Reflections from a columnist turn activist

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JASLIN Salmon, One View

Now that I have been asked to reflect on my time at Wednesday Journal, I am amazed how quickly time passes. It has now been nine years since 1996 when I wrote my last column for the Wednesday Journal.

In hindsight, I reflect on my tenure as a columnist for Wednesday Journal with great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

I feel satisfied, because I was given an opportunity to express myself as an individual, but also because my column became closely identified with the NAACP, an organization for which I have great respect.

I feel a sense of accomplishment, because I achieved my original objective, with the desired result.

My intent was to present "another view," in a style that would attract the attention of both my admirers and detractors. In my view I accomplished this remarkably well. I was particularly pleased that the column made those with Neanderthal views on race extremely uncomfortable, and got the support of those who have what I regard as, enlightened and humane views on the subject of race. The reader may recall that I wrote on a lot more than race, but race was always the lightening rod.

Interestingly, in as much as I regard the people at Wednesday Journal as being on the enlightened side of the spectrum, it was clear to me that at times management was extremely uncomfortable with my positions. I think this could be attributed to their own unresolved issues on race, as well as my relatively strident style of presentation, which can cause some to respond with discomfort.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the paper, and I commend Wednesday Journal for, despite our quarrels, ultimately demonstrating a spirit of tolerance for difference.

Permit me to give you a glimpse of what I have been doing since I left Oak Park and Wednesday Journal. In 1997 I returned to my native Jamaica, and accepted a position as an advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister, and National Coordinator of the National Poverty Eradication Programme. As such I provide advice to the Government on issues of social policy and social development, coordinate, monitor and evaluate the poverty programme which cuts across 10 Ministries (departments). I also initiate efforts aimed poverty reduction. Additionally I serve as president of a board that addresses issues related to street children, vice president of the Jamaica Red Cross, and I am a board member of several other organizations.

I have now completed eight years as an advisor to the government, and I have decided to play a more activist role in the development of the country, hence I shall demit office shortly.

I am the Founder and President/CEO of a recently established "think tank" known as International Institute for Social Political and Economic Change (IISPEC). The aim of IISPEC is to conduct research that will inform the organization's push for meaningful change in the social, political and economic arena, as well as to provide consulting services to both businesses and governments, particularly in the Caribbean.

Life back in Jamaica is exciting, enjoyable and challenging, and I would not want it any other way. For those of you who think I was a troublemaker, I continue to be a thorn; and for those who saw me as a constructive force that says publicly what most others are reluctant to say, I continue along that path.

Human and civil rights are issues that continue to occupy a great deal of my attention, and I am poised to be even more attentive to these issues in the weeks and months to come.

To all my friends and well-wishers in and around Oak Park, the struggle must continue; keep up the good fight. Peace, love and friendship.

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