See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Stories from and

Trinidadian Diaspora Blogger Appeals to Domestic Violence Victims After Seeing Rice Viral Video

Once the video of Ray Rice (the American football player for the Baltimore Ravens) hitting his wife went viral, Trinidadian diaspora blogger Afrobella couldn't get the incident out of her mind. “The video where he spits and hits the woman who would go on to be his wife, where he knocks her unconscious and drags her out of the elevator,” she says, “It’s enough to give you nightmares.”

She was also not impressed by the public's response, citing distasteful hashtags on Twitter that made light of a distressing situation and a general bent towards blaming the victim. The blogger, Patrice Grell-Yursik, expressed her concern for the plight of Janay, Rice's wife, and their daughter – but in her effort to understand her situation, she realised that Rice is one of many women stuck in the cycle of domestic abuse:

The more I [...] considered this story [...], the more I kept thinking about my best friend from childhood. Her name is Carys Jenkins, and she works as the manager of the independent domestic violence advisory service (IDVA) at RISE. She’s been working closely with women dealing with domestic violence for years and years. When I mentioned how sick seeing the Ray Rice video made me, she simply responded, ‘I see lots of videos.’

Jenkins shared with her the “cycle of abuse” and the psychological tactics women use to survive. The post also offered practical advice to women who may be contemplating leaving an abusive union, with the blogger noting that “one of the few good things to come out of this story is the sharing and honesty by people who have experienced domestic violence themselves [...] For anyone who’s stuck in an abusive relationship, please know there’s a way out. Please know that a healthy, loving relationship isn’t one that diminishes you as a person or threatens your health and happiness. You can break the cycle of abuse.”

Trinidadians Concerned Over “Largest Ever Budget”

As the Trinidad and Tobago government, in anticipation of national elections next year, serves up a massive budget, two political bloggers take the country's leaders to task.

Afra Raymond, whose blog keeps a close eye on politics, corruption and transparency, provided some disturbing financial context:

The Minister of Finance has just met cynical expectations by announcing Trinidad & Tobago’s largest-ever budget for 2015, with estimated revenue of $60.351 Billion in support of estimated expenditure of $64.664 Billion. This expenditure is $4.313 Billion more than the expected revenue, with 2015 being the sixth consecutive year of deficit budgets with a nominal total of just under $34 Billion in excess expenditure in that period.

While Raymond was not surprised at the “high-stakes election budget”, he maintained that there were a few key issues to be considered – the importance of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property law being passed, the government's exclusion of a billion dollar water recycling project in the country's accounts, continued ambiguity about the specific output of the state housing programme and the issue of campaign finance reform, to name a few.

Over at This Beach Called Life, the blogger had additional concerns, such as the intolerable traffic situation between south and north Trinidad (most corporate offices and state agencies are concentrated in the island's capital, Port of Spain, with nothing being done to alleviate the problem), as well as the government's latest controversial crime-fighting gimmick, the purchase of armoured vehicles that has been one of the hot topics of discussion on social media, with many netizens getting the sense that the concept of community policing has been traded for an approach that could potentially endanger civilians. The blogger summed up the situation this way:

Naturally, Kamla’s [Persad-Bissessar, the Prime Minister] amusing and often childish sounding chant ‘serve the people, serve the people, serve the people’ can no longer be heard as the Government buys fifty two armored vehicles to ‘blow up the people’ should they step out of line. Are we a nation on the verge of revolt?

Yes, a revolt might be near simply because when the Government [...] removes the unsustainable subsides on gasoline, water, electricity [...] all hell will break loose in paradise and whether party financiers get their contracts and the appropriate kickbacks paid will be the least of the Government’s concerns.

The Politics of “Pretty” in Jamaica

As Laurie-Ann Chin is crowned this year's Miss Jamaica World – apparently despite the live audience's disapproval – Carolyn Joy Cooper, who blogs at Jamaica Woman Tongue, takes on the ugly underbelly of the country's beauty contests.

