Can we all just get along?


Sunday, February 05, 2012

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RECEIVED a rather large file via e-mail from the Institute of Jamaica of a poster advertising the Jamaica Music Museum's events for February — 'Reggae Month Grounation 2012'. Just so that you know, the lecture hall at the Institute of Jamaica will have a special lecture every Sunday on an aspect of Jamaican music.

Today's lecture, presented by Herbie Miller, is entitled 'Sounds of the plantocracy, resistance and freedom in the music of the Wailers'; next week Kay Osborne will discuss musical legend Bob Andy; The Songs of Federation and Jamaican Independence is after, and the last will be something called 'Black Ark Miracle in the Hometown Space Odyssey'. An interesting way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

February, as you know, is officially designated Reggae Month, and in tribute to reggae music icon Bob Marley, who would have turned 67 this month, many celebrations are being held across the island to honour the musical legend. February is also designated Black History Month internationally and the Universal Negro Improvement Association also has a calendar of events planned which feature African fare and film and a Marcus Garvey Fair and symposium (see

Since 1976, Black History Month has been observed annually in the US (where it is also referred to as African American History Month) and Canada, to celebrate the history of the African diaspora in countries outside of Africa. It began as Negro History Week by US historian Carter G Woodson to educate the American people about African-American history and to promote awareness of the achievements of African Americans to the general public.

While there are those who question the benefits of this annual observance which uses the shortest month of the year to celebrate black history and ignores that history for the remaining 11 months of the year, the success of Woodson's effort is realised in the extent to which African-American history is taught to thousands of students at the elementary, high school and university levels today.

We in Jamaica are fortunate in that we spread our celebrations throughout the year — our culture at Pantomime in December and January, our National heroes in October, our independence and emancipation in July, and dem woulda kill the pickney dem with the social studies GSAT curriculum which demands that they know every intimate detail of each and every one of our national heroes, sporting legacies, politicians, musicians, artists and artisans, and the like.

The point is that the history and achievements of our forefathers and heroes are often and faithfully trotted out in media on a regular basis, and our Jamaican superstars all over the world make international news (good and bad) on a regular basis, and so it is no wonder that our observance of Black History Month is slowly morphing into more of a 'Cultural and Musical History Month' while the usefulness of dedicating a month to the history of one race is being debated.

Perhaps what we really need to do during the month of February is to celebrate the varying shades of blackness that make up our Jamaican people. Where we really honour our national motto: 'Out of Many, One People'.

So may I suggest that we put to rest, for this month, the festering debate about the browning of our page twos and fives and instead celebrate our own rainbow of blackness: the 50/50s, the AfroAsians, the Afroindipean, the Afropeans, the Beiges, the roast breadfruits, the biethnics, Blackinese, Blasian, Blinks, Café Au Lait, Cookies and Cream, Dalmations, Douglas, EurAsians, German Chocolates, High Yellows, the Mambos, Morenos, Mulattanese, Mustifees, Redbones, and White Chocolates that make all of us one Jamaican.

And let's all try to get along.




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