Every solution pathway within the existing system is now fatigued. The situation is disheartening as there is no hope of a solution within it. After a summer of complacency and compromises with the global capitalist order genuflecting before a virus, we accept with brutal certainty, that nothing we tried has worked to contain the pandemic without disrupting the forces of economic globalization. Having gathered the courage to openly accept this bleakness, we must now set out to reimagine our lives. To picture the radical socioeconomic change that will involve a direct ‘politicization’ of the economy, with a much stronger role for the state, and, concurrent deeper transparency of the state apparatuses for the benefit of civil society.
As eccentric as it may seem, the West Indies must now take a dragonfly-eye perspective of Cuba to understand how Cuba coped with the fall of the Soviet Union for inspiration on how to deal with a post-Covid-19 Black Mirror world that is now under hasty construction. Ticketmaster is already considering that patrons may be required to supply proof of their Covid-19-negative status or proof of vaccination or immunity if they wish to attend large in-person shows at high-capacity venues. Where does this leave the unclaimed who after independence remain uprooted and who must prefix their existence with “Indo-”, or “Afro-”.
The unclaimed who append their identity to a thing that rejected them ages ago remain lost, disavowed and marooned. The hope of Eric Williams in 1962 was to build a democratic Nation that ostracized outmoded privileges. A Nation capable of “thinking for itself, knowing its own mind and speaking its own point of view”. For Williams democracy deteriorates into a “hollow mockery” and a “gigantic fraud” when it is grounded on “a ruling group’s domination [of] slaves or helots or fellaheen or second class citizens or showing intolerance to others because of considerations of race, colour, creed, national origin, previous conditions of servitude or other irrationality.”
Battymamzelle-eye insight is a feature of great problem framers. The large compound eyes of dragonflies with thousands of lenses and photoreceptors sensitive to different wavelengths of light allow them to process multiple Picasso-like perspectives not usually available to humans. By widening the aperture on the problem or viewing it through multiple lenses of the Battymamzelle, we get to see beyond the accustomed tropes into which our pattern-recognizing brains assemble perception. The West Indies must prepare our children to take a dragonfly-eye view of the pandemic and other problems and to “anchor outside” the ecology of the problem, especially when we seem to be confronted by constant glitches, vagueness, and the unintended.
Schools must nurture in our children the propensity to interrogate snags from multiple perspectives, including those that initially seem orthogonal. They must know how to start and to begin over and over again when they meet a dead-end or fail, and to search inside the interstices of loosely coupled ecosystems in which a problem is enmeshed. They must be shown how to go beyond the patterns they recognize to avert the awkwardness that makes it difficult to escape their own thinking.
Before the present pandemic, India faced a complex public health threat during an outbreak of HIV/AIDS. So the planners widened the problem’s definition. This made it possible to leave off the traditional epidemiological HIV transmission model built around known “hot spots,” to embrace one in which sex workers facing violence were made the centerpiece. This dragonfly-eye approach addressed a broader constellation of leverage points by including the sociocultural context of sex work. The narrow medical perspective had utilitarian value but it didn’t tap into the related issue of violence against sex workers, which yielded a richer solution set. But sometimes decision makers face highly constrained time frames and have limited resources. This compels them to narrow the aperture and deliver a tight, conventional answer. Not a solution.
To be of worth and be valued, the unclaimed genius like Walcott must journey from the periphery. The intolerance of the periphery offers a bland nothingness. Delia Alleyne from Scarborough, Tobago, worked as an assistant tailor under lead stylist Zerina Akers to create Beyoncé’s pastiche of symbols and ideologies in a time of Coronavirus for the visual album “Black is King”. In 2017, Delia left Trinidad joining the flight-of-flamingos leaving the island to find something more. Delia created an outfit for Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy and a gown for Beyoncé to appear in one scene.
“Black is King” allows Black Lives to reclaim a throne of black self-identity that has undergone varieties of erasure. And to live once more in the castle of their own skins with majesty. With its aesthetic of African dignity, “Black is King” seems especially emancipatory in its rebuke of tattered colonist motifs. Delia stood unclaimed at UTT when she was credited for teaching Anya Ayoung Chee to sew for her appearance on Project Runway, which the former beauty queen won. In that year, Delia was honoured by the Point Fortin-based design label Zadd and Eastman. Now she flies with a flock-of-flamingos like James Hackett whose creations with Fe Noel feature in Vogue.