Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rastafari and Resistance (Giving thanks to Horace Campbell for the title)

The past few weeks since I last blogged have been beautifully busy...Beauty & Business...beauty in the business being handled. (Sigh) I digress.  What I mean by this is I've been flanked by guests for the past 3 weeks- an old friend, my sister, Darise,  and Negasi's Dad once more.  Also, research has been moving along in a "healthy" manner.  I've begun a second course related to my work here in Jamaica entitled Rastafari in the Global Context, and with each Rastafarian artist I meet and interview I am introduced to at least another.  Good stuff.

Negasi and I sealed this past weekend up by attending the Rastafari Youth Initiative Council's monthly general meeting, which was held in the community of Shanti Town in Linstead, St. Catherine this month.  A group of close to 20 RYIC members all boarded a chartered bus this Sunday leaving from Country Farmhouse in Vineyard Town heading to Linstead.  We hadn't made it far before the bus was pulled over for a "routine" stop by armed policemen. The stop was made in downtown Kingston close to Coronation Market ( I am uncertain of the exact road we were on when stopped.)  Upon being stopped the driver paused the music of the Nyabinghi drums and Rasta chanting that played from a CD provided by one of the members.  After reviewing the driver's documentation, the police officer decided to issue a ticket to our driver for failure to wear a seat belt and for not having a badge, which I believe is a requirement for drivers of coaster buses in Jamaica.  In the ten to fifteen minutes it took the police officer to contemplate whether or not he even felt like issuing a ticket, then actually write the ticket for our driver, some members on the bus began to chant [down Babylon.]  Watching as the police officer began to catch on to the words of the chant and quickly become incensed, I became uncertain as to how the whole ordeal would end.  It wasn't long before we were all ordered off the bus for a "routine" search.  So, with Negasi asleep in my arms, I disembarked with the others to allow the police officers to "do their job" (of disrupting a busload of peaceful individuals who, on that very afternoon, were headed to carry out the urgent task of empowering and mobilizing Jamaica's marginalized communities.)  What ensued was a blatant act of discrimination against Rastafari- threats to arrest, accusations made by the officers of possession of ganja, and, of course the knowledge that a busload of Christian churchgoers would not have been dealt with in the same manner.  To make a long story short opinions (stereotypes) were exchanged, voices raised, and warnings issued (one of the officers warned that my taping of the ordeal was an offense- he'd do well in the NYPD! :D) before we were allowed to enter the bus again and continue on our journey...

Intimidating, no?
Outside of the bus after being ordered off to allow for a search. Nothing was found.

Police officer as he searches ones' belongings left inside the bus. 

View video of part of the whole exchange below.  Followers, PLEASE post feedforward on the issues that arise in this video, spoken and unspoken, into the "comments" section of this post.  


Anyway, a little negativity couldn't sabotage what we set out to do.  The meeting was an immense success, positive vibes all around.  Issues such as the dangers of medical vaccinations that we are often required to give our children, the importance of eating ital, repatriation and reparations were addressed. Ras Tyehimba of RastafariSpeaks.com was the guest speaker for the meeting.  Here is a group photo of the gathering. 

PEACE & One Perfect LOVE, always...

1 comment:

  1. Can you say awkward? Or how about downright disrespectful? Imposition of one's right to practice whichever belief system one pleases is a pervasive injustice in our society. I'm alarmed but not surprised at how close JA police come to crossing the line of ignorance. From your video, it's clear that the officer didn't stand a chance at a confrontation of the mind and that is why he holds a machine gun. During my trip I was disappointed in how much misunderstanding there is about Rastafari. I expected folks in JA to know more, respect more, not be so negative in their judgment about it. Continue to enlighten those who wallow in darkness.