An old video of the former Olympian stating that he experienced racism and classism in Jamaica has surfaced as the controversy surrounding Usain Bolt’s missing retirement investment grips Jamaicans and the rest of the world.
Usain Bolt’s lawyers disclosed this week that more than U$12.7 million he had placed at the Kingston-based Stock and Securities Limited (SSL) had vanished. The athlete-turned-producer said he last checked his account at the end of October but didn’t discover the missing money until December, when he was left with a little more than $12,000 rather than $12,000,000.
The amount, little over JM$2 billion, had been deposited with the business since 2012, when Usain Bolt was at the height of his career and a three-time Olympian champion, transitioning from an impoverished rural child to a wealthy athlete.
For many common Jamaicans, Usain Bolt has served as a symbol of perseverance. The athlete grew up in the impoverished rural area of Trelawny where his parents, who were farmers, toiled the land to raise their children.
Bolt’s defeat has angered many Jamaicans, who have criticized Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other officials for remaining mute ever after it was revealed that some 40 people had had their money stolen from the institution.
Many people have been debating Bolt’s horrendous treatment on social media, and one particular interview in which the artist discussed the widespread racism and classism he encountered from other Jamaicans has gone viral.
The athlete-turned-music producer/artist said in a recently-resurfaced interview with the late Ian Boyne on Profile that despite becoming a world-famous athlete who helped establish Jamaica as a track and field powerhouse, he still encountered racism because many people did not believe someone of his race and complexion should have the fame and wealth he has in such a short period of time.
When asked about encountering racism or classism in Jamaica, the artist replied, “A lot.”
Many individuals don’t want to recognize that you’re starting out and growing yourself, so they look at things that way. The fact of life. I’ve come to realize that not everyone will appreciate what you’ve done, he continued.
Usain Bolt also made reference to a notorious event in which Jodi Jinx, the wife of Sean Paul, advised him to “go back where he came from” following arguments over his decision to invite his friends over.
The derogatory remark was made in a community group, implying that Bolt was unfit to live “Uptown,” a term that not only refers to the wealthy neighborhoods in Jamaica where the wealthy live in opulent apartments and homes but also where only whites, Indians, mixed races, and other lighter-skinned races reside. Black Jamaicans can only gain access to these neighborhoods through connections to the incredibly expensive schools where the school fees are time-consuming.
Bolt claimed that encountering racism and classism caught him off guard, and he refuted Jinx’s accusations that he had been raising a commotion in the neighborhood at the time. Jinx later apologized.
“When I first started, it shocked me more than anything else. When I first started out, that’s how I ended up purchasing my home because I was living in an apartment building and I had problems with some of the folks who had lighter complexion. When I first moved in, a lawyer who used to live next to me warned me to be careful because people don’t want to see young people succeed since they weren’t thrilled to see me when I arrived.
The sportsman claimed that after encountering prejudice multiple times, he made the decision to purchase a home of his own in order to get away from the racists.
The player claimed, “Them nuh too happy because them go to school and work years and years to reach and me simply come up, because of sports, me get everything, me a live here, and everything.”
The ghetto youth and everyone else “love me and them just happy fi see me,” he said, adding that he frequently receives praise from regular people for his contributions to Jamaica as an athlete. “Mostly people of the upper class because the ghetto yutes and everybody else.”
The statement from Prime Minister Holness on Friday afternoon noted that he shared the same sense of betrayal as Jamaicans. The Financial Services Commission (FSC), which has been accused of failing to act and discipline the FSC after it learned of many violations in 2017, is under a lot of public criticism.
A former FSC chairwoman who was linked to the owners of SSL and officials from the Jamaican government was criticized for her oversight on Friday, despite reports that SSL had violated regulatory requirements. The investment company is owned by an uptown family.
These regulatory measures were put in place to safeguard the financial sector from crises like the one that decimated the life savings, pensions, and assets of millions of Jamaicans in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, Jean-Ann Panton, a former wealth manager, was detained after confessing to stealing millions from 30 clients starting in 2010. Bolt, however, is not one of her victims, which confounds the detectives.
Bolt’s attorneys have given the business until next week, or ten days, to restore the missing money.