Stories from Quick Reads and Caribbean
Trindadian diaspora fashion blogger, Afrobella, grew up “steeped in reggae music and [with] a love for Jamaican culture” – so why did it take her so long to actually visit the island? She's not sure she can answer that question, considering that her first impression was that “Jamaica is an intoxicatingly beautiful place with unique culture and cuisine”:
Jamaican culture is appreciated around the world, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to go there, be there, and experience the lifestyle.
That said, she has posted her Top 5 reasons to visit Jamaica. Of course her list includes things like the warm weather and ambiance of the popular vacation spot, Montego Bay – but it also waxes poetic about the country's reggae music, food and drink and – no surprise for a fashion blogger – the shopping.
Irish satirical website Waterford Whispers News certainly enjoyed the Ireland cricket teams’ victory over the West Indies on 16 February in Nelson, New Zealand:
THERE were concerns this morning among the Irish Cricket Union after the success of the Ireland team at the World Cup caused massive strain on the Irish Cricket bandwagon, leading to fears that the axles may not be fit to cope with the strain.
But for Irish fans this is no laughing matter.
What is it like to be gay in the Caribbean? The Travelling Trini occasionally gets emails from young gay Trinidadians who “have the burning desire to go abroad, travel, and see the world”. She deduces that this wanderlust stems from the fact that “the Caribbean is a incredibly homophobic place with a raging macho-man culture, and coming out is an incredibly difficult, and often dangerous, thing to do.”
The post goes on to list several songs that promoted homophobia and gay violence back in the nineties: Buju Banton's Boom Bye Bye was unsurprisingly at the top of the heap, but the blogger describes them all as “dark, violent and downright disgusting.” She asks:
Why is it not considered hate speech? Why are radio stations allowed to play it? […] The question is, why is it okay to still be so violently anti-gay in 2015?
She connects this constricted reality with the desire many gay Caribbean people have to migrate and testifies that the Far East, where she currently resides, “is a very gay friendly place, indeed”:
There are thriving gay scenes in every country, from the liberal far east to the conservative Middle East and everywhere in between.
The whole world is not straight. It never has been, and it never will be. […]
Unfortunately these liberal lifestyles are not tolerated in the Caribbean, and are in fact still criminalised under law. There is no legal protection for LGBT citizens […] just as people fought for equal rights based on race, and equal rights based on gender, the next step in our human evolution is equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation.
A beloved Bermudian political cartoonist dies after being struck by a motorist's car while on his way to deliver his latest drawing to the newspaper where he worked. The Beach Lime blog notes that “the Corporation of Hamilton speedily acted to move the pedestrian crossing away from the roundabout, in the efforts of pedestrian safety.” Still, the blogger feels that more can be done, including the installation of proper signage and lighting, and even constructing an elevated crosswalk.
In a follow-up post, he recounts his own traffic experience and predicts that if the right measures are not taken quickly, the next road fatality will be just a matter of time:
Light turns green, car in front gets ready to go, then zoom, grey hatchback runs through [the] red light.
People here just don't care, because they know there's little risk of them getting into trouble. Other motorists and pedestrians have to take evasive action. Might is right. There may be cameras at the junction (who knows?) but there's no policy or presence for these scenarios.
After one national newspaper published the contents of murdered Trinidadian attorney Dana Seetahal‘s will, public relations expert and blogger Denise Demming is more concerned that five months later, no-one has been arrested:
As the days pass and the likelihood of laying charges against the perpetrators of this crime recedes, I wonder how our first female Prime Minister feels. Is the Prime Minister now numb to the callous murders which occur daily or does she see them as just hard luck. […] Dana must not simply be another statistic. The popular view is that this was a planned hit, designed to snuff out a voice of reason.
Demming suggests that the crime was more than a murder; it was an assault on the country's democracy. She stated emphatically:
When our mistrust of the state and the institutions designed to protect us is eroded, we are near to anarchy.
The economic gap appears to be widening in Bermuda and one blogger has been paying attention. A week ago, after the Bermuda Telephone Company announced that it was considering introducing new – and more expensive – residential high speed broadband internet products and a high-end restaurant launched a $1000 per plate “private dining experience”, BeachLime.com noted that “the disconnect between big-ups and the common man remains steadily high.”
