America isn't all that great

June 08, 2018
Protesters march down a street after the funeral for police shooting victim Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, California, in March.

When I was a child, literally all my friends described the US as a land of milk and honey, and, to be fair, from afar it seemed that way.

Many of my friends who migrated seemed to prosper after going to live there.

Whenever they visited, they looked rich, well, richer than when they left. They even smelled rich; you know, that smell that clothes and goods have when you open a package that arrives from the US.

My grandmother used to send me stuff - jeans, sports jackets and money - when she lived in Arizona and was doing well for herself.

At the time, the money meant little because it took about two US dollars to buy one Jamaican, but it still felt great to have some US dollars in your pocket even though they were of less value back then.

Over the years, as things got worse in Jamaica, the US began to look even better; but for some reason, I have never wanted to live there.

As I have matured, aged if you prefer, I have come to see that my instincts were on point. On the surface, the US might seem like the greatest country on Earth, but when you take a closer look you will see that the underbelly is a mess, especially for people who look like me.

The stories of the murder and abuse of people of colour, the images you see each day of policemen abusing people who have done nothing wrong except for being of a darker skin, the injustices meted upon black people before the courts, make your skin crawl.

Just recently, a teenager was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing a pair of sneakers; and yet we see white people who have committed crimes much more egregious literally getting only a slap on the wrist.

If this is the definition of being great, then I want no part of it. I might eventually visit again one day but, to be honest, I am terrified of stepping on a plane with the intention of visiting the US.

As I said, I have friends and relatives there, and in years gone by they had spoken highly of the experience living there.

I don't hear those comments so much these days, and I guess it's another sure example of the adage that says 'all that glitters is not gold'.

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