Thursday, March 19, 2015

Food for thought

I have always been argumentative, so you make a point and my brain automatically counters. Im saying though...I feel like we perpetuate fallacies and most importantly to my detriment or that of my dreams.

Must we always reference history even though we know it is skewed? In whose interest is it to hold on to the hurt and pain of slavery? Seems to me it is easy to do as it gives us an enemy we can blame for all that is wrong.

Were there no second class citizens in Africa before the coming of the Europeans? Did contemporary African despots learn this from the Europeans? Isn't man inherently self serving and capable of injustice in the cause of his own survival?

And perhaps even more telling is that referencing the past distracts us from the current paradigm of oppression that the past itself has morphed into.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

#goodread #media #pr

I came to know of the Rubensteins while living in New York in the 90's.I always knew they were power brokers but this article gives a sense of the reach and depth of the family business. Its a good read for any practicing or aspiring journalists and communications specialists. See link here.
NB: Skip page (8) it is repeated in error.

A side of politics

The following was received via email today from the Trinidad and Tobago Bolivarian Solidarity Movement. Posting is not an endorsement of the statement but for an exposition of the tone of relations existing within our sphere as Trinidadians and Tobagonians. The letter is purported to be written by five Catholic priests one of whom is said to be a leading liberation theologian:

His Excellency President Barack Obama 
The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 March 12, 2015

 Dear President Obama, We greet you as a brother in Christ Jesus our Lord, with love and respect, in compliance with the mandate that we must love even those who behave as enemies against us. What happened to you, dear brother? What became of that brave and enlightened Obama who in 2008, and throughout his presidential campaign, talked about change, REAL change which people could believe in? You inspired hope among millions, both in the United States and around the world, including us. 

We remember opinion polls registering a dangerously significant number of African Americans not being in favor of your being elected, but not because they didn’t like you or because they didn’t agree with the things you were saying. They loved you too much. They didn’t want you to be murdered by the industrial-military-financial complex which they felt would certainly do so if you had the courage to carry through with your vision and promise to have the United States return to membership in the human community. That is, to stop the U.S. from behaving in a way that could only generate ever greater wars, to the point of wiping out our own human species. 

You personally knew that the United States was the most hated country in the history of the world for its arrogance and diabolical national objective of full spectrum dominance. Contrary to what was the case with leaders such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, who were never ever accused of being intelligent, you are clearly an intelligent person.

 Besides that, you showed signs of deeply rooted ethical and moral values and adherence to the principles and values proclaimed by Jesus and, in fact, by all great spiritual leaders of the world regardless of religion. What prompts us, dear brother, to write this letter is your extremely shameful Executive Order of March 9, 2015 declaring a National Emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela. It could not fail to remind us of a similar Order issued by Reagan more than three decades ago to grant a free hand in launching his Contra War against Nicaragua in the 1980’s. We say shameful and extremely hypocritical, but also your Executive Order is a flagrant violation of international law by constituting a threat of the use of force against Venezuela and, at the same time, serving as a stimulus to your Venezuelan lackeys to continue in their efforts to destabilize the country. 

You should know, dear brother, that in Latin America there is a growing sense of unity and solidarity in what people in the region consider to be their extended Latinamericanafrocaribbean Fatherland. While fully rejecting your arrogant and interventionist Executive Order, we entreat you to turn to Jesus, brotherhood and solidarity and to reject, once and for all, the demons of greed, war and full spectrum dominance. 

You will continue to be in our prayers for you, your loved ones, your country and our world. God’s amazing grace would not fail you, if only you do not turn your back on Him. Love and blessings, 

Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, M.M. Nicaragua Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga Brazil Ramsey Clark U.S.A. Leonardo Boff Brazil Bishop Thomas Gumbleton U.S.A Cc. Pope Francis

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Charlie Do?


I suspect for many around the world there was a period just about a couple weeks ago when we were wondering about a guy named Charlie Hebdo and why he did something that would lead to him having such a horrible ending. It was to get worse cause not only would Mr Hebdo have died alone but along with some police officers and others at an editorial meeting for a magazine in France that does something that being called satire. Many of us would not have known you can dedicate a magazine to satire if we even understand what that intellectual brand of political entertainment is and why it matters.

The history between the French and the Muslims is long and rich. It was the Arabs who introduced lavish fabrics and scents to the Europeans, it is an entrenched relationship and one on which little light is spread. This is not just true for the French and the Arabs.

