Somewhere in South America and Trinidad

This week’s earlier post, “Not Even One Token Woman!”, was published on Monday in Guyana’s Stabroek News, thanks to the initiative of  Dr. Alissa Trotz who gave up her ‘In the Diaspora’ column to air what she considered to be a pressing issue:  gender politics in the Caribbean.

I got a most entertaining response from ‘Somewhere in  South America’:

Carolyn is right – the Caribbean Methuselahs are in charge and pity the poor woman or young man or woman who wants to be a part of the PM and DM process – you might catch their eye, but for all the wrong reasons! These men are in charge of everything up and down the Region and no one else is expected to gatecrash this particular party because the pickings are so rich – consultancies galore until you literally drop dead from the weight of the money you have accumulated from the likes of Caricom, the CommSec, UWI and international organizations with largesse to divest and settle their balance sheets. Carolyn is right -being Methuselahs, not even the young get a look in – and these are the people whose future these geriatrics are trying to commandeer and manage for them.

Sir Shridath to the left of the Queen

Sir Shridath and his ilk do not know when to stop and bow out gracefully – kind of like those boxers who come out of retirement at 55 to find themselves pummelled, punched, outclassed and out of date but still believing that they have a point to prove. Embarassing spectacle for all concerned – did their part, were recognised amply for it, but still want to feed at the trough in the guise of ‘Caribbean Elder Statesmen’. So now we have the cushy prospect of yet another commission (on Migration) bearing the stamp of the Ramphal Centre, and financed by the hapless CommSec – with all sorts of ‘old boys’ from the Commonwealth dishing out advice as our elder and wise statesmen – I haven’t seen any old men migrating recently, have you? Im sure Sir Shridath and the boys being in touch with Caribbean reality when they have their time from their busy schedules will dispense loads more wisdom to clog up the bookshelves of even more Caribbean libraries.

There really is no shame about it – and in fact a lot of righteous indignation – as Im sure she will get – when one has the temerity to disturb/question the ‘party’. Number One they don’t like being called ‘Old’ and Number Two they really believe that the solutions need to be found by them and them alone. Funny thing is, if they were so good – and as we all know, these guys have been at it for donkeys years – where are the results? Limited to say the least and they then lay it at the door of the leaders. The leaders can carry a significant portion of the blame but our ‘Methuselahs certainly need to be put out to pasture by now. They really are way past their ‘sell by date’. Bring on the women and the young people – maybe an intellectual Jasmine revolution in the region might be the thing we need….

Norman Girvan

One of the sympathetic  ‘poster patriarchs’, Norman Girvan, posted the column on his blog:

http://www.normangirvan.info/home/

The development consultant, Mervyn Claxton, gives an intriguing response which I reproduce here in its entirety:

It is unclear how many women were initially invited to participate in the Conference on Collective Responsibility in the 21st Century; when they were actually invited (was it a last minute act to deflect growing criticism of the gender imbalance in the composition of the panel?); and the reasons why several women invitees declined to participate. How many did so because they felt that they were invited as an afterthought? Even if the answers to those questions exculpate the conference organizers, it is most damning that the flyer for the conference featured only male participants – eleven of them. That single action, probably a subconscious reflex, is an eloquent illustration of the considerable hurdles women face in overcoming gender inequality in the region. It was further compounded by the fact that the gender ratio of the participants who addressed the conference or presented papers was 23 males to 2 females. Carolyn Cooper summed up this most intractable problem perfectly: “Women end up on the margins or are completely written out of the story. So we women…still have to put up a fight to insert ourselves into history.”

With a certain amount of hesitation (because I am on the other side of the gender divide), I would like to propose a strategy that might help women in the region succeed in winning that fight, namely, “to insert ourselves into history.” A number of economic reports and research projects over the past decade have concluded that not only are women an engine of economic growth but, even more importantly, that they are the single biggest force for world economic growth. In the light of those reports, which I detail below, I suggest that Caricom women seriously consider shifting the emphasis of their struggle for gender equality from righting wrongs to the centrally important role that women could play in Caricom in dealing with the redoubtable challenges of globalization and economic development, among others.

