On Yendi and ChinoSunday, April 29, 2012
In an announcement posted on her Facebook page, first runner-up in the 2010 Miss Universe contest, Yendi Phillips, told the world that she was 17 weeks pregnant and that Daniel 'Chino' McGregor, son of Freddy McGregor, and talented writer and dancehall personality, is the baby's father.
I used to be from the old school — believing that someone's personal life is newspaper fodder on only two occasions: at birth and at death. Ironically, I've had to relinquish that attitude, considering the work that I do. Living on the front page is the norm these days, and as a result, news of the Phillips/McGregor baby on the way garnered for itself a banner above a major daily's headline.
Now that is a historical event and naturally, it started a media storm with the public weighing in on Yendi's decision to have a baby without the benefit of marriage first.
Sounds familiar? It did to me, so I looked back at a column I wrote in 2006 "Oh no, you didn't, Sara" after Sara Lawrence announced that she would relinquish her position as Miss Jamaica World 2006 because she expected to become a mother later that year. In that column I wrote that I was behind Sara all the way.
News of Sara's pregnancy made history, for the 23-year-old Miss Jamaica World pageant had suffered quite a blow with a reigning queen relinquishing her title for the first time in its history. The organisers of the Miss Jamaica World at the time seemed a little put out by the idea that Sara had made "an error of judgment" but were facing up to the consequences "in a forthright manner". We're sure too, that they immediately had to tighten up on the job description of beauty queen "chaperone".
My position with Sara was, as it is with Yendi, that she is a healthy young woman with healthy interests and certainly has every right to pursue them in this modern age, unless, of course, her familial rules and ability to take responsibility for her actions run counter to that. It really was none of our business.
Where Sara disappointed many of us was in declining to identify the father. I didn't need a name, what I needed was a general statement as to his fitness to be her partner, and a parent. A simple but vague: "My friend is a supportive, loving gentleman who after much discussion with me and my family agrees that I have chosen the best possible path for all concerned and he is behind my decision 100 per cent. I look forward to introducing him at another time."
But instead Sara said: "I really do not think we need to bring him into this. He deserves his privacy." That statement, in defending his "right to privacy", unfortunately perpetuated the sad reality of Jamaica's culture of physically and emotionally absent fathers.
He should have been in the picture, I thought, because it would have publicly signalled his intention to shoulder some of the responsibility. Where Sara fell short of the mark, in my eyes, was not sending a strong enough message that the father of her baby mattered enough to be accounted for.
And so I wrote: "Ideally, a press conference should have been called and he should have been standing there with you, front and centre, at the microphone, hand pressed gently to the middle of your back, looking like he loves you more than hot, hard-dough bread, looking like your every wish is his desire, looking like the embodiment of what every smart, ambitious, talented, beautiful woman with oodles of potential and for whom the sky's the limit would give up her day job for."
Six years later that's exactly what we got. Novia's soft-focus video interview of a sweet and loving couple, clearly enchanted by each other, was heart-warming. But in the final analysis, it matters not to Sara, nor Yendi, nor Chino whether or not we're happy for them. As public figures their only responsibility is the indelible impression they leave on our Jamaican youngsters and our culture.
We want to be happy for the Saras and Yendis of this world; we do. And as we watch their lives unfold in public, we need to be comforted at some point that going against the grain and forsaking tradition for the love of and progeny of a wonderful, caring man is worth it.
That is the fairy tale fit for a queen.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login