Mind en Blanc (Part 1)

The following is a statement from Michael Dawson, head of Ghetto People Publishing.

I’d like to immediately disclose my bias. I am the principal of Ghetto People Publishing Limited, publishers of Vybz Kartel’s book Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto and Twins of Twins’ Patrick Curly Lox Gaynor’s Road to Zion; so I advocate for the people labeled as ‘Ghetto Youth’ every day of my life WITHOUT APOLOGY. From school days, at my beloved Campion College, I got into trouble for daring to challenge the head of a religion by dismissing his theory that Saint Peter Claver did more for black people than Marcus Garvey. I maintained that Pan-African stance throughout my collegiate years leading boycotts and protests when I felt our rights as Jamaicans or black people were being violated on a campus where the student body was 93% white and equally wealthy. Since then, I have started the Teach Garvey Always foundation, created the Annual Marcus Garvey march, petitioned to turn Knutsford Boulevard into Garvey Boulevard as all our self-made industries are largely due to his influence, held symposiums bringing light to the Coral Gardens massacre, commemorated the Morant Bay Rebellion and advocated for the spirit of Paul Bogle to inspire our people to hold modern day peaceful rebellions against foreign ownership in Jamaica. Under what may have been the influence of herbs, I ran an ad on TVJ featuring a Rastafarian elder criticizing the government of Jamaica for not doing anything to help people in Darfur. So in sum, I have been an agitator and trouble maker for a long time, and not blindly or for any reward or ratings. In fact, I am well aware of the risks that are associated with speaking out against the system of class prejudice and foreign ownership in Jamaica. As learned Professor and Bogle scholar Louis Moyston stated on July 7 2012, “Anyone who speaks out against the system in Jamaica gets harassed or arrested by the police; that is not my opinion, that is a historical fact.”

Mario Deane

Mario Deane. On the left – in hospital after being beaten.

Therefore I do understand first-hand the painful price one pays in Jamaica for being a staunch opponent against the system and criticizing the actions of the rich and powerful in Jamaica. Even if you do not end up like Peter Tosh, Garnet Silk, Jacob Miller or Bob Marley, who all died very young and under very strange circumstances (murder in an upscale community, gas cylinder explosion, car accident due to a piece of cane and cancer from a toe injury), one may end up in a situation like my dear friend Brother Ras Miguel Lorne. Brother Lorne is another one of those “trouble makers”. He actually sued the Queen for Reparations while others talked about it, decided to re-energize and sit at the Presidency of the Marcus Garvey Party, joined Vybz Kartel’s legal team, and represented the Office of the Public Defender advocating for the people of Tivoli at the Commission of Enquiry. However, he created a greater sin in the country of Jamaica, in the case of Mario Deane. When Deane who was arrested and denied bail for possession of a single stick of weed in Jamaica and died from a beating in a cell in St. James (a beating delivered moments after he declared that he did not the like police), Brother Lorne supported the family of Mario Deane. He advocated for Justice and finally saw to the rare occurrence of the police being charged for Mario’s death. To accomplish this Brother Lorne felt international pressure and expertise was needed and sought my help. I reached out to the Trayvon Martin legal team who were busy with the Michael Brown issue in Ferguson at the time and got them to join forces as the three deaths of these poor, by-no-means wealthy black youths seemed related in cause. Brother Lorne took the cause even further, by not only having me fly renowned pathologist Dr. Baden into Jamaica but tended to other human rights matters like suing the government on behalf of the young man who had his hand shattered in prison by a staff member who used one of those metallic locks to injure another Jamaican youth. So I was not surprised when I read the news that Brother Lorne was going to be charged for fraud involving a family squabble over a real estate matter. I’m not privy to real estate law but as one who has been fighting for Black causes since high school, I am sure the system can figure something out to silence me – after all, Brother Lorne resigned from the Tivoli Inquiry disarming the legal team of its strongest most vocal advocate. Well done Babylon. But while Brother Lorne and many others in our country fight for the rights of the poor, Rastafarians, our ancestors, and for reparations from our former European slave masters; there are others intent on glorifying them and their culture.

Continue to Mind en Blanc Part 2

Photo taken from the Jamaica Observer website.

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Mind en Blanc (Part 2)

The following is Part 2 of a statement from Michael Dawson, head of Ghetto People Publishing. Read Part 1 here.

dinner en blanc

An overhead view of pre-dinner activities at the Emancipation Park.

