Over a lip stain?


Over the weekend, I was back in Canada for a family event. In Toronto, in fact, where everything is clean, shiny, new and orderly, at least in comparison to Kingston. This is not meant to denigrate Kingston, such a lively, bright, vibrant city that is full of its own natural beauty, but the contrast just struck me.

I was with a couple who had been together for over 20 years, friends of the family, and I must identify them as males, which is relevant to the story only because of my reaction to being with them. I found myself concerned for their safety. Shouldn’t they tone down their voices, mannerisms, affection towards one another, I found myself worrying…what if people noticed that they are a couple? Are they safe here? Will people say or do anything negative?

And then I remembered, I am not in Jamaica. For the most part, this couple can move freely in society, probably not 100 per cent free of discrimination and harassment, but at least in their daily lives they do not experience fear of mob attack or personal attacks.

This experience came back to me as I watched this news report about a young man who escaped an angry mob that had become riled up because he had purchased a lip stain. Judging by the crowd’s passion, he could have lost his life.

I am always loathe to compare and contrast and criticize different cultures and countries, especially as a foreigner. (Please read another beautiful account of this occurrence here.)

So I will not do that. Instead, I turn deep inwards and ask myself: should a young man be physically injured and harassed because he purchased a cosmetic item? The answer I come up with is “No.” I hope this question (specific to this situation or any other similar situation) enters the consciousness of any other individual not only here in Jamaica, but everywhere.

In what situation is it ever acceptable for fellow human beings to physically or psychically harm one another when we are all just trying to live our lives the way we want to, full of love, free of pain and endeavouring towards the future, full of hope?

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