel for dinner, he somehow was able to always help others make ends meet.

I recall one night that he had a homeless man come to the house to bathe and get some new clothes. It wasn’t the only time it happened, but I remembered wondering why does he always do this. More importantly, why couldn’t he let them use the outside bathroom, why let them use ours? When I was a little older, he told me the man was the same as us, he just had a different struggle.

His kindness and care for others was never a matter of pity though, it was just a part of community, a genuine caring for others. It was not always the grand gesture of helping to pay university fees, but it was also in things like buying a breadfruit or a pear (avocado) for his friend just because. Why? Because that is who he is.

The struggle of being my father’s child is shared by the children of any passionate person. When you grow up with someone who is excited to go to work, who can’t wait to pursue their vision, it’s hard to settle for anything less. It is difficult to imagine a life more ordinary, because you have seen and experienced a life less ordinary. There is no return from that.

I appreciate you, my wonderful blessing of a father. I honour the love, the joy, the peace, the passion, the amazing, the principled man you are, because you have taught me about the person I only can hope to be.

 

(Originally written December 14, 2013)

My Wish

I wish you understood that the things I care about are not because they are my personal experience.
I wish you recognised that speaking about issues are not simply passion projects, that yes, they can be good business.
I wish you understood that my passion isn’t about promoting my self-interest.
My passionate cries are because someone has to speak up for the silenced.
I wish you understood that each time you say it’s not important, you enable an abuser, a cheater, a rapist, a racist, and yes, your own blindness.

If you understood that standing up for each other, even for those hidden in the shadows, meant standing up for yourself, maybe you would not be silent.
If you realised that silence enabled the Holocaust, Bosnian and Rwandan Genocides, but speaking up let the Nuremberg Trials happen, then maybe you would say something.
No, it doesn’t have to happen to you nor does it have to be the hot topic of the day, but if you say something, ask something, simply acknowledge it exists, then it doesn’t have to grow in the shadows it likes so very much.
Maybe if you said something, you could help to make it stop.

I wish you understood, I don’t care if you think I am but a voice in the wilderness because I know that I am a voice and I will use my voice until my very last breath.

(Nov. 2014)

 

Is it Worth Your Life?

 

When I was 14, my mother was murdered by a “don”. Most of my friends know this, however, let me tell you a part of the story that is rarely spoken about – the reason the Police took so long to respond.

Growing up, my mother was the parent least present, she lived in a few different places including other countries and being the youngest, I jumped at the chance to live with her when I was 12 and she was finally “stable”.

It was great, my sister and I shared a room, I started to learn about my mother who had been but a visitor in my life up til that point. I learned that she loved to cook, and she was good at it. I learned her habits, the sound of her laughter, her smell. I learned that I could always be honest with her, and what she thought was appropriate behaviour.

When I was 13, she got a boyfriend named Ricky, who moved in. I did not like him at all, but I chalked it up to being a jealous kid who just wanted a parent that was there. I pretended my gut didn’t have instincts.

Ricky was a deportee and a recovering addict who missed his flashy Miami lifestyle. When he was sober, he could be decent, but in general he was just unhappy with his life. The entire time I knew him, he cycled through addiction and recovery, violence and laughter, depression and joy. Was he evil? No, but he was broken in ways I am still unable to fully understand.

Ricky and my mother fought A LOT to say the least, and there was violence. Violence both verbally and physically. There was hitting, choking and death threats. Did my mother just take it? Certainly not, that’s not who she was. Victim was not a word one would use to describe Valerie, but victim she was.

I distinctly recall an incident in which he hit her, and I stepped in asking who does he think he is to lay a hand on my mother, his response was to raise his hand at me. My mother looked him dead in the eye and said if he ever dared touch me, he would die that day. A few days after that, he threatened to kill her, her response was “I dare you to try”.

She was someone who showed no fear, but she was still a victim of Domestic Violence. The police had been called many times to the house. They had taken statements, held Ricky in lock-up, tried to have her press charges. All for naught, she was planning on marrying him that May anyway. (She marked it on her calendar as “D-Day”.)

