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Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins Last Updated: May 7, 2015 - 7:57:38 AM
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Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
At All Costs: Stopping The "Global Gay Agenda" - Jun 17, 2016 - 12:31:40 PM

In the newspaper last week, I saw a group of holy men sitting behind a big table, lined off in front a firing squad of news cameras, proudly heralding victory against a sinister and powerful agenda, the purpose of which was to forever alter our way of life here in the Bahamas. I guess we should say, “Thank you?”

To assure this victory, however, sacrifices had to be made and in this instance that sacrifice was the citizenship of some Bahamian children yet to be born, the non-Bahamian husbands of Bahamian women and protections against discrimination based on sex. Sure the referendum was not perfect and the political climate surrounding it was not either, but it was made out to be something it was not to stop something it did not represent...
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Opportunity in the Challenge: Leading on the Referendum Could Mean Winning the Election - Mar 1, 2016 - 11:43:05 AM

With the referendum for constitutional reform, commonly referred to as the “Gender Equality Referendum”, looming in the foreseeable future, some of the usual characters are already out to play.

“The Fanatics” are crawling out of the woodworks spewing 2,000 year old ideas about gender-roles, curiously using very modern contraptions like radio and computers to do it. You can probably find “The Patriarch” at your local bar, shouting about not trusting Bahamian women who marry foreign men, women are too easily manipulated they say, and they’re speaking from their own experience...
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
The Hair and Now: What #SupportThePuff Should’ve Taught Us - Feb 19, 2016 - 6:26:23 PM

I think we’re at that very Bahamian threshold, when salient issues are answered with the ubiquitous, “We still talkin’ bout dat?” Of course, I’m referring to the puff that started a social media firestorm- the story about the young lady from C. R. Walker High School who was disciplined for her “unkempt” natural hair by the principal. Yes, I’m sure some of you are tired of hearing this minor issue being blown out of proportion, but please allow for one final intervention.

In the wake of “The Great Bahamian Hair Debate” there are some who would wish to deny the importance of this moment- to redirect attention to more “pressing issues” like crime and growing economic inequality. Not so fast...

Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
The Politics of Natural Disasters (And the Unnatural Disaster of Politics) - Oct 16, 2015 - 5:15:57 PM

We have heard the constant refrain echoing across the last week as we have tried to mend the bent and broken lives of our fellow countrymen, “Now is not the time for politics.” Unfortunately, it’s too late.

Politics didn’t ooze into this difficult moment in our collective national consciousness because of something a politician said, or something a newspaper wrote. Natural disasters are as much an “act of God” as they are inherently political.

Does the suggestion that natural disasters are political make you cringe? I think for most of us a natural disaster is distinctly apolitical and should be seen as a time for all of us, no matter the political colours we wear to come together. This could also be because despite the Bahamian obsession with all things political, we often understand “politics” as the messy...
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
The Way Forward: The Political Value of a Bankrupt Tourism Policy - Jul 3, 2015 - 12:53:33 PM

“If properly [sic] planned and allowed to grow unchecked, tourism can suffocate indigenous culture, destroy traditional values - aesthetic, moral and social, ruin architectural traditions, upset or even ruin the environment, encroach on areas which would best be used for other industrial activity, create imbalances in terms of foreign and local business ownership, divert workers from other important employment areas and contribute to an increase in crime.”
- Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Perry G. Christie

Is there a more germane statement that can be made today to describe the current dilemma we face in The Bahamas? With the conflict over Baha Mar and deteriorating social conditions, in one short paragraph the diagnosis is clear: We’ve allowed tourism to grow “unchecked”...
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Silencing the Lambs: Tuition Hikes, Cannibalism and The Power of Student Movements - Apr 24, 2015 - 8:40:05 AM

The College of the Bahamas’ (COB) Council may as well put the fava beans on to cook and pop a bottle of Chianti because it just leveled a grievous blow to the prospects of many young Bahamians.

If you haven’t heard, without the consultation of students, faculty or staff the council voted to increase tuition fees by 50% per credit for lower level courses and 30% for upper level courses. This represents an increase from $300 to $450 for 100/200 level courses and from $450 to $600 for 300 level courses and above.

Let’s put this tuition hike in its proper context. Last week, owner of the “Everlasting Gobstopper” of construction projects, Sarkis Izmirlian...

Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Prayer and Punishment: Why the Conventional “Wisdom” on Crime is Doing Us No Good - Feb 13, 2015 - 1:30:03 PM


My Tuesday and Thursday mornings are filled with little styrofoam cups of green tea and the half-knowing murmurs of students. I’m teaching again, tasked with convincing young people with little exposure to the social sciences why they should wake up first thing in the morning to hear me lecture about it—the “intro class.” I’ve spent the last two classes proselytizing, preaching for sociology despite my own ambivalence toward the discipline.

