Saturday, April 13, 2024

ALL AH WE IS ONE: Myrie’s lessons


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When Shanique Myrie had first indicated her intention to test the justness of her assertion of the right to travel without harassment to any signatory of CARICOM’s revised treaty, I felt compelled, in an earlier article in THE NATION, to place Myrie’s action on par with the United States’ Rosa Park’s refusal to stand at the back of a segregated bus. 
At the time, I asserted that “while social scientists tend to place heavy emphasis on large structural and economic explanations for occurrences of historical significance, the reality is often that the catalyst for these developments are often unassuming, ordinary individuals who refuse to stand at the back of the bus. In the case of Rosa Parks, it was not a radical historical consciousness, but her overworked tired feet which compelled her to break the racist Jim Crow laws”. 
Among the enduring legacies of the Myrie episode will always be counted the fact of her youthfulness, her maturity in utilizing the government-created organs as the vehicle through which she could establish her claims, and her sense of historical responsibility in resolving to pursue them as a way of demonstrating that it could be done. Indeed, Myrie herself has identified the fact that her most important objective was to insist on her rights and on social justice, and to demonstrate to her public that one must never hesitate in the pursuit of what one deeply believes. 
In a context where we are daily exposed to a generation of young people who seem to have forgotten the habits of resistance, and who instinctively accept the pronouncements of officialdom as the word of God, and who, though they continually reject the legitimate avenues for action as a “waste of time”, have not built any significant alternatives in their place, the actions of Myrie serve a refreshing counter-example of what is possible.
Myrie’s victory is indeed a victory for all CARICOM citizens. In this regard, it was disturbing to hear some interpretations of the landmark Caribbean Court of Justice ruling as a “loss for Barbados”, as if it were a cricket game in which Barbados was pitted against Jamaica. 
Instead, it is a victory of all Caribbean people in which whimsical decisions of regional immigration officers to deny CARICOM citizens from entering other CARICOM states, is now subject to judicial scrutiny. As such, all Caribbean citizens have won. A decisive step in the long-held goal of putting together what has been unnaturally put asunder because of limited political vision has been taken. 
Far from sneering at the fact that “CARICOM is now the EU [European Union]”, we should happily celebrate this revolutionary achievement and should boldly endeavour to imagine a new regional nation at the precise moment when the insular national vision appears to be facing exhaustion.
Educate, Agitate and Federate, now more than ever! Forward Ever!
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, specializing in regional affairs.


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