I have tried not to write about this non-issue turned issue because…I thought first Ishawna would apologize or clarify! I then thought folks would move on because there are honestly bigger issues to contemplate than whether one I consider a cultural icon at the same level of Bob Marley was dissed by a young artist seeking further publicity. Then Tanya Stephens got in the mix then Miss Kitty got in the mix last night at Sumfest and now I give my take publicly.

Disclaimer: I love Ms Lou and what she has represented for language and culture in Jamaica and beyond. I call myself a “student” of Ms.Lou. I have had the distinct honour of performing her pieces in front of her in Toronto. I am a part of efforts to have her legacy known and continued.

Who was Ms.Lou? A writer, a folklorist, a performer, an educator, a producer, an actor and more! She was and still should be considered a cultural icon of Jamaica as her work spanned touchstones such as children’s shows, language recognition, inserting patois into popular culture, social commentary and more!

Did Ishawna diss her? My take is “why for you to shine I must decline?”. Instead of Ishawna choosing to claim her style over her contemporaries (Spice, Macka etc.) she went and dragged an icon. I can only suggest she is victim of “click culture” where history takes a back seat to the search for popularity. I can also be dismissive of her comments because she is young and apparently wasn’t raised in JA. So for her MsLou has likely less significance (something we can work on) and I could also see where after her track “Equal Rights” she must be desperate for another such hit or at least to remain relevant. I don’t see what Ms Lou do har or haffi do wid har seeking shine mark yuh!

But Tanya Stephens now come add another sauce to this already insipid meal. Tanya was vehement in her take on Ms.Lou; feeling “Ms Lou Neva liberate me”, “Ms Lou outfit/costume represent servitude” “we did talk patois commonly without a Ms Lou” “Ms Lou liberated the elite Jamaicans to speak patois” –to paraphrase and quote.
Now ladies and gents we have a full fledged cultural/social callout of Ms.Lou…what ah prekeh!!??? Now Tanya is admittedly old enough to remember Ms.Lou on TV probably with shows like “Ring Ding”. And while I have not enough space to determine what the costume represents (servitude or culture) I must correct some half analysis she is doing. In saying Ms Lou never liberate her to speak patois she is not being fair… for I too am old enough to remember being forced to speak the “Queen’s English” in school and daily life etc. And I am also old enough to know that had Ms.Lou not utilized our language (patois) in her work on TV in Britain and Jamaica etc. it would not have received this much acceptance. Did she liberate the elite to speak it? Mi love dem did always speak it tuh!

Her (Ms Lou’s) work was to get them (elite or other influential Jamaicans) to appreciate its significance to culture and identity. Aunty Roachie became the conduit character for her to critique politics, to situate language, folklore and proverbs as our inheritance of everyday sense and wit. Without a Ms.Lou we do not now have a patois bible, without her Tanya and Ishawna cannot opt to wrap the nuanced expressions which patois affords into the lyrics of their songs and have them globally recognized and accepted. I would even argue that Ms.Lou’s work had that impact on other islands of the Caribbean who were also seeking to “reclaim” their tongue (real regular folks have told me this much).

I am disappointed that neither of these ladies (and I am a huge fan of Tanya’s music) seem to understand what it means to have “Jamaica Labrish ” widely purchased. What it means to have Ms.Lou narrate the meaning and significance of songs like our former “digging songs” or the stories she told to generations and now have these available to be heard online or purchased etc.
In fact their criticism reeks a little! Like why you mad at Ms Lou? Wah she duh unnu? She set unnu back? Ya’ll are a bit immature for this one. Mi not a fan of Bob’s approach to women but I’d be damned if I diminished what his work meant for Jamaica. Similarly if Tanya and Ishawna feel dem nuh connect to the “quadrille” outfit that is fine. But they should be damned for seeking to diminish the impact Ms Lou had on our culture/language and further that impact having reached global proportions. In fact unnu can tek many a leaf outta Ms Lou play book to garner cultural significance with your audience.

