Sun | Oct 22, 2017

In defence of Jinx

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2015 | 12:00 AMPatria-Kaye Aarons, Contributor
File Usain Bolt has been criticised for being a horrible neighbour.
Jodi 'Jinx' Stewart and entertainer hubby Sean Paul.
Jodi 'Jinx' Stewart and entertainer hubby Sean Paul.
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Now before you Shandy-bottle me, hear me out.

There is a very real and present classism in Jamaica that we as a people are touchy about - as we should be. Too many times, we see blatant instances where those born into the privilege of inherited wealth look down on those working hard to acquire it. Too often, in this Animal Farm, are we reminded that some men are more equal than others.

A fresh wave of conversation on the topic started this weekend. The trigger: a tweet made by Jodi 'Jinx' Henriques, wife of superstar Sean Paul, in relation to Usain Bolt:

"Between the bikes ... loud, horrid music, parties and screams, I honestly wish he would go back to where he came from. He's a horrible neighbour. I cannot wait to move."

Social media cannot stop talking about it. People have taken particular interest in, and offence to, the "go back to where he came from" bit. They suggest that it is rife with "he isn't good enough to hang with my kind". Some take it to mean Usain should revert to residing in the humble beginnings from which he came and that he should "know his place". Familiar segregation-speak.

However, I'm going to give Mrs Henriques the benefit of the doubt. I will not assume the worst, as most others have done. To suggest that Usain "go back to where he came from" could very well simply mean, "I wish he would move back to his previous address." (I have it on good authority that at Mr Bolt's previous address, he wasn't exactly slumming it.) If that's the way she meant it, I understand.

I have a neighbour who smokes weed - incessantly - in spite of strict rules in my apartment complex prohibiting such activity. Neighbours two storeys above him can smell it every time he lights up. And despite being spoken to, written to, warned, he still does it.

No one else in my complex smokes, and it is a most unpleasant thing to come home to. It affects my ability to enjoy my home. I wish he would move back to where he came from - or just out of my complex. As a child of a teacher and a taxi driver, ain't no classism in that statement on my part. It's plain ol' annoyance.

 

GROSSLY ANNOYED

 

Let's also acknowledge that a bad neighbour is a bad neighbour - in any community. If I am to take Jinx's complaint as truth, I, too, would be grossly annoyed by any party-hearty neighbour (especially if I were't given advanced notice of the disturbance, or put on the guest list of these loud parties - and if he wasn't blasting my husband's music).

As palatial as Norbrook residences are, they aren't plantations on to themselves. Your neighbour can hear your ruckus. Noisy neighbours are just as irritating in Kingston 8 as they are anywhere else. It isn't far-fetched to expect that a pissed-off neighbour would want the cause of their irritation to be gone.

Language is a heck of a thing. And simply seeing words on a screen doesn't always convey the meaning that the writer intended. I always start my communication classes with a single sentence written on the board: I never said you stole money

No punctuation, no explanation. I go on in my lecture to explain to my students just how much the meaning changes when the sentence is read several times and each word is stressed in turn.

Jinx may not be the monster social media has painted her to be. Her ?go back to where you came from? could just be the innocent frustration of a stressed-out neighbour. As well as it might not be.

If the "go back to where he came from" statement was meant as most interpret it, that's another story. I don't need to get into why; that point has been belaboured by those before me.

I will say this: The classist superiority should serve as a warning to those desirous of changing their circumstances. Your money does not make you one of them. No matter how much wealth you amass, or which Kingston 6 school you attend or if you move above the clock, in the eyes of some, your money will always be new money.

Money in your pocket can't change the hue of the skin you were born with. Let's not fool ourselves. Out of many, we are not one people. We have a far way to go to truly living that motto. And until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, all will not and should not be well.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.