Posts tagged jamaica
Posts tagged jamaica
Political cartoonist and JLP support ‘Clovis’ smears gays, PNP…
The People’s National Party (PNP) has claimed victory over the incumbent Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in today’s parliamentary elections in Jamaica. The post-result political analyses are best left for others. For me, I find it encouraging that homophobic campaigning against the PNP in reaction to its stated position on equal rights for gays to serve in parliament, and a review to repeal the buggery law, clearly made no impact on the majority of voters today.
If it’s not political suicide in Jamaica, I can’t imagine it being so anywhere else in the Caribbean.
I am a faux linguist who believes in the importance of preserving “nation language.” Of all such languages, I find Jamaican patois to be one of the most unique and, when spoken by the right person, one of the sexiest Caribbean nation languages one could listen to.
With that said, it goes to reason that I’d fully support the translation of the Holy Bible into Jamaican patois. Further, I think that similar moves to make mainstream literature more accessible and understandable through the use of nation language should be encouraged, particularly if the intention is to appeal to those whose literacy in English is not up to scratch. The problem is, I’m not sure that this was the intention with the Patois Bible.
In my opinion, the phonetic spellings of some words in the Patois Bible are nothing short of mind-boggling, and require the reader to possess as much (or even more) literary competence than s/he would need to understand a rendering of the Bible in Standard English.
An example from the Book of Luke is pasted below:
“ienjel” (angel)? “nyuuz” (news)? “Mieri” (Mary)? REALLY? (Rilli?!) It’s almost like deciphering a secret code.
When deciphered, it’s amazing how authentically Jamaican even I sound while reading it, but I’m willing to bet that this book presents all of the same challenges to the much-less-literate as the Bible’s modern-English versions.
So, on to my question. Is this Bible meant to be any easier for the less-literate masses to comprehend, or is it just meant to be a symbolic triumph for Patois academics? Or, perhaps, it is meant to be read for the masses by such academics? If either of the latter two scenarios is true, there really is no benefit redounding to the Patois Bible’s purported end-user.
I admit, I am not Jamaican and I’ve only lived there for three years. Perhaps some actual Jamaicans could shed some light.
Photo credit: BBC
But first, a flashback…
KINGSTON, August 19, 2011:
No politician in this country will ever call for the repeal of the buggery laws because that would be tantamount to political suicide. Jamaican politicians are even willing to face international ridicule just to prove to the local populace that they are staunchly opposed to the gay lifestyle. “Not in my Cabinet!” Prime Minister Bruce Golding declared on the British talk show Hardtalk a few years ago. This was in response to being asked if he would tolerate gays in his Cabinet. He was chastised in the international press but many people here loved him for it.
- Leighton Levy, The Jamaica Star
KINGSTON, December 20, 2011:
At the last leadership debate in the lead-up to the Jamaican general elections, Portia Simpson-Miller, leader of the opposition People’s National Party (PNP), said that she had no objection to appointing gays to her Cabinet. And she went further to say that, perhaps, Jamaica should review its buggery laws which effectively criminalise men who have sex with men. This is HUGE!
Perhaps Simpson-Miller may have gotten ahead of herself and didn’t intend to speak on the repeal of the buggery law, but that is just me wondering why she’d take such a huge political risk before actually being elected as Prime Minister in the virulently homophobic island, where hatred of gays seems, prima facie,to be a societal norm.
This bold, though risky, move by Portia Simpson-Miller should be applauded as a turning point in the national and regional political discourse on gay rights. And, if successful, the PNP/Government of Jamaica would - ironically - set precedent in the Caribbean for ending legislated discrimination against LGBTs.
Who’d have thunk it?
Update: The Jamaica Gleaner’s Christmas Day editorial examines the impact of vulgar anti-gay sentiments now being spewed by the incumbent Jamaica Labour Party in the wake of this debate. Apparently, they’ve been quite effective:
Labourite this AM in Christiana: “Vote labour, bun out sodomite, vote labour on December 29th”— Gordonswaby (@Gordonswaby) December 25, 2011
As Jamaica heads to the polls later this month, this supporter of the incumbent Jamaica Labour Party dedicates her vagina to Member of Parliament and Minister of Finance, Audley Shaw. Her backside seems also to sport the slogan “Vote JLP”.
The thorny, yet delicate issue of showing tolerance to politicians with homosexual or gay tendencies has become more topical in recent years, with claims of irregular conduct among members on both sides of the Jamaican political fence.
The fact that this question is even being asked says a lot. I can’t even be moved to comment any further, but you can read more at the Jamaica Observer.
Freshman students participating in a sports event at the University of Montreal covered their skin with black paint, carried monkey mascots and chanted ‘smoke more weed’, while waving Jamaican flags.
The University has defended the students saying the freshmen were assigned an ambassador and sport for the day and had to dress up in costume according to the ambassador.
Keep it classy, Montreal.
“A hundred and seventy-seven years after slavery was abolished in the British West Indies, Jamaica’s national training agency - HEART Trust - still has to deal with colour-prejudiced employers who are requesting that trainees be brown or light-skinned as a prerequisite for employment in their firms.”
Man, it was difficult to find tags to describe this post.
