Sun | Jan 23, 2022

Is all Jamaican culture to be uncritically embraced?

Published:Tuesday | February 26, 2019 | 12:00 AM


I read the reported response of Dr Sonjah Stanley Niaah, senior lecturer in culture studies at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona to the criticism of the UWI Mona Law Society’s dancehall photographs in the lead story in Saturday’s Gleaner, February 23, 2019.

Dr. Niaah’s response has led me to reflect again on what is culture in Jamaica and our response to it. Culture is defined as the total range of ideas, beliefs, and values of a people.

Culture has positives and negatives, and it evolves. Among some peoples, human sacrifice and cannibalism were once accepted practices. They are not anymore.

There are many more cultural practices and believes which are being transformed and removed, as people become more informed and science advances, because their negative influences and impact on health, mental and physical, are being recognised.

It appears to me that in Jamaica today, we are being told from some quarters, that everything identified as Jamaican culture must be embraced wholeheartedly without critique. I disagree with this position.

Dancehall is a Jamaican cultural form. This does not mean that we should not be critical of it, pointing to its positive and negative influences. I am unapologetic in saying that I do not like some forms of dancehall which degrade women and glorify gratuitous sex and violence. Dancehall, in some forms, might reflect the underbelly of Jamaican society, which is a reality, but should we wholeheartedly and uncritically embrace and promote it? I say no.


Red Hills Gardens