Jamaican market woman

If they succeed in getting that message across to the region’s (patriarchal) political, economic and business establishments (and they have unchallengeable conclusions from the research findings from authoritative sources at their disposal to support that message) Caricom women would then move from the margins to centre stage and will thus insert themselves into the region’s 21st century history.

The conclusions of a 1999 report from France’s Conseil d’Analyse Economique demonstrate that women are an engine of economic growth. The report makes a correlation between the level of unemployment in certain European countries and the percentage of women in those countries who remain economically inactive. Thus Denmark, with an overall unemployment rate of 4.6% that year, had 74.2% of its adult female population in economically active life, while Spain, with 18.2% of its population unemployed had only 45.6% of its adult female population in active economic life. The report concluded that countries desiring to stimulate economic growth should promote a greater participation of women in the work force and reduce the inequalities they suffer.

Qualitative female participation in the work place is equally, or perhaps even more, important than quantitative participation. In a March 2009 Financial Times article, entitled “Soapbox: why women managers shine”, Michel Ferrary, Professor of Business and Human Resources Management at the University of Geneva, shared the results of his research on the performance of the leading companies quoted on the French stock exchange during the recent global financial crisis: “My research project on companies from the French CAC  40 stock exchange index pointed out that the more women there were in a company’s management, the less the share price fell in 2008. A significant coefficient of correlation links the two variables.”

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/27836d74-04e4-11de-8166 000077b07658,dwp_uuid=1d22aad4-0732-11de-9294 000077b07658.html?nclick_check=1#axzz1EDjjZDy

Ferrary advanced the reasons why firms with more female managers weathered the global financial crisis better than those with few or no women in higher management:

“Gender diversity supports managerial efficiency by creating a more diverse culture and favouring the exploration of different business opportunities. However, creating a diverse culture implies a critical mass of female managers. To reach this point, companies must recruit more women. They also have to promote and train women when the labour market does not supply enough.”

To access the Financial article via the link above, one must register with the paper, which is free. However, those who do not wish to do so can read about Ferrary’s findings, together with the results of two other studies (a 2007 study by the consulting firm McKinsey and a 2001 study by Pepperdine University), in an accessible article in the Boston Globe, “The female advantage: A new reason for businesses to promote women: it’s more profitable.” (May, 3, 2009).

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/05/03/the_female_advantage/

The article states: “Several studies have linked greater gender diversity in senior posts with financial success. European firms with the highest proportion of women in power saw their stock value climb by 64 percent over two years, compared with an average of 47 percent, according to a 2007 study by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company. Measured as a percent of revenues, profits at Fortune 500 firms that most aggressively promoted women were 34 percent higher than industry medians, a 2001 Pepperdine University study showed. And, just recently, a French business professor [Michel Ferrary] found that the share prices of companies with more female managers declined less than average on the French stock market in 2008.”

‘This mounting body of evidence represents an important twist in the debate over women in business. For decades, women’s advancement has been seen as an issue of fairness and equality. Now some researchers are saying it should also be seen in another way: as a smart way to make money.” Applying those conclusions to our region, Caricom women should argue that their advancement, is not only ‘a smart way [for Caricom business firms] to make money’ but, even more importantly, a crucial policy action that can help the region cope effectively with globalization, as well the negative consequences for Caricom of the fallout from the global financial crisis.

Putting women centre stage on the economic scene would also be an innovative, catalytic strategy for accelerating Caricom countries’ socio-economic development and improving its overall economic performance at a time when the increased competition generated by a globalized market. l developing countries (particularly small ones like ours) to make optimal use of their national assets and, also, shrewd national investment decisions, if they want to avoid becoming future basket cases, that is to say, countries dependent for their survival on AID, EPA’s and sundry handouts from the industrialized countries and the international community.

In a paper presented at a CDB Conference (Barbados, December, 2008), entitled ‘The Global Financial Crisis – Implications for the Caribbean”

http://www.caribank.org/titanweb/cdb/webcms.nsf/AllDoc/ECEA4E69DFA09D50042575210067FEF2/$File/GlobalFinancialCrisis.pdf, Trevor Alleyne outlined the important negative effects on Caricom countries of the global financial crisis, which gives an indication of the enormous challenge the region faces: Growth in the Caribbean has been revised downward in light of the global financial crisis and the economic slowdown will result in lower tourism receipts; lower remittances, lower FDI and other private capital, lower commodity prices, slower economic growth, and balance of payments pressures.

