Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: The Dead Yard

Book of Doom and Gloom
I had the misfortune of reading The Dead Yard by Ian Thomson, a book of doom and gloom, as this author sets out to expose the dark side of Jamaica. Ian Thomson clearly sees nothing good about Jamaica and any hint of goodness is quickly dismissed as he paints a picture of hell that is my beloved country. Every successive chapter is filled with more doom and gloom than the last as Ian goes out of his way to highlight every nasty disgusting aspect of the Jamaican society. If this writer had stated that there was a Jamaican connection to the World Trade Center attack, I would not be too surprise. He seems clearly upset about Jamaica's independence from Britain, he hates the idea that Jamaica is now being influence by the United States and he may or may not love, hate or misses the British Empire.

 If someone was to compile everything that is negative about the British society and pack it into one book, then they would have achieved the same objective.  The author made several reference to the Jamaica Tourist Board adverts comparing it to life on the dark side but the tourist boards of Great Britain (Visit Britain) do not promote football hooliganism, life in impoverish council estates, English Defense League race riots, pub fights, public drunkenness and disorder, massive amount of child abuse from Britain's Pedophiles’, stabbings and murders in Britain and as such I do not see any reason why the Jamaica Tourist Board ( Visit Jamaica) should promote crime in Jamaica.

Maybe Ian’s time would be best spent documenting the experiences of victims from raciest Crimes in Great Britain:
  • 61,000 complaints of racially motivated crime were made in 2006-07, a rise of 28 per cent in just five years.
  •  Biggest surge in racist incidents was recorded last year (2007) in South Yorkshire, where the number leapt by 77 per cent, and Thames Valley, where it rose by 46 per cent.
  • Racist attacks on the rise in rural Britain Between 2000 and 2004 rose from 48,000 to 52,700.
  • Racism on the rise in Scotland, Statistics showed that 6171 incidents of racism were recorded in 2009/10 - a rise of 20.4% from the 5123 racist incidents recorded in 2008/9.
Anyone can write a book about the dark side of any country because every country have a dark side, but to make the dark side the norm is just criminal, pure evil. This writer dislikes Jamaica for some reason and understands like most of the British media outlets that negativity sells, especially when it comes to Jamaica. Does Jamaica have problems, yes, does Jamaica have a crime problem, yes, but one can ask the same about most countries, including the United Kingdom. The Author interviews several prominent, wealthy Jamaicans who are not of African descent and several none Jamaicans who lives in Jamaica; they all seem to take pleasure in their raciest description the black population. One would think he was interviewing members of the Ku Klux Klan in the deep south of America or party members of the British National Party or the English Defense league. The population of Jamaica like most other countries is diverse, it is made up of people of different races and different historical background and yet this author is shocked to find out that Jamaica suffers from normal human traits that exist in almost every country with a diverse population.

As Jamaicans we understands the problems that we face more than anyone else, we know the negative aspect of our society, we experience it day in day out and it is something we as Jamaicans are fighting to overcome every day. We also know and love the positives aspects of our society of which there are many, we see it every day and we experience it every day and it is there for all to see but people like Ian Thomson are blind to this and that is not what sells. Books like Dead Yard and writers like Ian Thomson exist to kill all hopes, dreams and aspirations of a people while making a profit. 

I see nothing positive about this book, it brings nothing new to the table, it offers no solutions and given the fact that the foreign media only reports bad, negative things about Jamaica (We all know the BBC’s attraction to a Jamaican Ghetto is like a moth to flame) it adds nothing new to the way people in other countries view Jamaica. However it reinforces my belief that what is important is how we Jamaicans think about ourselves and the future of our country. We cannot and will not let others like Ian Thomson control or define how we think or who we are. As Jamaicans we are given one of the greatest challenges a human being could face, to take one of the most fertile and the most beautiful land mass on this planet and convert it into a country where all of its inhabitants can live in peace and prosper, to build a nation state future generations of Jamaicans can be proud of. Great Britain left us with nothing but we are determined to create something. Yes we have had set backs along the way but I believe we will get it right, we are a young nation still growing but we will get there.

The author performs interviews after interviews with people who left Jamaica decades ago, with each one giving their own out of date opinion on Jamaica over the years. The very idea that people who have migrated, who turned their backs on their birth right could then turn around and make statements about the lack of growth and development in Jamaica, is to me extremely insulting, here we have a group of people, some of whom left Jamaica for over 30 and 40 years, never returned, most no longer call themselves Jamaican, having never lift a finger to build our nation state, thinking that they somehow have earned the right to make these statements about my country.

The fact is each of the events reported in the book are almost always negative but not unique to Jamaica, however this is not an issue for Ian who only wants negativity presented as if it is unique only to Jamaica. If anything positive is said during his interviews we would never know about it because Ian would never report it, that's not the purpose of The Dead Yard, Ian's Book of Doom and Gloom.

Related Blog Post:

The Behavior of Nation Builders (Part-2)

1 comment:

  1. I find it very odd the thought and mindset of Arsenal Fans, there is something abut being and Arsenal Fan, which i am, and how the brain works. This is uncanny