Thursday, November 02, 2006

There but tor the Grace of God . . .

There's a woman who's been residing nearby my cousin in NY. She married a Floridian, who filed for her, so it's just a matter of time before her younger children (those still in J.A.) will migrate to live with her -- or with whomever.
She comes across as friendly and helpful, and might have no problems getting hired as a nanny, etc. When you first meet her, you'd most likely say to yourself, "She's so nice and pleasant," or as old-time people would say, "She have approach, eeh." Don't be fooled.
Her daughter who attends a traditional high school is on the verge of dropping out, and has twice attempted suicide. The woman was alerted of the situation, and has got sympathy from those around her. "What a wicked girl," she and they say. "Who goin' to look after her brothers an' sisters if she ever succeed?"
The woman confided to my cousin that she's heard that the girl's father has proven incestuous whenever he manages to show up to pay school fees and drop off maintenance money. (People residing on the same lane have seen and heard some of the antics in the overcrowded hut that is the child's home.) At least one of the other children's "fathers" has shown conspicuous interest in the girl -- if he hasn't struck by now. "That's why she want to tek off an' abandon the children," the woman complained. My cousin told her off, and hasn't seen her around since -- she fears my cousin might alert de gov't here. My cousin hardly knows de woman's proper nickname much less the woman's proper name.
Every time I hear of the hardships that people in squalid areas go through, it angers me. It angers me because it is so unnecessary. It angers me because there is always someone facilitating the oppression of precious children -- and every child is precious. When did people living in squalor cease being individual human beings and become only "they" and "them"? I say this all the time, and people might not understand how serious I am: It would be more merciful to execute them all if you as a government, as a "better-off" or a have, hate them so much that it doesn't pain you to see them being tortured, being killed slowly just one indignity at a time. If you must allow their spirits to be killed -- and this happens mostly before they're adults, then understand that you want heartless monsters around you and don't friggin' complain when dem come a yu blasted house come shot up yu bumboh!! Don't say you didn't do them anything. You did: you chose to look the other way. Imagine, some of the girl's teachers were among those "turning up nose" at the atrocity called a hairstyle that dysfunctional adults bestowed on the girl's head. (In hearing of so many similar situations, it seems the first thing the oppressors do is a hostile "cut and color" that leaves the young girls looking fit for nowhere other than a dancehall. Self-esteem gets cut along with the hair, self-consciousness creeps in, and what do some teachers do?? Look down on the student. Maybe 2 out of every 200 teachers might intervene and offer to help.)
I remember reading about the abuse in children's homes, and about how some children got there in the first place. A little boy's grandmother made money from having men violate him. His aunts had no problem with it. His mother -- a go-go in Kingston -- had been similarly abused and had started her dancing career at 13. The boy, much younger than that, had run away and was hustling in HWT, meeting men in the daytime by offering to wipe windshields and then selling himself to them for food and money after dark.
Someone said before, "You can tell a lot about a society by how it treats its children." (Suffering Haitian children are a prime example of that statement.) Are we satisfied with how J.A. treats its most vulnerable children?
Consider your life differently. Say you never had responsible parents -- say you barely knew who your parents were -- if at all you knew. Say you had no high school education. Say you had no choice in the matter of when, where, and how you gained sexual experience. Say you lived with broken people who didn't understand that exposing you (a small child) to pornographic material and graphic conversation is itself abuse. Say they were similarly broken and are driven (as they invariably compulsively are when they get no professional help, which most don't), and they need to get you out and about sexually as soon as possible to ensure that you don't deviate from the blood-thirsty mores (promiscuity, baby-fatherhood, teenage pregnancy, etc.). Say you survived by bathpan and standpipe, and could only dream of the luxury and dignity of a proper private toilet. Say you bounced from squatter land to squatter land and gunman-ridden yard to gunman-ridden yard. Say you knew the bitter indignity of night-time hunger merging into lunchtime hunger held captive in the aroma of classmates' lunches and determined to stay at school until the end of the schoolday -- as unreachable as day's end seemed. No, don't think we got all the places in high school because we were just brighter than "they" who live in "those communities" -- consider everything I've written so far. Say you managed to pass your exam for J.C. (as Lexus did), but couldn't enter the high-school because your single mother explained you were too poor to afford it (as his mother did). Wouldn't that have stomped on your aspirations -- on your spirit? Wouldn't you have had a tough time rebounding from the missed opportunities even as he rebounded? In all of this, say you knew what it was like to eke out a precarious existence on the extreme edges of society, how long could you hang on to your dignity -- to your sense of who you are as a human being? Say you had no memory of ever having been a child, but had always carried the overwhelming burden of your own care on your own little shoulders.
You grew up with adults who care about you. Many children grow up with con-people around them. I know. I've tried to help on several occasions, but found that people were using "de pickney dem" to con money out of the altruistic. Now, nobody can't tell me nutten -- helping one or two children with the guidance of my aunt is enough.
I would like my country to start seeing these children as people, and to treat them accordingly. Stop allowing them to be destroyed. It is wicked. It is heartless. And it is totally unnecessary.