THE EDITOR: In 1999, Afeni Shakur – mother of late American rapper, activist and poet Tupac Shakur – published the critically acclaimed The Rose That Grew From Concrete, a collection of her son’s most inspiring poetry. The title poem goes:
“Did you hear about the rose that grew/ from a crack in the concrete?/ Proving nature’s law is wrong it/ learned to walk without having feet./ Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,/ it learned to breathe fresh air./ Long live the rose that grew from concrete/ When no one else ever cared.”
Tupac Shakur, himself the child of a violent ghetto, understood the culture that arises in a space that is unloved and neglected. He also understood that from such a space can come true beauty.
For decades, there has been a troublingly unsympathetic perspective on our crime hot spot areas, with very little understanding that there is value to be found in every corner of this society.
East Port of Spain, Laventille, Endeavour, Sea Lots and the myriad other areas that fall into this category have all produced upstanding, law-abiding citizens. They’ve also produced professional athletes, international beauty queens, and many other people who’ve done TT proud.
The Soogrim Trace swimming pool is an investment in TT citizens – yes, people from Laventille are actually TT citizens, too. Imagine what something like this means to children and young people, what having access to a facility like this can do for their self-esteem and the development of their life skills – and, ultimately, the various ways we can all benefit from these young people’s growth.
Our crime situation is not new. It has long, deep roots in unhappiness, desperation, cynicism, poor parenting and a general lack of care for those less fortunate. Surely the response is to prevent people from choosing crime as their path.
It is universally accepted that prevention is better than cure. Why, when a prevention method is put on the table, are we so cynical? Is our inability to believe in our fellow citizens indicative of a bigger need for healing and reconciliation?
Let’s invest in each other. Let’s have some hope.