To those of us who consider Marcus Garvey a prophet, identify with Rastafarian beliefs or believe that we as Jamaicans are still mentally enslaved, the Dinner en Blanc ‘picnic’ that was held at Emancipation Park on March 7, 2015 was a pivotal moment in what we perceive as a struggle for us as a people to rid ourselves of the near Eurocentric worship that has been etched in our minds. This Eurocentric worship is one of the most damaging legacies of slavery. Ironic it is, that when the lower strata of society does an equally damaging thing, like skin bleaching and wearing weaves we chalk it up to a lack of education, self-hate and even stupidity; yet when the upper echelon of society does it, it is considered elegant, classy and in some cases, “an event that puts Jamaica on the map.” All this time, I thought Bob Marley, Sunsplash, Rebel Salute, Red Stripe, our natural herb, Blue Mountain Coffee, the last two Olympics and our beauty contest winners did that. I just learnt this week that a bunch of people in a 95% black country dressing in full white for an exclusive Eurocentric event held on the grounds that was supposed to signify our resistance to forced Eurocentrism actually put our little island on the map. I guess it’s time to thank our former slave masters again for showing us what class and elegance is. The non-reaction or lack of outrage by the populous is further evidence of how far we are from emancipation from mental slavery. If someone had kept a German Beer fest at the Holocaust Museum there would be equal outrage as for keeping a Cowboy Expo on an American Indian Reservation; but nothing is wrong, in some eyes, with keeping a Eurocentric event at the Emancipation Park with the full white garb to really show the insensitivity. What’s next? A pork festival at Bob Marley Museum or a swim suit party in the church Baptism pool? Where does it stop?

Just of note, we in the “dark” (people who often reject Eurocentric or Anglo American culture and folkways in favor of African traditions are often considered dark) know that there are a number of Pan-African events that happen all over Jamaica yearly that my black self considers very elegant and classy because they represent who we are and our triumph over European slavery. Empress Menen “Earthstrong” banquets have been held at the African themed complex of Ras Imo on Deanery Road, the UNIA annual dinner was first held at the Jamaica Pegasus now at Devon Road, and Livity Ital Restaurant has hosted several events with African celebrities and commemorated our own stalwarts like Peter Tosh – the grandson of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie was hosted with a dinner there at least once. Oh, and the dreaded Café Africa where authentic African cuisine can be had has been open for quite some time along with many other similar establishments. Of course, such Pan-African events will not get any coverage on Page 2 or any commendations because our Eurocentric minds cannot equate anything that is black, African or even Jamaican as elegant and classy.

dump-fire-1

Fire out of control at Riverton City dump in Kingston

Within days of all of this happening, smoke engulfed the corporate area and literally stifled the citizens, more reports surfaced of girls as young as eleven being raped and impregnated, another young man is killed after being held by police for having a stick of weed, the government introduced new taxes on an already burdened citizenry and the mass murders in all parts of the country continue. It is my belief that the politicians are all Mind En Blanc (blank) for failing to provide citizens with something as basic as clear air to breathe; parents and neighbors are also Mind En Blanc (blank) if they do nothing to protect their daughters because we know the government won’t; the police are Mind En Blanc for still incarcerating young men in Jamaica for weed whilst our Kingston Mayor tours ganja factories in Colorado. The politicians are Mind En Blanc if they can’t introduce weed production, casino gambling and alternative sources of industry and stop relying on increasing the tax burden on the citizens for revenues. The people who support keeping a Eurocentric event in all-white garb on a ground dedicated to the suffering of black people and their triumph over said attempted dominance of European culture are – dare I say – Mind en most Blanc-est. I actually feared for my people as I worried that they would have bit their tongues in a poor attempt at a French accent in their many videos of the event, but I guess at the end of the day some people feel mental bleaching is less of an evil than physical bleaching. Regardless the kind of bleaching you prefer – mental or physical – we saw this weekend that Jah Jah nuh partial when fire a burn, all men may not have been created equal but all men are cremated equal. Let this be a wake-up call to Jamaica (even though we really don’t need another one) that our minds cannot continue to be en Blanc forever. We need to get some matter in our brains and protect our environment, our children, our economy and our country, but most of all we must protect the memory of the suffering of those before us and resist the temptation to throw Eurocentrism in their faces on their ground with the all-white symbolism to match. We don’t care what they do in France; this is Jamaica – fi wi country.

 Photos taken from the Jamaica Observer website.