Rank clas­sism be­hind dance­hall’s re­jec­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -


DANCE­HALL IS not go­ing any­where. It has a fixed and rel­e­vant place within the Ja­maican so­ci­ety, econ­omy and cul­ture. It presents an op­por­tu­nity for ad­vance­ment, en­ter­tain­ment and com­mu­nity development in many spa­ces within the Ja­maican so­ci­ety.

I am tired of those at the helm of de­ci­sion­mak­ing within our so­ci­ety who turn up their noses at dance­hall. I am turned off by the fact that the who’s who of govern­ment of­fices, pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions, our Par­lia­ment and our courts fail to recog­nise the in­her­ent value of dance­hall.

Dance­hall is an in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised, Ja­maican-bred genre of mu­sic which, for many, il­lus­trates the truth of their lived re­al­i­ties. That there are some per­sons, specif­i­cally the Ja­maica Coali­tion for a Healthy So­ci­ety, who are of­fended by a beau­ti­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Ja­maican re­al­i­ties be­ing on the cover of a Ja­maican tele­phone book se­ri­ously con­cerns me.

I have seen enough cov­ers with high-rise build­ings and ran­dom faces of em­ploy­able Ja­maicans, and so I was pleased to see that fi­nally dance­hall and its cul­ture were be­ing rep­re­sented in that form.

This is un­doubt­edly an is­sue of class. I am not greatly sur­prised by the at­ti­tudes of what the Twit­ter com­mu­nity calls ‘Alien Ja­maicans’. These are the Ja­maicans who don’t be­lieve Pa­tois should be a recog­nised lan­guage, who per­haps live in a gated com­mu­nity and who would will­ingly give up their rights to the po­lice be­cause the po­lice have never kicked in their doors and shot their rel­a­tives with­out just cause.

Alien Ja­maicans are those with priv­i­lege who, even though they em­ploy ‘ghetto peo­ple’ – the per­sons largely rep­re­sented in and as­so­ci­ated with dance­hall mu­sic – in their bou­tiques, con­ve­nience stores, of­fices and homes as do­mes­tic work­ers, frown upon the cul­ture of the peo­ple who fa­cil­i­tate their en­rich­ment.


To those priv­i­leged Ja­maicans, I ask: How do you ben­e­fit from a so­ci­ety with a large pop­u­la­tion of poor peo­ple and then turn around tell them that their cul­ture is not good enough to be seen? ‘Ghetto peo­ple’ are the con­sumers of your im­ported goods, the driv­ers of your econ­omy and the peo­ple who bor­row your money to achieve life goals. They are the ‘vi­brant peo­ple’ that our tourism ad­ver­tise­ments speak about, not so much you. So how is it then that pic­tures of you may be rep­re­sented in me­dia, but not pic­tures of dance­hall cul­ture? GLENROY MURRAY Pol­icy & Ad­vo­cacy Man­ager, Equal­ity for All Foun­da­tion Pol­icy Of­fi­cer, WE-Change

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