The reports cited above show that women are better than men in risk assessment and risk management in respect of investments. Alleyne further pointed out that current account deficits in the region are financed by financial flows which are expected to slow down in the future and that spillovers from a US credit crunch will likely involve reduced capital inflows, remittances, and exports. Caricom countries will seriously handicap their efforts to cope with the economic fallout of the global financial if governments and business firms decline to take full advantage of possibly their most valuable, and undoubtedly, the most underutilized asset for doing so – the region’s women.

A number of articles published in the Economist over the past decade confirm and reinforce the conclusions of the reports cited above. An article in the Economist, ‘A guide to womenomics: The future of the world economy lies increasingly in female hands’ (April 12, 2006)

http://www.economist.com/node/6802551,

opens with the following attention-grabbing comment: “WHY can’t a woman be more like a man?” mused Henry Higgins in ‘My Fair Lady’. Future generations might ask why a man can’t be more like a woman…. Arguably, women are now the most powerful engine of global growth.”

The article continues: “Making better use of women’s skills is not just a matter of fairness. Plenty of studies suggest that it is good for business, too. Women account for only 7% of directors on the world’s corporate boards—15% in America, but less than 1% in Japan. Yet a study by Catalyst, a consultancy, found that American companies with more women in senior management jobs earned a higher return on equity than those with fewer women at the top. This might be because mixed teams of men and women are better than single-sex groups at solving problems and spotting external threats. Studies have also suggested that women are often better than men at building teams and communicating.”

“In poor countries too, the under-utilisation of women stunts economic growth. A study last year by the World Economic Forum found a clear correlation between sex equality (measured by economic participation, education, health and political empowerment) and GDP per head. Correlation does not prove the direction of causation. But other studies also suggest that inequality between the sexes harms long-term growth.”

Even without the impetus of the fallout from the global financial crisis, an era of globalized markets and the much greater competition associated with them, Caricom would fall by the wayside without that “capacity for solving problems and spotting external threats.” As the Economist reports, such a capacity is enhanced by “mixed teams of men and women” at the senor level. Can Caricom governments and business firms afford to ignore those compelling findings?

In a second article, “The importance of sex: Forget China, India and the internet: economic growth is driven by women”, (12 April 2006), the Economist states: “The increase in female employment in the rich world has been the main driving force of growth in the past couple of decades. Those women have contributed more to global GDP growth than have either new technology or the new giants, China and India.” http://www.economist.com/node/6800723

In yet another article, “Helping women get to the top: How to get more females into senior corporate jobs” (21 July 2005)

http://www.economist.com/node/4198363

The Economist states: “Many firms are worried about the coming demographic squeeze that threatens to reduce the supply of qualified men. A few think that women have a unique contribution to make in running modern firms. They are often better at team-building and communications, for example, an advantage in a corporate world that is today increasingly characterised more by informal networks than by ordered cohorts. IBM is convinced that it ran into trouble in the early 1990s partly because its blue-suited, like-minded top male executives failed to see the implications of changes in the computer industry. It has sought to diversify its workforce at all levels ever since, and promoting women has been a big part of this effort. Diverse groups are acknowledged to be better at spotting threats coming from unlikely directions.”

Caricom countries will surely run into much greater trouble than IBM did if they continue to ignore the game-changing role that informal networks play in a globalized world and thus fail to make full use of the critically important team-building and communication skills offered by women managers.

In his paper, “Caribbean Integration and Global Europe: Implications of the EPA for the CSME”, (August, 2008) http://www.normangirvan.info/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/caribbean-integration-and-global-europe-18aug08.pdf

Norman Girvan described the strategy of the CSME: “The CSME embodies a strategy in which Caricom regional integration is a springboard for engagement with globalisation. The consolidation of a single economic space in the Community will facilitate cross-border production integration, economies of scale in production and synergies from factor combination; which will lead to internationally competitive production and growth of regional enterprises.”