My mother taken him to rehab, to church, to counseling, trying to help him. Most of this was at his pleading request after he had been kicked out or found himself waking from an overdose. She had hope for him to end the cycle in his life (and ours) but it did not happen.

On the day my mother was murdered, she shouted the name of her murderer over and over as he held up the household and massacred both her & Ricky. She called out his name so loudly and in such a manner that the neighbours kept calling the police to come. This was at 7:30 in the morning. The police did not arrive until 11:00 even though the station was less than 5 minutes away.

They did not take the call seriously, they thought it was just another “Domestic Incident” where a couple were arguing. Both my mother and Ricky were murdered that morning.

Many women AND men stay in situations like this. Many Christians stay because they think leaving is betraying their vows. Many stay because they don’t think they can survive without their spouse. Many stay because they are ashamed to let anyone know. Even more stay because they think there’s hope and it will get better, statistically it won’t.

Domestic violence ends in two ways, either you leave or you die. You can’t stay in the same place and change at the same time, and neither can an abuser. Keeping them clothed, fed, or housed while they hurt you is not helping them, it is enabling them. Don’t keep yourself in the cycle, get help.

October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month and the month of my mother’s birth. If you or someone you know needs help here is a number to call:

(876) 929-9038 – Jamaica;
1-800-799-7233– USA;
0808 2000 247 – UK;

 

You were made for a better life than to be abused and mistreated by anyone.

Tears On My Pillow

Injustice for one is injustice for all.

My heart tears up at the thought of those forced to live in constant war zones; farm on barren land; not have access to potable water; live in constant fear.

The question is: What can I do about it? That isn’t the life I have, I don’t have the power to change it. I’m not a world leader, I don’t get to decide the allocation of resources to make a difference. Or do I?

The truth is, if I don’t stand up, who will? If I don’t make my voice heard, who will speak? If I speak, how much do I say? If I do something, what do I do?

Here are options available to us mere mortals when we are bothered, concerned, irritated, or empassioned by an issue we feel is beyond our reach:

  1. Donate to a cause. You may not be able to go to a war zone, or research AIDS, or dig wells; there are people who do this and they have given their lives to this. Help them with funding, no matter how great or small, you can help them.
  2. Raise awareness. Sometimes this means giving speeches, or choosing project topics on the issue. At other times, this means just raising the topic for discussion amongst friends. Use the platform you have to inspire others, to urge goodness, to educate.
  3. Apply your skill. We each have skills that are useful to world issues, some of us do PR, others do Financial Management, some build homes and others put on parties. Use the skills you have to help, be it through writing to people in power or throwing a fundraiser or calling and asking how you can volunteer your skills to help.
  4. Go. Yes, it is as simple as that. Go. Go to the area that screams out to your heart. Raise funds if you need to and go. Do you stand for Palestine or Israel – go volunteer in a refugee camp. Do you cry for hungry children in India – volunteer to feed them. There are thousands of ways to go. So, go.
  5. Focus locally. No matter what world issue you bring up, there is a local version happening in our back yards. Want to help people in war zones, or feed the starving, or bring water to communities, or help the diseased? You can do all of this where you are. There are areas in every land that people are suffering, even when it’s not on the news, it is the reality.

You can make a difference, no matter where you are, what you have or who you are. It is your choice, how you make a difference, and if you make a difference.

If you are in Jamaica, a good place to start looking is: Do Good Jamaica.
Want to go global? Try: RED, UNICEF, Salvation Army, or the Peace Corp

Mr. Mandela – My Hero

Yesterday, my sister asked why it bothered me so much that Nelson Mandela died. She saw it as a great man who had lived very long, who has been suffering from illness and is now free of that pain. My response: He was the only real hero in my lifetime.

When my parents were young and coming of age the world offered them many present heroes. They had Bustamante and Norman Manley as children, they marched with Michael Manley as young adults. They followed the likes of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. They cried when John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. These were their “present-tense” heroes.

