Sun | Aug 19, 2018

Former Dancehall Queen reveals painful life story in new book ...Speaks about picking up the pieces after prison

Published:Monday | January 1, 2018 | 12:02 AMSimone Morgan-Lindo
Tina Chin
Tina Chin
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United States based social media blogger and humanitarian Tina Chin has recently added the title of writer to her resume.

The Jamaican born Chin whose given name is Marian Walters, recently released her book called 'A Wretch Like Me'.

In the semi autobiography released on October 2, she gave readers an insight of her life including her many triumphs and struggles.

According to Walters, her memoir that has already sold over 1,000 copies, is unfiltered and realistic. The sales she said has gone way beyond her expectations as she factored in the Caribbean market.

"My book is about a woman who discovered herself through some tough lessons and of course redemption. I spared nothing because a memoir should read as reality," she said.

"I wrote candidly and in great details about my sex life which most Caribbean women might view as taboo, and how these sexual partners influenced my decisions in my then life. They subsequently led to me making some very wrong decisions. The greatest of which was my incarceration for cocaine smuggling in the British Virgin Islands. I wasn't concerned with what people might think about me while reading, or after they've read. I figured that in order to learn from another person's mistakes, the message has to be relatable," she said.

Walters says the book's title was heavily influenced by the famous hymn, Amazing Grace.

"While incarcerated back in Tortola, BVI, it became one of my favorite hymns. It helped me to reflect on God saving me from what was pending ( the unknown). It spoke to the life I was living prior to my imprisonment," she said.

After migrating from Jamaica to the United States in the early 1990s, Walters settled in Massachusetts.

"Back then, Dorchester was predominantly black. This included a small population of Caribbean nationals, most of who were Jamaicans. The dancehall side of me never left because Massachusetts was cold, boring and foreign, so I gravitated to wherever anything Jamaican was....keeping my love for the genre alive in my bones. Dancing and dancehall never left as I use to party a lot in Jamaica..especially when I stayed briefly in Tel Avil/Southside area of Kingston," she said.

Chin followed up the Dorchester scene until she entered and won a dancehall queen competition in 1996. The dancehall life was only temporary because although listed as the most rebellious in her family, getting a solid education was important to her.

During high school, Walters said she developed a passion for writing, a skill that would eventually help her during her incarceration.

"To pass time on the inside I wrote and read to keep my mind active. It was a letter I wrote to the high court of Tortola, which eventually helped with my appeal and subsequently my release from prison," she said.

Chin tells The Gleaner, that she began jotting down notes in prison, but had no intention of writing a book. Upon her release in 2011, she said she was faced with stigmatization, embarrasement and degrading rumors.

"I saw the interest in my life and my story, so I figured, why not write a book and tell folks what really happened. They were trying very hard to use these solaceous rumors to silence and send me packing out of shame from social media, but I refused to be broken. I am still bashed online because of my past, but that is what it is...my past," she said.

Still on the topic of her incarceration, Walters described it as a very painful and embarrassing learning experience.

Today, in addition to marketing her book, she is fully focused on her blog and her Blog Eye Charity that was started almost three years ago.

"My plans for the foundation is to get it more recognizable outside of the diaspora. I'm just one person running this entire operation and with so many other projects that I'm working on, it does become overwhelming. I recall my days of having nothing because I did lose it all while incarcerated and remember quite well how weak I felt. So many folks from the Caribbean, mainly Jamaica are still seeking my help, but because of the actions of some very evil people, I decided to put the assisting on pause until I work out certain kinks. It hurts to sit and watch these persons fight against what's there to improve the life of people who need the help," she said.

Among her highlights is the story of Fortella Pickersgill, who, along with her family, was living under a tarpaulin in Jamaica. Pickersgill and her family were later given assistance from Jamaicans living abroad, locals and the government.

The burial of Kameisha Butler, was one of my most memorable campaigns. Then I had to deal with the devastating news of Oneisha Butler's murder back August. Three wreaths were were sent to her funeral on behalf of the Tina Chin foundation. Working with single mothers like Sophia back in December 2014 with her 12 children also comes to mind..back to school assistance for Students like Otarie who passed his Exams for Knox College.....I would like to continue doing things of these nature, so building my foundation will continue to be of importance. My platform is known for charity," she said.