Despite the plethora of reports and research findings on the unique contribution women can make, and have made, to world economic growth and business firms’ performance, I have not come across a single comment in the on-going regional debates on Globalization, the CSME, the Cariforum-EU EPA and other key regional economic issues and problems, which draw attention to it. I strongly suggest that the role Caricom women can and should play in those key areas become a central factor in such debates. The CSME stategy outlined above by Norman Girvan cannot be successfully implemented, in my opinion, without the unique contribution that the women in the region could make, if given the opportunity to do so.

Norman’s paper continues: “The rationale for economic integration is to create a platform for internationally competitive exports to global markets; and to pursue functional cooperation to exploit institutional and resource synergies among the countries.” That rationale, and its implementation, is tailor-made for women and their unique skills. In the light of the above cited reports, no future debates on Caricom integration, regional economic development and performance, the CSME, the challenge posed by Globalization would make any sense without factoring in the role and potential contribution of women in the region.

Because of its great environmental vulnerability, climate change poses a potentially existential risk to the entire region – a risk for which past experiences can provide no reliable guidelines for meeting. We need to think “out of the box”, to envisage possibilities that fall outside established paradigms. It would mean developing a sophisticated national risk-managing capacity to assess and manage both the environmental risks posed by climate change and how best to manage them. As the reports cited above convincingly demonstrate, women possess a greater capacity than men in those areas. Can we afford not to make the fullest use of that capacity?

In respect of my comments above, I draw attention to the South Centre’s Fact sheet on MARKET ACCESS FOR TRADE IN GOODS IN ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS (EPAS)

http://www.normangirvan.info/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/market-access-and-epas.pdf

Which concludes with the following two paragraphs:

“The scope and extent of liberalisation of trade in goods under the EPAs is unprecedented for ACP governments, highlighting the WTO-plus aspect of EPAs, even with relation to the core provisions regulating trade in goods. These agreements will entail major challenges, both for governments implementing the EPA required reforms and for the private sector trying to adjust to new”competition conditions.”

“The improvement of the terms of EU-ACP through economic diversification and a higher value addition of exports depend on the capacity of the private sector to innovate towards new segments of the value chain, which in turns require ACP governments to enact supporting policies. Similarly, the capacity of firms to utilise greater competition from European products to modernise and gain competitiveness also depends on the availability of finance, workers retraining and skills development, and governmental incentives.”

To conclude, I suggest that gender equality should no longer be pursued as merely “an issue of fairness and equality” but, also and more importantly, as an economic imperative for the region. – Mervyn Claxton

Not Even One Token Woman!

This month it’s black history; next month it’s women’s history.  Women, like black people, now get a whole month in which to celebrate our collective contribution to world culture.  What a ‘poppyshow’!  Like black history, women’s history really ought to be everyday history.  But it is not.

In most societies, it is men who make history. And men also write or speak history.  So, naturally, men are the prime subjects of history.  Women end up on the margins or are completely written out of the story. So we women – especially black women – still have to put up a fight to insert ourselves into history.

Sojourner Truth

Last week Sunday, ‘mi head tek mi’ when I saw the poster for the conference on “Collective Responsibility for the 21st Century” jointly hosted by CARICOM, the University of the West Indies and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

I simply couldn’t believe it. The advertisement featured eleven men.  Not even one token woman!  Nor a single young man. The combined age of those poster patriarchs for CARICOM and the UWI had to be no less than 700 years!  Not quite Methuselah, but still.  The face of Caribbean regional integration was completely male and totally old.

I immediately sent off a despondent email to head office:  “I despair for our university and the region:  The flyer for the conference features 11 men!  Is there not one woman whose face can be used to advertise the conference?  Are any women slated to speak?  I would very much appreciate seeing the full programme.  Was there a call for papers sent out for this conference?  Or is this a closed shop?

At this very late stage, I’m offering a paper for the panel on “People-Centred Development”:  “Representations of Caribbean Regional Integration in Jamaican Popular Culture.”  It would be based on my essay published in Caribbean Imperatives:  Regional Governance and Integrated Development.  I’ve copied this email to the vice-chancellor but just in case he doesn’t see it, I would appreciate your bringing my concerns to his attention.”

