Sun | Sep 27, 2020

Letter of the Day | Windrush and other heroes in Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | October 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM


As Heroes Day approaches and the month of October in which we think of heroes and heroines in Jamaica unfolds, I have decided that my heroes for 2018 are those Jamaicans who have braved the winter, the racism, the constant threat of deportation, and much more. While we speak of the national heroes and their struggles and sacrifice, we understand the colonial version of the now-immortalised world of the hostile environment envisaged by Mrs Theresa May of Britain.

So the people who fought in the Second World War and went at the invitation of the British government to rebuild, find that their sacrifice amounted to little, as thousands are in limbo in Britain and others are marooned on islands which their families left decades ago. Every Jamaican family may or may not know about those who went as farm workers to face the snakes in the swamps of Florida, on sugar cane plantations, on apple farms in Canada, to clean bedpans and take care of elderly people and babies.

Every family has those men and women who contribute as much as 15 per cent of our GDP - more than foreign aid and at a risk to their own life and limb and mental health. Many families now have 'barrel children' who received the efforts of the second and third jobs held by parents who are working from dust to dawn.


Costs and benefits


The sacrifice is sometimes warranted, but, like everything, there are costs and benefits. Our business owners and the Government speak of the economic remittances and doing business in the diaspora with little care and concern for those who cannot come to Jamaica to family events like funerals as their papers are not 'straight'. Do we know or care about the 'Dreamers' whose lives are in limbo in Mr Trump's America? Do we care about those in prison and mental hospitals? Yes, we boast about the achievers in the Ivy League and the Fortune 500 companies, but we have forgotten those who cannot even raise the fare to come home after 40 years. What about the brain drain, brain gain and brain circulation?

So, I return to my beginning: those who make the ultimate sacrifice of leaving their homes, with whatever the difficulties that there are, to face an even more hostile world which rejects them because of the colour of their skin and origin; who leave their children in the care of the good the bad and the ugly, do so to make life better. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes they are misguided, but every family must celebrate that hero.

Hilary Robertson-Hickling