December 18, 2006

Things I Need to Know: Mikey Jiggs

Mikey Jiggs, who has produced a dub-u-mentary on Malachi Smith*, sent this e-mail, and as I read the questions, I felt that the answers should come from multiple perspectives.

I am inviting everyone in the community (i.e. anyone who reads this blog) to join the conversation. And please don’t be intimidated by the captchas. I’ve had to put them in because as the site has grown in popularity, certain e-tailers specializing in Caribbean cruises or anything Caribbean (I won’t mention the others) have decided to post comments (usually between 1 and 6 pm) that have nothing to do with the aims of this site.

So, just drop in as Anonymous (if you’d like) and leave a comment or two.

Subject: Things I need to Know

Geoffrey & Malachi, you are the writers. These are things that keep haunting me, even more, as I approach middle age and beyond.

Why do we allow others to define us?
Why are we still thinking as if we are on a plantation and have to wait for others to do/think for us?
What are the innovations that we as Caribbean people given to the world--those we still own?
Are Reggae and Calypso (steel pan) our only real contributions to the twentieth century?
Why are we so afraid to break the away from our colonial past?
Why aren't Caribbean people looking ahead? Why are we so insular when we should be thinking globally?

I agonize over the box we place ourselves in each day and I am sometimes afraid of where we are as a people.

Do we have to wait for others to continue to tell us who we should be? It’s been a while.

Still waiting.

There are more questions than answers.

As far as I can recall, several writers (Williams, Braithwaite) have considered these questions. If either of you are aware of any published works that has addressed them significantly let me know.

Please help me with this.

Reggae Concepts
P.O. Box 998
Owings Mills, Maryland 21117


Anonymous said...

Why do we allow others to define us?
For me, others is pretty wide. Could be non-writers, foreigners, white people. I come from southern Africa, so I'll consider it to be white people.

I'm not sure why we do, whether we have a choice or not in the matter, but yes, it's a common trait among non-wielders of power.

To turn that around, I think wielders of power really snatched away our souls by getting us to believe that they were the ideal everyone had to strive for. And what do you know, we believed them, and tried to emulate them in many ways, including speech, religion, down to clothing.

I hope I can make it back for some of the other questions, all of which are very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Interesting self dialogue. Marcus Garvey, perhaps more than anyone else,
contemplated these very questions and wrote prolifically about us. You should
start by reading Garvey, Rodney, Michael Manley, in adition to Williams, Kamau, then read other contemporary writers like Lamming.

I read a book recently recently by Don Antonio Interview with Soldier Danny. You should also try and read this book. You have to remember, too, that we have never just accepted our lot. We have always struggled, sometimes violently, from Haiti to just about every island in the Caribbean, to rid ourselves of the vestiges of colonization.

I would submit that we have come a long way, and in the process have forced our
former masters to sit with us at their table. We have also created our voices,
true old pirates for the most part control it, but with the new enlightenment of scholars like Dr. Nurse, we are on our way to standing firm "in a dis yah time."

Geoffrey Philp said...

Dear Rethabile,
Thanks for broadening the discussion to include the African diaspora. It will be interesting to see what develops from this.

Malachi, yes. Dr Nurse's ideas are very exciting and I hope to learn more from him.

I would just like to re-introduce a concept that I mentioned in _Benjamin, my son_: "learned helplessness." You can read more about it here:

One of the interesting developments from subsequent studies among primates was that even when the "victim" had been removed and the others in the group did not suffer directly the trauma, they sought to "protect" newcomers from suffering the same fate. Thus, the behavior that was inflicted on a minority within one generation was passed on, "learned," by the following generation.

What's the point of this? That if we don't question why we do things we will continue repeating blindly the unquestioned "values" of the previous generation--values that no longer serve the younger generation.

Also, our parents and social organizations that seek to "protect" us without first asking themselves what they are protecting us from--even when they are well-meaning and "protecting" us out of love--may not be acting in our best interests or the long-term best interests of our social groups.

BTW, I'm back from Tallahassee, Florida.

One Love,

Geoffrey Philp said...

Dear All,
I also ran across this interesting post:

which should also sound alarms in view of the flight of the "creative class" to which Francis Wade alluded