Satire is defined "as the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues." Calypso is pure satire, at times. We have long understood satire here and employed its use. Examples from the recent Carnival season would be Monarch Chucky's The Rose and Heather Mcintosh's Ah Gone.

If in France your are killed for being satirical what are its costs in Trinidad and Tobago? There again lies that oblivion that had me too made a fool when first hearing of the death of or rather at Charlie Hebdo. I am a simple Black man and while that seems pejorative it also ironically not because in some sense it is true and not a judgement. Simplification is my responsibility now given the complication of things in a world where men think therefore they are.

The calypso has long been considered the diet of the ordinary people, historically that is. It came from the people. Like the satirical mag it has also always taken on targets bigger than itself so to speak, in a David and Goliath paragdigm some tellings of its genesis tell of officials supporting chantuelles to sing songs against their enemies, the calypso has long been used by the powerful too then.

Chucky won with The Rose, Devon Seale came second singing My Humble Plea. In a State run competition and with the perception that TUCO and other Carnival stakeholder groups are cap-in-hand and so subservient  I wonder what allowed the chips to fall as they did, my conditioned cynicism doesn't allow me to believe that it is that this government seems at least less sensitive or more tolerant.

Is it that we understand that satire is in some ways homage? Is it that Calypso always plays to a PNM audience anyway so why interfere with its goings ons? Was there an onus on the bards, who are governed by bards, to be true bards? Was Kurt Allen in fact the punished satirist? Was it his lyrics or the arrangement? Was Brian London's melody any more in line with an artform that has gone far (IMHO) on its adherence to tradition?

I dont have the answers. In fact there is a lot I don't know being a simple Black man, I admit, I for a while a couple weeks ago was wondering what Charlie do?

The Artist's Way


Some mornings I wake up and have to call on the Orishas because Jesus and Mary may be busy in Europe and don't have time for me and my worries down in the Islands. That may sound like a silly statement but you see, I still encounter people who tell me Christianity is the White man's religion. People still recount to me how colonisers used religion to decimate the First Peoples and control my African ancestors who came here as slaves. Its an argument I have heard in the US and here too. If I were to take it on I would be without a religion and without hope.

Most mornings I wake up I need to be empowered. After a night of rest I wake up in a generally bad mood most days: overwrought with anxieties about a lack of money, an old vehicle that isn't working well, an ageing mother, a brother who isn't working but has a kid, my feelings of loneliness as everyone else is busy with their own lives....where do I turn?

Some mornings I say The Rosary. It calms me.

This morning I turned to Ella Andall for some inspiration. The local chanteuse has a repertoire of Orisha music available on Youtube. I am no Orisha devotee but I am of African descent, at least that is how I self-indentify. It's a temporary salve though, the African rhythms of her music and the belting voice that rings and sings to the Gods of my ancestors.

Religion by nature, is about devotion though, one must be faithful, one must be a practitioner. Me waking up and calling on various deities goes against what we know religion to be. Then there is God, that single entity to which all things are traced back. To be honest I can't say that I know God. I don't know how to please, how to invoke or what are  His blessings. But for this I don't take all the blame. Maybe it is that I do know God, that I am living right despite how I may feel.

There is so much I want to do, so much I want to say but without a sense of power, a lack of support, without a foundation to stand on, a rock to build on I end up starting over every day from scratch it seems.

I am reminded of Benjai's Phenomenal. There is a line in the song where he says "Soca does give meh meh powers." That resonated with many of us. Its a strong statement that rang true for some months well. Its akin in my mind to Destra's line from Lucy "there's no place I'd rather be than in a fete having a time". It's about being in our element, that is what empowers us. So when I find myself depressed every morning I have to wonder what about my environment, immediate or otherwise, is not encouraging a feeling of well being within me.

I know I am "fearfully and wonderfully made", so says Psalms. Why do I not remember that when I wake up though? Yeah I know its not like I have mouths to feed or backs to clothe but that does not mean I am without problems. I digress but we know that parents are seen as the ones needing support cause raising children not easy especially these days with things so expensive....I hear it all the time. But what about me? Who here speaks for me? You know what I mean? I wake up in a society that do
es not acknowledge who I am. No one even wants to talk about the needs of people like me. I feel alone and that is heightened when I wake up and look around to see that all I have are the Gods they say are not mine.

This morning I wanted to feel like I was sharing something, I wanted to feel a little less alone with some of that which troubles me.