In a follow-up post at the beginning of this week, the blogger suggested that “once again, the less well off have to make up the slack.” He was referring to the government's decision to increase bus and ferry fares in an effort to take a bite out of the national debt, saying that it has “the undesired effect of targeting the people least able to handle further dents to their savings or earnings”:
Yes, on the surface it's probably not a substantial cut; a 5 dollar increase in a book of 15 tickets isn't a killer move, but when it comes to who gets to pay more, think about it. Who catches buses on a regular basis in Bermuda?
According to the blogger, the rate hike will have the greatest impact upon students, the elderly, the disabled and low income earners:
The people who are more likely to be able to afford a small dent in their earnings are the ones less likely to use that service!
Sad situation all around. Meanwhile the politicians continue to find ways to inconvenience Bermudians just a little bit more, every time.
While Trinidad and Tobago is in the midst of political woes and police try to determine the identity of the country's latest murder victim, at least one blogger thinks that mainstream media is doing its level best to ignore these pressing issues and capitalise on the pre-Carnival frenzy. (Trinidad and Tobago Carnival takes place on February 16 and 17).
aka_lol accused the leading national daily of “us[ing] its precious mind-swaying front-page to highlight a suspected personality flaw in the country’s top, home-grown, international Soca superstar, Machel Montano”:
Maybe it was because his alleged bad attitude took place at a town school fete is the reason it was given grossly exaggerated importance or some other ulterior or political motive – I don’t know. I doubt the newspaper is being paid off by some Big Men with shares and money to distract the public from the real issues that are, have always been plaguing the nation for some time […]
That Mr. Montano might be throwing temper tantrums all over the place for some very good reasons and a couple bad ones is not new, news or close to headline news. However, the discovery of a decomposing body which might be that of the missing Caribbean Airlines director is depressing and frightful thus should be fitting as a the main headline and a lifesaver given the need to alert unsuspecting visitors merrily flocking our shores for Carnival.
Christmas isn't quite over yet, but Trinidad and Tobago is already in the throes of its Carnival season – that frenetic period of masquerade, soca, celebration, creativity and revelry that some say is unmatched by any other carnival in the world.
One blogger is thrilled to bits that the much-anticipated Carnival is here again – Trinidad Carnival Diary, who takes her moniker from the festival itself. Over the years, her posts has evolved from a small mas’-lover's blog to a full-fledged website that is regarded as one of the authorities on all things Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. She's done a delightful post outlining 10 reasons people love the festival so much. It's worth a read, but to whet your appetite, it involves infectious music, an incomparable sense of freedom, lots of partying with kindred spirits, incredible costumes and a real sense of togetherness.
According to reports from Spanish newspaper El País, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH) found the government of the Dominican Republic guilty of discriminating against Haitians and descendants of Haitians born in the country in a ruling issued on Wednesday, October 22.
The CIDH, based in San José, Costa Rica, understood that the Dominican government had violated the right to nationality of hundreds of thousands of descendants of foreigners following the 2013 decision by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic declaring that all people born to immigrants who entered the country illegally since 1929 are foreigners, which affected several generations.
The CIDH ordered the Dominican government to make reparations and rescind any regulations that arbitrarily deprive a person of his or her right to a nationality.
Jamaican author Marlon James’ new novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, has been released to such fanfare that even hard-hitting literary critics cannot use enough superlatives in their reviews. Michiko Kakutani, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The New York Times, described James as a “prodigious talent”, calling the novel “epic […] sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex.”
Jamaica-based blogger Annie Paul apparently beat international mainstream media to the punch, however. In this post, Paul reveals that she kindly took down an initial interview with James so as not to “[break] the [US] national embargo on information on Brief History and its author”.
The plot of “Seven Killings” uses the real-life assassination attempt on reggae icon Bob Marley a few days before he was to perform at the free One Love Peace Concert in Kingston in December 1976, as a jumping off point from which to discuss issues of race and class in Jamaica, as well as the entangled political relationship between the United States and the Caribbean region.
In her “exclusive interview” with the author, Paul talks to James about his process, admires his seemingly effortless use of Jamaican patois “in a way that outsiders can grasp” and wonders if there might be a sequel. Read the whole interview here.