Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Dear Paradise II: Another Love Letter to My Community

As long as I breathe, I hope. As long as I breathe I shall fight for the future, that radiant future, in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of his history and will direct it towards the boundless horizons of beauty, joy and happiness!
-Leon Trotsky

Dear Family, friends, community members, associates one and all,

You may be a parent, teacher, police officer, young person, community activist, or someone angered by what you see wrong in Jamaica, Mobay and Paradise. I would like to invite you into a space of uncompromised honesty. Let us engage each other in conversation, not primarily as scholars wanting to defend a theory, or as politicians seeking to win votes or advance a public policy agenda, or even as activists fighting for a cause, but instead, just as human beings trying to understand, as clearly as possible, our situation and condition at this turbulent moment in history.

As activists or community member I am sure your anger is sparked by gun violence, youth unemployment, classism, social justice or inequality — or you simply don’t understand why some people are upset — you are not alone. Like many, you might feel helpless, thinking, “I could never make a real difference or lasting change.” But you’d be wrong. Humans are such a complex species. We could not figure out the mind of a human, no matter how hard we tried. Psychology touches on some of the behavioral and thought processes that are experienced by a human, but Psychology will never be completely factual because the human brain is far too complicated.

We want the world to be a happy and just place, maybe it will or won’t be so. But you must know that change comes from parents and teachers who instill the power of critical thinking in children and teens. It comes from leaders who build relationships between diverse people and organizations. It comes from everyday people who think deeply about problems and solutions. How does this happen? We cannot begin to make effective change in our communities until we recognize how we are intricately connected to the people and issues we want to change.

Community is like family; and like all families, we may not always get along or see eye-to-eye. But just like my daughter likes to say, ‘family sticks together and helps one another.” Community is about people who care about one another and are willing to be united for the betterment of the greater good.

Now the other day a community member, one Teacher P/QP picked my brain with a question or more like a quote he had read, it went like this “Of all the follies in which man indulges there is none greater than the folly of thinking one can change the world!” He said he shared it because I was one of the few people who could fathom it in the immediate environment. I wondered if it was that he thought that my activities trying to better the community were in vain. I think he expected me to contemplate and give him a response. The quote did blow me away for a few days.

But a few days later the universe it seems gave me the answer. I don’t remember what I was watching on Youtube but some speaker had said, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled, is to offer you something you already have. He would have you believe you are nothing and insignificant and unable to affect your destiny or impact the world without his help. But therein is the lie, for from the moment you enter the world it is already fundamentally changed, your presence has already impacted lives, for you life has altered your mother and father, the spaces you inhabit.

Now to be honest I haven’t shared the answer in person with Teacher P but ironically I found our dialogue mirrored in an episode of Star Trek… yeah I am a trekkie… especially seeing one of the characters was called Q, but the conversation went like this:
Hear this, Picard, and reflect: "All the galaxy is a stage."... "Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Perhaps maybe a little, uh, Hamlet?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard:
Oh, I know Hamlet. And what he might say with irony, I say with conviction: "What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form, in moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god!"

Surely, you don't see your species like that, do you?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard:
I see us one day becoming that, Q. Is it that which concerns you?
I put all this to say that, granted much is wrong with the community I am truly grateful for stilling having a space where discuss my love relationship with the community. I believe when we lift others we rise together. Through discourse, discussion and debate. It is no coincidence Paradise has a spot called debate corner, it is not for the faint of heart. More than ever we must remember to help others. We are all where we are because someone helped us along our journey. I wanted to share a letter of thanks to the community for all you’ve done and meant to me. When all is said and done, I hope I will have done more than I said. As I remain optimistic and realistic in this gloomy and slow times, I close with the following:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The New Socialist and the Pillars of Modern Socialism

Just a decade ago, “socialism” was a dirty word in politics. Debates over its merits were mostly limited to obscure blogs, niche magazines and political parties on the other side of the Atlantic and a few in Latin America. But more recently Bernie Sanders in 2016 and then in the New York district last year by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is indicative of socialism trending and being trendy. In 2017, fifteen members of the Democratic Socialists of America won seats in local elections in thirteen different states, in addition to the 20 members already holding elected office nationwide in the U.S.. It has been especially appealing in the wake of Trump's narcissism... an ethos that speaks to more than individualism which capitalism and fascism speak solely and exclusively to while touting meritocracy and backhandedly being nepotistic. Jeremy Corbyn in the UK has been a socialist boon and if we look at Finland, socialism is doing wonders. I began learning of socialism not through politics but through one Mr. Reverton Bailey’s Sociology class in 12th grade at Cornwall College. From then on I fell in love with a concept that was out of fashion, but stuck with it and have been watching and following socialist pages and memes on Social Media and have watched its global resurgence. Today’s new Socialists are more progressive Democrats than “Castros” in waiting—and their rise poses more of a challenge to the national political discourse than to capitalism.

Modern Jamaican voters and politicians should remove the veil from their eyes and engage this new democratic socialism must apart of its redefinition within the 2019 local and international realities. People centeredness, people power, empowering people is what is being put to the fore in this new socialism. Socialism historically has been associated with the concept of public or collective ownership of property and natural resources and has long been associated with Marxism and communism. In 1949, with the Chinese Communists just having taken control of China, and with the Communist Soviet Union creating fear of an aggressive effort to spread their ideology around the globe, that compunded by the U.S.’s cold war with Communist Russia, Jamaicans' view of the term embraced the classic elements bound up in these types of movements; things like loss of freedom or state control. Now, decades later, Jamaicans' views of socialism have broadened.

Socialism, to me, means ensuring that our government policy puts human needs before corporate greed and that we build communities where everyone has a chance to thrive. It is the radically simple idea that democratic values should guide our economy toward the maximization of human flourishing, rather than the accumulation of capital. One way to implement socialism in Jamaica would be to emulate many of the economic institutions found in the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. These countries, which consistently rank near the top of the world in happiness, human development and overall well-being, have highly organized labor markets, universal welfare states and relatively high levels of public ownership of capital.

