Listen to the youth
Look here nuh. As I advance in age, I am increasingly grateful that I have been, and continue to be, blessed with numerous opportunities to interact with young people.
Whether it comes by way of structured teaching assignments, or via official engagements as a motivational speaker, or even through informal conversations with youth on the street, I see each occasion as a gift to be valued and cherished.
Yeah, man, I’ve had some rewarding encounters with positive young people in the last few days. And if nothing else, my dealings with youth from all walks of life, from Kingston to Montego Bay, suggest to me that we have much for which we can to be thankful.
I met some dynamic young people at the University of the West Indies Western Jamaica Campus, for example, whose sense of political depth, social awareness and intellectual maturity left me feeling enthused, encouraged and enlightened.
Our youth have deep concerns about a myriad of important issues, from apprehension around gender disparity and sexual abuse, to anxieties relating to environmental degradation and the lack of enough positive local content on our airwaves.
They also have inventive designs and creative ideas. Yes, our young people are thinking and talking. And they are making sense. But who’s listening?
Many of us older folks take pride in preaching at or talking down to the youth. We spend a lot of time berating, scolding and admonishing them.
And most of the time we just simply talk about them, as we bemoan the erosion of traditional values and blame all of our current social ills on the ‘wayward youth of today’.
We rarely make time for genuinely open exchange of ideas with younger people. Yeah, we do nuff talking, but we hardly make time to listen.
I find that I do more learning than teaching when I rap with young people. So I value the time spent with these stewards of the future.
Yes, peeps, I derive a great sense of hope and optimism from people like Renard Anderson, Nicholas Brooks, Rajay Linton and Romiel Sherwood four ambitious, enthusiastic, young men who I now have the honour of teaching in the certificate in theatre arts and production programme at Trench Town Polytechnic College.
And I’m encouraged and inspired by the purposeful passion and intellectual acumen of Xander Lipman and Sian Reid, two brilliant young scholars who I met at Excelsior Community College last week.
Nuff conscious youth out deh. So, mek wi listen to dem nuh!