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Community University

This category contains 26 posts

Reasoning Jamaica through Poetry

Di Institute for Social Leadership will be hosting a session on Thursday February 1 called “Reasoning Jamaica through poetry”.

We are inviting Jamaicans to share poems they have written or poems which speak to life in Jamaica.

We hope that the session will provide the space for us to explore our experiences and feelings about life in Jamaica.

Di Institute for Social Leadership is located at shop 4 Marescaux Plaza Marescaux Road in Kingston.

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Our Hopes and Dreams

The following is a guest post from Beverley Harris a teacher and professional development enthusiast living and working in Jamaica.

With Christmas 2017 only a few days away,there are many dreamers among us.”I am dreaming of a White Christmas” as Irvin Berlin once penned. Based on the current status of the salary negotiations with the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) and the Government of Jamaica, it is uncertain as to the colour of Christmas for the island’s teachers. With tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) guidelines and the harsh realities of teachers’ spending
power, we will definitely have to call on divine intervention for a peaceful and amicable wage settlement.

While the struggle is on we must highlight a positive move on the part of JTA ,in recent weeks. It was their “Women’s Leadership Conference 2017” held on Tuesday ,November
21,2017 at the Knutsford Court Hotel,Kingston ,under the theme “ Women: Inspired and Empowered to Overcome and Lead”. A glimpse of the programme and informal talks with colleagues confirmed it was a “power packed conference” with several powerful Jamaican women.

Dr. Charmaine Gooden Monteith and her team must be commended for the successful staging of the conference,a brainchild of the eleventh Female President and Fifty-third
President of the JTA.

It is not clear if this kind of conference will be an annual event but one thing is clear : it was a group of ‘carefully selected ‘ women who were the main participants.-the two hundred teacher leaders. I am sure the evaluation exercise will help to determine how other female teachers who are not currently recognized leaders will be treated when next the session is held. Will it remain a closed, private conference or will it be opened to female teachers who would be willing to pay to attend? Something to hope for I guess!

As the New Year approaches, the JTA leadership must not allow interest to wane .The conference attendees who were motivated are anxiously awaiting the next steps in their
journey of becoming empowered.We hope this will not be a dream but we will see the ‘ripple effects ‘ sooner not later. Happy Holidays!

The Apology

This Wednesday and Thursday at Di Institute for Social Leadership. 1-6:30pm. Lets start a reasoning about the recent apologies by the Prime Minister to the Rasatafari community and to the residents of Tivoli Gardens.

The Minnows: A history of the debutants at the FIFA World cup

minnows cover2

The Institute for Social Leadership is happy to host a second football presentation by Zanj Racc on Thursday November 30, 2017 starting at 6pm. For more information call 799-0102 or email leadtochangeja@gmail.com.

 

Zanj Radio Library

Zanj Radio Library Continue reading

ISL Library

Di ISL Reading List Continue reading

What is the value of a superstar? Reasoning at Di ISL

usainbolt

On Wednesday August 23 2017 starting at 6pm. Di Institute for Social Leadership will host a reasoning titled ” The value of a superstar; the case of Usain Bolt, Bob Marley and Brand Jamaica”. This reasoning is sparked by conversations and research about Usain Bolt’s net worth as he retires from track and field and how some local and global businesses have used the “Bolt” brand.

The reasoning will be facilitated by Isabel Dennis with an opening presentation by DJ afifa.

  • Some of the questions we are exploring are;
  • Should Usain Bolt have made more money ?
  • How does he make his money?
  • What does a country do when it is a “brand”?
  • Who is benefiting from the Bolt brand?
  • Who owns brand Jamaica?
  • What happens when you combine brand Jamaica and a personal brand in the case of Usain Bolt and Bob Marley?

We want to also use Bob Marley Jamaica’s first Reggae music superstar to demonstrate some of the complexities of global brand management for small islands with tremendous “superstar talent”.

This reasoning comes at a time when we can see even more clearly than before the cultural signifiance of Jamaica in the world and what have we really done with it? Looking forward to the reasoning. Please

RSVP for this event at leadtochangeja@gmail.com

Feeding ourselves finding ourselves and restoring dignity to ourselves as human beings

We talked about hunger for a little bit. He said that life is hard sometimes because people can’t find money to buy food to eat. I asked him if he could bear hunger? He said yes! I asked him how he did it. He said you just hold on until you get something to eat.

I thought why should he have to develop this “skill”. He is 14 yrs old. How early do we have to practice baring hunger? 

I didn’t know what to say after that. After a while he called me and asked me for $100 to buy something to eat. I paused to think. Should I give him money? I don’t want him to be hungry.  Maybe he is hungry. But I don’t like the idea of giving money like this it looks like I have money to give. But I have given so much money here and there already. Giving money like this doesn’t fix anything. 

 I decided to give him $50 instead. As I reached for the $50 I had a second thought. I have $3000 in here should I give him $1000 and ask him to take $100 and bring back the change? I decided to stick with the original decision. Give him the change I had. I was uncomfortable. I needed some space to work out why I felt like this. 

There is a line in the song “who knows ” by Protoje and Chronnix where  Protoje says “Food Deh Pon di tree while the youths Nuh have don’t have nuttin to eat” .

I thought about how many times this hasbeen my reality. Except I can just go to the supermarket.  It wasn’t until recently that I really understood self-reliance. I should be able to feed myself. I should be able to provide myself with basic nourishment. I live in Jamaica the land of wood and water with a lot of sun so anything can grow. 

I have started to learn how to grow things. My greatest success has been learning to grow escallion and add flavour to my food based on the seasoning that I can grow in a garden like ginger, pepper, escallion and thyme. To be self-reliant I need to grow more food so that I am not dependent on cash to eat. 