To move in the Nordic direction, Jamaica would have to promote the mass unionization of its workforce, increase legal protections against arbitrary termination and allow workers to control some of the seats on the corporate boards of the companies they work in.

A practical form of socialism in the United States in the 21st century would occur when democratic ownership displaces and supersedes the current, dominant extractive corporate model. There is no single, ideal form of democratic ownership, but an enormous variety including full state ownership, partial state ownership, local/municipal ownership, multi-stakeholder ownership, worker ownership, consumer cooperative ownership, producer cooperative ownership, community ownership and sustainable local private ownership.

The lynchpin of the new and modern socialism are:
  1. Public ownership ,
  2. Citizens cooperatives ,
  3. Civil society organisations ,
  4. Open government ,
  5. Open source ,
  6. Universal basic income
  7. Social enterprise / social entrepreneurship.
A socialist Jamaica would be democratic, decentralized and participatory. It will be rooted in racial, gender and social justice, recalling Langston Hughes’ “and that never has been yet—and yet must be.” It will be about living safely, wisely and well within a flourishing commons. This will be actual socialism, because it will have socialized the means of production—although in plural forms that do not all center on the state. Instead of concentrated wealth, it will have broad dispersal of ownership. Instead of frictionless global markets, the rooted, participatory, recirculatory local economy. Instead of extractive multinational corporations, the worker, community and municipally owned firm. Instead of asset-stripping privatization, myriad forms of democratic public enterprise. Instead of private credit creation by commercial banks and rentier finance, the massive potential power of public banks and sovereign government finance.

The problem with capitalism is not just that a system fueled by a wealthy, profit-hungry elite is inherently unstable, or that it leaves whole layers of society starving in the streets. It is that it relies on the dictatorship of the rich. The fundamental difference we expect from a socialist society is that we will all have a voice in the decisions that impact our lives. It is social and sociable. Workplaces will be owned by the workers who run them, rather than an authoritarian boss.

The political system will be truly democratic, rather than run by those who have bought the politicians. Family life will be more democratic, and no one will have to depend on a breadwinner to survive because public services like health care will be available to all, and will be run with community oversight. Finally, government investment will be democratic, rather than decided by corporate donors or financial gamblers. In other words, we will have true freedom, not just survival—the choices available to us now that depend on the whims of the few.

I am about trying to create communities where the education you have access to, or the jobs you’re able to get, don’t depend on your complexion, last name, race or gender. People aren’t looking for a “progressive” or a “democratic socialist” representative, necessarily, but they also aren’t scared of those words—they’re just looking for a fighter who will put their needs ahead of corporate profits and never back down. I am fighting for public goods that make us all better off. I define myself through my own unique lens—I’m a father fighting for justice for all. Ultimately, I’m trying to build coalitions and inspire activists to create a society where everyone has a chance to flourish. That’s the socialism I’m interested in. Are you?

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Community Activist, an Artist and Entrepreneur. Follow Yannick on Twitter at @yahnyk |

Unpopular: Political Revamp

“Any realistic vision of change must be based on the notion of empowerment of people.”
Michael Manley

Today the People’s National Party’s position is quite unenviable. PNP’s elected officials have struggled to find a clear and compelling message that speaks effectively to the whole of the country. General principles and values are one thing; a succinct and up-to-date message is another. For too long the political mantra of the PNP though not explicitly said is that: “we're out to beat Jamaica Labour Party, and not help poor people.

The PNP hasn’t found the formula that both bridges these internal ļ¬ssures and appeals more broadly to a bigger electorate. If you look at it from the outside, it’s not so healthy. The People’s National Party is not very popular today with a lot of people, and that is truly a problem. If you look at it in absolute terms and just look at where the PNPs stand today: not very good. You look at where the leadership stands, you look at where the party stands in terms of the public, it’s just not good. There’s no way to call it good.

Party leaders and stalwarts are always fearful of leadership contests, as they know the vitriol, malice and even violence normally reserved for rival political parties will turn inwards and the true nature of party politics will be revealed. There are those in the PNP who would say it’s an overstatement to suggest the party is in the midst of an identity crisis. Yet after years of political observation and watching strategists, elected officials at many levels and grass-roots activists, it’s clear to me that for all the anti-JLP energy that exists, especially on Facebook — is energy that will invariably help to bind PNPs in common cause come 2020. However, the party’s challenges are serious. Ideological differences are only part of it. This is a party of rising constituencies demanding not just to be heard but to be at the table of decision-makers. It is a party in flux, moving from one era to another, with no obvious leader and an identity yet to be fully shaped.

One reason factions of the party and electorate has moved left is that much of the power and energy has shifted from establishment leaders toward the grass roots, whose strength was highlighted by the presence of FHI360, COMET ii and USAID, programs and grants that are boosting Civil Society Organization as well as community based groups. Hence through their own cooperation and movements people have seen the value or socialist ideology, but not necessarily the value of political groups, which are subject to the whims and fancies of Delegates, political hierarchies and bureaucracies. So as communities see viable alternatives in forming Social Enterprises, Social Entrepreneurships, CDC’s, Benevolent Societies, Neighbourhood Watches, conversely political groups which are reliant on hand out and scraps or scarce benefits and spoils. It then seems incumbent on the party to engage these groups, join them, boost them, rather than solely or explicitly soliciting hands and hearts to your individual political aims or goals.

If one failed to notice globally, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Occasio Cortez and Kshema Sawant prove that socialism is alive and well even in the heart of world superpowers. It is fervent in Latin America. The Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway have implemented socialism in their economic institutions. The Norse countries consistently ranked near the top of the world in happiness, human development and overall well-being, have highly organized labor markets, universal welfare states and relatively high levels of public ownership of capital. Yet the PNP drifts ideologically and philosophically here in this 21st century. Then when we see candidate choice and selection for both local and central government elections are riddled with egomaniacs on both sides who treat the electorate as secondary or non-essential till election day while always courting the delegates of both parties who are stuck as die hearts to each party or victims of some kind of political Stockholm’s syndrome.

