GET REAL: Will we be igrunt or positive?
ANOTHER MAN has met his death in an encounter with an officer of the law.
May the family and friends of Selwyn Knight have the spirit and tenacity of a Maggie Maloney, and may they receive much more satisfaction than she did, from the investigations.
Ironically, this is the birth month of the late I’Akobi Maloney.
Most of us would have probably forgotten the name by now, if not for the fact that this young man has a mother who would not be silenced.
Maggie Maloney is Bajan by birth but not by nature. Since the untimely passing of her first-born son, she has ceaselessly agitated for justice, unsatisfied with the pronouncement of the coroner’s report, which ruled death by misadventure.
Now, whenever there is an incident of alleged police misconduct in Barbados, many of us remember I’Akobi’s face and recall Maggie’s cries. Her wailing urges us to get real. It is not the Barbados Police Force. It is the ROYAL Barbados Police Force.
Like our educational system, our governmental system and our business culture, it was not designed by us nor for us. We’ve made them work the best we can thus far. It is time to remake them in our image.
Barbados may not have the levels of gun violence and police brutality reported in Jamaica, but we can catch up. Plus, we are smaller so it takes less to have a greater impact.
Dey got guns in Barbados, and a generation of Barbadians that is more willing to use them. Disillusionment, disenfranchisement, disconnection and discontent can come together to disturb the peace like nothing since Hurricane Janet. This coming storm is not like a hurricane. It is totally avoidable, if we are willing to get real about wuh gine on.
The age of the passive or passive aggressive Bajan is ending. We have a choice. We will either see the dawn of the positively assertive Bajan or the igrunt aggressive Bajan. The difference is that the positively assertive Bajan will be tenacious in seeking what they desire through legal and non-destructive channels.
The igrunt aggressive Bajan will take matters into his own hands and destroy all in his path to get what he wants. If the legal non-destructive channels are felt to be ineffective, getting igrunt will be the preferred alternative. If the people perceive that there is no justice, there will be no peace.
Spiral of violence
There are many who would have encouraged Maggie Maloney to just drop it. “All the noise and fussing won’t bring him back,” they argued. They did not get it. It is not about bringing I’Akobi back, but bringing Barbados forward; to a place and time where the people feel secure with their security forces and security forces continue to feel secure among the people.
Many reading this will say, “But I ain got no problem wid de police. I ain nuh criminal.” Neither was I’Akobi Maloney nor Selwyn Knight. But if it is not you or a member of your family, it’s not your problem, right?
Get real! There is a spiral of violence. Where citizens get more violent and police get more violent, society becomes more violent and more innocent people, police and criminals alike, die. Is it you next?
A look at the situation in places with a heavily militarised police force should make it clear that a heavy-handed approach is no solution to criminal violence. Yet there are those here who would call for everything from cracking heads and shooting people to bringing back public flogging.
They speak, not with the heart of a citizen of a free nation, dealing with brothers and sisters gone astray, but with the spirit of an overseer dealing with disposable subjects and slaves.
It always amazed me how quick the Barbadian public was to side with the authorities in a dispute. We would generally side with the teacher over the student, the principal over the teachers, the police over the citizen. It seemed as if when not in the role of slave master we played supportive slave. This is changing now.
The model of authority that many Bajan politicians, police, parents, managers, teachers, and so on follow, no longer works. The “good ole days” when respect was a one-way street and they could speak to and treat people as they liked and we would quietly take it are done.
Maggie Maloney was supposed to quietly take whatever happened to her son. But she jumped them with her positive assertiveness.
The positively assertive Barbadian must be encouraged by a system that she feels confident in, and comfortable approaching for fair and just treatment. He must feel that he has a stake in a stable society. Otherwise we will be jumped by the levels of igrunt aggression.
Authority figures must lead in elevating the tone of interpersonal interactions. In my short stint teaching in secondary school, I felt it just as important to model respect as it was to teach my subject. I failed more than once. Caw lemme tell ya, it ain easy, remaining respectful in the face of disrespectful children.
Change to republic
What do we expect, though, given the examples we set in the homes, media, streets and parliament? We have some serious retraining and reprogramming to do on ourselves.
The change of the status to the island to a republic will excite very few, even among those of us who have looked forward to the day. We recognise that unless there is a revolution in mindset, the change is largely cosmetic. It is the crown in black face.
However, as the figures for the sales of weave suggest, we like cover-ups and cosmetic changes.
So the Royal Barbados Police Force will no longer allow its members to wear locks. Really? Wunna sat down and discussed it and came to the conclusion that this is what law enforcement in Barbados needs at this time?
Maybe that kind of colonial thinking is one of the reasons why I’Akobi Maloney is not with us today.
Adrian Green is a student of positive assertiveness. Email: [email protected]