Letters to the Editor

Krystal Tomlinson did nothing wrong!

Friday, July 20, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Motivational speaker, entrepreneur and media personality Krystal Tomlinson has been the topic of discussion over the past few days in the media. It is not because of her lovely Good Gas Monday sessions, her business acumen, or the fact that her make-up is always on point. The influencer recently announced that she is expecting her first child. And while most of her supporters gave their congratulations, many were quick to pass condemnation, shedding light once again on not only Jamaica's sexist and misogynistic culture, but also its blatant classism.

Not surprisingly, it is quite easy to highlight Jamaica's strong problematic views about women in how they talk about Krystal. However, I do not think we talk enough about the classist undertones surrounding her pregnancy.

The fact is that, while sexism and misogyny affect all classes of women, we don't treat all women the same, and we don't have to the same expectations of all women. We lump different groups of women into “decent” and “ghetto” categories and project problematic expectations accordingly.

Although it happens a lot in Jamaica, we see it more glaringly in other countries where actions taken by black women are considered crass while the same actions done by white women are acceptable. In the case of Krystal, the class issue is more prevalent.

The problem surrounding Krystal's pregnancy has a lot to do with her supposedly falling short of the classist expectations projected on to her. Certainly, this must be the reason why Shawna Kay Williams-Pinnock felt so emboldened to pen a letter to the editor, printed in the Jamaica Observer on Monday, July 16, 2018, entitled 'We held you to a different standard, Krystal'. One must ask what are these standards, who created them, and do we apply the same measurement to everyone, or are there different standards to which we hold different women?

The answer to this last question is obvious. Had Krystal been a Grace Hamilton or a 1990s Marion Hall, the hoorah around her pregnancy would not be happening because we generally do not care about the poor or their actions. But we become agitated when the highly respected act in ways that blur the lines between the rich and the poor, which we cannot allow.

Krystal did nothing wrong. The problem lies in how we have allowed classism to invade our thinking and how we have managed to police people in ways that ensure that a classist system remains intact.

It also has a lot to do with who the father of her unborn baby is. How can nice, 'decent' Krystal ended up getting pregnant for a “nappy head dancehall artiste”? And, worse, she's not even married. She's just another babymother — as if anything is wrong with being just that. To them, she's now too much like what they foolishly equate with women from low socio-economic communities. Surely, had the father of her baby been a rich, white man the reaction would be different. Perhaps this is also an issue of race.

One may argue that her partner is rich, but if what happened to millionaire Usain Bolt a few years ago after he moved into an uptown neighbourhood only to be told to return from whence he came has taught us anything, it is that no amount of money can change the status of someone born and raised in a poor, black, inner-city or rural community. And so, while he may still boast the title of 'King of the Dancehall', in the eyes of Jamaican elite his status does not move beyond the confines of the dancehall or the ghetto.

This is a sad and unfortunate reality that is perpetuated not only by those who have power, but also by the people whom that power manipulates.

A few days ago Krystal shared that she heard her baby's heartbeat and how happy she and her partner were. It is disheartening that we have allowed sexism and classism to overshadow these glorious moments.

Jamaica, neither Krystal nor her partner is the problem; the problem is us.

Dervin Osbourne

osbournedervin@gmail.com

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