Here are 7 topics which are hot globally and in the streets of Jamaica with civil society organizations, community activists, USAID, the youth and the Rastafari community, yet I have never heard PNP mention:
  1. Public ownership ,
  2. Citizens cooperatives ,
  3. Civil society organisations ,
  4. Open government ,
  5. Open source ,
  6. Universal basic income
  7. Social enterprise / social entrepreneurship.

These questions of leadership, identity and philosophical outlook unnerve the PNP, because the party has no scaffolding. All the dominant leaders of the last two generations—the Manleys, PJ Patterson and Portia Simpson Miller—have receded. The myth of PNP country is discredited and defeat has shaken the party’s foundational strategy—or, at the very least, exposed it as a wishful description of a more distant future, rather than a clear plan for victory in the present. The PNP has in opposition an illusion of unity, but the reality is deeply conflicted. The establishment in the party want the disgruntled to disappear, but reality doesn’t work like that. Two of the party’s largest concerns—race and class—reside in an increasing state of tension, a tension that will grow as the party turns toward the next election. To produce a governing majority, the party will need to survive an unsettling reckoning with itself. The JLP didn’t just prevail over the PNP; they called into doubt their old truths.The party’s must begin sensing the emotional landscape of the people they are selling the vision to, not delegates, but its general membership and the wider electorate.

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Community Activist, an Artist and Entrepreneur. Follow Yannick on Twitter at @yahnyk |

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Party Reformation: My Struggles with PNP

“We'd all like t'vote for th' best man, but he's never a candidate”
Kin Hubbard

For some time I have been uncomfortable with the inner workings of the People’s National Party. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between the PNP and the JLP. This to me is an issue of ideology and personality. Ideologically the PNP used to a socialist party and governed by a social democratic ethos, that is no more. Socialism used to be unfashionable so the party abandoned it somewhere in the 90’s while subscribing to IMF edicts. However Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Occasio Cortez and Kshema Sawant prove that socialism is alive and well even in the heart of world superpowers. Yet the PNP drifts ideologically and philosophically here in this 21st century. Then when we see candidate choice and selection for both local and central government elections are riddled with egomaniacs on both sides who treat the electorate as secondary or non-essential till election day while always courting the delegates of both parties who are stuck as die hearts to each party or victims of some kind of political Stockholm’s syndrome. This cannot continue.

Well the monomania media election blitz will soon be in full swing, and everybody will be vying for votes. Tribal politics has taken to social media and the factions there are always in electoral fever. In all this Mobay, the government’s bastard child always neglected for the media pet Kingston, it seems silly that we, major contributors to the nation’s economy, via tourism, foreign currency and remittance dollars (legal and via lotto scam), have so little say. I say we hold candidates to ransom; each community ought to kidnap the MP, until the community’s demands are met. Until there is a community centre in every community, till the roads are addressed, until drainage is solved and so on.

Dr Peter Phillips’ viability as party leader is in question, it is one of the central issues to the undecided voter. The party is confronting new questions about who it is and what it stands for. The more important question however,  is how this plays out in our next election. PNP hopefuls will need to test the “articulate minority’s” and the grassroot’s wish list on the stump and might feel pressure to outbid each other on how far left they can go. Those apparently pursuing an “adult in the room” or  “trying to stay tame and sound normal strategy,” such as the PNP has been fumbling along with, will not only face opposition from the modern PNP base and the unattached voters, but will also find the free media oxygen sucked from the room by the more colorful radical opponents.

The ideologically driven members of the party make for good television but bad politics where the conservative party members and delegates are concerned. But the ideas that are talked about by civil society organizations, popular movements and political radicals in Jamaica are neglected by the PNP extablishment. In a May 2016 article entitled “Portia Betrayed” O. Dave Allen contends that the PNP and Portia was betrayed by the country, I contend that it is the PNP that betrayed the voters and even he seems to admit that when he wrote in the article that:

“The opposition was broke, starved of donor funding from the private sector, the leadership of Andrew Holness was in question; and the JLP fractious. For the first time in the history of Peoples National Party, the party enjoyed the full and explicit support for its policies by the formal private sector, the international donor community and local and international financial intermediaries.Yet not much could be shown by way of social programmes in keeping with the historic characteristics, policies and programmes of previous PNP administrations.”

Grassroots leftist insurgency that has sprung up across the country, including in spots far from PNP strongholds. Today, ultimately, the most profound progressive leadership for the PNP is not being embraced at all. It’s in communities and movements across the country—nurturing diverse progressive political strengths in many aspects of social change, including at election time.

No matter how intense the top-down pressure gets from Party hierarchy, we should insist from the ground up that members of Parliament and Councillors stand their ground for progressive principles that the man in the street is seeking. If party members aren’t willing to fight for those principles, then the grassroots will mobilize: to create an outcry, to lobby and to consider launching challenges as is evidenced by Peter Buntings hat being thrown in PNP’s political ring. I think it is a good thing and no elected officials should be immune from scrutiny and accountability.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Open Letter to Santa Claus

“As I said before, the birth of Christ is celebrated all over the world. When I say the whole world it does not mean that all people would observe it in the same manner. In all the places that I have visited, including the Muslims and the Buddhists, We have seen the observance. But for Christians it is an act conducted with love.”
~H.I.M. Haile Selassie

Dear Santa Claus,

I hope I don’t offend you but I must admit you were never part of my childhood, and the butt of jokes in my adult years. You were the fat, caucasian magical elf-man who leaves you presents to confirm that some white child was a good kid, whilst in Jamaica we just got Green Grinches filling their political coffers. Wheatley the Grinch who stole Petrojam, Holness the Grinch who dodged his stash in St. Lucia, Seaga the Grinch who sold us to the C.I.A. But this is not about the Grinches, I’ve meditating your esteemed post Santa… “why is it you never come to the ghetto?” “Is it because we don’t have chimneys in Jamaica?” “has your elfly magic staved off global warming from melting away your mythical North Pole home?” “Are you’re X-mas lists longer now that you have emails and whatsapp?” “Are you elves, enslaved or dwarves from some major human trafficking ring?” “How come I’ve never seen you mentioned in the Bible?” “It’s Jesus’ Earthstrong Party why do you gotta be hogging the spotlight though?”

