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Letter of the Day | Rank classism behind dancehall's rejection

Published:Thursday | December 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM


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 who turn up their noses at dancehall being at the helm of decision-making within our society. I am turned off by the fact that the who's who of government offices, private corporations, in Parliament and in 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 maybe live in a gated community and who would willingly give up their rights to the police, even though 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?


Policy & Advocacy Manager,

Equality for All Foundation

Policy Officer, WE-Change