“If you follow these beauty contests, it’s easy to predict the outcome,” she says. “The light-skinned girl is almost always going to win.” This certainly seems to be the trend. Writer Marlon James blogged about “The Miss Jamaica Mulatto Factory” in 2008. More recently, author Kei Miller contended that the Miss Jamaica franchise represents “hierarchies of race and class as they still operate in Jamaica today”, saying:

The issue is that there is an idea in Jamaica of who is beautiful and who isn’t…that this idea of beauty is, to a large extent, a racially constructed one.

Cooper, who tracked the trend as far back as the 1960s, recalled a column she had written five years ago, dealing with the same issue, in which she “mischievously suggested that we forget about old-style beauty contests and promote a new model”:

So every year we ask ourselves this very loaded question: ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of us all?’ And we all know the usual answer: ‘the fairest.’ But in an ‘out-of-many-one’ society it’s simply not fair that it’s only one type of beauty that is almost always privileged as the winner.

She also challenged the politics of beauty, saying, “It’s really all about power”:

Judges assume the right to decide who is ugly and who is beautiful. Who gives them that power? The contestants? The audience? The owners of the competition?

Fashion Trends in Trinidad's Capital

The way people dress offers a glimpse into the culture of a place; Maya Cozier manages to capture the urban vibe of Trinidad's capital city in a short video which interviews several fashion forward young people who live and work in and around Port of Spain. Blogger Ceola Belix is one of those featured and she notes:

Kudos to Maya for great production quality, fab story-telling and a cast of super interesting subjects, all of whom I respect for having a distinct sense of style that I think is very true-to-self. I feel very honoured to have been considered along with these fab folks…

You can watch the video here:

Port of Spain style from Maya Cozier on Vimeo.

In Defense of the National Gallery of Jamaica's Director

Over the last month, the National Gallery of Jamaica's executive director's leadership was the target of criticism, first via an anonymous letter written to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, and then in a blog post written by blogger Annie Paul, which she prefaced by saying:

I’ve been closely involved with the Gallery, serving on its Exhibitions Committee for the last few years and before that its PR Committee. In these capacities I’ve been privy to some of the internal workings of the institution and have experienced at first hand some of the problems I will be detailing in this post.

Now, a different perspective has come to light, in the form of a letter to the editor from Jamaican artist Jacqueline Bishop, who writes “about the Veerle Poupeye I know”:

I have never known anyone to champion Jamaican art and Jamaican artists as tirelessly as Veerle Poupeye does.

Consequently, I have watched with growing alarm and dismay as her name has been maligned, and someone of great integrity and generosity is consistently caricatured in, among other places, The Gleaner.

The ‘Concerned Visitor’ of the July 19 letter is right to point out the lack of financial and other support to the National Gallery of Jamaica. And I, too, wonder about the alignment of ‘youth’ and ‘culture’ under a single government portfolio. However, there is more than enough for Jamaicans of all shades, stripes and kinds to discuss and critique and try to understand and work against and through and towards in Jamaican art and visual art culture, without resorting to name-calling and character assassination.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will launch an exhibit to celebrate its 40th anniversary on August 31.

Why One Trinidadian Father Will Never Hit His Kids

Corporal punishment has, for a long time, been ingrained into the fabric of Caribbean societies, with some making the connection between the region's harsh colonial history and its modern day bent towards violence. In many cases, the recipients of such beatings are the most defenseless members of society – children.

In Trinidad and Tobago, this year alone, there have been two high-profile cases in which videos, one of a mother beating her daughter with a belt and the other of a mother repeatedly hitting a child with a shovel, went viral, prompting a national discussion on the fine line between discipline and child abuse.

Discipline, in its truest sense, is nothing more than an opportunity to teach, and judging from the findings of modern scientific research, you can't connect with children – or anyone for that matter – when they're scared, because the fight or flight instinct takes over.

In reality, though, it can be difficult for parents to walk away from old ideas, especially if the rod was not spared during their own childhood – which is why it was especially refreshing to come across this blog post by a Trinidadian father, living in the United States, detailing exactly how he came to change his mind about corporal punishment:

I used to think spanking a kid was okay – necessary, even. I come from a culture where it is accepted, even expected. I no longer think that it is any of those things.