One of my last lectures was on the social construction of reality, what we know and how we come to know it. I argued that knowledge exists within a context and that this context is a product of historical economic, social and cultural processes. Furthermore, there are those who narrate our reality, those with greater influence on how we understand our context, that get to speak the loudest...
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Crafting a Shared Vision: National Development, Nation Building and Participatory Communication - Dec 12, 2014 - 8:31:07 AM

We are all born at a specific historical moment, in a specific geographical space randomly and without choice. We are told that because of these random occurrences we are Bahamian and that we must pledge our commitment to the nation that defines this geographical space and the people who inhabit it, most of whom we will never actually meet. Yes we talk the same, we eat the same food and we share certain cultural artifacts, but these, it could be argued, are all a function of where we were born-- that very random occurrence. So beyond these superficial expressions of national identity, what is our deeper connection to this place?

For the greater part of two decades Bahamians of all sectors of society have been desperately calling for some kind of national development plan. As we approached the fortieth anniversary of the lowering of the Union Jack, many became vocally aware that government policy was victim to petty political winds, that political parties had no discernable ideology...
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Shanty Towns Are Only One Part of the Problem, And I’m Not Talking About Immigration - Jun 14, 2013 - 4:02:45 AM

As residents of New Providence dealt with terrible weather and severe flooding, talk of low-lying areas, housing and the situation of residential location is dominating the national discourse. Before the storm, similar issues of concern were peaked by a new report out of the Department of Environmental Health on the presence and conditions of shanty towns in New Providence.

For many Bahamians, shanty towns are a physical representation of the problem of illegal Haitian immigration, often conjuring images of a mass, unwanted invasion.
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
How Not to Be a University: Lessons from the College of the Bahamas Playbook - Apr 25, 2013 - 11:03:58 PM

"Our government spends more per inmate in Fox Hill prison than it does on COB students"

Over the last decade a debate about the purpose of higher education, and namely the university, has arisen among intellectuals, policymakers, activists and young people. The importance of this debate has been exacerbated by the global economic downturn. As governments look for places to cut public funding, or make smarter investments, the question of the value of the university has been catapulted front and center.

Here at home, as we watch the unfolding debacle around the reduction of government subventions to the nation’s flagship institution, the College of the Bahamas, the question of the value of this institution, now soon to be a university, has been...
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
The Real Story: The Whats and Whys of the Gaming Referendum - Feb 1, 2013 - 6:36:13 AM

I’m not sure anyone could have predicted the outcome of this referendum on web-shops and a national lottery accurately. For most, it seemed an easy win for the “Vote Yes” campaign, given its attempt to drown the opposition in its considerable resources. Those who predicted a loss for number-bosses could not have anticipate how handily both questions were voted down. Before arguing the why of this embarrassing defeat for both the fairly new Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government and the well-funded “Vote Yes” campaign, lets look at the what -- what happened last night?  

At press time the Tribune reported that a little over 40,000 votes were cast. This represented less than 50% of registered voters and at some polling stations voter turn out was as low as 30%. Today, ZNS News is reporting that over 70,000 voters...

Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Dis Ga Be Long: How the Handling of the Gaming Referendum May Be a Clue to the Next Five Years - Nov 16, 2012 - 11:34:35 AM


After a long day on campus -- lecturing, meetings, helping students find advisors for the registration period -- I happened into one of those new Cable Beach restaurants for lunch. You know the ones, kind of swanky but casual in the style that is reminiscent of the Euro-American bistro movement. I ordered a pint of Kalik draft and a salad to go, finally exhaling, looking forward to coming home and writing a lit tle. Out of no where, I see a police car, people getting up and none other than the Prime Minister darkening the doorway, effortless dimming the lunch time chatter.

I v e written and spoke a lot about the Prime Minister and his policies, but this was my f irst time being in the same room with him. At the risk of sounding like a political sycophant, to see him in person humanized him....
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
The War Continues: An Alternate Take on What the North Abaco By-election Means - Oct 19, 2012 - 1:28:32 PM


I know. It has been a while since I’ve written anything. I’ve fallen victim to what I often accuse others of doing: coming home and getting comfortable. I am, however, inspired to put fingers to keyboard following the excitement of the North Abaco by-election.

The seat once held by the former prime minister and leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) has now gone to the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). The PLP holds 30 seats in the House of Assembly, leaving only 8 for the opposition FNM.

Most of us saw this coming. The preparation of FNM candidate Greg Gomez for the political spotlight seemed lacking. This left many asking, why did the FNM...
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
So, About that Bahamas National Average: Anti-intellectualism, Masculinity and the Making of Ignorance - Aug 17, 2012 - 2:09:37 AM

The news is trickling out slowly but just to make it official: I’ve moved to Nassau. I’m back in the Bahamas to begin my PhD fieldwork and while I’m here I will be lecturing part-time at the College of the Bahamas (COB). Honestly, I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this opportunity. It’s a chance for me to engage fellow academics who have been studying Bahamian society, politics and history for much longer than I have. What is more important, I have a chance to engage with Bahamian students, to learn from them and teach what I’ve learned during the nine years I was away.

