no matter how you take it
the issue of homophobia in jamaica continues to be a hot topic. after kelefa sanneh's article raised broader awareness not only of the phenomenon of "bun battyman" tunes but of a successful campaign against the artists who promote such sentiments, the chatter-level has definitely increased.
lately, the subject has been taken up on the pages of jamaica's own dailies. jamaica's "top broadsheet," the gleaner, published this "article"--seems more like a letter or a polemic to me--last week. And it was followed by a letter to the editor which argued, apparently without considering the hilarity of its suggestive language, that "buggery is wrong no matter how you take it." indeed. (thanks, btw, to pete maplestone for combing the jamaican papers for such gems.)
i've given my two cents on this issue a number of times in previous posts, and my most succinct statement remains my song soggae. (read the lyrics here.)
i was glad to see the following questions pop up on sasha's blog the other day: "Why do people apologize for the homophobic clowns in dancehall? How do you put together a case that there is some legitimate need for this "burn chi-chi mon" bullshit?" i wrote to him and told him that i suspected too many people--e.g., music critics who have been silent on the issue--feel the pangs of post-colonial guilt when it comes to critiquing this phenomenon. no self-reflective metropolitan, especially if they're white, wants to tell anybody in the "former" colonies what they can and cannot do. from my perspective, though (and the post-colonial predicament, in particular the colonization in reverse that's been happening for decades, illustrates this as much as anything else), it's a shared world. and i'd like to live in a world where people can love and bugger other consenting adults without fear of being hacked to death.
according to an email i received from one of the fine folks over at jflag, an organization operated by some very brave jamaicans, they are currently "planning an exhibition (hopefully by year end) with the theme 'Human rights abuse against sexual minorities in Jamaica' and are asking for submissions of art, photography, music, poetry etc. which reflect this
theme." they've asked if soggae could be included, and i am happy to contribute to the cause, even if it means possibly losing some friends. (though i should note that none of my jamaican collaborators or friends have objected to the song, though a few have warned me about making it more public, at least in jamaica.) they also asked if i "know of anyone else who may be able to contribute to this exhibition." so, if you are down, let me know--or just write to jflag. i think it would be quite something if a bunch of artists put some effort into a little counter-agitprop.
i hope to see this topic taken on in this new blog about culture, society, and politics in jamaica. i'm not sure, as the blog claims, that newdrumblair truly constitutes "Jamaica's Only Cultural, Social and Political Blog." i'd like to think that some of my work qualifies in this regard. at any rate, i am glad to see this kind of insightful online commentary coming out of jamaica, and i encourage people to check it out, especially if you're tired of the well-worn politics of the gleaner and the observer.
i did notice, interestingly enough, that i am not the only one to contest newdrumblair's claim to propriety over jamaican culture, society, and politics. the first comment left on the blog is from a blogger who is concerned entirely with the culture and politics of killing battymen. fortuntely, the hate on that blog deconstructs itself with its own ridiculousness.