Posts tagged ‘culture’

mini tribute to the Rastafarian Movement

A few weeks ago I highlighted the establishment of a committee working for reparations for enslaved people of African descent in the Caribbean. Professor Beckles raised as part of the discussion:

“a tribute to the Rastafari movement whose voice of representation and protest, has been consistently and unapologetically loud and clear, in relation to issues related to oppression and injustice”*

I fully agree. The Caribbean community, especially those of African descent are very much indebted to the the Rastafarian community. They have truly kept many conversations going throughout the decades. Our governments and our people do owe The Rastafarian Community an apology for the discrimination, the disrespect and the belittling of a movement that has done so much for our region.

ites green & gold

I have certainly been dismissive in passing. I often accuse people to engaging in “Rasta logic” where people repeat the same thing over and over again. As pieces2peace pointed out to me, just because something is repetitive doesn’t mean it’s redundant, it may be for emphasis.  That’s one thing I can say for my experience of Rastafarians, their message over the years has been persistent. And for many of their messages I am thankful. 

  • “The white man is evil.” This message may seem simplistic, and growing up middle classed and brown skinned in the Caribbean I don’t think I was fully able to appreciate the intracieis and attrocities of our colonial history and/black power fist- struggle continues or racism towards people of African descent worldwide. The message was actually about systems of whiteness, white privilege and white supremacy. White supremacy reigns and is truly evil.
  • “Down with Babylon!” Now I had no idea what Babylon was growing up but I knew it was supposed to bad. Sometimes it seemed to refer to police, other times to people… it was all very confusing. Babylon, now feels a lot like capitalism and a state that tries to stifle the livelihood of a large percentage of people to the profit of a small few. Death to capitalism.
  • da kink in my hair“Natural hair is good hair.” I have locs, and have always had natural hair. There was a time when someone with my complexion and my hair would have been restricted from going to school, getting a job. Rastafarian men and women who maintained their right to be natural and wore their locks whether they were allowed to go to school or not made it possible for people like my to maintain my natural hair. Don’t mind people still ask me, why don’t you make it a little neater? The fact remains there were many more who walked this road before me. Who created language around loving that which is natural, privileging that which is natural. Natural hair is good hair.
  • “Me nah nyam dead.” I’ve certainly veered from this one since I’ve re-DSCN1572welcomed seafood into my life. But long before people were talking about vegetarian, vegan, gluten free diets Rastafarians were processing the ills of eating the dead. They have preached and preached about the importance of growing your own food and being healthy. Vegetarian living is healthy living.

There are many other areas in which tribute can paid, music, reparations, community organising, the valuing of Africa. There are a few not so great areas, but this piece isn’t about throwing shade. My tribute to the Rastafarian movment.

http://www.rastaites.com/news/hearticals/jam/millennium/RMCSVGsept2013.pdf

Music Wednesdays – Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu is a BOSS.  Rebel, artist, talented, fly as hell, general bad-ass, what more can I say?

1. Other side of the Game.

Brother’s got a complex occupation. How many conversations have I had in my life about this kind of love affair?

 

2. Bag Lady

One of my all time favorites.  Still trying to lay down some of my bags.  I love the local TV quality of this video.

 

3. Love of my life.

Beautiful love song.  Back when Common was wearing crochet vests 🙂

 

4. Call Tyrone.

This  song gets me hyped! lol I had a friend back in the day who wanted to enter the local queen show and I told her that she should sing this song as her performing talent.

 

In Complexity and Complicity

I watched the Melissa Harris Perry show  for the first this weekend, and I think I’m hooked.  #nerdland stand up!

On Saturday’s show, one of my feminist mentors  Joan Morgan and a few other panellists were talking about the 15th anniversary of the death of  the Notorious B.I.G  and hip hop culture in general and it was a amazing 20 minutes of television.  There were biggie quotes and music clips and a shout outs to female emcees and a discourse on hip hop that you would be hard pressed to find on any other mainstream show.

What really struck me was when Joan Morgan spoke of her relationship with hip hop being one of complexity and complicity. This was one of the clinchers in her 2000 book When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost. How can we be feminist when we sometimes *cringe* like/accept/promote the very things that we are seeking to challenge? It is present not only in music, but all over our culture and manifests through interpersonal relationships, cultural events (sigh, my beloved carnival) and socio-political life.

I was hoping that this discussion, among others that I have had or listened to, would have some magical answer for addressing this issue, something that I could add to my feminist care package to carry around along with my cell phone and keys and eloquently whip out when I am challenged by others and even by myself. Don’t know if that answer exists.

What I do get from these discussions is the dynamism of this cause we call social justice. We have lots of suggestions and ideas but cannot declare any as the way. We question and we analyse and we make choices individually and in our collectives that we hope to chip away at inequality and oppression. I also come away renewed that feminism actively engaging women and all marginalised groups in all our interconnectedness is the missing piece to the puzzle. Our voices, our action, our curiosity is critical to our survival as long we strive towards social justice.

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