I’ve been sharing my excitement for the last few months with Bahamians still at home and abroad. The reactions have, for the most part, been very positive; however, almost all of them come with similar warnings...
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Will the New PLP Government Pass Its Upgrade? - Jun 29, 2012 - 11:13:08 AM


Over the last few months I took a much needed hiatus from writing and from observing Bahamian politics. I was drained from all the election hype and I had exams for which I had to prepare.

 

Yes, Doctorate students have exams as well. In the United Kingdom they are often referred to as “upgrades” -- the hoops candidates jump through to move to the next stage in their research work. For me this meant producing a paper, which I later had to defend in front of a small panel of academics-- a “viva voce”. I happy to say that I’ve passed upgrade and I’m officially...

Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Deafening Silence: Disabilities and Bahamian Society - May 18, 2012 - 11:30:12 AM


Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten in the habit of listening to GuardianTalk Radio’s livestream. I catch Teej Grant’s “Coffee Break” and “The Darold Miller Show.” Honestly, it has become a bit of a distraction; I become far to engrossed to get anything done.

A few weeks ago, I happened to catch Michael Strachan’s “Morning Blend.” Dr. Michelle Major, and one other doctor whose name I don’t recall, talked about the issues disabled Bahamians face on daily basis. The doctors claimed that there were about 7,000 autistic persons in the Bahamas, but most surprising was this statistic: 30% of Bahamians are disabled in some way...

Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Predictions, Promises, Petrol and Protégés: Bringing Some Perspective to the 2012 Elections - May 11, 2012 - 11:33:17 AM


This is probably the point at which my good Anglican grandmother, now deceased, would probably be humming, “The Strife is O’er.” Admittedly, it’s a funeral hymn and I imagine some might assume I’m singing it for the Free National Movement. Honestly, I’m just glad the election is o’er because now the real work can start.

I wanted to begin this piece by addressing what I believed was the failure of the Bahamian pundit-class to predict the spanking the Free National Movement took this elections. I’m revising that position for a few reasons.

First, I can’t speak about the Bahamian pundit-class is if I’m some kind of rogue outsider anymore. I just hung up from a Jamaican radio show who contacted me...

Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
A Brief Easter Message from the Less-Than-Religious - Apr 13, 2012 - 12:31:25 PM

If my memory serves me correctly, there is no holier time for traditional Christians than Easter. From Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday, Christians celebrate the miracle of salvation gained by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is this very salvation, that which spares us from Hell eternal, which makes living a Christian life paramount. Indeed, so important is this salvation that we Bahamians have endeavored to fashion our nation in the image of Christianity—giving the principles of Christianity primacy, leaning on the wisdom of Christian religious leaders, and ensuring that our political authorities are all practicing Christians. For us, Easter is not only a religious holiday; we can say it is even a political one...
Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Grand Bahama and The 2012 Elections Part 2: Policy Promises and So Called “Party Differences” - Mar 1, 2012 - 11:41:36 PM


If you bought my argument in the first installment of this series—that this election will be one of the most important in Grand Bahama’s recent history—then I would imagine a few questions naturally followed. If, for example, this election is of such importance, for whom should I cast my ballot? I am inclined to agree with my friend, Erin A. Ferguson.  This question is dangerously reductive and no good can come of it. Instead of asking, “Who ya votin’ for?” in Grand Bahama, it is time we examine what we are voting for.

In Part 2 of the “Grand Bahama and the 2012 Elections Series,” I will attempt to summarize and compare policy initiatives proposed by each of the political parties as they concern Grand Bahama. It is not my intention to conclude this piece by telling you which policies are the best to vote for—that is a decision only you can make. I have worked to cull together information from various mediums, all of them public...

Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins
Grand Bahama and The 2012 Elections Part 1: An Island of Two Tales - Feb 17, 2012 - 12:37:25 PM


When I first started this column, I wrote about being a Bahamian. More specifically, I wrote about being from Freeport—being born to parents who themselves were born in Grand Bahama. I talked about attending Mary Star of the Sea School and Freeport Anglican High School, when it was still called that. Even after leaving for college, I returned to spend my breaks boozing in Bahama Mama’s and partying on Fortune Beach, where many of my childhood memories were made.  In my mind, Freeport is and will always be home, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way anymore.

Maybe I just happened to fly into Freeport on a bad day in August 2011, but I have a feeling there was nothing especially different about that particular Tuesday. The city was quiet—a ghost town almost. There seemed to be just a few locals about with almost no tourists to be found. Downtown, stores were shuttered and buildings seemed abandoned.  The once well manicured grass...

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