I am happy this conversation has allowed all people who neva recite a Ms Lou poem to do so now. I am hopeful that this may bring a bit of a cultural moment/rebirth . A moment where we can honestly put our icons in their context, appreciate the work they have done and do full not partial critiques.

Honestly please let Ms.Lou rest in power!


Why do we prop them up?

Posted: July 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

I have wanted to write this for years but I kept saying it with name calling etc. Here is the attempt without the names and expletives. Those who know know.

Community (I know we are fragmented) prop up folks and then act shocked when they show their ways. Like Amerikkka voted against their best interest so too is our vote of confidence in incompetence.

Some folks have a cool enough idea but you and I know they neither have the skill sets, progressive politics or capacity to execute but we rally around it, we support them and their idea, we sit in the bottom of their titanic. I sometimes hear folks say “well wi cyaan do no better”, “it’s the only one the community has”, “well we don’t want the shame if it fails” and more “I have settled for less” statements.

Meanwhile the person or persons are slowly but surely doing more harm than good. They leave bad tastes in artists mouths, frustration on visitors to the city, debt to overly charitable investors, contempt among community members, less political capital for the community, less fertile soil for those who would attempt to better execute their idea after they are gone and the list sadly goes on and on.

These persons who we prop up walk around with what I call “community fame” consuming praises and big ups like 5 course meals while all the while knowing deep down that it’s but a matter of time until their run is over . You see for them they have what they went after! You calling their names was already glory, you propping and protecting and supporting them was icing on an already colic causing multi-layered caked.

Who do we blame in these scenarios? Who do I dare call the imbecile? Who is the joke on?
I blame all of us who should know better than to prop up common con artists as businessmen/politicians/promoters/star etc.etc. The followers are the imbeciles. And the joke is sadly on the community as a whole.

Stop prop dem up suh dem nuh haffi mash wi up!!

As for me and my house ( mi one live), they will not be worshipped or even slightly respected or supported by me. I continue my one-woman campaigns and boycotts where I see fit. There are venues I seldom or never visit for foolishness, there are shows you will never see me attend, there are hugs and praises you will never see me give etc. #asuhitset #anypigsqueelahdemmilick #throwmicorn

Listen man… the finance minister in Jamaica had monthly phone bills in the millions $$. I know the dollar not worth much but $mil is a $mil in every country iyah.

It is fiscally irresponsible and he should be removed. You cannot expect to be taken seriously when addressing the country’s finances? No sah!

Moonlight and other Oscar thoughts

Posted: February 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

Moonlight: I watched it and while it was good I am not sure we should be falling over ourselves to give it the Best pic Oscar.
If we get beyond the emotional and seemingly groundbreaking coming of age storyline of a black male (usually those storylines follow white kids) in the hood with a complex life and sexuality. The actual film was not superb. The editing in particular was my concern. At points there are disconnects in the film’s focus. To be honest it was like a patchwork of things we have seen before (enter Boys in The Hood). I do agree with some critics’ take that the film is beautiful for not granting the protagonist storyline a “resolution”. This is indeed refreshing in an era where everybody wants happy endings or I dare say endings.
Now, advocating for actor awards I have no complaints…every character was properly delivered (ok a couple bad acting moments but not enough to take away from the body of work).
Anyway it could very well win the big prize because every few years Oscar likes a quaint film that has major underground/cult following.

As for Oscars …this year they avoid the “Oscar so White” hashtag by throwing in the kitchen sink for black people nominated. Even while great actresses have to play fancy games with category entries so she does not go up against Oscar-fave Meryl Streep. But I am not slightly fooled… They did this token stuff before and awarded Halle for that ghastly Monster’s Ball when the Dorothy Dandridge film was a way better acting performance on her part. Be careful of tokens… Another reason I don’t need Moonlight to win. We should be able to appreciate films and critique them and be okay with better films winning.

To have this convo you know I am going to start with definitions.