Anyway as much as Marcia Griffiths and Chronixx having been asking why is it you don’t come to the ghetto… right now… to me it doesn’t even make any sense you come, because you have the whole world or almost to deliver to and mi nuh want them hold you up a search you when you a come through the Zoso and SOE in Montego Bay and St. Catherine, it suppose to take forever to pack that bag and organize it, it suppose to take forever for the to search it too, and sure know seh the kiddies round the world don’t want no root up present. Also you may have two nerf super soakers or a few water guns, and a don’t want the police to charge you, worse if you have any fire-crackers and so.

“Christmas” is a Catholic version of a pagan holiday to greet the New Year and be thankful for the autumn harvest of summer crops. Why some Christians continually get worked up over how a pagan holiday is acknowledged by commercial businesses in a capitalist economy defies common sense and reason. But be warned Santa… I hear Santa means Saint, so I am assuming you have some Catholic lineage as they are the group most fond of Sainthood, and with heavy African religious retention around here, Jamaicans tend to be a little Catholic and Pope averse in these streets.

Papa Claus it is worth asking also, since the pagan festival of the winter solstice, already thousands of years old when Christianity arrived on the scene. The ancient druids celebrated the rebirth of the sun; the Greeks made it the birthday of Zeus; the Romans debased it and called it Saturnalia; the Jews attached it to the rebirth of their religion after it had been "killed" by the Syrians; the Christians turned it into Jesus's birthday; is that the reason you “fava” Odin, Father Time and Zeus and dem man deh so much?

I know it seems I am skipping all over the place but, remember up at the beginning of the letter I mentioned climate change, well that is an ecological hazard, don’t it? I was wondering if you could help us with small ecosystem problem… if you ever come here that is! Well you see they have some deer in Portland that is reported to be “nyaming dung” the farm dem and whole of the place there… Rudolph and Prancer them must want “likkle” rest man… just do we a favour and take the deer off our hands.

Don Claus, I and I wanna know, is Santa just a jolly ol’, harmless, friendly fellow? Or is there something or someone else hiding behind jolly ol’ St. Nick? For… the next thing… as a Rasta-man and a parent, mi nuh like strange people, especially man come a mi yard, Jah man, when you see the Rasta gate up a Paradise, if you come a Jamaica and manage to make it to Mobay, just skip it… cause mi paranoid, so if mi see a man a mi yard near all midnight, everybody know mi broke so a must mi woman or pickney you a come fi trouble, nuh dweet... I will chop you. Plus in my household we practise not to take things from people… mi nuh want nuh man try tame mi child wid sweets, cause mi nuh know who a perv. Plus mi hear bout you and that pickney siddung inna lap business… mi nuh like dat!!! Worse all lap business banned as of Dalton X-Factor moment.

I know it seems I am picking on you and going really hard but… You ever noticed how easy it is to transform "Satan" from "Santa"? Just move the "n" to the end. And presto! "Satan" appears… Hmmm!!! An internet Google search on "Satan Claus" [not Santa Claus – but SATAN Claus] found over 4000 hits! Obviously, there are many that tie the two together.

The rearranging of letters (called anagrams) to hide secret names or words has long been practiced in the occult. So Missa Claus, how do you explain that… these are the hings that make I man get so sceptic…

Anyway… I won’t distress you anymore with my philosophical ranting and ramble Missa Claus, but if you do exist and if you are working… I beg you don’t fret on us here in Jamaica, we have Selassie and Ananse and Yahweh and all kind backative down here, but I beg you remember the children dying in the Gaza and Yemen, the one’s being trafficked, the Little Drummer Boys and all the Little Match Girls, the children in sweatshops… yah man, if you can deal with those children first then you can have my ratings. Anyway mi boss likkle more, a have a feeling mi nuh deh pon you nice list.

Yours respectfully

Yannick Nesta Pessoa.

Blessed Winter Solstice to You and Yours.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Ghosts of 'New PNP' Are Haunting Us

“Ghosts don't haunt us. That's not how it works. They're present among us because we won't let go of them."
"I don't believe in ghosts," I said, faintly.
"Some people can't see the color red. That doesn't mean it isn't there," she replied.
~Sue Grafton, M is for Malice
Twenty-something years ago, in the mid 90s the so-called New PNP emerged. PJ Patterson’s PNP a machinery efficient at the grassroots level but bereft of socialist ideology and teeming with neo-liberal ideas and globalization as there buzzword. Economic divestment abounded, and as such government sold Air Jamaica and JPS to suit the New World Order. Today, his political heirs are hesitant and ambivalent to consider or re-inject socialism into Party from living up to its history. At stake is opportunity to capture the Zeitgeist and the possibility that the PNP will lose more elections and be out of step with international academic thought, which has seen a resurgent socialism globally.

A fundamental battle for democracy is in progress—a conflict over whether to reduce the power of delegates which outweighs and is out of step with the will of the electorate. That struggle is set to reach a threshold soon as delegates push into power their friend who benefits them… delegates fight for spoils and scarce benefits, despite the hopes of party supporters and the electorate. Hence we have an upper echelon in the PNP listening to delegates who to a great extent do not represent or understand the plight of the electorate… and while it is delegates who give MPs and Councillors strength and position… it is the electorate who actually gives them power. So while the party listens to sycophants and minions, it risks the real prospect of alienating true party supporters and the electorate.

To understand the PNP Party’s current internal battle lines and what’s at stake, it’s important to know how we got here.

