Sometimes to escape the madness and the constant busyness of life, I lock myself in my room with Enya’s Greatest Hits album down low and I write. I write poetry, short stories and even start plots for novels. Sometimes I even sing. Some people take refuge in music or dance, some like me in writing, while others find the calm in visual arts.
Visual arts over the centuries have been a way of expression. Caribbean art expresses the culture and history of the people. The fact that some artists paint, draw and sculpt aspects of the Caribbean culture, some without even giving it a second thought, just proves how deep our history has been etched in our brains that it reflects in our thoughts and actions.
A field trip to the National Gallery here in Jamaica opened my eyes to this. The Gallery was divided into separate centuries, with each art piece being represented by a century. Each piece told a story of what was happening in Jamaica during those years.
A particular piece that I found quite interesting was one done by Edna Manley during the twentieth century. The sculpture represents the black community pushing down with strong hands on negativity and oppression and the head is turned up, which is interpreted as “looking up in order to better ones self.” This piece reflects what living in Jamaica was like at a time when we were getting ready for independence and the effects afterwards.
Visual art isn’t just a drawing on paper or a painting on a canvas, it tells a story and sometimes tells history.
http://nationalgalleryofjamaica.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/negro-aroused-reinstalled-1-cropped-2.jpg (2010) (Retrieved March 29, 2012)
Have you ever been asked to do a house hold chore and wondered if you were asked only because of your gender. Or have you ever arrived home from school and expressed just how hungry you were, yet your mother chose to serve your father or step father’s dinner first whether or not he was actually at home? Gender Roles affects everybody, whether you were born male or female.
Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. (2012)(Retrieved March 22, 2012 from http://www.who.int/gender/whatisgender/en/) “It is apparent that the Mass Media portrays men and women differently.” (Nicholson, p.19, 1995). A few years ago I would have agreed with this statement. These days the media is possibly the greatest influence in enforcing equality between males and females. Movies and advertisements these days no longer portray women as the damsel in distress needing a man to come and save her. Women are seen as independent, heads of the household and even bread winners and men are seen helping with house hold chores and doing jobs which were once seen as “girly” or “feminine”. In a popular TV series Desperate Housewives, despite the irony of the title the show is actually one which shows women and men from all different walks of life and backgrounds who are not confined to the gender roles which society wants to prescribe to them.
Society is slowly but surely removing the brands which were ascribed to us simply because of the gender we were born.
I’ve heard many people make the statement that dancehall music has a negative effect on youths. What exactly is meant by this? Dancehall has a negative effect on youth’s self esteem; on their school work? As it relates to violence?
Whatever the theory, I am here to dispel this ridiculous accusation on this very diverse and energetic genre.
Dancehall music sprung for a merge of Dub and Reggae and gained popularity in the 1970’s (2010) (Retrieved March 15, 2012, from http://www.dubandreggae.com/dancehall/history-of-dancehall-music.) People worldwide enjoy dancehall music as it is a very popular genre. Dancehall music is filled with lyrics of partying, love making and the occasional “lyrical murdering” of artists. In other words, just as with most music genres, dancehall is full of energy and versatility and the lyrics comprise of people’s day to day activities. They explain the simple actions people use to “pass time” and escape boredom.
To say that Dancehall music has negative effects on youths is to imply that dancehall music is only and can only be negative. Seen as though there are ‘positive’ dancehall songs available for purchase, download and airplay, I don’t see how this statement is accurate. Now I’m not sure about anyone else but I have never heard of a criminal being arrested and during their confession they stated that “A Vybz Kartel song made me go out and kill people.” Or that a dancehall song “made me to do it.” Bottom line is music is an expression of the heart and mind and cannot be held responsible for any actions of the listener.
“When we realise there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise” (C. Adichie, 2009). A ‘single story’ is the misinterpretation or the misinformation of a place, a set of people or a thing. Chimandad Adichie disclosed in a lecture I watched recently, that she had a single story of characters in books. All the characters in the books she read as a child had very set physical characteristics: blonde and blue eyed, and because of this she too as a child began writing with all her characters having the same physical characteristics. This was her single story, and this perception limited her imagination as a child to the possibilities of having characters who were physically different from the ones she had read about.
Children aren’t the only ones with single stories. Adichie also gave an account of a professor she had in college having a single story of Nigeria. He told her the characters in her book were “too much like me” and lacked African authenticity. Because of his single story of Africa, he could not imagine the characters in her story going living similar lives to him.
We all have a single story. Whether it is of a country, a continent, or even a set of people and the media helps build the foundations of these single stories. Single stories limit imagination and blocks possibilities. A world full of single stories is a dull world. What will you do to change the ending of your single story?
C. Adichie (2009). The Danger of a Single Story.