Spectacle–“a visually striking performance or display”
Performance–“an act of staging or presenting a play, concert or other form of entertainment”
Presidency— “an administration or the executive, the collective administrative and governmental entity that exists around an office of president of a state or nation”

Now that we have established some meanings you already should be able to intimate where my head is at as it relates to what we are currently seeing in the 45th President of the USA.
As a former reality TV star and overblown businessman #45 is continuing performance and spectacle. It is the strategy that got him the office and that will likely keep him in it. As he fills our former news channels with images of himself incoherently (babbling really) addressing what he defines as messes and triumphs one (1) month into his tenure those of us with any modicum of intelligence are becoming increasingly frustrated or indifferent (which is worst).
But I must point out the deliberateness in this spectacle. If he is aware of nothing else #45 understands how branding, publicity and media work or react. It is bizarre to me who spent most of my adult years studying, doing and instructing in media that tweets would not just be features but now the basis of full content and worst yet tweets from a dangerous president. But it is not bizarre to #45 in fact it is going as planned. He bashes the media they cover it, he tweets disses they cover it, he speaks falsehoods they give it legs. You see contrary to a-historical new media consumer’s thinking the audience of your social media is not larger than the audience of traditional media (TV, Radio, Newspapers). The real smarts is to be able to double your audience by incorporating both forms. #45 has determined however sleazily how this is best done. Give them spectacle perform perform perform and traditional media cannot look away they must cover you. So for the past month of the presidency and the numerous months of the election campaign the Performer in Chief has won. Like an accident none of us has looked away. This is actually the bit that leaves me uneasy…how quickly we fall for or get distracted by spectacle.

Why is this dangerous/scary?

At this stage in our history we are in fact witnessing a strategy that is centuries old, that of giving the people what Roman poet Juvenal once coined as “Bread and Circuses”. Here Juvenal can be taken very literally and in fact the most confusion we may have is whether #45 has only given circus so far or both. To answer that…he has given both. Combining his rallies, promises and Executive Orders you get your bread and circus.

The entertainer in chief first offers promises and some dangerous/xenophobic rule changes to the hungry audience and then he overloads them with the circus.
The bread is multi-grained. “Saving” the Carrier factory, well kinda! Unprepared meetings with world leaders, veiled threats to other leaders, saying “America first” enough times. The circus is a multi-act multi-level spectacle in this case from “Declaration of Fake News” to “Electoral College celebrations over and over”, to “job saving rallies”, to botched launches of everything from Muslim bans to healthcare changes.
What is dangerous here is that “we the people” do not actually gain any new ground. Coal jobs are not coming back to to “rust-belt” heck I just reposted an article this week which indicated that China is halting orders of coal from North Korea this year. If you know how much coal China uses you would understand how big that news is ( estimate 200 million kg per year). Speaking of news this is where the danger lies…while the news reports mainly on the spectacle we miss the substantive news about what actually is real. Instead they aid #45 in telling the people what he determines as “truth”. Ignorance is our slow death!
Let us be extremely aware of what Juvenal had pointed out many moons ago. As we get caught up in his current performance of the presidency a continued erosion of what the people should have/posses is afoot and whatever pithy returns we get were already taken before.

I pause here because attention spans are shorter than my thoughts on this topic.

