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USSA (United States Steelband Association)  ‘Pan Solidarity Forum’

Steelband Folks Seek Clarity, and New Direction

New York - They came with questions seeking answers, clarity and direction. Moreover, they wanted a clear explanation as to what were the benefits to their continued participation.  In addition, they asked “what was going to be different?”  They wanted to know -  Who? What? Why? How and When? All reasonable questions.  To their credit, the current administration of USSA was prepared to meet inquires, address concerns and did not shy away from any question.

In a short forum held March 20 in Brooklyn, New York, the directors of USSA met with the public for the first time.

It is no secret that there was a major shake up within the USSA ranks this past Winter, culminating with the vote of ‘no confidence’ in the then-president Anthony “Ike” Hinds.  Of course depending on who you spoke to - that removal took on different storylines.  It is in this regard Magnus Scanterbury, the USSA public relations officer, explained that this was one of the main reasons for the solidarity forum.  The new administration wanted to dispel rumors about the legality and reasons for its ascension.

The vast majority of the attendees were young adults who openly shared their concerns in a manner rarely seen in a forum like this.  Moreover, they were clearly not interested in fighting old folks’ wars or repeating past mistakes.  "Show me", "Deliver" seemed to be the theme of the evening.

As is often the case, the youth were not hung-up or fixated on past details to the point of ‘paralysis by analysis.’  Once a clear and concise summary of the events leading up to the actions taken to dismiss the previous administration was received - the youths’ attention and focus turned to the future.  Their questions were frank, direct, and to the point.  Their distrust and disapproval of the deficiencies and absence of progress in the past years were not hidden.  Moreover, their lack of an active voice in past proceedings was not lost on the USSA directors.  USSA officials explained that they had already moved towards ensuring that the youth and young adults would have and play - a significant role in the future and decision-making process through the association’s Youth committee.

Indeed, it was encouraging to see young people answering other young people and engaging in meaningful dialogue and reason.

All in all the meeting was educational and bode well for the future.  The USSA public relations officer said "this was a break from the past" and also, that “this was no longer the old boys network.”  The distinction was also made that “this was New York, and not Trinidad.”  The new president Keith Marcelle said that they (USSA) will be held accountable to its members.


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