Jamaicans have established themselves as distinctive and remarkable in a number of ways, generally industrious and hard-working; they also boast a language, music and athleticism that is mimicked and copied globally. Sadly though, they are equally remarkable critics and cynics who seldom offer compliments, praise or applause; it’s almost impossible to truly impress your typical Jamaican despite your best efforts. Many an entertainer, politician or celebrity has experienced the quizzical, suspicious stare of the Jamaican attitude which always seems to ask – A wey ‘Im tink ‘im a do? Or, who shi tink shi is? (Jamaican vernacular). That Jamaican penchant for aloofness in the face of excellence reflects their undeniable swagger and refusal to concede that someone else is more talented than they are; so any well-deserved praise or acclaim is usually reserved for the funeral service and repast of the person(s) they admire.
My hyperbole is essential in order for you to understand how timely and necessary it is to change our process in the way we treat our icons; it’s time to openly esteem and honor those who sacrifice on our behalf, by doing so in real time, preferably while they’re still alive. I have never shied away from offering compliments, praise and honor to the deserving. For that reason, our organization, through the B.I.G Awards Gala does just that. We curate the achievements of people whose purposeful and intentional lives of service have gone unnoticed for too long which ensures that their recognition become a reality in their lifetime.
In the words of our most esteemed National Hero, The Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey, “We must canonize our own Saints, create our own Martyrs and elevate to positions of fame and honor, Black men and women who have made their distinct contributions to our history.” It is in the spirit of Garvey that we at Whereitzat Magazine, and the Conversations with Clive Williams podcast, both esteem and elevate The Honorable Alsion Roach Wilson, OD for her selflessness, compassion, love and loyalty to the Jamaican diaspora as well as the Caribbean diaspora at-large. Many of us are blissfully unaware of the personal sacrifices diplomats make in the service of their country, in the case of Jamaica’s Consul General, Alsion Roach Wilson, the sacrifice was stark, she had to rescind her United States citizenship, (A legal requirement) in order to serve her country and its people. That sacrifice didn’t end there; she also gave up several prestigious positions on Wall Street, including her own businesses to validate her patriotism and mobilize the Jamaican diaspora in a way that “has won friends and influenced people,” a skill that would make Dale Carnegie proud.
Her performance and management of the Consulate during the most lethal pandemic of our lifetime, without flinching or fearful concern for her own safety, is a fitting testimony to Shaggy’s “Strength of a Woman.” Her CG on the Beat (#)hash tag on her Instagram page is consistent with food drives, community comfort visits, business openings, business development and health outreach programs – all in a day’s work. She, much like a piano virtuoso, moves smoothly from the black keys to the white keys, blending them flawlessly to create a symphony of activity as she engages the orchestra that is her staff to outperform their wildest expectations in service of her country. My conditioned suspicion and cynicism toward bureaucrats and politicians melt away in service of a Consul General who has differentiated herself through her awareness, sensitivity and intuition; a real leader who understands the intersection of business, diplomacy and psychology, my Consul General makes me feel a sense of pride and patriotism once again. Her unselfish call to service to all Jamaicans in the diaspora is refreshing and honest, and not for once does she make you feel the partisan divide that exists in Jamaica.
In fact, her recent staging of the prestigious Consul General Heritage Awards on Friday, November 5th was a demonstration of her social and cultural awareness; the fact that Reggae music was proudly represented with the recognition of Shabba Ranks and Gyptian, alongside doctors and business leaders, was groundbreaking by any standard. This event was originally initiated by CG Lamont, who served some years before, but its momentum is now being driven by CG Alsion who promises to make this Award a landmark event; I can only imagine what that means. One thing is sure; it will be spectacular, but relevant to the mission of the Consulate.
The Hon. Alsion Roach Wilson- call her what you will, outlier, unicorn- or more, she has revolutionized her role, consistent with our new normal; while reintroducing the Consulate as the people’s house, and a place where the Island country of Jamaica is truly alive!