Sun | Jan 29, 2023

Reggae goes Grammy in Minnesota

Published:Wednesday | July 17, 2019 | 12:25 AM


Scholars at the University of Minnesota have decided to establish an International Institute for Reggae Studies. Many view this act as evidence of reggae’s global impact. But it highlights the myopia of Jamaicans.

Foreigners consistently use their foresight to appropriate Jamaican culture for economic gains. However, local writers and scholars rarely seek to leverage foreign culture for their own benefit.

Numerous universities have centres dedicated to the study of Jamaican music, but locally there is not a Jamaican expert on punk music or rock ‘n’ roll. North Americans and Europeans have no problem refining the cultural products of another country.

Yet some Jamaicans think that embracing foreign practices negates one’s Jamaican identity. As a result, many argue that they are resisting oppression by rejecting Western culture. Such a proposition is illogical because it fails to acknowledge that building on the foundations of foreign conventions does not make locals inferior.

Western Europeans, for example, have long been masters of refining external inventions superior to designs evident in the region. Westerners are aware that cultural superiority is indicated by economic and intellectual prowess and not the ability to wallow in self-pity.

But our people have been misled by pseudo-intellectuals into believing that the acceptance of a superior foreign culture is emblematic of an inferiority complex. Luckily for western Europeans, their minds were not ensnared by such nonsense. Hence they became the rulers and not the slaves.

If Jamaicans do not rid themselves of an insular and backward culture our state will never become a global power.

Lipton Matthews