Talk about crime and violence!

I suspect I have mentioned in this space before that I am not a Crop Over baby. Reggae is my choice of music and prancing around half-naked in the sun next to scores of other sweaty people is not my idea of a grand day spent. Having said that, I believe in live and let live as a core value of my life. So I usually am somewhere on the sidelines of Crop Over with my friends and a good Barbadian rum – more my idea of a day constructively spent.

Since I have never caught Crop Over fever, I keep my commentary of it to a bare minimum. It somehow feels wrong to critique an exercise I admit I do not fully participate in. With all that disclaimer out of the way, permit me two quick observations. The masquerade bands are getting smaller every year. The Grand Kadooment procession is now a mass of vehicular traffic as a band with an average of about 100 people seems to have no less than 30 associated vehicles.

Perhaps why I am a little upset by this new feature of Crop Over is that the first place I noticed this ‘truck-for-everything’ was Trinidad. It therefore reminds me of the extent to which Crop Over is being ‘carnivalized’. As I said having no vested interest in participation I do not know if the ‘carnivalization’ is to be construed as healthy or not, but I hope the relevant stakeholders notice it and that there is some managed change for the greater good of the overall festival.

My second concern is a lot more minor. As I watched the costume advertising which the bands had affixed to their trucks along the route, I realized we are back to advertising costumes on one female body type. Personally, if I had a choice about a costume purchase to make and I did not see my body type reflected in the costume advertising, I would not purchase a costume.

When only one body type is used to advertise costumes that type of body becomes the standard by which the costume’s beauty will be judged and I would not try to reach a standard that was not feasible because my body type was not considered in the advertising. The next hot topic on the minds of many was the spate of violence which broke out at the end of Monday’s Grand Kadooment. For as long as I can remember there have been scrapes associated with the annual jump up. So in this regard, I agree with the officials that comparatively, the level of violence seen associated with this year’s festival might not be too much outside of general norm.

What has certainly changed is the type of violence and the brazen manner in which the incident occurred and this is concerning not only for Crop Over but as a general trend moving forward in Barbados.

The innocent bystanders who were injured by gunmen shooting after a target are not the first in recent memory. One of the more tragic incidents I remember was the woman who lost her life on Barbarees Hill. There is at least one other I remember recently of a woman being shot in her leg along Black Rock when a man was gunned down.

If we remove this latest incident of violence from Crop Over and classify it as another where innocent bystanders got injured, I think we would be even more alarmed about where we have reached in Barbados. We now have a type of criminal who is completely removed from any connection with the wider society.

He or she is the child who has faced systematic depravity in their personal lives from early and for long periods of time. They have come from communities where educational opportunities are scarce and they do not feel that many other opportunities are made available for them to excel. They have seen lives of crime play out around them as a means of income and they do not feel a sense of guilt or wrong doing when they themselves get into crime.

They come out of educational facilities which have not been equipped to deal with their learning challenges. Many take their learning deficiencies into adulthood and are unable to find the resources to help themselves or their children, who sometimes have the same difficulties. These people find menial jobs which never offer them enough to live beyond an existence where several have to clutter into one house in order to exist.

They have misplaced spending habits due to a lack of exposure and oftentimes poor dietary habits. All of this comes together to create a person who is vulnerable emotionally and can be influenced by cultures which permeate the (mainly foreign) movies and television they watch, the video games they play and the steady diet of rap and dub music they consume.

These individuals can feel that they are more connected and loyal to a friendly gang in America than they feel to the Barbadian women, children and men they live with. Our ‘us and them approach’ to generational poverty, education and other social variables has assisted in the justification of how they feel. So when they imitate the antics of the bad man in Jamaica or Brooklyn, New York who can leave home and shoot through a crowd four or five hours’ drive away, they cannot process that on a little rock, they may shoot through a crowd and kill their own neighbour, child, sister or friend.

The police and the Attorney General have finally admitted that we have gangs. Not only do we have gangs, we have big well-established gangs, some with connections within the ‘system’. They also have a steady supply of disillusioned youth, men and women who have become a part of an established structure.

We have to find ways to stop innocent bystanders from becoming the victims of the cross fire that is playing out, but we also need medium and long term strategizing if we are to really understand the depth of the historical, cultural and deep-seated problems we face.

3 Responses to Talk about crime and violence!

  1. jrsmith August 11, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    We need to stop and search people and vehicles , boats at sea , If you dont like it leave the country……… Use our defence force with our police , purchase 4 mini camera vehicles from the (UK) to put on our roads these cameras sees everything, stop the bandits who could be foreign, stop the big boys ,,………………………. Stop thinking the black people who is being arrested is the only culprits
    its the big ones who is protected……………………………………….

  2. Samud Ali
    Samud Ali August 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    It’s deja vu all over again

  3. Lee August 12, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Young Barbadians have become the victims of American cultural crossfire.


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