Gilkes: Youth don’t need approval to be agitators, kudos to that outspoken CIC student

At a post-budget discussion this week, a St Mary’s College student chided a panel of present and former government officials, including Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte and Public Administration Minister Allyson, for how they handle youth issues.

In the following guest column, Corey Gilkes comments on the public debate that ensued:

Photo: St Mary’s College supporters celebrate their triumph over Trinity College East in the 2015 SSFL season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Kudos and more kudos to that young student of St Mary’s College who told the gilded chatterers what more people need to be telling them to their tone-deaf faces.

For once, just this one time, I don’t care that the speaker belonged to a ‘prestige’ school… Ok, in one sense, I still care; because, let’s be honest, if the pupil was a student from Morvant or El Dorado, or La Romaine High, the self-righteous wash-mouth and bouf-up that I heard on i95.5fm would have been 10 times greater.

But, the fact is that in this neo-colonial backwater that very loosely throws around words like ‘Republic’ and ‘independent’—forgetting that CLR James said that people went into independence as if going to a funeral—ANY young person who chides ANY person in authority is immediately told where to get off by a bunch of gate-keepers whose sell-by date have long since passed.

The irony is that many of them belong to a generation that turned countries upside down, often rioting (even dying) in the streets to end racism, an illegal, imperialistic war in Vietnam.

This is a generation, SOME of whom shouted in their thousands: “Power to the people!” when it became apparent that the superficial changing of flags in 1962 brought little more than cosmetic changes to the society.

Photo: In the run-up to April 21 and the declaration of the state of emergency, large crowds flocked to Port-of-Spain to hear Granger/Daaga and other Black Power leaders hold forth in the University of Woodford Square.

In other words, the disconnected, elitist, economic and, by extension, social and political order that that young man told the inflated panel about is the same one that was in place in 1962.

How many of today’s pontificators, the ‘old farts’ as one i95.5 texter called them, remember that? What in fact did THEY do when THEY had a chance to radically change things? I won’t be surprised that many of them sat by like they do now and said: “Rule Britannia” instead of “Power to the People”.

No wonder Daaga went to his grave seeing in his generation, at best, indifference.

And now they want to come now and chase the young man brains for saying what they should have been constantly saying since 1962 and agitating until change came about. You have an all-round system that was developed specifically to exclude whole sections of the population; you have a bunch of Westernised ‘thinkers’ and ‘analysts’ who used that elite school to extend their exercises in detached tone-deafness, get called out on it, and the only person people vex with is the young pupil and his generation who allyuh find only want ‘instant gratification’?

And by the way, who put THAT value system into their heads? Given the archival material, isn’t that what has been said about EVERY generation of agitators since the 1800s?

Photo: Youth activists protest climate change.

Me, I just glad there seems to be a spark; I had just about written off this generation when I noticed that the global student protests and strikes over global warming—caused by the older Jurassics’ irresponsible pursuits of gratification—were not reflected by anything major here. Does UWI have activism anymore? Asking for a friend.

Young man, I wish others like you, from different socio-economic backgrounds, especially much lower-income backgrounds, connect and start shaking this place up WITH OR WITHOUT the approval of those who had their chance and did either nothing or assimilated because they got whatever it was they wanted for themselves.

You are the future, treat these Jurassic pasts the same way they treat you.

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