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Thread: Who is Jamaica?

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    Registered User Seawall's Avatar Seawall is offline
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    Who is Jamaica?

    Wow. What an ignorant a$$.


    Who is Jamaica?
    Published:
    Wednesday, December 19, 2012
    Raymond Ramcharitar

    An indispensable preamble to the Jamaica Observer’s December 11 “ethnic stocking” editorial is an op-ed by Jamaican (UWI) academic, Prof Carolyn Cooper, in the NY Times on August 5.

    Titled “Who is Jamaica,” it addressed the island’s independence, starting with its national motto: “Out of many, one people,” which, Cooper opined, “marginalises the nation’s black majority by asserting that the idealised face of the Jamaican nation is multiracial. In actuality, only about seven per cent of the population is mixed-race; three per cent is European, Chinese or East Indian, and 90 per cent is of African origin.”

    And since “the roots of our distinctive music, religion, politics, philosophy, science, literature and language are African,” the imperative of (Afro) Jamaicans is “rejecting the homogenising myth of multicultural assimilation.”

    Prof Cooper’s context is Jamaica’s insane brown-white hegemony, but the logic is familiar and once you’ve gone to UWI and read books by UWI academics, you know it’s not restricted to Jamaica. Otherwise, this is garden variety US Afrocentrism, and it is not logic the Times ordinarily endorses.


    What if this reasoning were applied in the pre-civil rights US, with a population that was 90 per cent white and 10 per cent black? No President Obama, for one thing. (See Charles M Blow’s Times op-ed of December 12.) But its publication leaves us to assume it constitutes acceptable positions in Jamaica on ethnicity and entitlement, and in the metropole of the Jamaica/the Caribbean’s character. (Prof Cooper is also a Jamaica Gleaner columnist.)


    With this attitude and logic as premise, it’s clear what the Observer editorial objected to was “too much Indian.” I’ll bypass the obvious, like suggesting to the Observer: “Why you ent study your own damn business, like skin bleach and the 60 per cent of Jamaicans who want the Queen back?”


    And I’ll recall we’ve heard this before. Post-1996, once the UNC got in, various commentators noticed with alarm that Indians were everywhere: in UWI, in business, in Government, on state boards—too many of them. Said commentators expressed their surprise in violently ignorant ways, which were enabled by the media because of free speech. Similarly, the Jamaican equivalent of MATT has opined that the “stocking” thing is a free speech issue.


    So the opinion and its justification are unremarkable. What’s remarkable is that if the editorial illustrates a regional attitude, as I believe, it’s official: there’s no difference between ethnic fascism and cultural criticism; and racial ignorance and free speech are the same.


    And if distinctions do exist, many people who should know better seem eminently comfortable with both. How did this happen? Two reasons: First, UWI. Second, the politics of the Caribbean in the metropolitan academe.

    In UWI, US Afrocentric nonsense thrives. Prof Cooper is UWI’s preeminent scholar of Jamaican (and “Caribbean”) culture, and from my experience, her position is UWI orthodoxy. Cultural studies at St Augustine is understood as an ethnic (Afrocentric) pursuit, despite the fact that elementary knowledge of the subject refutes this.


    The same could be said of art, history, creative writing, even the social sciences. A consequence of this episteme is the diffusion of the Afrocentric consensus throughout the region, which, inter alia, imparts the confidence that an opinion like the Observer’s is not racial ignorance. But its hypocrisy is evident since the inverse doesn’t hold: to notice Afrocentric “stocking” is “racist.”


    Second reason: The Caribbean as knowledge abroad. Ostensibly in the service of “tourist” concerns, there’s an ardently promoted fantasy that the Caribbean is Carnival (an African festival) and that the first world tourist “loves” Carnival.


    A consequence of that fantasy is that the metropolitan observer views the Caribbean as a primitivist diversion, its people unworthy of serious attention. And the tourist’s “affection” is uncertain. An article in the NY Times on December 5, 2011 reported NY City cops, assigned to the Parkway parade (via Facebook posts), calling revellers “animals” and “savages,” echoing apparently widespread opinions on NY’s Caribbean Carnival.

