Saturday, March 04, 2006

Another day another vicitm

So I wanted my step-daughter to start first grade. As the proud father of an exceptionally gifted child I looked for all institutions, in all counties and in all districts. I even went as far as looking for schools in the nearby islands. Correct. Here in the caribbean we are not surrounded by neighborhoods, but by islands. Water to be more precise.

During my search I found out that she could only be registered for the coming semester in September in any school that belongs to the district where we live. It just happens we do not live in the nicest area in the Bahamas. In fact, it is quite poor and this was at the heart of my search quest: to find the best possible school -potentially if not appropriately somewhere else- so that she doesn't remain poor, as we all are.

Well, guess what. The fair and novel authorities in the island had a brilliant thought. To foster community involvement and ties between neighbors they issued this ridiculous law where children could only be taught in places where they live, according to some weird mapping of the island. This, no doubt, seems like a honorable intention but on closer inspection it is something that could have easily been the offspring of some modern, tanned caribbean, salsa-dancer Maquiavello. Think about it. While not allowing children to mix and mingle, the poor only meet the poor, strengthens ties with the poor and thus, remains poor. Or at least, being that this is the only world they are being exposed to, there is a greater chance that they will never come out of that corner of the Universe. And for the rich kids there is nothing but vast opportunities. On next installment I will comment on my rebellious stance. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

How the poor remain poor

It is a known fact that prostitution is very common in many caribbean islands. What is interesting is that it is not being judged the same way by locals or the ones practicing it or the ones close to it, than to anyone who is basically on the other side. To many, it is just a life-saver solution. I am not opening any judgement, not condoning its practice neither stating it should be abolished. What I am trying to say is that poverty has made its mark on those who for one reason or another haven't been given any opportunity for advancement, whether it is good schooling or simply, good advice from a friend.

It is not uncommon to walk in the streets of Cuba, perhaps the Bahamas, perhaps Jamaica or any other island and engage in a quick oral sex session for a few bucks. All it takes is to ask the targeted fella if she wants to make some money. Prostitution is different than pornography in that the participants use different means to handle the commercial side of the story. When someone prostitutes him/herself, he/she gives up some of his/her freedom to another in the form of relinquishing his/her body for a certain amount of money and for a certain amount of time. Whether the person doing it finds any kind of pleasure at any level is another story. But the fact is that for a transaction to ocurr there has to be a relinquishing factor. This doesn't happen with porn. For the most part, those involved in both sides of the pornographic universe meet under completely different circumstances: performers and actors have agreed to "perform" mostly with people they already know, like or are related to (it is surprising to see so many couples in auditions), viewers, users and consumers in general have -most of the time- little to no direct contact with those producing erotic and sexually charged scenes. Perhaps, the biggest conundrum about pornography is not so much how it affects and degrades the people directly involved but how it affects the universe surrounding the pornographic world. Enjoying sex to the fullest implies a certain level of responsibility and maturity. Where porn to fall in the wrong hands at the wrong time it could not only disinform the subject but also provide this person with a misleading defintion of what sex really is, of what pleasure represents and how both fit into an overall healthy exchange with the world.

If you have read so far I am positive you were expecting to see some porn but not being an expert I may also be pointing in a direction you didn't want to go. Next week I will be writing more about how the poor remain poor after a recent experience I had in Nassau looking for a School for my step-daughter. Have a good weekend.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

One day in a life

I am still debating whether I should move to the islands or not. The vast majority of the populace envision a picture perfect sany beach when they are mentioned any caribbean destination. But I know better. Take the bahamas. They became an independent nation around 1971. By the time, the white society retraced and made room for all colored people who started to get out of the ghetto.

The ghetto still exists today and many bahamanians cherish it dearly. It represents something they don't want to forget. It's not something they wish not to talk about but a spot in the island that they proudly show to visitors and foreigners. For all their independence and unique efforts in developing their economy and growing from their roots, the island is not an easy place to live. There is still a great deal of poverty hidden behind official numbers and a large segment of the population struggle to make ends meet. In this particular group is my beloved girlfriend that is not even bahamanian but haitian. Most haitian immigrants to the island suffer horribly as they must confront the rejection if not outright anger of the locals... More on next installment.