Said by Marcus Garvey, this quote has been used and used time and again urging people of African heritage to stand up for their race. Yet, everywhere you turn you can see how Jamaicans are drowning in the ill teachings of our European masters so long ago. From bleaching and speech to the mere straightening of hair and even as drastic as surgery; black people seem to be more and more driven to the ‘white side of life’. Also from our music and dance to our religious and family life; we are being dictated to about what is accepted.
Looking back we can clearly see the levels of dehumanization the Africans had to go through to become slaves. We were seasoned – tortured until we believed in the ways of the European. Stripped of our thoughts, culture, rituals and language we were forced to create new ways of retaining ourselves. But these things could not be passed on to the generations ahead since the masters separated us as if we were animals to be sold. Actually, that was how we were treated. Fathers being taken from their children and wives to ‘breed’ the women of another plantation became the norm it seems. That must be the only explanation for the fact that men’s accomplishments are having many women and children all about the place. So too, the mothers encouraging the same behaviour of their boys; insisting they have many girls, yet deny the ownership of the child. “Nuff Gyal” by Beenie Man emulates this very situation. Women are seen as trophies and accumulating many – big bootied, large breasted, brown skinned white-woman-gorgeous – trophies was a good thing.
In the same vein, this seasoning taught that colour gave power. Whites were superior and blacks inferior and there was no in between. Until there was an in between. Slave masters – and some of their wives – engaged in the pleasures of intercourse with slaves. Of those who were brave enough to keep the fruits of their conquest, made them house slaves; giving them preference over the darker of the slaves. So now, there is a natural, instilled fear of those with a lighter complexion. They are seen as the richer of the land and the more intelligent. But even when that isn’t the case, those of a lighter race are seen as beautiful. This cases the phenomenon now known as bleaching; the stripping of the skin’s colour to become of a lighter complexion, even when told about the side effects. The darker of our artistes (most of them) speak of poverty, violent crime and the loads of women they have/the kind of sex they want. The lighter of them mostly speak of love and change (even if they mention poverty). No matter how American some these artistes may sound, if your complexion doesn’t fit the lyrics, you find your career may be short.
The most despicable of all the artistes Jamaica has produced has to be that of Vybz Kartel. With all the talk of black being beautiful going around, one would think this public figure would encourage acceptance and love of one’s complexion. But instead, he goes and changes his entire body’s colour for reasons still unknown. Such a huge influence on the country and he then goes as far as doing a sing insisting that his skin is pretty:
Garvey himself would remove his eyes to stop the sight of this destruction. Though many rather not admit it; we are a backwards country. It proves to be a good and bad thing, with its bad being that our country is still enslaved.