A few months ago my father asked me what my plans were for the rest of the year. I told him I wanted to reduce my dependency to where I didn’t really need a supermarket. To my surprise he replied with a story about how much food he had around him growing up in Portland and that all they needed at the shop was salt. 

“Begging” for money to buy food is not a good thing. Needing a job to get money to buy food to eat is not a good thing either. 

Youths are looking at life and seeing hunger. People can’t find food to eat because they have no jobs or no way of earning money or they eat very little because they earn very little or they eat poorly because they live on cheap foods. I used to think that a “cup a noodles” and some tin foods was a cheap good way to have something to eat when times were tuff. It was all I thought I could afford so I eat it knowing it had very little nutrition.

We have all been sold something which has taken us so far away from ourselves it has made us dependent and turned the population into markets for cheap food items distributed widely through Chinese wholesales shops in the capital city of Jamaica.
I was talking to a group of sistren in St. Thomas one time and they said to me “food deh Pon the tree yes but suppose you feel like you want something else to eat today? You must get tired of eating the same thing”. I completely understood what they mean and this is another thing to look at. 

In Bahia Brazil I was excited and surprised to see  a how many different  things you could make with coconut and banana and similar to Jamaica just how rich the land was.  We can create variety. Our great grandmothers and their grandmothers also wanted variety and they made many of the things we still enjoy today.

All the spaces that we occupy should be growing food. It is an essential practice. It won’t be easy in 2017 because as Ras Takura points out is a “Food war we a fight”. But we need to consider the youth and the future.  We have to provide a example for being independent and self-reliant. We have always needed to. 

Who does social work? Developing a diversity participation policy for working in black communities

Policy guideline 1. Race

When we started the ISL we didn’t know that we would be getting requests from “white people” to volunteer. We didn’t know but somehow we should have anticipated this. Over the last year and past weeks I have had to think seriously about people wanting to volunteer with the ISL.

The ISL is open to participation from everyone. We do not discriminate on any basis. We do not want to discriminate on race.

While we are open our objective is not to reinforce the problematic of the “savior complex” or the “the white savior complex” in our work. So when people ask to volunteer what do we tell them? At the moment we have a disproportionate number of volunteer request. Young “white foreigners” from all over are able to travel freely to low-income but spiritually and culturally rich countries such as Jamaica, there Black or African counterparts in the Caribbean, Europe, United States or Canada cannot. This is an inequality and a social injustice. This dynamic is problematic for all involved those who want to volunteer and those who cannot volunteer.

This “volunteer dynamic” is present in several other low-income countries in the Caribbean, and Africa.

I am not only identifying an ideological or philosophical problem. I think it is a very important part of our experiment but questioning how we can come together to do make our interactions valuable. I have more questions than answers and at the moment I think we should move to considering a policy for “diversity participation in social work”. Some guidelines that we use to understand how to accomplish our objective of “creating a space to learn together and develop an understanding and motivation towards social leadership and creating positive alternative realities.

These are some questions I am considering for persons of diverse background interested in volunteering at the ISL ;

  1.  What does it mean to be a volunteer?
  2. What is your experience with volunteering? In what areas have you volunteered and why?
  3. Has your volunteering only been with poor black communities in the Caribbean or Africa?
  4. Have you previously volunteered with children in low income “white” communities?
  5. What is your understanding of the objective of the ISL? How does it fit into your desire to volunteer?
  6. What are your views on blackness, Africa, racism and white privilege?
  7. Would you be willing to go through an intensive training programme before you begin to volunteer?
  8. What in your opinion are the social and economic priorities for Jamaica now?
  9. What in your opinion are the social and economic priorities of your country and how will that affect Jamaica?
  10. What is your proposed involvement with the ISL after you volunteer period has ended?
  11. What would you be willing to do to keep the ISL open?
  12. Are you able to offer or arrange opportunities to travel to your country for individuals you interact with while volunteering?
  13. What is your passion in life?
  14.  What does social leadership look like with the dynamic of race?

There are more questions and more points to dissect but we have to start here .

 

Learning about Masculinity, Sexuality and Fatherhood from Vbyz Kartel

I have been thinking seriously about Vbyz Kartel for about a year now. My initial discovery of him was in the  song “Yuh a mi baby”. This song started a reflection about the “erotic Vybz kartel”, our relationship to male sexuality and sexual expression, love and sex, the importance of kete pa (the good marriage bed and the erotic as African.

Since my discovery, Vbyz Kartel has been convicted of murder and has been sentenced to life in prison. I have continued to be interested in Vbyz Kartel, primarily trying to understand him through his relationship with women, that is the expression of his sexual self and how he shares that and is powerful through that.

My interest in Vbyz Kartel has given me insight into art and the artist and dancehall music as a legitimate space for creating complex identities which present us with critical ways that we need to question and understand ourselves.
My interest has led me to discover Adidja Palmer. Carolyn Cooper has also tried to show the two Adidja Palmer the creator and Vbyz Kartel the character.  I recognize Vbyz Kartel as the creation of an identity, a character.
What is it about Vbyz Kartel that makes him resonate so deeply with several youth, men and women and even older men and women?  My discover of him and his resonance within society makes be believe this is an important exploration.
On Monday September 7 at 6pm at the Di Institute for Social Leadership Marescaux Plaza, Marescaux Road we will have a reasoning about Vbyz Kartel, masculinity, male sexuality and fatherhood. Dr. Ana Perkins will be the main presenter and will speak on Vbyz Kartel masculinity and fatherhood.
I hope you will join us for this first in a series of conversations. If you can’t make the event tune in to ZANJRADIO for the live stream. Bless and love. afifa.

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