Appalling gender ratio

Kamla Persad-Bissessar and comrades

I got an apologetic response.  The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, had been invited to be the keynote speaker but she couldn’t come after all.  And most of the other women who had been asked to participate declined for one reason or another. The gender ratio of speakers was appalling; 23 male:  2 female.

I was offered the option of chairing the panel on “People-Centred Development”, which I graciously declined.  I was settling for nothing less than giving a paper.   My persistence paid off and I was allowed to speak on the panel, “Regional Integration:  Commonwealth Perspectives.” But I felt as if I’d committed a rapacious act.  Forcibly penetrating the programme.  Why couldn’t a call for papers have been issued so that potential participants, both male and female, could have felt free to offer their contribution?

That’s the nature of patriarchy.  Privilege is not readily surrendered.  The authority to invite participation guarantees complete control of the agenda.  Of course, my being permitted to speak confirms the fact that patriarchy can afford to be indulgent while still holding on to absolute power.  Indeed, my insistent recommendation that another, younger female scholar be invited to chair the panel I’d been offered was disregarded.

Against my explicit wishes, my name appeared on the programme as chair of the panel on “People-Centred Development.”  Resigned to my role, I decided to not look a gift horse in the mouth.  In my capacity as moderator, I took the opportunity to elaborate my dismay at the patriarchal politics of the conference.

Prof Joycelin Massiah

More than three decades after the path-breaking ‘Women in the Caribbean Project’, headed by Professor Joycelin Massiah; and more than a decade and half since the establishment of the regional Centre for Gender and Development Studies at UWI, women were still being marginalised in a most vulgar way.

The flyer advertising the conference, as well as the gross gender imbalance in the selection of speakers, was a slap in the face of Caribbean women and perceptive men who fully understand the need to undermine patriarchy.  This kind of psychological violence can be even more destructive than physical abuse.

Men ‘run tings’

These days, when I hear that tired story about the gender ‘imbalance’ between male and female students at the University of the West Indies, especially at Mona, I just kiss my teeth.  I know that gender imbalance is not a problem at the higher reaches of university administration.  Men still ‘run tings’ at the University of the West Indies.

It is true that a few token women have been appointed as administrators.  But do they really challenge patriarchy?  Or are they complicit with the system?  For example, the post of Deputy Principal seems to be reserved for women:  close enough to power but not really in the driver’s seat.

It was the calypsonian Penguin who mischievously proposed that “a deputy essential to keep you feeling vital.”  If women keep settling for deputy we will certainly ensure the continued vitality of patriarchy.   Quite frankly, I was most surprised that the female Deputy Principal who addressed the topic “The Politics and Economics of Gender in Regional Integration and Development” did not speak in any fulsome way about the gender politics of the conference itself.  But, perhaps, it was not politic to do so.

I keep wondering when the patriarchs at the University of the West Indies will relinquish their hold on power – if ever.  Mouthing gender equity and setting up a regional Institute on Gender and Development Studies is no substitute for what is actually needed:  a radical transformation of gender relations that will allow the best ‘man’ to rise to the top.  Even if it’s a woman.

Prof Simmons-McDonald, Principal of the Open Campus

An astute male colleague brought to my attention the delicious irony that only three of the four UWI Campus principals were represented on that now infamous conference flyer.  I myself was so vexed I didn’t even notice that the principal of the Open Campus, who happens to be a woman, was excluded from the portrait of the Old Boys’ Club! This speaks volumes about how the fledgling Open Campus is perceived:  decidedly peripheral.  And is it by accident or design that the most marginal (and impoverished) of the UWI campuses is headed by a woman?

Post-Commonwealth?

In my paper on “Representations of Caribbean Regional Integration in Jamaican Popular Culture” I highlighted George Lamming’s rejection of the identity of ‘West Indian’.  In The Pleasures of Exile, published in 1960, Lamming declares:   “I refrain from saying that I am from the West Indies, for it implies a British colonial limitation. I say, rather, I am from the Caribbean, hoping the picture of French and Spanish West Indies will be taken for granted.”