Grammys 2017 thoughts

Posted: February 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

Grammy thoughts:
What #Beyonce did at #Grammys last night was #Art. The thing about art is it is open to the interpretation of the beholder. My interpretation: she was doing a tribute to wombyn and because she does the most you know she will show off like she the onliest one ever been pregnant and with twins and she is #QueenBee so hence the crown. She gave all levels of Enya-Dido-SarahMc…<–I crack myself up. Or was she giving us…Minnie-Eartha–Josephine since sometimes we forget what was stolen/copied!
I am a low-key fan so I am happy she took 8+mins of white Grammy time. In other news #Adele totally gave Beyoncé her award I heard her say she can’t honestly accept it cause Beyoncé slayed on #Lemonade as everybody says she “Kanyed” herself which actually endears Adele further to me. Yes we all side-eyed her comment about her “black friends” being moved/empowered by Beyoncé as if we didn’t know friendships are still grouped and segregated.
As for the tributes… Where do I begin? Grammys should stop picking folks who cannot handle the songs and in fairness said folks should stop accepting to perform. I wanted to weep from embarrassment at the #BeeGees tribute which was an epic fail in front of the last living BeeGee. The only tribute done well was #Time and #BrunoMars (the tribute whisperer) who were clutch for #Prince. Overall sound quality of the show was Shyte!
Best moment last night was the #TribeCalledQuest performance along side #AndersonPaak and #Busta and that #Consequence fella… #WethePeople had #AgentOrange trending!
Anyway back to work my fellow non-celebrity friends.

We shall not call his name

Posted: February 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

I had to return to blogging because American politics has me all twisted.

There will be lots more posting I just want to say this much I refuse to call their president by his name. He went in to this with hopes of grandeur, a new title and a boost for his brand. I will do my part to diminish that. The Internet has many names for him I currently use a few like #TangTyrant #OrangeKremlin #KingCheeto etc.

The worst decision America has wrought on the world in a while…

When I grew sensible I used to fear the text “…be sure your sins will find you out” (Num 32:23). You see like many I too have skeletons in my closet and I know this text to be true!
So here we are at the allegations against Cosby. His skeletons are falling out the closet daily and we are tripping on them. According to legend many have known about Cosby’s extra interests and many know he is your typical narcissistic power tripper.

I write this not to add more shame, blame or defaming but to have a conversation that I seem to be cyclically stuck in for weeks now. In particular mostly my male friends are reluctant to believe “Dr. Heathcliff Huxtible” could be a rapist. Mostly because the character played on TV was in our minds flawless. Others disbelieve because they have had or their “boy” has had some encounter with a lying woman. So the convo has too quickly become about victim credibility. While the amount of accusers seem overwhelming, the piece hardest for them to reconcile is the timeline. I hear comments like “why now?” “how come they took so many years to come forward?” “they are just trying to take him down”, other comments I won’t repeat based on the harshness.
My shortest retort has been–unless you have experienced rape you cannot hope to explain how somebody should deal with it and when they will speak about it.

Man vs. Icon
It is never easygoing when an icon meets reality. The human can never hope to be as awesome as the iconization they benefited from. In Cosby’s case the icon Bill Cosby was the cat’s meow. He has had a number of firsts in Comedy, TV and Film and has opened doors for many black actors and comedians in America. Arguably without a Cosby on TV there would not have been numerous other blacks on TV.

Further, products like the Cosby Show were culture-changing. For while critics and critiques would argue that Cosby Show did not portray realistic “black life” in the America they knew, back on a medium sized island in the Caribbean sea a girl watching the Cosby show whose only plan was to finish high school had a seed planted that –more was possible. Certainly if that message reached her surely it reached many more. This in mind, it is clear why hearing that such an icon may be a horribly flawed human is hard to digest. The man Bill Cosby for whatever reasons–power tripping, psychosis or other has smashed into the icon head on. In this new age of immediate technological impact icons can be de-frocked/stripped within days or weeks. Now laying bare before us are fragments some parts man some parts icon.