After a few years of awful Labour government, where Edward Seaga's policies left us in the maw of the United States and the IMF. Then P.J. Patterson emerged and proved to be just the type of rhetoric for the average citizen, “black man time now!” and in terms of action proved to be the politician neoliberalists loved. Patterson settled into office in the early 90s as the leader of path breaking New PNP. This wasn't you grandma's socialist PNP it was populist in every way. Many media outlets hailed him as a visionary statesman who had overcome left-leaning socialist Manley left in his wake and set the party straight.

Those days Patterson seemed a youthful and articulate, breath of fresh air and boost of collective confidence after a long colonial experience and the repugnant politics of calling a people “black scandal bag” as Mr Seaga had seem to have done. Yet for all his rhetoric Mr. Patterson was down with corporate power—not as far down as today's Government, but nevertheless in the thrall of big business and the big banks.

Patterson's neo-liberal policies went over big with moneyed interests, its policy pursuits would end up driving a wedge between the PNP Party and the working class. Of course the guys driving Patterson's economic train loved the North American Free Trade Agreement. Why wouldn’t they? Workers were costs, not people. Corporate trade deals were profit boosters. Downsides and job cuts rocked Jamaica while local production and manufacturing tool a hit.

Weeks after joining NAFTA Jamaica's milk began to spoil. Go watch “Life and Debt”.

This is the point at which the electorate truly would diverge from the PNP, though Mr. Patterson would woo the public every few years at election time, he had to continuously court a people who new he had switched. The PNP no longer cared for the proletariat nor new what the word meant.

The PNP newcomers ushered in by Mr. Patterson “are don’t-rock-the-boat” types, and they are exactly what private sector and transnational business types. A far cry from yesterday's PNP socialism. Now socialism is experiencing a tremendous resurgence in the 21st century due to the growing economic disparity, anger at the establishment and charismatic older socialist politicians like Bernie Sanders in the U.S. and Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K. who gathered massive support from the young. A new wave of socialist thinkers is also beginning to emerge that looks to distance the movement from the historical stigma to formulate a new socialism that speaks to the challenges of today.

The Ghosts of the new PNP and how they behaved in office—and the electoral disasters that ensued are grimly acute. Until the wave of socialism is endorsed in some way by the PNP they will not excite the imagination of the youth and the electorate. However I suspect that this PNP more concern with playing PR and social media catch up with the JLP whilst maintaining an image of success and air of professionalism.

Now, the New PNP and those walking in their footsteps are battling to retain control of the party and the government. The agenda of the new PNP best serves in the long run to choke off democracy as much as possible, lest the riffraff get away with undermining the ruling elites. Let’s face it: Democracy is dangerous to the powerful who rely on big money, institutional leverage and mass media to work their will. The insurgencies of this decade against economic injustice—embodied in international movements like the Occupy movement and then Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign—are potentially dire threats to the established unjust social and economic order.

For those determined to retain their positions in the upper reaches of the PNP Party hierarchy, democracy within the party sounds truly scary. And inauthenticity of the party—and its corresponding heavy losses of seats from Parliament to the councils—don’t seem nearly as worrisome to the PNP party elites as the prospect that upsurges of grass-roots activities might remove them from their privileged quarters.

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Community Activist and Law Student at Utech Western Jamaica. Follow Yannick on Twitter at @yahnyk |

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Who I Am!

“De pain and the fight, the hate and the lies… Pain and heartbreak, supm inna it weh mi love, all a mi life experiences build me up as thug.”
Alkaline (Juggernaut)

When the valley couldn't hold me, they throw me in the river, Thinking I would drown, but man, ah, good swimmer, whoa, When the river didn't drown me, they throw me in the fire, But the fire just cool, I could never burn, oh

Major Lazer (Believer)

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 (Bible)

My journey to me starts in 1919… why because it is where my mind has a definitive anchor in history. That is the day Dorothy M. Thompson was born, my mother’s mother, I would spend 33 years of my life imbibing her life and that of her children and grandchildren. When I say imbibe her life experiences, imagine what it was like for me as a child in a pitch black room at nights with your granny’s voice recanting her life experiences, in the pitch black when you can’t see your own hand so you feel disconnected from your body. The black room become your own mindscape and that voice and those experiences become stitched in and meld with your own, when it is as though that voice inhabits your psyche now till this present moment… then my life can seem at times to start 1919… in the midst of history and milestones.

Understand I was with Dorothy in Rock River Clarendon, when she went to vestry, when John took her to the UNIA, when she ate Milly mango in Diamond, when she met her husband Allan Thompson, when they came to Montego Bay, from Gravel Lane to Tate Street… when she met Howard Cooke, when she became the PNP matriarch, when she worked at WoolWorth, till she got her tuck shop up at Cornwall Regional Hospital, when she became the pillar of the community in Paradise Acres. Through all her pains and heartbreak, joys and suffering… what I didn’t glean in the dark room I would live to see in action myself.

I am my parents… I am my father, when you see me being an entrepreneur… no matter how I may fail or flounder, it is an instinct that comes from having imbibed his life and am still imbibing it. Everytime, I draw I am my father, for the gift came from him, and everytime my daughter or her classmates, or children in the community look at things I draw or paint, when they look at me as some hero, it's because my father drew me out of a thousand school projects and was my hero. And even though I haven’t become a millionaire just yet, every dollar earned from that talent, is what he gave me in a manner of speaking. Plus so much more. For I was with him when he grew up in Four Paths in Clarendon, catching water in the early mornings before dawn, with his brother. I was with him going to Glenmuir, I was with him when he came to Montego Bay, when he met my mother, when he wooed her, when he married her, when he sold insurance, when he became an entrepreneur, when he made his life and forged his own path.

I am my mother… who I inherited social activism from. I am her quiet nature, I am her silent strength… the fortitude it takes to go through long suffering and go the distance. Yannick is a hebrew name that means, the grace of God, and if there is any grace in me I am sure it came through her. She taught me children and family over career… not through speech but her choices and actions, and I have seen much value in it. When I write poetry it is the amalgamation of my parents… their love affair with the English language, her social sensitivities and keen sense of emotional observation, his concubines… a green websters dictionary with a tree on it, Reader’s Digest, Time Magazine and National Geographic.