    This way of knowing the Caribbean became established through many Caribbean academics and émigrés who found themselves in metropolitan universities over the last generation. Many subsumed themselves in the general ethnic politics of the US and Canadian academe.


    The institutional praxis is that the establishment allows ethnocentric splinter disciplines (like Caribbean Studies) to exist as proof of their commitment to “diversity,” or whatever, but considers them unimportant. Some scholars are thus allowed to pursue outlandish agendas, and sometimes not held to normal academic standards.


    This is a generalisation; significant exceptions exist. But it’s true enough to generalise and say that, thanks to these academics, Caribbean history and society have become an appendix of African American history, another theatre of slavery and black oppression, erasing all other histories.

    Thus the general sense of enraged ethnic entitlement and oppression of US Afrocentrism (embodied in people like Louis Farrakhan) define the metropolitan perception of the Caribbean. It then returns to the Caribbean, pervades the public sphere and UWI curricula with the imprimatur of the first world academe. Ergo, ejaculations like the Jamaica Observer editorial.

    Very neat, but there’s a catch: Outside the specific social historical matrix of the US, exonerating “ethnic stocking” in one breath, and in the other, being hyper-vigilant in identifying, and violent in responding to, any insult, real or imagined, to all things African, is, by definition, racist. (See the comments on the Guardian website to my Carnival articles and Who Invited Farrakhan?)

    Afrocentric hate-speech might get a pass in the US because the establishment uses it as proof of its liberality, and it does no real harm. But here, it’s dangerous, offensive ole mas, costuming self-inflicted debility and self-loathing as moral entitlement. Time to end the ole mas, and hold Afrocentrism to grown-up standards.
    "Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor." — Frantz Fanon

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglass

  2. #2
    Notchilous ladyrastafari's Avatar ladyrastafari is offline
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    Registered User Shabeel's Avatar Shabeel is offline
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    So what is Carolyn Cooper suggesting as a motto?

    "Out of many, black people"?

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    Earth Angel dollbabi's Avatar dollbabi is offline
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    ^^^

    But anyway, despite the point Cooper is attempting to make but the country is still multiracial to some extent. Plus one could apply JA's motto more broadly. Not just out of many "races" but many ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs too...("ethnicities can even encompass the many african groups people came from)

    As for the rest of the article...very interesting.

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    Who feels it knows it! Georgeflash's Avatar Georgeflash is offline
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    So this diatribe is about an Observer op-ed?

    So one can pick up a newspaper and pick one editorial and use that the cast aspersion on an entire country? I am sure dependent on which editorial you pick you could get vastly different views.

    But "Afrocentric nonsense"? Where is this person going with this?

    Then the GIANT leap from Cooper saying that Jamaica culture is largely African inspired (which is true) to extrapolating this to mean anti-Indian is ridiculous.

    Delete this stupid thread.
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    Taj
    Loyalty to Loyalty Taj's Avatar Taj is offline
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    Maybe I just don't get it but to me this is horribly written and seems to be an attempt to criticise UWI but using this other imagined issue as a crutch.
    “A sharp knife never proclaims it’s sharpness to the world…but the first to fall against it becomes it’s advocate.”

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    Registered User trinike's Avatar trinike is offline
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    the above article, by the OP, seems to have been written by an Indo-Trinidadian. It is in response to the below, the annonymous Op-Ed written in the Jamaican Observer:

    The more important issue is abuse of substance
    Tuesday, December 11, 2012
    The more important issue is abuse of substance - Editorial - JamaicaObserver.com


    MS Verna St Rose Greaves, Trinidad and Tobago's former minister of gender, youth, and child development, raised many eyebrows in the region recently with her allegation that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar "has an issue which must be addressed frontally".

    That, unfortunately, has been widely interpreted to mean substance abuse, the substance being alcohol. The upshot is that it has become common talk among Trinidadians and has been posted on YouTube undoubtedly by politically motivated detractors.

    Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar has categorically denied the allegation, stating publicly that she has "no such problem" and would have "nothing further to say with respect to that".

