Lashing out at Gleaner

I would be happy if you would publish the following letter, which I sent to the Jamaican newspaper, The Sunday Gleaner.

I am a Jamaican who has no problem with your country deciding to implement any visa policy that you see fit. Really, it is your prerogative.

If Jamaicans and successive Jamaican governments had taken the time to develop a society and economy where we could take care of our citizens, provide them with a good education, provide them with jobs, and create a safe society, we would not be knocking on other people’s doorsteps seeking these things; and then turning around and insulting them when they do not yield to our demands.

Here is the letter:

Someone has to sensitize your editorial department to the matter of good taste. Two days in a row you have published letters with stereotypical insults aimed at other countries in the region.

On Saturday, December 3, one letter writer referred to “any other dot that has the temerity to require visas from Jamaicans,” and again, today, Sunday, December 4, you allow to be printed another of these references by a letter writer: “every two-bit banana republic…”

You need to edit these letters for good taste. I live in the US, and I do not appreciate when they use negative stereotypes or references about Jamaicans. When my aunt and people her age came here in the 1970s, they used to tell them to go back to their islands on their banana boats.

They did not like it then and today we do not like some of the stereotypes and negative references to Jamaica and Jamaicans. Therefore, your newspaper needs to be sensitized to the importance of removing these kinds of references from people’s letters.

Who do we think we are? In the eyes of many we too are some little dot, some banana, nay, sugar, republic with a marauding population of hooligans and bhuttus. How would you like to see those references about us in other media in other places?

As for these ideas that our government is somehow showing guts by imposing visa requirements on people from some “dot”, some “banana republic”, can you not see the irony, that we should be hanging our heads in shame that we have to resort to beating up on some little “dot”, some “banana republic,” because they are so prosperous and we are so poor? Can you and all these writers not see that if we were not going to these people’s countries to seek opportunities that our big dot and our “non-banana republic” cannot provide, they would not have had need of the “temerity” to impose visas on us?

Whatever labour -cheap or skilled -Jamaicans provide to these countries can be found in other places. I am sorry to say, but these “dots” and these “banana republics” do not depend solely on Jamaicans for their survival.

And surprise, surprise, today’s writer observes: “The injustice of it all, however, is that these countries keep our best and deport our worst.”

Some injustice, indeed! I suspect that the new Free Movement of Persons with the Caricom Recognition of Skills Certificate initiative will also enable assorted criminals and hooligan, bhuttu Jamaicans to travel freely!

I can see all those sullen Caymanians now, lined up in some lines stretching around the proverbial block, armed with their passports and their wishes for a better life in Jamaica, worrying that their applications for visas to Jamaica will be denied!

Ainsworth A. Bailey

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