The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Williams sets the record straight

By Kevin Williams

As many of you avid Mac Weekly readers are aware, I was recently featured in an article (“Kevin Williams: Superman, global citizen,” 9/28/07). First and foremost, I would like to say that it was an honor to be recognized as a voice of change on campus and that the author thought it acceptable to share my story and use me as an example for the rest of the Macalester community. This is something that I do not take lightly and it is my hope that I continue to be a person that can be an example of Global Citizenship here at Macalester.However, I am writing this piece to clarify any misconceptions that may have arisen as a result of the article. I do not think that there were any ill intentions on anyone’s part, but there were some things that could have been misunderstood and/or misinterpreted because they were out of context.

The first thing that I would like to clarify is that patwa is not just slang, it is a dialect. It is difficult for Americans to understand the concept of this dialect, because it incorporates English, French, as well as African languages. While much of it my seem to be just broken English, there are many things about patwa that have no English roots, and so it would be a mistake to conclude that such a dialect is nothing more than slang. Another thought that may have crossed your mind is that patwa is limited to the poorer, less fortunate areas of Jamaica, which couldn’t be further from the truth. This dialect is a cultural remnant, and continues to be a very large part of the Jamaican culture and everyday life. So, when I spoke of my mother teaching English in poverty stricken communities, that is exactly what I meant – she taught children that were in poor communities that weren’t able to attend school. Having said that, it would be nothing short of idiotic if one thought that all Jamaicans were poor and uneducated.

Secondly, I don’t want it to be thought that I no longer associate or have ties to the country. Yes, I do hold resentment because of what happened to my stepfather, but that resentment is not something that can erase the effect that Jamaica has had on my life. There is no way in which the six years that I spent there could all of a sudden be dashed away and I think that I completely separated myself from it – if anything, I must keep some connection to Jamaica, even if only for the memory of my stepfather. So when I said that ties have been broken, I was referring more to physical ties because the only person that connected me directly with Jamaica was now gone.

Lastly, and I feel most importantly, it is important that there is an understanding about the comment regarding “the white man.” Based on the article, it could easily be misunderstood that many Jamaicans hold it against white people for many of the social problems that exist. However, this is far from the idea that I was attempting to portray. What I was trying to convey is that it is up to us to take responsibility for the things that we do that aid to the depravity, social unbalances, etc. that are evident in every country in the world. Please don’t misinterpret that comment to think that Jamaicans have resentment toward white people. As a matter of fact, I think Jamaica is one of the few countries where such racial tensions do not exist. America could learn a lot from this little third world country. Color, race, ethnicity – these terms are just titles in Jamaica, nothing more than characteristics to tell one another apart. If we looked at race as do the people of Jamaica, we would be much better off than we are now.

I hope that this clarifies some of the things that were presented in the article in question, and I would like to take this time to apologize to those that may have been offended by what was published. It was not my intention to suggest anything negative about any group of people, especially a group of people with whom I feel I share some part of my culture – whatever that is.

Kevin Williams ’09 a Psychology major from Brooklyn, NY, can be reached at [email protected].

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    James TaylorSep 6, 2019 at 2:18 am

    Great post! We are linking to this particularly great article on our website. Keep up the great writing.