English Restoration gowns and mental slavery

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English Restoration gowns and mental slavery

Franklin
Johnston

Friday, December 13, 2019

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Miss Universe Jamaica 2019 Iana Olivia Tickle Garcia is a gorgeous, brave, smart, “out of many, one” lady; now maligned by scurrilous gossip and ignorance. This energy did not greet the “5 in 4” growth target, but there are many who thrive on negatives and snatch defeat from victory with glee, but some are misled.

Iana and her crew are pilloried for wearing a colonial, slave owner-like gown akin to Rose Hall's evil white lady, and this reward for honest effort must hurt. The “White Witch” Annie Palmer, if she existed, was never convicted in a court and, like our rapacious black criminals, is innocent until proven guilty. Hang her on social media?

This cass-cass is unnecessary as there was no sexy, murderer witch as “White Witch is a legendary story and, despite years of speculation, modern scholarship has shown the story to be untrue.” (Yates, Geoffrey S The Rose Hall Jamaica Legend)

Dr Yates says this may have started by “the strangling of Mrs Palmer at the adjacent Palmyra Estate in 1830” and the novels Zelluco and White Witch of Rose Hall finessed it. But even if the said witch existed, maligning Garcia for a lookalike gown used in the artist's impression of Annie is wrong.

Jamaica uses this to attract tourists, and it works; but not “rolling calf” legend or Nanny catching bullets in her bum, as they are nasty. Still this raises issues.

First, it proves we need good education, good history to remove ambivalence about Annie Palmer, slavery, and emancipation by reading books. Our facts are from European traders, archaeologists, files, ship manifests, travellers, writers, as Africans have not written their side of trans-Sahara, Indian Ocean or transatlantic slave trades. We can't prosper until people stop whining, accept the past is as it is, move forward and write our own glorious history.

Next, Jamaicans do not handle race issues well. We “kin teet”, but chat behind back. For decades we take massive aid from whites, yet seem angry at them; why? So white Annie, not convicted of crimes, is hated, but black convict Buju Banton is feted; racism?

Garcia wore an Annie lookalike gown and some blast her, but convicted criminal Dudus wears Prada, Nike, and all wear them gladly? Are blacks entitled to be bad, but not whites? Bob sang country songs but whites must not be in reggae Grammy; racism?

Thirdly, Garcia's Restoration design gown is not proprietary to Annie. Fashion reflects the zeitgeist in Europe, so in war apparel get tight, precise, martial, but in peace, exuberant to excess. After Charles I was beheaded, Oliver Cromwell's republic was drab, puritanical, like death to “fashionistas”; but the restoration of Charles II in 1661 saw flourescence in art, architecture, and fashion.

The “sackback” day dress — stiff corsetry, cane side hoops, and layered skirts — was hot in London and fictional Annie's embroidered in silk-best of Mayfair or copied by her black seamstress so check the V & A collections. Some free blacks owned slaves, were fashionable, and copied London and Paris couture from wives of visiting estate owners. So, today, if notorious Nikki Dread wears Moschino, Zanotti; drinks Moet and Alize, then we must never touch them — yuh mad!? Unhand Garcia, you villain!

Four, the tourist industry spent millions promoting Annie Palmer and Rose Hall. We have cashed in, so when did these serpents develop shame? Why should acts of long-dead crazy white people shame us? Shame is our ancestor's brethren who sold them without a GPS to find their way back home; and 250,000 of them here could not rise up, give 28,000 whites a “back-siding” to free themselves! Rwandan men killed one million using machetes; 200,000 a week, 40,000 a day; our cane cutter ancestors did what? Shame!

Five, Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa is Miss Universe 2019; congratulations! She is black, gorgeous, conscious, has a narrow face, high cheekbones, aquiline nose like Mom and androgynous. Her dad is typical African in physiognomy, but not her or our Garcia (no nuff derriere and flared nostrils). She speaks perfect English and could be any colour. Her people have no angst about apartheid as ours about slavery. After truth and reconciliation, former oppressors and oppressed get closer every day; is this true for Jamaica?

Six, this incident is symptom of a deeper malaise; our people are conflicted as history does not read as they would like, and Africa is silent. We are not heroes in our own story and Rose Hall, its fictional denizens are anathema to our 92.1 per cent black. We see this racism in many issues and it's alive. Cleansing fire can destroy remnants of slavery and colonialism? Why refurbish The Ward theatre? What about a ground zero of great houses, churches, hospital; will this exorcise their demons? No! Quality education can dissolve hate and resolve conflicts of heart and mind so they study war no more. People must stop looking in the rear-view mirror and forward unto growth! Stay conscious!

Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon), is a strategist and project manager; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK); and lectures in logistics and supply chain management at Mona School of Business and Management, The University of the West Indies. Send comments to the Observer or franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com.


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