Rape is no Joke
For one of America’s funny men to allegedly engage is rape/assault acts is no laughing matter.
The success of rapists has always been advanced by silence. However it is never easy to break the silence. Practically every rape victim is disbelieved or worst yet blamed. Have you heard questions like “why was she at his hotel room though?”, “why didn’t she fight back?”, “why didn’t he use his natural power to get out of it?” “Where is their rape kit?”. These very questions and judgement keep the victim silent. The rapist depends on this reaction. In instances where they are not assured of the silence they ramp up their twisted game. It is not unlike a rapist to intimidate, use shame, use vulnerabilities against the victim, threaten the victim or their loved ones, use their gender dynamic to impact the victim, threaten exposure or pay to secure the silence (once a victim takes a settlement society judges them as having lied and possessing other motives). In this instance the rapist is the expert. For these reasons and more a victim is less likely to come forward because they seem to have more to lose than the rapist. So don’t be surprised if it takes some people a lifetime to admit to the assault! Know that daily they have lived and suffered with it, they have weighed how people will react and dig and criminalize them and then some.
Here is something to consider–apparently less than 10% of rape accusations are false (multiple sources including the FBI, other sources project higher rates but they also think when a rape victim withdraws a claim they were lying). So why are so many people inclined to think the accuser is lying. A real lie about rape has to be hard because a victim of any crime tends to recall details that a lie would show up. I suggest sexism or gender norms plays a major role in the rape culture we have and the reaction a rape victim endures. We quickly pool together all we know about both parties and a believability quotient emerges based on our relationship to sexism and how much of an icon one party is.

Does Racism play a role here?
Is the ocean salty??
Let us look at what we know for sure– Bill Cosby a black male is being accused of rape or other sexual violations by mostly white females.
-The accusations are playing out in mass media, the spaces most inclined to the vilification of blacks.
-The black community does not know if they should believe in a falling icon or fight the system on splaying our dirt for all to see or call out the hypocrisy seen when the accused is non-black/brown.
-Surely we know rape is horrible but do we abandon hero-worship knowing his fall will set us all back?

Racism has a lot to do with this! It shapes how each person responds as accusers come forward and it shapes the narrative about Cosby in media.
One of my favourite lines from Lauryn Hill’s Superstar may be instructive here
“Just as Christ was a superstar, you stupid star, They’ll hail you then they’ll nail you, no matter who you are, They’ll make you now then take you down, And make you face it, if you slit the bag open and put your pinky in it, then taste it”

The Cosby take down speaks to these lyrics on levels– he ate his own jello pudding! He forgot how insidious white supremacy is, he probably does not think it exists since he “surpassed his race”. He surpassed it soo much that he was spending his spare time chastising and reprimanding the other blacks–the ebonic talking, pants down, single parent, keeping up with the Jones blacks! When he was publicly shaming us he probably never recalled that the pendulum swings both ways.
Is he the first celebrity to face these allegations? Nope! But he will be among the few who has their allegations handled in these ways. He may have been shielded all this time by celebrity status or privilege bought from gatekeeping but something shifted and he now like the other blacks is unprotected from facing the music.

Is he guilty? He may very well be! Will we know for sure? Probably not! The statute of limitations may have run out on all the accusers so there will likely be no day in court. Meanwhile in the court of twitter and other public opinion Cosby has been experiencing his trial and the consequences as per society (loss of Netflix series and NBC pullout and TVLand pulling the Cosby Show). Coincidentally all the black stars are being punished while the networks will move on to the next flavour until such time as is deemed necessary.
Some questions which linger for me:
1)Why hasn’t Cosby filed slander suits?
2) With statute of limitations run out what do we think women can gain from coming out now except the regular thoroughfare of criminalizing the victim?
3) With such an extensive career and impact why haven’t there been equal parts celebrities and Cosby kids coming forward to defend Cosby’s character?
4) With the ferocity of allegations why does Cosby still think his lawyers’ advice of no comment is still sufficient?
5) Who will come forward next??

As I post I know I don’t have answers but I am too aware of how rape culture and racism are intersecting. I am also too aware that the game play on display is beyond uncomfortable it is sad…

Jamaica’s Parts Unknown

Posted: November 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

This is a repost from my status on Facebook.

So I’m at it again a 90 day purge/plan/program. I did it before when I was trying to rid myself of some bad elements and it kinda worked. I am here again and this time it has a title, a pseudo plan and a friend to keep accountability. We called it 90Days2Happiness!
The Plan/What we hope to accomplish

This plan lasted a couple weeks and then Fail!
I want to try again