Tue | Aug 21, 2018

Letter of the Day | Violence symptom of slavery's legacy

Published:Tuesday | December 19, 2017 | 12:36 AMRobbie Miller


I read Gordon Robinson's comments ('Apologies, apologists and Tivoli slaughter', Sunday Gleaner, December 17, 2017) with interest, and while I agree with the general points of observation he made, I had to disagree with this expressed opinion: "... In my opinion, this was the most disgraceful incident in Jamaica's history, including all slavery-related atrocities and colonially driven oppressions ... ."

Frankly speaking, Mr Robinson simply does not understand or appreciate the legacy of our experiences of slavery and colonialism. It is precisely because of the legacy of our experiences of being enslaved why we are able to inflict such brutality upon one another and think it acceptable.

Slavery taught us that we can brutalise one another and consider it acceptable - 'beat sense into another'. We are still living with the mental, physical, emotional and psychological consequences of those experiences. 

The atrocities of Tivoli and the ongoing killings across the island perpetrated by gunmen and, perhaps, other forces are symptomatic of the unhealed psychological and emotional wounding of our past experiences. Therefore, a better understanding of the legacy of slavery and colonialism on our mental, emotional and psychological health and well-being would help us to begin to address the violent tendencies that are endemic in our communities.

I am not suggesting this as the sole solution, but as one of the possible contributors. There are other factors such as poverty, family breakdown, lack of leadership and discipline in the home, illiteracy, among others.   


Furthermore, if our Government gave legitimacy to the actions of our security forces using excessive force against it own citizens, all Jamaica should be concerned.

The role of Government is to foster, support and maintain the peace, safety and well-being of all its citizens, but unfortunately, we are seeing a very worrying trend heading in the opposite direction.

The 'Tivoli incursion' was a statement on Jamaican democracy and society. Members of the government are citizens, members of the security services are citizens, 'gunmen' are citizens. The question is, do we as citizens feel we have ownership of our democracy and the power to help bring change for the benefit of all of us?

And do the political parties belong to the citizens of Jamaica to serve the people of Jamaica, or are they there to serve their own party interests or the interest of some other external powers?