I call it a reasoning because with chairs set out in a circular fashion in a small room at the University of the West Indies Open Campus (Antigua and Barbuda), it was intended, I think, to be just that. Not a lecture but a conversation and that it was. That said they did invite some of us who presumably know a thing or two to open the discussion – so it was me and Kadeem Joseph (media), Leonart Matthias (labour), and Junior Prosper (environment) with a focus in each case on the history of, challenges within, and transformative force of each. Perhaps the poor turnout (and it was poor…very very poor) is reflective of the hesitance to get caught up in any of the politics talk that too often descends in to partisan talk in Antigua and Barbuda. I can relate and the fact that my initial point of contact is a former member of the Cushion Club (the reading club I have volunteered with for many years) was (I joke but it’s true) the first reason I really considered it; the second was, as a journalist and author, I am at heart a storyteller, and I wanted us to know the story of Antigua and Barbuda media – I had gathered the research and I wanted to share it (all credit to those who did the research before me, of course).
It was an interesting discussion – somewhere there’s video which is good because my note-taking game has fallen off – but discussion includes challenging (with facts and grounded analysis) what you’re presented with, and so while I didn’t agree with everything I heard (some of the historical-social dynamics mostly), I learned some things (especially as relates to our environment), and was stimulated by the conversation – and will definitely research/investigate more to learn or unlearn as needed. And I’m glad I was able to contribute to informing, as well, and to helping to make the connections between our past and our future.
Several times, Grassroots members indicated that some of the information presented was brand new to them; some of it shouldn’t be and this raised the question of the the role of the formal education system in increasing this kind of self-knowledge and self-examination.
I do think there are a lot of gaps to be filled in our reading of our history, some more interrogation and supplementing of sources etc. but kudos to Grassroots for trying to get a conversation going. I hope that they work to be vigilant about being non-partisan, remain focused on the issues, and raise the discourse (raising in the sense of bringing it up, raising in the sense of keeping it high). That the turnout was so poor speaks to the uphill battle but as I suggested to them, they are young people au fait with new media, with individual passions, collective knowledge, curiousity, and a voice; and can use other platforms to engage. We need more of that.
Oh, the additional research I did ahead of the reasoning has prompted me to make some small but substantial insertions to the original media research blog post: check it out.