Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kinsella's tough pill for Jamaica (ns)

Usually when I hear people talking about the negative aspects of Jamaica, be it crime or hateful music, I become somewhat defensive. Warren Kinsella's column on why certain dancehall artists shouldn't be let into Canada kind of gave that same initial reaction.

On instinct, I was ready to defend the "different culture" and how most people don't take the language seriously, but truthfully those aren't good reasons. I am from Jamaica and I'm a direct subject of this hate against minorities, but I've never taken issue with this music. In actuality, I dance to this music and enjoy it. Even last night. However, I have to consider the bigger picture: I came from a reasonable family, in a reasonable neighbourhood, and went to a reasonable school where this kind of hate would have no traction, but this might not be the case for everyone. Everyone did not grow up like me. Since moving to Toronto, I've met many guys of Caribbean who descent who are on the "DL" and it's due to the attitude reflected by this music that is pervasive in Caribbean culture. This hate can and does affect people's attitudes and behaviours and that's dangerous. Certainly, that doesn't belong in Canada.

I didn't even know about the white hate part. That's beyond anything anyone can rationalize. As I said before, I'm usually quick to the Jamaican defensive, and when it said "Jamaican murder music" in the title, I was like here we go, another blow to the image. In reality though, Kinsella or any other writer doesn't owe Jamaica anything. They don't work for the Jamaica Tourism Board. What Jamaica needs to do is clean up their own act at home. That's as tall of task as there is, but if Canada joins countries like the UK in voicing their disgust maybe, in time, the message will be received.

In terms of the title, I've accepted it. This murder music is a product of Jamaica just like Appleton Rum or Blue Mountain Coffee. As well, it's not an attempt to single Jamaica out. I'm reading this book called Web of Hate and Kinsella exposes neo-nazi/aryan hate there, so doing the same in other venues isn't just fair, it's right.

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