The MenSpeak/Youthvision Promotions anti-violence event ‘Red Means Stop’, held at the Bermuda College yesterday (Wednesday) proved a soul-stirring event that enraptured the audience both in the unfortunate, untimely occurrences of real life drama and the moral commitment one must have and sustain for the forward progression of the young, black male.
Minister of Youth and Sports the Honourable Michael Weeks gave perhaps one of his most difficult speeches as he addressed the eager and youthful faces, sharing the knowledge of his own experiences and pointing to his Ministry as one that uses sport as one aspect of creating positive, meaningful relationships, while also serving to release the bands of tension among those involved in gangs and violent anti-social behaviour such as has been in the news more often of late than was want.
And as he spoke the Minister openly reverted from that of Government minister to a doting father in present pain and anguish over the poor choices of his own offspring _ sons Marcus Weeks and Dalji Waldron _ who had been sentenced to just over four years in an English prison for dealing drugs.
With a heavy heart and having to gather himself at times, Mr. Weeks offered his sons as examples of intelligent, articulate and talented young men who made some foolish choices against the educational opportunities their parents had provided and are paying the price … sad but true.
His advice was to utilise the resources available at the college, including an allowance for mentor-ship and guidance through programmes such as MenSpeak as a weapon against anti-social groupings and negative influence.
“I started off talking as a Minister, I’ll end my talk today … as a father,” said Mr. Weeks, also a trained and certified drug and alcohol counsellor. “My 30-year-old son Malik died on a motorcycle when he was 24 years old., and I don’t know if you’ve seen today’s (Wednesday) Royal Gazette, but my other two are locked up abroad for making foolish choices. Two intelligent, articulate and talented young black males who had the opportunity to spend four years in university … but instead, because of their bad choices are spending four years in prison, behind prison bars in shackles.”
Headlining every local media and social media has been the imprisonment of his boys and the surrounding details and comments regarding their drug operation that involved the procurement and sale of ecstasy, cocaine and marijuana.
The Minister readily explained how crucial one’s decision making is in moving forward and developing into men of fortified construct.
“Life is no joke ladies and gentlemen … youngsters … you get out of it what you put into it, know the importance and relevance of a solid education,” he continued. “The importance of living a wholesome, clean life. The importance of respecting oneself which translates into respecting others.
“Our prisons are full of young black men, our street corners are full of young black men, but the Bermuda College has plenty of choices for our young black men and it’s all about choices, value the role that the Bermuda College is playing in each of your lives.
“Come to the college every day determined to make the most of the opportunity. Graduate and go on to further your education abroad or secure valuable employment right here in Bermuda.
“Then become men that make positive contributions to our society.”
Also addressing the crowd in the upper level Student Centre was Executive Chef Antonio Belvedere, who spoke of his time at the Bermuda College and the foundation it laid for him, as he used a certification earned at the school in the culinary arts to springboard him to a successful career in hospitality.
College counsellor/advisor and lead spokesperson for MenSpeak, Lyndon Jackson, spoke to the significance of the event and the wearing of red to signify the movement to ‘Stop the Violence’, particularly among Bermuda’s young black males. The colour was also a means of showing support for those who have lost loved ones to violence and to help promote the message ‘Stop the Killing’.
“Violence comes in many forms and we must remember that , acknowledge that and find ways of addressing that,” said Mr. Jackson, before Mr Desmond Crockwell offered brief words of the pain and struggle involved with the loss of loved ones due to senseless acts of violence and reckless behaviour, thanking Minster Weeks for his perseverance in offering encouragement to the youth despite his personal situation.
“Many hands make light work, so together we can do this and so together we can do this and I want everybody to recognise that the red as meaning and there is a significance behind this and we’re not going to stop,” concluded Mr. Crockwell.