I had one. His name was Nelson Mandela. From a far away country that I had never visited, this man helped to shape my world view. He showed me as a child that injustice should not be tolerated, even if I had never met the victim of it. He was my real life hero, my example of fighting for freedom, my example of passionate pursuit. He embodied commitment to the cause and showed me that Justice and Vengeance are not the same thing.

Nelson Mandela

When I first understood who Mandela was, it was that he was fighting against apartheid in South Africa and had been imprisoned for it. My dad is always ready to discuss world affairs and politics with me, and what apartheid was was very much a part of it. I understood that in South Africa, black people were mistreated and abused by the government and Nelson Mandela was fighting against that. He was imprisoned for it and was going to die for it.

Nelson Mandela visits his former cell at Robben Island

As a family, we stood with Mandela and all oppressed South Africans by not buying gas from Shell stations, wrote music (click here ), and spoke out on the whole situation both privately and publicly. I knew Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika as well as I knew Jamaica Land We Love, and sang it just as often. It seemed that my whole world stood with this cause. Yes, lots of things were happening in the 80’s that warranted attention, but Apartheid was a constant, and it was the injustice of it that as a people, we could not tolerate.

Then just before my birthday in 1990, Nelson Mandela was freed. I remember being so happy that Mandela was free again, the hero of the people was now walking free. I was happy for his family that got to see him again. His wife who fought on while he was imprisoned, and must have longed for her husband. I was happy for his children who must have been missing the safety of their fathers hugs. I was happy for the non-whites of South Africa who had their champion back.

I recall there were all sorts of activities celebrating his freedom (including this song). We felt a kinship with Mandela, as though he were living right here in Jamaica. This is the world I grew up in; Mandela was our brother, our comrade, our friend and our hero. We were one and the same.

Carlene (my step-mom) & Portia with Winnie Mandela

In 1991 Mandela came to Jamaica. We welcomed him home to the island he had never been to. There was a great concert at the National Stadium held in his honor and thankfully, because of my parents, I was able to be there and see him. In real life. He was right there. The country celebrated in the presence of the Mandelas the joy we felt when we first saw those photos of them walking through the streets just a year earlier.

The Mandelas in Jamaica

A few years later, my older sister spent her 21st birthday in South Africa watching him being sworn in as the first President of the Non-Apartheid South Africa. I wished I could have been there with her, but she was a missionary and I was still in high school. *Song here * The lesson was not lost on me none the less. Because of Passion he went from Prisoner to President.

It was with this win that Mandela’s actions taught me that Vengeance is not Justice. With the establishing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Mandela led government showed the world that there was a way to have justice served without a terrorist state of mind. It was the leader in him that cemented the revolutionary purpose fulfilled.

Mandela is one influence in my life that has helped to shape my world view, my sense of justice, my hope for humanity, and my passion for people. I am blessed to have lived in a time to have witnessed a man like Mandela.

How Did We Get Here?

I don’t know how this happened,
How did it happen so fast?
Without meaning to
Our pieces became entangled
Wrapped up in one another
In every moment getting tighter.

I didn’t mean for this to happen.
Especially not this way,
For you and I to be grafted
Onto each other’s
Minds and hearts like this
So deep, so fast, so much.

You heard my voice speak words,
Yet you listened to my heart,
And still you reached deeper until…
We hit a soul note
As we sat silently together
Barely breathing, never touching.

This is not allowed, it’s forbidden.
So now we both sit away,
Far from the comfort we once shared
Away from each other,
Feeling the stabbing pains
All alone, by ourselves, in silence.

I know you know I’m sorry.
I brought you all this pain,
Sorry for bringing confusion,
For making a fleeting thought
A real possibility
Sorry, because tonight,
My I love you’s won’t even count.

(c) SCSquared, April 16, 2013

The Education Situation

*This post has started & stopped many times, and is now being published as a smoosh of thoughts*

One night, one of the most popular shows on Jamaican television, Your Issues Live!, touched on an important topic: Tertiary Education. This is not a topic of low interest in this country, just as it is in any other country with tertiary education available within its borders. It is one that ignites passion on all ends of every version of debate on it, with only one point of common ground: Education is important. Continue reading “The Education Situation”

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