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What about the children who are left behind?

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Addressing the issues: poet Juanita Tadom, has published two books, Cultural Vybz and Words in Poetry, under the name J Bron Tadom (Photograph supplied)

Juanita Tadom took to the streets to advocate for change when young Black men started killing each other here.

She put equal effort into helping addicts, having walked that path herself.

And then she grew frustrated – “successive governments” didn’t seem as committed as she was to either cause.

Last year, having suffered after two family members were gunned down and another jailed for life, she poured her heart into poetry.

In February she released two books, Cultural Vybz and Words in Poetry, under the name J Bron Tadom.

Juanita Tadom is the author of two books of poetry Cultural Vybz and Words in Poetry (Photograph supplied)

Her hope is that they help Bermuda focus on the long-term picture.

“When Rebecca Middleton was killed on our shores Canadians were calling for people to boycott, but what are Bermudians calling for? You could have thousands come out and march in support of gay rights – I'm not against it; I am gay myself – but where are the cries for the children?” she asked.

“That is the biggest concern because if these children are not helped the effects are long-term. It's not just the children of murdered fathers.

“I'm talking about incest, rapes – Bermuda has a way of just sweeping certain things under the rug. We only want to portray the beauty of Bermuda. But the real issues aren't being discussed.”

Writing was something she’d enjoyed since childhood and continued to do when she left the island to live in Orlando, Florida in 2000.

She’d moved back to Bermuda when her grandfather died in 2014, and was asked to write something for the bookmark handed out at his funeral.

People were impressed with what took her about “ten minutes” to complete.

“It's just something that I've always loved to do. I've studied art, film; I do photography. So it's just in my blood,” said Mrs Tadom, who has since moved back to the US.

“[I’m also] a big fan of reggae music and the way they are able to talk about social issues.

“And that's my biggest inspiration. So I write songs, I write poetry. It's a lot of social awareness, social activism. That's what I mainly focus on.”

One of her nephews was murdered here in Bermuda. The other was killed while she visited him in Chicago.

“It really, really messed me up on an emotional level and writing helped me and this is what these two books are for. It was healing for me.

“It helped me tackle a lot of the grief and anger because women, we’re not gang members, we're not voicing our anger and disappointment with all these young men with how they are living their lives and how we're losing them, but we do get angry, we do get frustrated.”

On De Rock by J Bron Tadom

Emotional personal traditional original and exceptional bonds so much to hold onto

Family friends holidays reasons events or rare occasion ready to return for the value

Memories periods from neighbourhoods to parishes at schools to sport tons of stories

Winning losing learning building overcoming facing bragging boasting roasting all glories

Flexin’ chattin’ chillin’ dashin’ burnin’’ nippin’ dippin’ whinnin’ grindin’ dinnin’ good times

Parties dance session de game boat race scramblin’ go kartin’ peas n rice codfish cake

Sundi breakfast Pordeguese doughnuts swimmin’ lesson thrown in water save spot put up stake

Pink sand blue seas tree frogs whistle annoyingly Cup Match roads like Middle and Serpentine

Sirs and Dames OBE still honored by de Queen Premier MP’s Collie Buddz Miss World in seventy nine

Accent culture heritage Caribbean European British Filipino Canadian American Asian African and Latin

A mixed up group mixed people separated complexed united simple proud arrogant modest within margin

Olympic medals twice bronze and gold ballers like Horton Best and Goater was awhile to be known

From humble beginnings wild boars to railways for travel pricey place to live vaca we have grown

With so many emotions rattling around inside, she penned the 59 poems in the two books “within several months”.

The lessons she learnt while in recovery, made the process much easier.

“I was in so much pain. And I was angry. I was angry when I’d read your paper and Bernews and [it was] just murder, murder, murder,” Mrs Tadom said.

“But a big part of my poetry also, is that I went through recovery and in that I learnt to find a power that was greater than myself and I learnt to speak about my feelings.

“Because the feelings were what was trapping me in the bondage of addiction and once I was able to release a lot of the feelings I was able to come out of addiction. And I feel that’s a big part as well.”

Bermudian Letitia Washington’s WordWorld Publishing offered what Mrs Tadom considered a perfect opportunity.

“I could have gone with anyone out here [in the US] but I wanted my books to have a Bermudian connection. So we made contact and I used her as my publisher, my editor.”

She believes the government could be doing more to help children when a family member is shot or jailed.

“Here in America if there's a shooting the children are counselled. In America, Canada and the UK, they will follow these young people – we don't have that set-up in Bermuda.

“This has been going on now for 15 years. A lot of these children who were then 5, are now gang members.

“We have angry children – their fathers were taken away. So we have boys and girls that are angry because no one cared about them.

“No one stopped to make sure they got counselling therapy, art therapy, any type of therapy.”

Juanita Tadom is the author of two books of poetry Cultural Vybz and Words in Poetry (Photograph supplied)

That Bermuda doesn’t “deal with issues” is part of the reason that the 55-year-old doesn’t live here any more.

“I've worked with young people in Canada with drug addiction. I've seen how the Canadian system offered treatment versus jail time for offenders. And I brought these ideas back to Bermuda.

“I don't condone any of these acts. All I would like to see is more awareness on the government's behalf and society’s behalf.

“It’s so easy to just sit around and gossip about the latest shootings, the latest killing – who is it? Whose family?”

Her books address the pain, the struggles and the despair that “everyday people go through”.

“Murders affect jobs, affect businesses; someone worked at a business, they had friends, they had co-workers. It doesn't just affect the family.”

If children aren’t guided through the trauma of loss, the unaddressed pain can lead to “dysfunction” and “can cause mental health issues”, Mrs Tadom said.

“We're seeing a lot more negative reactions by younger people, knives in primary schools. That's not the Bermuda I grew up in.

“I believe it's something that principals can bring up in assemblies. I think the problem with crime and violence needs to be addressed.

“The problem with feelings and misappropriating feelings need to be addressed. We live in a society where boys don't cry.

“We keep instilling ‘boys don't cry; men don't cry’. Why is that? If they're not crying, what are they doing? They're raping, they’re killing because they're frustrated. They're not allowed to express their pain so they're reacting to it.”

She believes her books can be part of the solution.

“I'd like them to go into the prisons. I'd like to see schoolteachers read them in primary schools.

“It can sway young people, especially males, who are disenfranchised and disillusioned by the state of the country and the people, the leaders.”

J Bron Tadom’s Cultural Vybz and Words in Poetry are available from amazon.com. She hopes to have copies in local stores next month. For information on WordWorld Publishing visit www.wordworldpublishing.com

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Published April 27, 2023 at 8:02 am (Updated April 28, 2023 at 9:01 am)

What about the children who are left behind?

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