George Lamming

Lamming’s identification with the multi-lingual Caribbean affirms an immediate regional affiliation beyond the ironically narrow ambit of the British Commonwealth.  Emancipating himself from the mental slavery of historically defined colonialist identities, Lamming claims a new language to name himself.

Indeed, language – both literal and symbolic – is a primary means through which regional integration is manifested; for example, the language of music.  Hybrid musical forms such as socareggae, dancehall soca, chutney soca, reggaezouk, reggaeton have emerged out of the wide circulation of popular culture in the entire Caribbean region.

While academics and politicians keep on talking in circles to each other about their ‘top down’ models of regional integration, the people of the Caribbean are happily ‘wining’ to a common beat.

Whose Black History Month?

So we’re celebrating Black History Month again. Like Valentine’s Day and Halloween, Black History Month is yet another commodity we’ve imported from the United States. As Saundrie-Kay, a graduate student in history at the University of the West Indies, Mona, puts it so passionately, “From Black History Month start, a pure Martin Luther King mi a si pan my TV, enuh. Mi nah si nuh Marcus Garvey. Mi wanda a wah a gwaan enuh.”

What is ‘gwaaning’ is that it’s much easier for Jamaican society to acknowledge black history at a distance than close up. If we were really serious about excavating our own history, we would start asking ourselves all kinds of difficult questions like, “How come Jamaica’s national motto is ‘Out of Many, One People’?” On the face of it, we’re a nation of black people with a small percentage of ethnic minorities. But not in the eyes of those who conceived the motto.

You see how ‘real-real’ Jamaican black history would get us ‘inna prekeh!’ Certain ‘Out of Many, One’ people might get vexed and start demanding to know if they are not genuine Jamaicans too. Of course, they are. But they are not all that many.

They Came Before Columbus

A single month of black history is certainly not an adequate substitute for what we really need: the integration of black people’s history into the official narratives of the societies in which we find ourselves all across the globe. Indeed, black history is not just for black people. It’s world history.

Many of us still don’t know, for example, that Africans came to the Americas before Columbus. Ivan Van Sertima, a linguist and anthropologist from Guyana, wrote a brilliant book on the subject, which was published in 1976. Its subtitle is ‘The African Presence in Ancient America’. In the introduction, he tells an exciting story:

“I came across three volumes in the private library of a Princeton professor. They had been published half a century ago and their title fascinated me – ‘Africa and the Discovery of the Americas’. They represented a lifetime of dedicated scholarship by Harvard linguist Leo Wiener. Professor Wiener had been working on a grammar of American languages in the early years of this century when he stumbled upon a body of linguistic phenomena that indicated clearly to him the presence of an African and Arabic influence on some medieval Mexican and South American languages before the European contact period.”

‘Whole heap a mix-up mix-up’

But it’s not only academics who contest the myth of European ‘discovery’ of the Americas. The singers and players of instruments also tell their musical version of the truth. This semester, I’m teaching an innovative course, ‘Reggae Poetry’, in which we analyse song lyrics as literary texts.

We go right back to the roots of poetry in song. The word ‘lyric’ comes from the Greek word ‘lyre’, which is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “a stringed instrument of the harp kind, used by the Greeks for accompanying song and recitation”. Over time, the medium became the message and the name of the instrument was transferred to words of song.

One of the songwriters we’re studying is Winston ‘Burning Spear’ Rodney. A recurring theme in his repertoire is revisionist history. In ‘Columbus’, Spear rewrites the grand narrative of European conquest in a few vivid lines:

I and I all I know

I and I all I say

I and I reconsider

I and I see upfully that

Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar

Christopher Columbus is a damn blasted liar

Ah, yes, Jah, he’s a liar

He say that he is the first one

Who discover Jamaica

I and I say that

What about the Arawak Indians and the few black man

Who were down here, before him?

Burning Spear knows that Africans explored the Americas before Columbus. Having reconsidered the fraudulent colonialist history he’s been taught, Spear comes to this logical conclusion:

“A wat a whole heap a mix-up mix-up

A whole heap a ben-up, ben-up

Go ha fi straighten out!”

