THE stigma attached to being from the inner city or ghetto can affect one's outlook on life and self-esteem.
It may seem strange to some of us that there are thousands of people who, use friends or family members addresses when filling out application forms, but that is a reality. Best believe that you can live in the inner city and not be ghetto.
It has become a cliché: "It's not where you start. But where you end up", but for some of us betterment means getting out of the inner city and staying as far away from it as possible. There are so many 'escapees' from the inner city around us, who fought tooth and nail to defy the odds and succeeded; got a good job and moved on up Jefferson-style to a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Sadly, many of them will never publicly acknowledge their past and raise their children to be snobs and make fun of people who are poor and trying. It may seem silly, but so true, that a simple change of address would make life so much easier for a lot of people. Even when the community is calm and peaceful and the individual is hard-working and ambitious, the stigma remains. I can't tell you how many times I've heard comments like "she is so pretty for a ghetto girl" or "he's so bright, even though him live downtown". As if people who live in particular communities shouldn't be attractive or intelligent
If we were to place a hundred individuals from various walks of life in a room, wearing nothing but similar undergarments, one would be hard-pressed to tell which ones were from the inner city and who were from 'uptown'. The well-to-do attend spas and get peels and treatments to maintain a blemish-free complexion. People who are unaware that such facilities exist, or can't afford the elaborate techniques, will bleach their skin with harsh chemicals; same mindset, different approaches. The majority of us all have the same basic needs as human beings, circumstances and an address sets us apart.
It led me to wonder: what can people in the inner city, trenches or garrisons do to put a spin on their circumstances? Weeding out crime and criminal elements is one obvious answer, but that is a long-term solution that requires retraining the brain of Jamaica's youth. I'm thinking short-term solutions that would kick-start a movement like no other.
How about we speak in English or do the Miami twang like our neighbours across the way, even when the cussing is getting hot...try to stick to the Queen's English; it sounds better even though the words sting the same. Clean up the community; un-bushed lots; old abandoned motor vehicles; piles of uncollected garbage and the pests (human and winged) that they attract tend to make an area look depressing. Stay off the streets! Uptown people tend not to congregate and hang out on corners in their communities; they go to parks and shopping malls and each other's homes to do that. Create a business district for small enterprises within the community. One major telltale sign of ghettos is the wild, random placement of shops, garages and bars interspersed with homes. Nothing says, 'ghetto' like a 'phone card sold here' sign on a gate. Tidy it up! Lastly, speak highly and proudly of your community. If the only news you share with others are crime and misery that will be all they are forced to think of. Where you live shouldn't define who you are.
Have a great weekend, folks. Respect each other and show love to the less fortunate. Follow me on Twitter @ElvaJamaica; 'like' my fan page on Facebook Elva Ruddock or e-mail me your comments firstname.lastname@example.org.