    Her attorney general, Anand Ramlogan, has come to her defence, suggesting that there is a case to answer. Whether any such action will materialise is yet to be seen. However, this type of rumour is the stuff of great calypsos in a country famous for making fun of politicians.

    It is, though, an unfortunate distraction from the serious centripetal forces tearing the increasingly fragile political coalition which constitutes the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. The real problem in the energy-rich republic is not substance abuse, but the abuse of substance. By that we mean the abuse of the substance of government business because of the ethnic stocking of public offices and the widespread perception of corruption.

    This year, on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, Trinidad and Tobago was ranked 80 out of 176 countries, down from 71 in 2011. In fact, Trinidad and Tobago scored 39 on a scale of 100, on par with Jamaica and behind the rest of the Caribbean islands.

    One of the egregious aspects of corruption is what is known as "ethnic stocking" — the appointment to public office, including overseas posts, on the basis of ethnicity to ensure ethnic monopoly of political power.

    Notwithstanding Minister Jack Warner, the current Government of Trinidad and Tobago has systematically practised ethnic stocking; rewarding individuals with positions even though they not qualified, either by professional training or by pertinent transferable work experience.


    The instances of local appointments are too numerous to discuss, but the embarrassment associated with overseas appointees poses reputational damage. Ms Therese Baptiste-Cornelis was fired as ambassador to the United Nations, Geneva after some inappropriate remarks. There was even a case of a diplomat assigned to the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission in London being charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine.

    Many people in Trinidad and Tobago do not want to tackle ethnic stocking because persons who raise the issue are accused of being racist in a society guilty of self-delusion about racial harmony.


    There needs to be a parliamentary review of appointees to local and overseas posts to ensure that they possess the necessary qualifications and years of pertinent experience, and to establish a transparent selection process free of ethnic bias.

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    Who feels it knows it! Georgeflash's Avatar Georgeflash is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by trinike View Post
    the above article, by the OP, seems to have been written by an Indo-Trinidadian. It is in response to the below, the annonymous Op-Ed written in the Jamaican Observer:
    Seem?
    It was written by Raymond Ramcharitar as indicated in the by-line.
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    Registered User trinike's Avatar trinike is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Georgeflash View Post
    Seem?
    It was written by Raymond Ramcharitar as indicated in the by-line.
    i did not look him up to confirm, nor did i trust internet names, just like how the Jamaican Observer Op-Ed is anonymous. For all i know, the Jamaican Op-Ed could have been written by an Afro-Trinidadian.

    But yea, looking him up seems like he writes for the Trinidad Guardian and his "wiki" states:
    Raymond R Ramcharitar is a Trinidadian poet, playwright, fiction writer and media and cultural critic. He was educated at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, where he was awarded three degrees: A Bachelor's in Economics (1991), a Master's in Literatures in English (2002), and a Doctorate in Cultural History (2007). He was also awarded a fellowship to Boston University's Creative Writing Programme in 2000 by Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott, where he studied poetry and drama.

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    where de crix Oneshot's Avatar Oneshot is offline
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    so a trinidadian is trying to stock racial tensions in Jamaica?

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    Who feels it knows it! Georgeflash's Avatar Georgeflash is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oneshot View Post
    so a trinidadian is trying to stock racial tensions in Jamaica?
    The Indo-Trinidadian have conquered Trinidad. Exporting racially stocking is the natural progression.
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    Registered User skeng's Avatar skeng is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shabeel View Post
    So what is Carolyn Cooper suggesting as a motto?

    "Out of many, black people"?
    One people!

  13. #13
    Notchilous ladyrastafari's Avatar ladyrastafari is offline
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    skeng don deh bout..
    Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.

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  14. #14
    Notchilous ladyrastafari's Avatar ladyrastafari is offline
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    and having an indian last name doesn't mean it's an indian... lol..
    Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.

    Velvet Glove. Iron Fist

    mi style still sharp .....u a A-Minor and dem a B-Flat

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    Who feels it knows it! Georgeflash's Avatar Georgeflash is offline
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    Who said anything about the last name being the mark.
    Look dude up.

    I sourced the article.
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