This weekend past, we met and spoke to a number of young men living and working in one of our now-historic heart land communities located in that area of this town known as Over-The-Hill.
The cruel fact of the matter is that Over-The-Hill remains scarred and blighted not only by its slave and colonial past; but also by some of the crueler aspects of a capitalist world order that today marginalizes many of these areas.
When it came our turn to tune in to some of the heart-cries of those young black men, we were appalled at the extent to which some of them have been ruined by drugs and alcohol.
Making matters even worse – as in the case of one forty three old father and grandfather – was the fact that not only was he not able to hold down a steady job; but that he also nursed any number of phantom grievances at employers who could not and did not put up with his myriad of drinks and drugs related problems.
Today’s bottom line for him is that he is on the outside looking in; he is estranged from his wife, his five daughters and his one grandson.
Sadder still, this man is today grieving the death of his best friend; a man who was gunned down in front of a chicken shack right around the corner from the yard where the two of them and their crew would meet to smoke, drink and on occasion, ‘throw dice’.
To make a long story short; this man’s family life is shot through and through with failure, with rot and with the canker that comes with drugs and alcohol abuse.
Saddest of all, this man’s ruined life is not exceptional; he is joined in this social debauch by very many of his peers.
In the meantime, he readily admits that he has been drinking and smoking since he was around fourteen or fifteen years old.
There it goes – a life time of self-abuse and a life time of trying to get things right; and today, a life as a beggar.
This story and others similar today illuminates some of what we are all up against as we do our level best to avert our eyes from the damage done some of people.
Let there be no mistake about the matter; many of our people – especially our boys and men – have come to define their manhood and their masculinity by the amount of drugs and alcohol they can consume; the number of children they can sire – and of late – the amount of time they have spent in jail.
These defeated men are well-matched in debauch and despair by their women-folk.
Having courted chaos for most of the past half century, this nation’s elite classes are today pretending surprise as their chickens come home to roost.
Nowhere is this more clearly the case as it is in the mess that would pass for policy on the reception of some of the people who are – for better or worse – this young nation’s newest builders.
These people are primarily Black and they hail from the Republic of Haiti. Some others are Jamaican and Nigerian; with a smattering of other Caribbean nationalities thrown in for good measure.
This is all par for the course in a rapidly globalizing world order where nowhere is any longer far away.
Evidently, the problem we have today stems not from the fact that these people are here; but that, successive regimes have neglected to deal with this phenomenon as they should have from the get-go.
As we have previously suggested, we need to have a census done to determine the extent to which Jamaicans and Haitians and other such undocumented migrants now run things at the street-corner level.
There they make their living and money.
We make the case that these people should be made to pay their fair share of the taxes.
What we now have to contend with are facts on the ground that attests to the fact that, successive regimes have failed when it comes to integrating these people into the Bahamian mainstream.
Resolution of the matter at hand can and should begin with acceptance of certain facts: that the vast majority of these people are here to stay; that they should be counted and named; that they should be taxed; that they could and should be fast-tracked for some kind of status in the Bahamas – and that, children born to them should be given citizenship as a birthright.
Otherwise, we court social chaos; precisely because very many people in the migrant-dominated communities are upwardly mobile; while very many of their Bahamian counterparts are either mired in distress or set on a slow but sure slide to either injury or death.