Jamaican youth: ‘We are the generation demanding change!’

What a gwaan Jamaican youts?! Hope everyting good wid unnuh.

As you all may be aware, November is specially and annually celebrated as Youth Month, this year themed #EnergisingYOUth, in which the remarkable and creative abilities and skills of Jamaica’s young people are warmly embraced and valued.

Youth month is about fully harnessing that God-given potential inside all us that is waiting to burst from the soil of self-knowledge and confidence. The acceptance of who we are and confidence in our individual and collective destinies will allow us to be more energised in order to actively participate in the processes of change and national development.

We are the generation of now rebelling against unworkable solutions, meaningless traditions, systemic divide and stereotypes such as ‘yuh nah come to nutten good!’

Let me pause by debunking this cliched term, ‘the youth are the future’: young people of Jamaica, we are not the future. We are the present. We are the generation of now. We are the generation of now rebelling against unworkable solutions, meaningless traditions, systemic divide and stereotypes such as ‘yuh nah come to nutten good!’

We are the generation of demanding change now – whether through damning silence or our outrageous vocality. We have been breaking several socio-economic barriers with our indomitable spirit and tenacity to triumph over human struggles; but many of us still need motivation and a strong foundation to be free from the box that we have been entrapped.

Many of us still need motivation and a strong foundation to ease the agony of our frustration and disillusionment with all that is wrong with Jamaica. But, all that is wrong with Jamaica can only be fixed by what is right with us. Young people of Jamaica, potential energy is wasted energy because it is stored and not used. Let us not be condemned to eternal silence on the issues that matter most to us, let us transfer this energy into the energy of movement and allow ourselves to experience a fresh level of social consciousness and organisation.

But, all that is wrong with Jamaica can only be fixed by what is right with us. Young people of Jamaica, potential energy is wasted energy because it is stored and not used.

The more united we are in our numbers and spirits, the better the results of our activism will be and I, Tina Renier, am part of your struggle.

Like many of you, I grew up in a small, rural community called Barbary Hill in the parish of Hanover which exposed me first hand to the social divide in Jamaica. Barbary Hill is gracefully poised by unplanned settlements; high unemployment; low educational attainment by many of its residents; high levels of violence; negative gender stereotypes and ‘bare-faced’ poverty.

Having been exposed to these experiences, I have decided to dedicate most of life to advocacy on behalf of young people, especially from the perspective of social justice, equality and inclusion. I still strongly believe that before we can pursue national transformation, we have to focus on building more resilient communities.

Energising youth is about inspiring them to achieve beyond their own expectations of themselves especially when they believe that no one believes or thinks the best of them.

Energising youth is about inspiring them to achieve beyond their own expectations of themselves especially when they believe that no one believes or thinks the best of them. I say to you, challenge yourselves to be better persons and transfer your potential energy into energy of movement and action.

We have engaged several decision makers at the national level by presenting positions on ways in which young people should be represented in governance and today, we now have the revamped National Youth Parliament and the National Youth Advisory Council.

Today, I stand with pride as the Leader of Opposition Business in the National Youth Parliament 2016-2017 lobbying on the motion of youth unemployment using inclusion, equality, justice as useful instruments to alleviate this explosive challenge to lives of many of us.

Jamaican youts, walk good till next time!

 

This post was adapted by Tina from a speech she gave last week at the reconvened National Youth Parliament, of which she is Leader of Opposition Business. She previously participated in Y-Klick, a joint youth advocacy programme by UNICEF and Respect Jamaica.

 

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Comments:

  1. Well written and as a young man I can identify with much of what was stated. Our youth or on the path of change and we will stay energized to move in a positive direction. God bless you all!

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  2. The future is now and we are out to take it. Lovely message, we as the younger generation need to speak up and be active for real in order to take control of our own destinies and not continue to be victims of “the system”.

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  3. ‘From rhetoric to action’ is a underpinned theme evident in her discourse. The concept of energizing youth first comes with the acceptance that young people are partners in development and not problems to solve. Energizing youth suggest that at the core of development young people are to be provided with spaces and opportunities to maximize their potential. The rebirth of a National Youth Parliament and the formalization of a National Youth Advisory Council are indeed platforms that are intended to create the opportunities and spaces for holistic development, positive growth and development, consistent inclusion in policy and advocacy, representation and empowerment, consultative practices and human rights based approach to youth involvement.

    Well positioned for growth are our young people who seek opportunities and who accept their responsibilities in the development agenda. All young people have a space to voice their concerns. Don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out!

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  4. This is a well-written and cogent case for youth development in Jamaica. I imagine it elicited a rousing reception. I wonder, though, what the spaces and opportunities that are mentioned here mean concretely in terms of workforce development and financing/execution of employment training for youth in Jamaica. What tangible steps are being taken in rural communities to increase the amount of scholarships for high-achieving students? Alternatives for students whose families find education consulting services that can help them perfect applications to competitive schools in Kingston and overseas cost-prohibitive? What alternatives there are for young men and women who aren’t recruited immediately into salaried positions post-university and end up having to work in local shops, supermarkets, etc. What options are there for them?

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