The Bahamas Weekly Facebook The Bahamas Weekly Twitter
Columns : Genderational - Alicia Wallace Last Updated: Feb 13, 2017 - 1:45:37 AM

Alicia Wallace on the Bahamas Ambulance Prom Entrance
By Alicia Wallace
Jun 20, 2015 - 1:28:13 AM

Email this article
 Mobile friendly page

Bahamians on social media have propelled the story of the girl who went to prom by ambulance to instant fame. However it seems now, the same social media users, are lamenting the result of their activity since the story has gained international exposure. Some claim it is a source of embarrassment for them as Bahamian citizens, and for the country itself. It's interesting to see the same people who called for immediate action against the responsible parties at Public Hospital Authority (PHA) completely ignore the role they played in putting this event on the global stage.

When the story first broke on Facebook, many Bahamians let their opinions be known, convinced, as usual, of their own rightness. The overwhelming majority of commenters expressed concern about real emergencies that could have occurred while an ambulance was being used for a prom entrance. This concern led to the complete metamorphosis of ordinary Bahamians into surrogates of rage for the loved ones of hypothetical people in need of an ambulance during the time it was in use for the prom entrance.

Social media, outrage, and criticism have become entwined, serving to shape the Bahamian experience. Power outages, resignations, scandals, and prom season all send us running to our social media platforms of choice. For many, Facebook is the mainstay, providing quick access to the latest official and unofficial news stories, complete with the comments we crave to make us laugh, seethe, argue, and share, share, share.

In The Bahamas, there is a repugnant disdain for young people. We find it difficult to celebrate them, lift them, and give them opportunities to express themselves. The idea that “children should be seen and not heard” is still alive, ruling our behavior. We find it easy to ridicule our students as, year after year, we read about the unsatisfactory national average. It is too difficult it would seem, to examine the educational system, or to closely evaluate curricula alongside the BGCSE examinations upon which we base this national average. We don't like asking the tough questions. It’s easier to believe young people are unmotivated and destined to be failures than to recognize that the average is reflective of the system itself.

It appears as though the national average has given us license to treat every young person we encounter as inferior. This was made clear in the responses to the prom entrance by ambulance. It wasn’t long before name calling ensued. Eventually, the question of the young woman’s academic performance was raised. Assertions flew wildly as people insisted that her GPA couldn’t possibly be very high. When it was noted that the young woman was the Salutatorian of her class, people immediately assumed that she just happened to be one of the higher performers in a class of under-performers. For some reason, we find it difficult to give credit where it is due, or to admit that our arguments have fallen flat.

Nations suffer from the dearth of ideas, and people to execute them. People suffer from the inability to express their creativity.

Bahamian groups and pages on Facebook are populated by questions and assertions concerning crime, youth, and the intersection of the two. It is shocking that no connection has been made between the crime rate and youth delinquency and the public attitude toward young people. We silence the voices of our youth and stifle their creativity, then wonder what went wrong when they take the wrong path. We ridicule and criticize them for deviating from the norm, making minor mistakes, and not reaching undefined, ever-moving standards we set for them. We don’t create a world that is easy for young people to inhabit, navigate, or master. We expect them to conform, become clones, and play the roles we’ve always played as cogs in a giant, turning wheel that isn’t taking any of us anywhere.

We were introduced to a creative young woman with a love for fairytales. We saw her create a stage for herself, reenacting a scene from one of the most popular stories known to humankind, bringing it to life before the eyes of all those present. It was immediately recognized as a play on Sleeping Beauty. We witnessed her use of the resources available to her to make the story fit the current day. We can imagine the reaction of the crowd, and even reacted ourselves. It’s too bad that most of us missed the merit in this performance, preferring to focus our intention on the misstep, assign blame, and demand recompense.

The misuse of the ambulance became a dark cloud, hindering our view of the skills a young Bahamian woman put on display for us. In those few minutes, she was a storyteller, scriptwriter, casting director, wardrobe specialist, actress, and producer. She showed her resourcefulness in accessing the equipment she deemed appropriate for her entrance. She made an exceptional prom entrance, stealing the show, and her ingenuity went largely unnoticed. Instead of celebrating her creativity and encouraging her to continue to express herself and share her ideas, we focused on the one thing that could have been done better. Not only did we put the focus there, but many of us assigned the blame to her - a young creative entering a new world - rather than the people who should truly be held responsible. Which is the greater disservice?

How many high points do we miss because we’re busy focusing on the low? How many students make it through twelve years of formal education without a single person taking note of their talents? How many times have teachers, guidance counsellors, and principals missed opportunities to engage young people in meaningful activities instead of punishing them for small infractions? What would The Bahamas look like if students caught having freestyle rap battles during class time were invited to write a new school song or cheer, or invited to perform at the next assembly? What if students who tell the most intricately woven lies were given the time and space to write stories? What if it became as popular and Facebook-worthy to see the good and build people up as it is to see the bad and tear people down? What if we started treating young people like they truly are the future?

Maybe accomplishing these things could actually lead to a “Stronger Bahamas” where Bahamian musicians could be the first choice for headlining events we desperately want to pass off as Bahamian. Maybe then we could fill local art galleries, film screenings, and theaters the way we fill churches, bars, and prison. Maybe we’d have more time and space for critical dialogue on issues of national importance. Maybe we’d have happier, higher-performing youth in areas that include the arts and continue to challenge the way we think about our resources, tangible and intangible.

Maybe that’s not what we want at all, because criticism - particularly on social media - has become the national sport. It’s one no one can truly excel in, but we can all believe we won.

Alicia Wallace is a Bahamian writer, blogger, and social and political commentator. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from St. Mary's University, Halifax, NS. She is a women's rights activist, passionate about public education, community engagement, and the empowerment of women and girls. Alicia is the Director of Hollaback! Bahamas- part of a global movement to end street harassment - and Co-founder of the Coalition to End Gender-based Violence & Discrimination. She serves as the Youth Ambassador for The Bahamas to End Sexual Violence, and is one of 60 recipients of the Queen's Young Leaders Award in 2015. Alicia lives in Nassau, Bahamas.  Connect with her on Facebook Or



"Unauthorized and Frivolous Use of a Government Ambulance in Marsh Harbour, Abaco" says Bahamas Ministry of Health Statement

Bahamas ambulance prom entrance goes viral 

Bookmark and Share

© Copyright 2015 by thebahamasweekly.com

Top of Page

Receive our Top Stories

Preview | Powered by CommandBlast

Genderational - Alicia Wallace
Latest Headlines
Disappointment in Butler-Turner's Senate Appointments
#WeMarch - A Revolution?
Alicia Wallace talks with Erin Greene on Bill #4
#FreeThePuff, Free the Mind
Alicia Wallace: My Queen's Young Leaders Experience