One of the things that I had / have noticed about being an immigrant to Canada is their need to make sure that I understand my place. It has been so since I arrived in 1976 and 40 years later in 2016, that is the same expectation.
As is our nature we come here trying to fit in and be law abiding citizens yet the undercurrent of white supremacy is a constant in all aspects of our lives. My impression is that “they” expect me to come here and to serve white Canadians, get along, fit in and don’t make waves. For instance this racist country is still trying to card black lions. Carding! Where a person who is deemed a threat or more accurately who is deemed inferior can be reminded of their place and be subjected to the degradation of being carded. “They” supposedly have a greater threat based on their racist views towards Muslims yet they still card black lions.
Then of course they deny it all with a smile and tell me all of this is my own perception and that it isn’t real and that I have “a chip on my shoulder”. Hahahahahahahaaaa! What they are really saying then, now and tomorrow is that they do not have any care for what bothers you. “Just fit in and get along and you’ll be fine immigrant!”
I discard them as they discard me!
Just last year a white city councillor Mary Margret McMahon decided to block the success of Afrofest and the mayor nor the prime minister probably had no clue or care of what was happening. We can always blame that racist white woman yet her orders do come from above. Whoever “above” is! The only reason why she didn’t get her own way is because of the heavy backlash of emails and phone calls to her and the mayor’s office. One single white woman has the power over 60,000 Afrofest goers. 60,000 – 1. It probably took another 100,000 emails to pressure their overt racism back into a closet.
They do NOT set my standards for me and as a Jamaican born person I will not bow to racist crap that stretches all the way to the Prime Minister’s office! It is not our nature to bow! The defiance that comes through our native music speaks of inequality worldwide, with no apology to anyone and that has always been the base / bass truth that reggae music brings. How can I be less when the music creates such mountain-moving truths as well as Lions and Lionesses performing, writing and saying these truths? A reggae soldier cannot bow!
So for the other new Canadians that read this, you are now aware that I know about what we all face yet am also exceedingly grateful for my life in this country and an ability to speak openly about the deep racism that permeates throughout the entire society and through discussion / writing I may one day be able to effect some changes to these naturally and intentionally, deliberately racist people. I am also well proud of MANY things Canadian and even with their apartheid like policies, I find myself being proud to be a Canadian. Might be the same syndrome that abused children go through with a need to love the abusing parent? Who knows? But I do love being Canadian and have great pride in presenting the music, reggae music made by Canadians.
How many times has a white Canadian said, “Man I’m tired of speaking about racism.”? What that really means is that they are aware of their position of privilege that they have no intentions of giving up as well as a wonderment as to why we black lions just don’t come to grips with our place and get over it already. Colin Kaepernik in the US is speaking openly about his country’s murderous habit of downing black lions and ignorant, racist rednecks are actually buying his jersey (putting MILLIONS into his pocket) then burning said jersey because they do not care what the white supremacists do to black people, just bow your head to an anthem that glorifies slavery!
The same redneck mentality is also right here in Canada and too many of you reggae practitioners are trying to make it in a system that neither acknowledges you as artists or even as people for that matter.
This is and has always been the dragon to slay for us reggae lovers.
I must also acknowledge the deep rooted crab-in-a-barrel mentality by many within the genre itself. A bigger hurdle to me and some are the people within this industry who act like “reggae stars” and have no music making them any money anywhere in the world yet walk around with all kinds of attitude. There is a divisive, cut throat vibe from artists to artist, from artist to promoters, from promoters to artists, from band to other bands and EVERYONE has some ‘solution’ and can tell you who is to blame for their problems. The fact is, some of the talent is real and of a very high quality and much of it is mediocre or less than mediocre and those ones blame everyone else for their demise and claim lack of support.
Reggae a real ting people. It nuh powder none a wi an’ me nah powder nobody. Some of the main complainers will not accept the fact that they cannot make the grade because dem nuh good! As much as there is a system in place to block reggae growth in Canada, some of the so called artists need to stop. As a youth in Jamaica and probably even today, artists getting on stage with talent are greatly appreciloved and honored. Those with limited to no talent do not go on stages in Jamaica because the restless crowd will not sit / stand though mediocre shit! They will throw beer bottles and stones at the performer on stage with every intention of hurting them. Because of horseshit political correctness, we are more ‘civilized’ here in Canada and many of us politely watch poor talent open up for bigger acts at MANY shows!
We must find a better judging system here in Canada.
On the same vibe there has to be some level of trust built among ourselves to create an effective infrastructure to filter the talented ones though our own system and export reggae music from the North around the globe so wi haffe drop de baggage. Canada has no unique sound like Jamaica or England does and we do have the talent for it here.
Yet knowing this and witnessing it directly for 40 years now does not deter me in the least bit. Reggae music has no boundaries. We humans do create boxes, lines and boundaries but reggae does not. So as I have said before, I follow the music now. When I let go of my anger and frustration go and listen to the music and feel its beautiful force and energy, I know that I am on the right path.
Follow websites like CRW and www.torontoreggae.ca for upcoming shows, artist features and reggae information and continue to build our own vibe and energy.