Tell-lie-vision

What difference could it make to African-Jamaican children to discover that their ancestors came to the Americas not only as enslaved beasts of burden but as mapmakers, explorers, engineers, architects, linguists, poets – the whole range of human capacities? Could it mean that they would no longer need to bleach their skin, vainly trying to erase the marks of servitude?

Last week, a talented young singer and songwriter, Cen’C Love, launched her first CD, Love Letters. She’s the daughter of Bunny Wailer and Afrocentric fashion designer Millie ‘Sequoia’ David. In the spirit of the black-heart man, Cen’C chants down the lies the media tell our children and she bewails the failure of parents to teach self-love:

Cen'C Love

The girl skin black and pretty ’til she reach sixteen

Find out bout the magic of the bleaching cream

Mama never teach her seh black is power

The system always show her seh black man lower

And the tell-lie-vision – pure light skin and horse hair

So she buy the weave and try fi get her skin more fair

You’re so much more than that.

Black history is so much more than a month of Martin Luther King. In Jamaica, it must mean emancipation from the twisted lies we tell ourselves about our society. And parents can’t leave it to the media to teach the children the truth. Our entire educational system must take on the responsibility of straightening out the ‘ben-up ben-up’ history we have inherited from our colonisers.

Aal bakra a no di siem bakra: Luk pan Misa Cassidy an Misa Cargill!

Frederic Cassidy; DARE websait

Frederic Cassidy an Morris Cargill a tuu bakra man we neva si ai-tu-ai.  Wen dem luk pan blak piipl kolcha iina Jamieka, a tuu difran ting dem si. Morris Cargill im did tink se im beta dan blak piipl. Puor ting. Im ful a imself.  Im a laaya an im rait fi nyuuspiepa. Im chat bout evriting aanda di son; an im neva rang.  An im neva av no rispek fi aal a di nalij we kom out a Jamieka piipl hed.

Frederic Cassidy a wan difran tuori.  Im a wan a dem uol-skuul, big-taim bukman. Plenti nalif bout fi wi Kyaribiyan kolcha, a im divel it op.  An a no ongl fi wi kolcha wan im nuo bout.  Im big an im braad.  Im a langgwij speshalis an im wok a Yuunorsiti a Wiskansn a Madisn ina di 1960’s.  Dem taim de.  An im did in chaaj a wan big stodi bout Merikan langgwij we ton iina di Dictionary of American Regional English.  Di dikshaneri a no wan suoso buk.  A nof.

Bad main

Morris Cargill; LIFE websait

Fi muor dan faati ier, Morris Cargill tek im kalam iina di bakwad Gleaner an bata dong blak piipl.  Im kudn get we wid dat iina Merika, iina Inglan ar iina eni ada konchri we dem nuo bout yuuman raits. Bot dis a Jamieka.  Dat de bad briidn kom iin laka juok.  It swiit Cargill di raid wid dong iina di grong.  Im lov fi taak bout ou wait piipl jos beta dan blak piipl. Nuo aagyument.

Cargill im dis lov fi provuok wi.  Wan taim im rait wan kalam we im kaal, “Corruption of Language is no Cultural Heritage.”  Dat no soun laik im a se blak piipl a no piipl?  An fi wi langwij, we wi uol taim piipl mek op aafa fi dem lang-taim Afrikan langgwij dem, a no langwij.  A mongki taak.

Mi beks, mi beks, mi beks so til!  Di neks wiik, mi bak-ansa im iina Gleaner: “Cho, Misa Cargill, Rispek Juu!’” An mi rait ina di sed siem langgwij im a dis.  An mi yuuz di raitn sistim we Profesa Cassidy im divelop fi di langgwij.  Aal bakra a no di siem bakra.

Nobadi no fuos im fi dwiit

Frederic Cassidy gruo op mongs blak piipl an im nuo se wi nuo ou fi dis tek wi tong mek fashin.  An im big wi op fi dat.  Im rait wan buk, Jamaica Talk:  Three Hundred Years of the English Language in Jamaica, we Instityuut a Jamieka an Macmillan ina Landan put out iina1961.