I am my community which manage to teach me in the 80’s that it takes a village to raise a child. For it was as simple as this, “all wah mi do and don’t do, dem tell mi granny.” So now I will forever fight to return the community to that type of communal love. For I am also the community’s victims of that lost love… I am Gully, I am Delano, I am Little Dread, I am Goosey, I am Sticky Bean, I am Baboo, I am Warface, I am Marley, I am Andrew Bailey, I am Joab, I am Zuggy, I am Jooky, I am Stumpy, I am Sweaty, I am Stubba, I am Goodfy Jeffrey, I am Umpa, I am Jigs, I am Wiz/Alkaline, I am Delly, I am Kerris, I am Shorty, I am Hulk, I am Jevaughn James, I am Danny, I am Warrick, I am so many more fallen soldiers. I am the best of my community, I am E. T. Webster, I am Tappa, I am Jimmy Cliff, I am Cecil Donaldson, I am the Youth, I am the Senior Citizen, I am the community heroes like Venise and Tash… I am I-crus, I am the elder, the mechanic, the shoe repair man, the upholster, the shopkeeper, the selector, the Juta Driver, the artisan, the labourer, the mason, the carpenter.

I am my teachers, I am Mr. Mcpherson, I am Co-Hall, I am Ms. Gordon, I am Ms. Nelson, I am Mr. Barnes at Cornwall, I am Mr. Miller, Rev. Myers, Mr. Maddans, Mr. Haughton, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Clarke, Ms Daze/Wilson and Reverton Bailey. I am Aggrey Brown, I am Roxanne Burton, I am Earl McKenzie, I am Tunde Bewaji, I am Dr. Bamikole, I am Jalaani Niaah...

I am more than a slim natty in a 5’11 frame. I am Pan Africanism, I am Rastafari, I am Socialism, I am African Spirituality, I am Afrofuturism, I am tomorrow, I am that which makes you uncomfortable, I am science, I am arts, I am metaphysics, I am human, I am supernatural, I am God, I am man, I am community, I am football, I am basketball, I am cricket, I am mistakes, I am failures, I am success, I am unstoppable, I am unbreakable, I am indomitable and my name is Yannick Nesta Pessoa.

I Am a Believer

“Don't underestimate the power of your vision to change the world. Whether that world is your office, your community, an industry or a global movement, you need to have a core belief that what you contribute can fundamentally change the paradigm or way of thinking about problems.”
~Leroy Hood

“Be brave to stand for what you believe in even if you stand alone.”

~Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

As a child I thought belief was the stuff of fools. Science and knowing was the way of reality. Soon as a youth infused with science and pan africanism at an early age, I divorced God at age 10. I remember it like yesterday, I was in Sunday school at Hillview Baptist Church, when my Sunday school teacher says while discussing Revelation that “God will give Jews a second chance on Judgement day and Gentiles will be judged immediately!” This godly bias didn’t sit well with me, for if God prefered a people that was not my own, as a young pan Africanist then this could not be my god. Worse he could not stand up to the rigor of scientific reasoning, and he didn’t stand up for my people then, I couldn’t stand up for him. I had lost spiritual conviction.

It changed me somewhat. I was still a person who believed in good, and treating people how you wanted to be treated. However the world was a dark place, the prospects of an afterlife removed, I had no psychological cushions, I was left to drift in space and to face cold hard material realities. As a result I became more stoic and less emotional. I was bracing for death and all the adversity life had to offer. I floated and wafted in this oblivion, obsidian like outerspace place with no anchor to life beyond science and pan Africanism with threads of socialism grasping me. I was intellectually lonely most of high school, for this wasn’t a topic friends wanted to broach, God was definite for them.Who didn’t recoil at the mention of the possibility of no God and run in fear of me, simply looked at me like “why do you think about these grown up topics, don’t you want to live and be young?”

This atheistic thinking putting in more problems than I knew. My mother was most distressed. I didn’t even try to mention it to my grandmother. My father who planted some of the seeds for me to be on this path, as the more scientific of my parents. Sunday evening in a debate with my atheist Uncle Tommy and devoutly religious Uncle Monty, they asked my father to weigh in and his response was “God can be very well Jewish mythology like Zeus dem a Roman mythology!” The women round the house were in an uproar. So imagine one day my father and I end up reasoning and he comments on how great God is and the care or skill it took to create the gait of man, as scientists have such a hard time mastering it in robots. I responded by saying “well if I had all eternity at my disposal to do it as God did, I would get it right too, I am not impressed by such a feat.” Woaheee who tell mi fi seh so… the don was most appalled and livid. So as it went even who I had thought would get it, was not out there with me on this one…

The first dent in the armor science had built around me to religion came with a guidance counselor at Cornwall College who interrogated my atheism, but seeing that I had really given the bible a real read and shake, he pointed me to the esoteric aspects of the bible and pointed me to the Maccabees, and the book of Enoch. It never budged me in my stance one bit. However I did realize my investigation and interrogation of religion was not thorough nor complete. My battles with science and belief would tussle and tumble into the year 2000 or Y2K as some of you may remember. It carried on with me at the UWI, Mona… where atheism would put me into a major debate with a young lady named Kadene under the then Arts(Humanities) tree. Where she would brand me a devil worshiper and the crowd would dub her Ms. Kitty. So even at the institute of the most free thought my thoughts are under siege. But I would meet a subject call philosophy, the mother of all subjects and the love of wisdom. It would carry me to topics that would rip through science which had become my religion so to speak. These courses were logic, epistemology, etymology, philosophy of science and most crucially metaphysics.

Metaphysics showed me that I had been living under the science delusion. It is the belief that science already understands the nature of reality in principle, leaving only the details to be filled in. This is a very widespread belief in society. It’s the kind of belief system of people who say “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science.” Science is a method of investigation and not a world view. But because of inherently human biases today we refuse to use science to investigate thing which we think we already understand. Yet the world is filled with a magic and wonders science has yet to explain or investigate to truly answer.

