Letter: A moment of sober reflection on the “controversial” billboard in St. Peters

POSTED: 06/8/12 11:51 AM

Dear Editor,

On May 16, a poster was unveiled at the St. Peters Community Center to “increase awareness about verbal abuse and domestic violence” with the caption: WORDS DO HURT. The poster in question depicts a black male that has inflicted emotional distress towards his Caucasian partner. Consequently, the billboard seems to have invoked feelings of uneasiness, hurt, disgust and some bitter condemnations from a few residents.
I do not subscribe to the view that the poster is patently “racist” and I believe, with a great degree of certainty, that it was never the intention of the foundation to offend or insult the dignity of the residents of the St. Peters/Marigot Hill Community. However, one could argue that the poster does seem to fuel a number of long standing assumptions about gender roles and stereotypes, albeit unintentionally. For instance, to the analytical mind, a common theme that quickly emerges after a close examination of the posters located in St. Peters and Cole Bay hill is that women are helpless victims, the mere receptors of abuse, probably incapable of terminating the relationship due to financial and family considerations. In contrast the male is seen as the perpetuator of abuse using, among other things, tactics such as manipulation, fear, physical violence and coercion to maintain emotional, psychological and physical control over his spouse. Granted, in the majority of cases women are the victims of partner abuse and aggression.
However, various case studies and “loud whispers” in our community suggest that there are many instances where females are the initiators of domestic confrontation and partner violence.
Although violence against males by women, commonly known as “invisible domestic violence” tends to be almost overlooked in our society, future campaigns may consider organizing additional activities to highlight such a pertinent issue.
The reaction of the residents revealed a number of important issues:
1) Racial sensitivities exist in our society
2) The power and pervading influence of “racial” symbolism warrants deep consideration. Through this lens, the following ideas are humbly offered to assist the esteemed organization:
1) Future preventative campaigns and efforts that focus on intimate partner violence by women against men
2) Billboards that display healthy and loving relationships
3) Posters that continue to encourage and inspire MEN & WOMEN to end spousal abuse.
It is hoped that the aforementioned suggestions may assist the organization to effectively reach and serve the St. Peters/Marigot Hill community and by extension attain its desired goals.
I wish to publically commend the various social partners for initiating such an important campaign that seeks to sensitize the wider society on the effects and devastation of abuse and violence. We applaud the organization for their consistency, commitment and being courageous enough to tackle an issue often shrouded in secrecy and shame in our tightly knit community. Also, I would be remiss if I failed to express and extend our appreciation to the president of the esteemed organization for articulating in a clear and compelling manner the essence of the message.
Domestic violence and verbal abuse is a blight to our society and eliminating this social malady is the responsibility of the entire community. Domestic violence transcends gender, race, income brackets, and levels of education, religion, class and relationship type. In better words, it does not discriminate and is a criminal act wherever it occurs. It would be idle, asinine and contrary to advanced common sense to dispute that!

Riegnald “Bakari” Arrindell (Garveyite)
Resident of St.Peters /Marigot Hill Community

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