A chruu.  Di sekan paat a di taikl a di buk mek it soun laka suo-suo Ingglish im a diil wid.  Di Afrikan langgwij dem lef out.   Stik a pin.  Mi moch raada fi kaal  fi wi uona  langgwij ‘Jamiekan.’  Yu nuo siem taim se dat a Jamieka piipl langgwij. Mi no so laik ‘Kriyuol we di yuunivorsiti piipl dem kaal i.  An mi no laik ‘patwa’ we evribadi yuuz.  Stil far aal, no mata wa yu kaal i, Misa Cassidy shuo wi se fi wi langgwij gat nof Afrikan iina it.

Skuul pikni

Im an wan neks big-taim langgwij speshalist, Robert LePage, put out The Dictionary of Jamaican English ina 1967.  An aal nou, plenti piipl no nuo bout di dikshaneri chruu it did so dier.  Mi tek it pan miself fi taak tu fi piipl dem a Kiembrij Yuunivorsiti Pres bout di big prais.  An dem go roun an kom roun so til dem sel Yuunivorsiti a di Wes Indiis Pres di rait fi put out wan piepabak vorzhan.  So di dikshaneri chiip-chiip nuo.  Evri singl skuul ina Jamieka supuoz fi iebl di putThe Dictionary of Jamaican English ina di laibri.  Giv tanks!

Ful di Spies

Di die aafta Gliina poblish fi mi ansa to Cargill wikid kalam, nof piipl kyari aan bout ou dem kudn riid wa mi did rait.  Dem neva bada luk pan di eksplanieshan a di raitn sistim we mi did put iin.  So dem frostriet.  Az di wan Cargil im se fi chrai luokount di raitn, dem ‘couldn’t make head or tale of the maze of phonetics.’

Wat beks dem a wen dem si se di pikni dem neva av nuo chrobl fi ron chruu di miez.  Den riid di raitn iizi, iizi.  An dat no haad fi aandastan.  Misa Cassidy sistim mek op aafa di soun a di wod.  So aal di pikni dem du, dem yuuz dem kaman sens an figa out di foni-lukin raitn.  Hier we Mr. Anthony Sewell se.  A pyuur inspirieshan: ‘it full di spies a fi wi uona Afrikan langgwij.’ Im a puosman; an im av muor sens dan di big-taim laaya Morris Cargill.

Shuo op Ignarans

Wan a di ting mi lov bout The Dictionary of Jamaican English, it tel yu we di wod dem kom fram.  Hier ou Profesa Cassidy put it: “A word is an encyclopaedia.  It tells you about the people who use it, where they come from and what their lives are like.” [Wan wod kom iin laka wan huola ensaiklopiidya.  It tel yu bout di piipl dem we yuuz it, we dem kom fram an ou dem liv dem laif].

Plenti a fi wi Jamiekan wod dem kom schriet fram Wes Afrika. Asham.  Dat a ‘o-siam.’  A Twi, wan a di langgwij dem iina Gaana.  Go luk it op iina di dikshaneri if yu no nuo wa it miin.  Den yu maita tink se di wod ‘mirazmi’ a Afrikan.  Nuo sa!  A Latin: ‘marasmus.’  An ges wat? ‘Cashew’ kom iina Ingglish langgwij chruu Jamieka.

Profesa Devonish

Di bigtaim kanfrans pan “Language Policy in the Creole-Speaking Caribbean” we Professor Hubert Devonish kip op laas wiik:  it sel aaf.  Im a di hed a di Jamieka Langgwil Yuunit op a Yuunivorsiti a di Wes Indiis, Mona.  Im invait minista a govament, uu a sorv rait nuo an som fram lang taim abak.  An im invait reprizentitiv fram difran difran instityuushan laik edikieshan an kolcha an citizn asosieshan, an langgwij speshalist, af kuors.  Di huol a wi kom tugeda fi spred di wod bout fi powa a fi wi uona langgwij dem iina di Kyaribiyan.

Misa Cargill piipl dem se ‘ignorance is bliss.’  Wi no so fuul-fuul.  Ignarans tek fak an mek papishuo.  An ignarans tek siiryos ting mek juok.  Chruu-chruu nalij tek aaf di skin-tiit mask an shuo op di ignarans a haid aanda it.