Where is the mind, is it in the brain, is it the same as the soul? How does science explain will power, which is proven to exist? Telepathy, telekinesis? The floodgate of unanswered questions, the quest, the journey, beliefs and a need to know pulled me from outer space and rooted me to today, to yesterday, to tomorrow. Why? Maybe because Y has a long tail, maybe because why is a long tale, maybe Y is the first letter of my name. I all I know is that has injected me with belief, when what I sought was knowledge and to know. So now I know that belief brings purpose. I believe in His Imperial Majesty, I believe in Montego Bay, I believe in Jamaica, I believe in my community, I believe in the youth, I believe in people, I believe in tomorrow, I believe we are the substance of God, I believe in love, I believe in life, I believe there is more to know, I believe we can be better, I believe Montego Bay can lead Jamaica to tomorrow, I believe in my daughter, I believe in my mother and father, I believe in my brothers and my sisters, I believe in my wife, I believe in hope, I believe in hope against hope, I believe in RCGBS, I believe we as a people can lead the planet and show them a better way to live, I believe we are greater than we know, I believe in family, I believe in friends, I believe in Rastafari, I believe in Africa, I believe in magic, I believe in Marcus Garvey, I believe in Sam Sharpe, I believe in everyday heroes, I believe in you, I believe in belief, I believe in ME.

About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a Community Activist Entrepreneur and Law Student. Follow Yannick on Twitter at @yahnyk |

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Jamaican Introverts Lessons on Stoicism

"it has always been easy to get to my heart. there is no other way of stating it. the best poets are lovers, are receptacles for pain, joy, injustice and the innocent smiles of children... we read potential in the countless faces of evil, we carry many, many wounds... to always be this way, to care too much can damage one's spirit yet... "
~ Haki R. Madhubuti, A Poet's Call

Do you know what the secret of every stoic is? Do you know root of why a person would want to remain as a statue or mannequin in anger and in happiness? Stoic people are introverts... well kind of. Stoics are cold mechanical robots or unfeeling egotist trapped in vain self adoration... no, nope, naah! I tell you the secret. They are ultra sensitive empaths, subject to all of the feelings and energies around them. As a consequence of not wanting to become overwhelmed with emotion and the vulnerability that comes with displaying emotion and letting people know too much about your feelings, psychological weaknesses and triggers. Yes the stoic is sensitive to emotion and his or her environment and very aware of the risks and opportunities for exploitation that portraying emotions and being betrayed by emotions can bring.

As a child... I had always admired Data and Mr. Spock for their stoicism but never knew what the word was to describe the trait, it wasn't I was reading a Captain America comic and as the Red Skull continuously confounding him but he remained un-irritated by his assault and onslaught and pressed on relentlessly in pursuit of the Red Skull. The Red Skull then asked how did he remain so stoic... he then went on to tell him his presence was ubiquitous. Both words were too much for a Grade 6 student at Mt. Alvernia prep, I consulted my Mother who then sent me to consult the dictionary. My mind was then forever emblazoned with the meaning of stoic and stoicism as a philosophy. I also learned Ubiquitous but we are talking about stoicism.

A stoic in philosophy is a proponent of a school of thought, from in 300 up to about the time of Marcus Aurelius, who holds that by cultivating an understanding of the logos, or natural law, one can be free of suffering. In ordinary terms it means a person indifferent to pleasure or pain... I wouldn't meet Marcus Aurelius until I was doing a philosophy degree and coincidentally met Xeno and Socrates... both said to be stoics. Before that Socrates has just been a learning game I played and a Brazilian footballer I admired in the 80s but I digress...

I adopted the concept of stoicism upon meeting it, but not known its name when I grafted it from Data and Mr. Spock. But as a student of stoicism I know why I thought I needed to adopt it... it was as a response to relentless teasing and assault on my psyche, by an aunt who told me I was ugly when I ate, who told me I was an underachiever, I would walk and sell newspaper on the roadside, who said I dig my nose constantly and I was ugly when I did it, an aunt who blamed me for even her own child's errors sometimes. I realized quickly in some way that she seemed to enjoy my sadness or unhappiness and when she reprimanded me it seemed to embolden her when I wilted. Stoicism the approach that Data and Spock seemed the only answer. To remained stone faced and unflinching in spite of emotions.It then seemed the only response to my problems with my father. For when it seemed to me like my ideas, my expression of honest thoughts, and expression of self was something that seemed to anger him, irritate him and annoy him. And so in the interest of avoiding conflict, to avoid confrontational situations I defaulted to stoicism around him, I feared my least opinion would offend him, I wouldn't say much or do much, simply to be compliant. I know now that maybe, that tactic may have done some harm, as my stoicism was interpreted as being, nonchalant, antipathy, apathy, egotism and maybe an attempt to put a rift between us, when my only intent was to avoid disagreement. I haven't figured out perfectly the nuisances of navigating that relationship and ones like it. For the women in my life with the exception of my daughter I think stoicism has probably subtracted some of the warmth that may have been injected into our relationship. For my wife stoicism and years of practicing it means I never let myself be fully lost in the feeling of being in love or high on love, for to love too much is to invite the greatest potential for pain... it means to be forever grounded in reality and never wholly lost in the clouds or the moment, to anticipate disaster even when it may never come.

For my mother it will mean in response to not wanting to pine for her as child as it was hard to have her at my disposal. She was the emotional reservoir for everyone in the family, it seemed she was either being my grandmothers pillar of strength, my aunts assistant, the family accountant, the shoulder to cry on for every child in the family and all my cousins. It led to me not wanting to lean on her and so never really employing her as my secret bearer or pillow. It meant that having to see her surround in bed by everyone and no room for me... meant practicing to not need that comfort of mother. For her it meant interpreting it as a he is strong enough to do without that much attention as everyone else. It meant maybe I wouldn't be as huggy and kissy as she would like... it meant that my emotions for her would be penned up in some cranial chamber and whenever they ran free they would appear as letters on her desk.