If you think that a stronger, more physically powerful person hitting a woman is wrong under all circumstances, then you must accept that hitting a weaker, much less powerful human being is equally as wrong – if not more so.

The idea that ‘well, I got hit as a kid and I turned out okay’ is, I think, a fallacy. Because I think that if you think that hitting a kid is okay under [insert circumstances here], you, in fact, did not ‘turn out okay'.

Hitting a kid, especially a young kid, is pure laziness. It’s ‘I can’t be bothered to understand what’s driving my kid to do X so I’m going to revert to my base instinct and lash out.’ It’s lazy, and it is wrong.

I was spanked as a kid. Not often [...] but I got spanked. I love my mom, and she is my hero for how she brought us up – but on this, she was wrong [...] If I am half the parent to my children that my mother was to us, I’ll be an excellent parent. But I will never hit my kids. That’s one thing that stops with me.

Trinidad & Tobago Needs to Pass the Public Procurement Bill

Trinidad and Tobago's Finance Minister yesterday delivered what many are calling a “welfare budget”, but prior to its unveiling in Parliament, blogger Afra Raymond had hoped that “a more restrained approach might be taken.”

In examining the country's national budgets since 2005, Raymond found it telling that “many of the key issues identified a full decade ago are still at the fore of the more recent budgets.” There have been recurring themes: the need for economic diversification, better infrastructure, more effective crime fighting and tactics to help reduce the incidence white-collar crime. The figures revealed a tendency towards increased expenditure, with only occasional surpluses, leading him to conclude:

The reality that we are on the verge of a national election which is sure to be strongly-contested, leaves me in little doubt that the 2015 budget is also likely to be a deficit budget, with the State spending more than it earns.

Making the point that “the extent to which our Treasury is protected from being plundered by criminal elements is a serious question which should concern every citizen”, the blogger notes that adding insult to injury is the fact that corruption goes virtually unpunished in the country.

But how to stem the tide? Raymond is convinced that passing the long overdue Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Bill “would play an important part in greatly reducing the scope for waste and theft of Public Money.”

The National Gallery of Jamaica Celebrates 40 Years of Home-Grown Art

The National Gallery of Jamaica is in the midst of celebrating its 40th anniversary and the gallery's blog has been sharing information about its history and accomplishments:

When the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) opened its doors on November 14, 1974 it was the English-speaking Caribbean’s first national gallery, and forty years later it is the region’s oldest and largest national art museum. [...] Since 1974, the NGJ has held over one hundred and thirty exhibitions and established an encyclopaedic collection of Jamaican art. Through the process of amassing and exhibiting the art of Jamaica it has done more than preserve and display Jamaica’s artistic heritage. What the NGJ has truly excelled at is telling a story (‘the’ story, the NGJ has at times claimed) of Jamaican art, crafting the raw material of artists, artworks and anecdotes into a coherent narrative that resonates with how Jamaicans see and understand themselves in the world.

Is the Caribbean Education System Dumbing Down Kids?

As the new school year begins in many Caribbean territories today, blogger Guyana-Gyal, who writes in local parlance, questions the new direction education is taking throughout the region. From the practice of making children tote heavy backpacks instead of simply asking them to bring to class only the books they will be using, to the popular trend of “extra lessons” and increased amounts of homework, the blogger challenges the concept that greater testing results in smarter children:

Why aren't children allowed to play during school-term while they're studying? Why can they play only during the holidays? What kinda ignorant parents they breeding now [...] They never hear that play is one of the most important ways to discover? To learn? To think? [...]

And! Passing so many exams gon prove what? That they can sweat the books really well…and…what else? It gon make them more articulate, wiser, more creative, inventive, more thinking, more analytic? Really?

Trinidad & Tobago: Back-to-School Apps

ICT Pulse shares 5 useful apps for staying organised once school starts.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site