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Why discount diaspora residents?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Dear Editor,

Why are Jamaicans living abroad no longer seen as citizens with the right to discuss, criticise, speak about politics or anything that relates to Jamaica? Now some local residents are even questioning our right to vote. Jamaica seems to be backward on this issue, as other countries, including America and Canada, welcome the votes of their citizens residing overseas.

Do not blame us for wanting to seek a better life for ourselves and family members, when those who have been given the mandate to govern the country did not create the opportunity and jobs that were needed. Some simply lined their pockets.

The hypocrisy of this is that many of the same people criticising us are the same ones with a US visa, who fly to Miami or New York for vacation or to do their shopping. Why not spend that money in Jamaica? Some of them are the same ones making appointments at various embassies in Jamaica in order to obtain visas. Why do you need one, if you are so critical of those who migrated?

It seems as if the only thing we are good for is the monthly or weekly remittance through Western Union or Money Gram.

For some unknown reason we should remain silent on the pertinent issues facing our homeland and our people. I was not aware nor was I ever told that I was less of a Jamaican because I was living abroad. Many of us would love nothing more than to return to the land of our birth, but financial obligations to self and family prevent us from doing so.

We still hold the Black Green and Gold as our own, we still cheer when our athletes do well, we still cry when our stalwarts and fellow Jamaicans die or are killed by violence, we still yearn for the warm sunshine and beautiful beaches that we had to leave behind and, yes, we still consider ourselves first and foremost to be Jamaicans.

There are times when I speak and I am asked where I am from, and I proudly say Jamaica, only to be told that I have a beautiful accent. As Jamaicans we are unique in our own special way, and no matter where we are - be it Canada, America, England, Rome, etc - our home is still and will always be Jamaica.

When I die, my greatest wish is to be buried in the land of my birth, not on some foreign shore where my spirit will wander aimlessly, but on the shores of my homeland, where I can dance to the beat of the drums, and rest beneath the sands of my beloved Jamaica.

Michelle Bradshaw

Lafayette, Indiana


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