Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dear Fellow Jamaicans, Not Everything Is A Conspiracy

Kin Cheung—AP photo
Jamaicans have a persecution complex, I swear. And we're professional conspiracy theorists. Cases in point:
1) Cameraman on Segway accidentally runs into Bolt: is a setup. Dem wan tek out di don! 
1a) Cameraman apologises to Bolt and gives him a friendship bracelet as a conciliatory gesture: Nuh wear dat innuh Bolt! Mind it poison/have een PEDs.
2) Cindy Roleder fails to acknowledge Shermaine's congratulatory gesture and appears to slap her hand away: a wah do dis BBC dutty racist gyal?! Afta she nuh more dan we?

Regarding Bolt and the cameraman, Song Tao: the poor man was obviously just trying to get the best possible shot of the icon and got too close to the railing. He probably shat himself thinking he had been responsible for maiming track and field's great saviour. He probably feared for his job and maybe even his life. I'm sure if he had a social media page that we could have accessed, he would have gone into hiding.

Regarding Cindy, I ask you, when did we or our athletes become perfect? People cyaan mek mistake? I'm not saying we can't comment and make light of situations, but some of us have crossed the line into paranoia and cyberbullying. I believe both situations were accidents. The cameraman lost control of the Segway. Cindy was in the heights of excitement that she and her friend had both medalled (in a race where they weren't even supposed to feature) and the fact that her hand caught Shermaine's in that way was not malicious. Why can't we give her the benefit of the doubt? Why would she choose to diss the runner who finished several places behind her? Come on now!

Had the shoe been on the other foot, and Shermaine was celebrating with her sister Danielle who won (also against great odds) and Cindy was the one who reached out and had her hand "slapped away," our conversation would have been different, something like this: Mi seh she jus do so an lick weh di white gyal han! Brush har weh yes! Nuh mek she touch yu cause yu nuh know wa inna har lotion." We would have cackled, spun a few more tales and then we'd have moved on. A few of us might have deemed it rude, but I'm sure that would've been the overwhelming minority. screengrab
How many times have you been so caught up in a moment or preoccupied that you've walked right past someone you know and not realised until the next time you saw them and they asked what they had done to you for you to ignore them like that? How many times have you been preoccupied and someone was calling out to you, sometimes over and over, and you didn't realise until they touched you or came right into your face? Is it so hard to imagine that something similar transpired here? Is Cindy not human? And we love to talk about our strong belief in God, but where is our forgiveness?

I urge us to get over ourselves a little bit. The world doesn't revolve around us. The world is not out to get us. The world also does not owe us jack, just because we're Jamaican. All the abuse and suspicion directed at Cindy and the cameraman are completely uncalled for and show off the bhutto side of our national personality. Going on the attack for every real or perceived slight just feeds into one of the stereotypes about us - that we are aggressive and violent, and I have to ask, how does that benefit us in any way?

UPDATE: Cindy seems to have followed up her Facebook apology with a voicemail or voice note, which Shermaine shared on her own FB wall. But, of course, people are still in the mood to tell Cindy about her parts. I wish we would let this go, already!