Why wear black? A question of Olympic proportions, but if the protest fits, wear it.

I was surprised yesterday to see on my Twitter timeline a conversation involving Juliet Cuthbert MP:

Wearing black weekly has become an international symbol of protests against violence against women and children.

The question struck me as odd, as it did some others. One reaction was to ask ‘Why march’ weekly? Both wearing something symbolic and marching could be seen as ‘at a distance’ forms of actions. Some would say, ‘Why not go and hunt down the perpetrators?’.

I added a facetious, but legitimate, touch on the possible economic implications of various forms of protest. Society gets many benefits from the things we do, whether some see those things as positives or negatives. So, my seeming facetiousness has a real import. In a place like Jamaica, one could argue that people would support actions that provide other benefits to the rest of the country, especially if these actions are planned and regular. Look at what now happens with 5k runs/walks.

If it’s not clear, the issue is really about the effectiveness of various forms of protest

The implication of Mrs Cuthbert’s question was that wearing black was too passive or ineffective. I’m not sure who gives anyone the right to question what others feel is appropriate protest. If it’s not to your liking, better surely to do what you feel is right. In fact, as her party leader once suggested not so long ago (2014), there’s nothing wrong with being the only one protesting in a particular way [though, against a bus fare increase by JUTC, not against some crime]. He subsequently organized a nationwide peaceful protest against the increase. Whether it made any difference or not, it was how some chose to act. Maybe, Mrs C would have asked ‘Why not boycott JUTC?’ or set some buses on fire? That’d teach them people didn’t want to take it anymore.

Maybe, the question has implicit in it a notion of ‘the protest should fit the crime’: so it’s ok to have a peaceful protest march for bus fares, but one should burn tyres and throw rocks against forms of violent crimes. I’m not sure. In Jamaica, we tend to have a narrow range of responses to policies or situations we dislike. Often, cutting down trees and blocking roads is the form of protest prescribed in the ‘national manual of acceptable protests’.

Maybe, because Mrs. Cuthbert is a ‘five-time Olympian’, who gave birth last year at the tender age of 51, is made of sterner stuff and really wants an active form of protest befitting of an Olympic athlete. Just wearing stuff doesn’t cut(hbert) it?

Mrs Cuthbert and her husband at the March 2016 swearing-in of MPs
You need some heart-pumping going on. Maybe, if asked she wanted a national steeplechase or half-marathon against violence, with full back pack. We must all share the pain? (On that point, wouldn’t that be an interesting punishment to fit some crimes?)

National steeplechase against violence? Gruelling, it would be.
All I know is that for most people doing anything to show support for something that has not affected or does not affect them is a major challenge. Much easier to just sit pat. So, if you can do your little part, somehow, I say ‘Let it rock!’. (I wont joke about what I have heard on occasion, such as ‘I don’t look good in black’.)

Mrs. C? Knock yourself out organizing some alternative form of protest. Cut it to fit your cloth. [BTW, that’s no reference to a little slip of the diplomatic language tongue a couple of years ago… :)]

History may show that one form or another seemed to give better results, but then again, it should not be a competitive thing: my  protest is more hefty than yours. If you care, you show it how best you can.

Those who write letters to the papers or to MPs, or decide to raise funds to maybe find alternative homes for abused women and children, I think what you are doing is fine–as I’m sure you did, already. So, as some may say, when it comes to bump, carry on.