When I came to America in the eighties (1980’s), people from the English-speaking Caribbean were considered very hard workers by most people here. Some non-minorities emphasized this to separate the English-speaking Caribbean from other minorities living in America. Divide and conquer, eh? The idea that Yawdies were hard workers was even prevalent in some comedies of the eighties and nineties. For instance, the sketch-/variety-comedy on Fox, In Living Color did a skit called “Hey Mon” where a Caribbean family viewed anyone without 3+ [often unrelated] jobs as being lazy, even a pregnant woman.
Fast-forward to 2010. In my opinion, Caribbean people have not made the kind of progress I, a graduate of a prestigious school in Jamaica, expected. Don’t get me wrong, some of my bredren & sistren and relatives have done very well but not the kind of percentage I expect. But is it because of laziness or lack of discipline or both?
What does it mean to do well? Is it making US $100K + per year? Is it having a college degree or advanced college degree? Is it being so-called “street smart”, “book smart” or the combination of both? There’s no easy answer, but let me give you an idea of where I lean by sharing something I heard from a caller on to a Caribbean radio program in late 2009.
Basically, there were general topics on the 1-hour program. People talk about all types of issues, especially those affecting Caribbean people (like crime, immigration, education, poli-tricks, job outlook, etc.). The theme by callers that day on jobs, economy, and Yawdies abroad. One gentleman called in and basically said that Yawdies suffer from laziness. He said they are willing to do 2 jobs because they get paid. I must admit that I (and seemingly the moderator/host) was confused. So he elaborated. He said if they were not lazy, they would’ve done 1 job, gone to school to educate themselves, then come out being paid 2-3x what they would’ve made as unskilled / untrained and sometimes uneduated employees. He said, “but they are lazy to learn.” Learning, after all, requires discipline and work. After confusing us a bit, that summed it up quite well. In some twisted way, it makes a lot of sense.
I’m sure that raised some eyebrows. But the coaller continued that the people work 2+ jobs and are paid peanuts. Their children follow suit and the cycle continues because it’s not the norm for people to be skilled or get college degrees in that household. Often people follow what their relatives and bredren do. When asked how would someone who needs the money from 2 jobs be able to do 1 job and go to school, his response was “Sacrifice”. I can tell you that I know nuff Yawdies (and Yankees too) who fit in the gentleman’s criteria.
OK cool. But, is it as simple as that? Not quite, in my opinion. I think he is definitely on to something that I see. Many Yawdies do lack the discipline to go to school to learn an in-demand trade or get a degree that could get them career employment in a tough economy. Many use excuses when you point out that others who they agree are in worse situations than they were able to make the sacrifice to go to school…. Keep in mind, that like the caller, I’m not talking about college.
I listened to a radio program the other day where one of my former high school colleagues was a guest speaker on “Technology”. I was impressed, not just because he spoke well and was knowledgeable but also because he gave advice and related his experience. His experience was he migrated here, became a teacher and was asked to teach Computing in school. He was not a computer-savvy guy by no means so he decided to do a couple things.
(1) Go to the library and read books – educate himself.
(2) Try to fix his own computer. This failed so he took it to a shop and they fixed it in no time. Seeing this, he made a deal with them to work (without pay) a few hours per week in which half the time he does odd jobs around the shop and half the time he gets to watch the techs and ask questions until he’s able to work on computers himself. That’s basically a second job, but a non-paying job. He had enough vision to see that educating himself this way would benefit much more than being paid short-term.
(3) Practice. After all, book smarts and sitting in a class are not good enough. You must combine it with practice. Hey even Doctors and Lawyers practice, but I digress.
This gentleman now has his own Information Technology (IT) consulting company, Aubyn Tech http://www.aubyntech.com, in the northeastern US.
Big ups my bredren. I never knew your story but it was impressive to hear.
What do you guys think? Have Yawdies become lazy?