Letter to the Editor: I Do Not Want to Say the Sky is Falling

Tyreese Learmond, UNF student

Approximately a year and a half ago, I requested we give some attention to the situation facing Haitian migrants coalescing at the US border seeking asylum. I intend to reiterate that impetus but also reflect on the wider immigration issue not just regarding migrants but also other groups who flee their homelands because of violence, political corruption and oppression and social immobility caused by insufficient health, construction, education, and transportation infrastructures.

It only requires attention to the news cycle for one to recognize that the issues surrounding immigration to the U.S. are far from any amicable resolution. Such that, a year later, it still seems to me like many remain unaware of the fact that third-world countries have not only been stunted by the history of imperialism and colonialism but also socially embedded narratives which continue to perpetuate misguided notions of the state of such countries. For example, it has often been my experience that when I inform individuals that I am from St. Catherine, Jamaica, W.I (West Indies) they are often quick in their attempt to relate that they visited for their honeymoon or a vacation some 20+ years ago.

Unfortunately, it now only leaves for me to say, that Tourism is an industry that many third-world countries deliberately market to vacationers. It is a source of revenue for the preservation of governments who exploit the countries’ natural resources, beautiful mountains, valleys and beaches, and the ever-sunny weather.

In Haiti’s case, the ongoing violence, their seeming inability to recover from the spate of natural disasters, and the harmful stereotypes which continue to abound in regard to the Haitian people are not the causes of their problems; these issues are the result of several centuries of exploitation by the developed nations which began with the ostracization of the Haitian people by the world after the Haitian Independence Revolution of 1804.

Individuals who make the often-unsafe journey to the borders to seek asylum are not here to displace anyone. Additionally, for those who may claim that the push factors which compel migrants to leave their homelands for the developed world are ubiquitous, i.e., just as present in the developed world as in the underdeveloped world, it needs to be said that when comparing underdeveloped countries to developed ones, please begin by first considering disparities in Gross Domestic Product.

Now, from the ongoing migration and refugee crises to the war in Ukraine and the conservative assault on gender-sex diversity and inclusion issues, dare I ask it, the sky may in fact be falling. And I am saying this for no other reason than we are supposed to be in the year 2023, but the issues of our world seem oddly reminiscent of the dystopian pasts when it was illegal for a black person to sit in the front of the bus. The regional political landscape is such that travel advisories are being issued by respective minority groups against the state of Florida, the Russo-Ukraine war is dragging on, the Dalai Lama asked an underage boy to “suck his tongue” – regardless of whether or not the Dalai Lama is supposedly “beyond sensorial pleasures-” and every other week another train derails, furthermore, the United States Presidential Election of 2024 is already shaping up to be a memorable one.

We seem to live in a world that has simply deafened itself to G.W.F Hegel’s most apt warning about learning from history, ‘We learn from history that we do not learn from history.’ A world has been created that is now exceptionally hostile to its inhabitants. Despite all the protests and wars of the past, generations young, old, and in between are all now staring down the barrel of democracy’s death.

Just this past week, Dr. Limayem was inaugurated as UNF’s seventh president. I extend the warmest congratulations to him. However, mere weeks prior, he capitulated to DeSantis’ whims by having the UNF (University of North Florida) LGBTQ+ center “scrub drag all mention of drag queen” from its websites. The Spinnaker this season published many opinion pieces from students calling for someone to act. I am joining the call as well, but I am asking for us to do something different. For example, what if the University took the bold step of proactively protecting itself from DeSantis’ horrid hands by going private? We cannot continue as is and expect that these issues will simply resolve themselves without proactive action.

To conclude, I must reiterate my charge for us, especially students, to not only pay attention to these issues but also continue to educate ourselves on their nuances so that when it becomes our time to lead our societies, we are prepared to do so effectively.

Tyreese Learmond is a University of North Florida senior.

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