An awkwardly-produced but nonetheless positive PSA against gay discrimination has, unsurprisingly, been panned by Jamaicans, and is allegedly not being carried on national TV in that virulently homophobic Caribbean country.
Code Red beat me in commenting on the curious reaction among some in Jamaica and Barbados to this recent murder-suicide, which could’ve either been a result of domestic violence and rape, or plain old ‘Barbados hates Jamaica’ bullshit. It’s been said so perfectly, I have nothing else to add.
Natoya Ewers, a Jamaican woman, was hacked to death by her intimate partner, leaving behind three children. I came across this Jamaican Facebook page where the occasion of this woman’s death was used to denounce the ‘fact’ that Bajans did not like Jamaicans.
Many readers asserted that the woman should not have left Jamaica to travel to that “Third World full-stop of an island, Barbados.” Absolutely no mention of violence against women. No mention of the Jamaican women who lost their lives at home in Jamaica at the hands of intimate partners during that same week. No mention of how increasingly violent Caribbean societies had become. I told myself it’s just one Facebook page. Surely that is not most people’s reaction. Then I saw the Jamaica Observer cartoon above and it confirmed my initial fears.
Caribbean feminist scholar, Alissa Trotz, has outlined how “women’s bodies [become] the site on which group loyalties are enacted.” Not to be outdone, on the Nation News Facebook page comments (which have since been removed) were also nationalistic as readers alleged that the man who committed the murder and subsequently killed himself was Vincentian. They quickly moved from the nationalistic to the sexist:
But lets face the truth. Bajan women take and take and take and just take too much from men. Its not like the men can afford to give so much. Men feel compelled to give because its the only way they can keep these selfish Bajan women. Bajan women have become a society of beggers.
Just say ” hello” to a Bajan women and she wants a top up.
Of course, the other Facebook users moved to correct the commenter quoted above, not to chide him for his sexism but to remark that the woman in question was not Bajan but Jamaican. The stereotype of Caribbean women as mercenary, materialistic and financially dependent on men and these “facts” in and of themselves being presented as a justification of murder went unchallenged.
While the recent tensions surrounding the treatment of Jamaican nationals at the Barbados airport and the rape of a Jamaican woman in police custody explains in part this recourse to an unthinking nationalism, it does not explain why all the “talk” following this woman’s brutal death made absolutely no mention of the similarity with so many other murders of Caribbean women and displayed very little feeling for the woman herself. Reports are that she had confronted her partner about sexually abusing her daughter. On local television one of her neighbours reported watching the woman’s murder from the safety of his bedroom window.
Women’s bodies are used as boundary-markers in what has become an asinine Barbados versus Jamaica beef played out at the highest and lowest levels. Wasted time, talk and energy that could be put towards fighting against what is really at issue here: men’s violence against women, society’s sanctioning of it, incest and child sexual abuse.
CODE RED is a feminist collective of Caribbean women and men.
When white women flock to Jamaica for a little fun in the sun, the R&R they’re often looking for is not “Rest and Relaxation” but to “Rent a Rasta” according to director J. Michael Seyfert. His eye-opening exposé of the same name sheds light on a barely acknowledged form of sex tourism, namely, white women who visit the Caribbean Islands to get their groove back with the help of black locals. This documentary claims that, each year, as many as 80,000 females from a variety of relatively-wealthy Western nations descend on Jamaica alone.
The video for Rihanna’s single Man Down has been released and, in what appears to be a huge afterthought, it is now framed as the story of a woman who regretfully avenges her rape, or as the lyrics actually describe it, her “simple altercation.”
The obvious (and hypocritical) criticisms have been raised, as Code Red notes: “some viewers are concerned about the nativizing images of Jamaica, representations of sexual and gun violence and stereotypical representations of black working-class masculinity.” Indeed, several Jamaicans on Twitter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) have expressed outrage at the perpetuation of Jamaican and Jamaican-male stereotypes in the video by the Barbadian singer, notwithstanding their own dancehall artistes’ fascination with the same.
But that’s not my grouse. My issue is Rihanna over-reaching for relevance and hailing this as a progressive step in “female empowerment”. In its defence, @adriancharles notes, “empowerment is about personal choice: making it freely, and owning it. Nothing to do with optimal function.” Thus, a woman was raped, murdered her attacker and feared the prospect of spending the rest of her life in prison, but at least, she made an empowered choice.
Adrian, with whom I had a lengthy tweet-back with on this matter, went on to say “I do not understand this urge for all artistic representations to be of idealised wish-fulfilment.” I considered that the same argument could be used against us criticising Vybz Kartel for extolling the virtues of skin bleaching to impressionable black boys and girls. And, before you say Rihanna’s lyrics express regret at crime, let’s not forget her beatification of her gun, “Peggy Sue”…
“It’s a 22
I call her Peggy Sue
When she fits right down in my shoes
Whatchu expect me to do?
If you’re playing me for a fool
I will lose my cool
And reach for my fire arm.”
Yes, I agree that there are tons of other mainstream pop fixtures that deserve equal criticism, but when Man Down tries to self identify as poignant and progressive, and some have even gone as far as to say it should be required viewing, it mandates a critical response.
In brief, Man Down is the usual vapid pop. Its meaning is contrived, while its true message is glaringly elementary, and dangerously ambiguous. There’s nothing to see here, folks.