As much as I had watched Star Trek, I realized I had been seeing the stoicism, but as I had needed it as an tool to filter my constant emotional sensitivity and an empathy that would allow me to feel for everyone. A weakness that could be exploited. However after years of re-watching Star Trek I realized Data was made emotionless and was on an eternal quest to become emotional and understand emotions, which filled him with a child like wander and awe at humanity. Mr. Spock was half human and half Vulcan which was a logical race averse to emotions yet they had the mind meld which was meant as a mechanism to facilitate greater and deeper communication with each other. Also in one of the major Star Trek movies Spock gave his life to save his ship in some radiation chamber etc... but his justification for the act was the utilitarian concept "the good of the many out weighs the good of the few" and went on to commit what he logically saw as necessary, yet to me it was a selfless act no matter how masked as logic it was, it had been driven by the emotion of love or and care.

This concept took me into something I read by another philosopher and Poet... I will close with Khalil Gibran who posited... "But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


The history of Jamaica is littered with the legends of a pioneering people, hence it ought to be no surprise Jamaica has had a groundbreaking part in the fight to dismantle the evil regime of apartheid. Yep, this little island was the first country in the western hemisphere and second in the world to India which officially banned trade and travel with the fascist apartheid Government which practiced a brutal form of racism in South Africa. Former Premier Norman Manley officially banned trade and travel with South Africa in 1956 when Jamaica was still a colony of Britain. Our involvement began in 1901 when Pan-African committees were set up in various parishes by Robert Lowe and began to hit out against the trials of the South African people and educated Jamaicans about the Boer war. Our leadership was of such a bold and daring caliber at one time we drew the ire of then American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for our refusal to condemn Angola's independence which was won in January 1975 when the Portuguese Government, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, and the National Liberation Front of Angola signed the Alvor Agreement. So then when I see a similar crisis not the same crisis but similar one, unfolding in the Middle East, in Palestine, and I can hear not even one voice of descent in our media today, I wonder where our revolutionary vim and vigour has gone.

The Jewish and Black communities have long danced around one another, at times feeling solidarity and at others, opposition. Both groups have developed a self-understanding rooted in a history of oppression and struggle, often in solidarity with others in need. Jamaica has a history with Jews starting not more than three decades after Columbus’ arrival here. As a matter of fact Jamaica was sanctuary for Jews fleeing Spain and Portugal because of the Spanish inquisitions.Jamaican Jews include the Matalon family, Gleaner co-founders, Jacob and Joshua de Cordova. Jacob went on to found the city of Waco, Texas. Common Jewish surnames in Jamaica are: Abrahams, Alexander, Isaacs, Levy, Marish, Lindo, Sangster, Da Silva, De souza, DeCohen, De Leon, Barrett, Babb, Magnus, Marley, Messado, Pessoa, DeLisser, Codner, Decosta, Henriques, Tavares and Rodriques.

A recent study has now estimated that nearly 424,000 Jamaicans are descendants of Jewish (Sephardic) immigrants to Jamaica from Portugal and Spain from 1494 to the present, either by birth or ancestry. Then there are theorists who contend that West Africans are a tribe of Israel that fled west and if Jamaica’s African population came from West Africa, then we have a possible double connection. Consider now that Haile Selassie is said to be the 225th descendant of King David, and Ethiopia is home to Jews sometimes called Falashas… it seems we are more bound to the Jewish story than we knew. Now imagine the other day when I went to the Kosher Restaurant on Gloucester Avenue, there was a picture of Andrew Holness praying at the Wailing wall in a Jewish cap.

Now with all that has been said above, throw this next but of info into the mix. The origins to the conflict can be traced back to Jewish immigration, and sectarian conflict in Mandatory Palestine between Jews and Arabs. It has been referred to as the world's "most intractable conflict", with the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reaching 51 years.No wonder there are as many positions on Israel within the Jewish community as there are Jews, including many who adamantly oppose the country’s treatment of Palestinians or its erection of the security barrier. On Tuesday 6 June 2017 edition of the Independent a UK publication, in an article title “The Israeli Occupation is a Jewish tragedy – it's our responsibility to make sure it comes to an end” a Jewish writer penned the following: “The Occupation is systematic. It necessitates daily indignity and violence towards Palestinians in order to maintain a status quo that prioritises Israeli sovereignty. It’s numbingly bureaucratic, overwhelmed by permits, checkpoints and court orders. It’s a 99.75 percent conviction rate of Palestinians who are tried in the military courts. It’s Israeli teenagers in uniforms with rifles, roughing up elderly men who just want to live on their land. This is not the Israel I learnt about as a child; these are not supposed to be the actions of ‘the most moral army in the world.’ But it is the reality.”

Sometimes it seems in the mass media that to critique Israel or to disagrees with Israel is to court allegations of anti-Semitism. To be clear, this is not about hating Israelis, or hating Palestinians. It isn’t down to individuals, though often this conflict feels deeply personal to some of us as most of Jamaica’s major religions are Abrahamic in origin. But at the end of the day, this is about systems. Systems that create a dual state of the powerful and the powerless. Again, it is a structural problem. So know that you and I are part of that broken system when we fail at moral courage, when we just shut up and keep our head down; especially when we do not speak truth to power, and worse we don’t get power to acknowledge the truth.

I was surprised by the amount of Jamaicans who thought Israel was in heaven or thought so when they were small. Israel was always a place on Earth in my understanding at all times. Maybe that is why Israel seems so surreal or ethereal in the Jamaican psyche. When I was born 1981, I came into a world where it seemed war was eternal. Jamaica was n political and tribal wars. JBC used to have a news intro that would whisper names like Yitzhak Rabin, Saddam Hussein, other names that quickly occupied my world were, Qaddafi, Anwar Sadat, Idi Amin, Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon, Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and others. So for the better part of 4 decades, I have been watching wars and hearing rumors of wars. I say this to say one simple truth thing. The conflicts in the middle east have run long passed  a reasonable length of time. It is time to simply FREE PALESTINE!