15 August 2008

Conscious lyrics?

Conscious deejay Miguel Collins, more popularly known as Sizzla, has advocated murder in at least 35 songs, that's more than Ninja man, Mavado or Munga, yet he still considers himself righteous.
The Jamaica Observer has a revealing article on the so-called conscious lyrics of Sizzla, demonstrating that fundamentalism of whatever colour or flavour is toxic to humans. Unfortunately, it is the more visible and vocal Rastafarians like Sizzla who shape the world-view and attitudes of the idren, spreading bigotry and violence across the land. Is it any surprise then that the country finds itself in such a state of anarchy and barbarism when a supposedly conscious artiste espouses and promotes these sociopathic views? It is no small comfort that gays are not the only targets of his ethnic cleansing which would eliminate Pope John Paul II, politicians, policemen, informers, gunmen, and even an innocent taxi driver. Would this bloodlust end by turning the gun on himself as Jah's self-appointed chief gunman?

When impressionable minds of under-educated, hopeless males with low self-esteem, lack of autonomy and insecure in their sexuality are fed a constant diet of "conscious lyrics" like this, it is a form of conditioning that creates delusional power, a megalomania which manifests in the slaughter we are now suffering. Any innate feelings of love, compassion or altruism are swept away in a flood of adrenalin and testosterone triggered by fear, inadequacy and paranoia. The autotoxicity has to stop but it can only begin after we recognize that we are destroying ourselves and instead, feed our minds with enlightened, uplifting thoughts.

The gun may give marginalised males temporal power which lasts only until they are brought down by the gun. True, lasting power is derived from healthy self-image and self-esteem that gives rise to autonomy and self-actualisation. The individual grows, the society thrives.

02 August 2008

Gays, Africa, Two Spirits, and Astrologers

Many ancient and traditional cultures have had the wisdom to reserve special roles for persons who displayed other than heteronormative behavior. These gifted ones would be recognized in childhood and raised differently, often as transgendered as they were thought to have two spirits. They were regarded as "good medicine" by North American tribes and, naturally, as intermediaries between earth and heaven, this world and the next, due to their synthesis of both male and female polarities. They would become the tribes' or societies' priests, shamen or soothsayers; in some West African traditions they were known as gatekeepers who controlled the portals to the divine. Such a role is given to Elegba in the Orisha tradition where he oversees doorways, entrances and crossroads. In his Haitian manifestation as Papa Legba he is the loa of gays.

We have retained much of our African spiritual roots in the syncretic practices of Pocomania, Kumina, Myal and Revival. It would be logical to expect that an intermediary role of some description would have survived and be ascribed to two-spirits. There is a strong homosexual dynamic at play in the phenomenon of a male adherent being "ridden" by a male deity.

Unfortunately, the homophobia that prevails in Jamaica would preclude any academic study of this aspect of our heritage; scholars who happened to be homosexual would not risk being outed by association, and straight ones would not wish to become tainted, even for the sake of intellectual pursuit. By now we should have deconstructed much of our African past, our slavery experience and the effects both have had on our collective psyche. Alas, our centers of learning have not the academic and intellectual freedom to free our people from mental slavery. The majority of our people will continue to labour under the delusion that homosexuality is a latter-day phenomenon inflicted on black people by white colonials. The irony is that it is to the fundamentalist Christianity and anachronistic laws that were used by the white masters to control the natives that we now cling so defensively.

Emancipendence fartit ... er, platitudes

We must hasten to ensure that every Jamaican, while fully respecting the needs of others, will not be impeded in the enjoyment of those inalienable rights and freedoms. In order to do this, we must urgently conclude the new Charter of Rights and Freedoms which provides a wider and more effective protection of those rights and freedoms to which every Jamaican is entitled.
- Governor-General Professor Kenneth Hall
When individuals and communities are forced to live in fear, their condition is not much different from what was experienced under the slave masters ... When we sow seeds of disunity and set one against the other, we are employing the same tactics used in slavery. When we disrespect each other, we are behaving just like the slave master who disrespected us ... Being a free people means that we must respect each other's freedom and the right of every one of us to live peacefully and seek after our well-being.
- Prime Minister Bruce Golding
Issues of rights and freedoms need constant attention ... neeed constant reviewing, fine-tuning and updating ...
- Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller

Can LGBTQ Jamaicans feel that they are full citizens when their consensual behavior is criminalized, they are attacked and assaulted at will, hounded out of home and job, set upon in the streets, victimized by the police and deprived of constitutional protection? Until the relevant sections of the Offences Against the Person Law are removed and discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation outlawed, the majority of us will continue to live in fear, stress and despair.

We are accustomed to the prevailing hypocrisy so attach no significance to the high-sounding seasonal releases from our leaders. If you thought for a minute their rhetoric included us, your delusion is forgiveable as the desire for freedom is unquenchable in the face of all hostility. None of them have lifted a finger to help us. Social attitudes are difficult to change but real leaders lead; they have an obligation to show a higher way, a broader horizon, larger possibilities. But i forget, we're still on the plantation and it's as much as the overseers can do to keep it running.