This week, the Gleaner notes that Rev. Dr. Marjorie Lewis, of United Theological College – WI, offers a strong criticism – rebuke is really more apt – of PM Golding’s ass-backwards stance where he claimed that he would exclude gays and lesbian MP’s from participating in his Cabinet (on a side note, the man obviously thinks he’s going to be PM for life, you know. Why would you even make such a statement unless you had the wherewithall to make it a policy? Just saying ‘im nuh too right inna im ‘ead…). More importantly, she took the opportunity at the Diaspora conference (a gathering that has, to date, pretty much ignored and thus rubber-stamped the State’s putrid stances on homosexuality) also spoke to the implications of such arguments coming from the PM, particularly in the way that he explicitly legitimizes the exclusion and maltreatment of gays and lesbians in Jamaican life. I do love a woman who speaks her mind…ok, so this is a bit of hero-worship — I have a crush on this woman, and she clearly is deserving of such (yes, I am very choosy)! Between she and Rachel “Evie” Vernon, the big church man dem betta’ watch dem self! Change is a-coming, and while she is looking mighty fabulous, she na’a joke!

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Did he really say that?

June 21, 2008

“It is innate in us to reserve the best for visitors and treat them even better than we treat ourselves. That is why there are so few crimes against them. In our homes, we were taught at an early age to use the best china only when strangers come.” Harry Smith

If this is what is right with Jamaica, then I shudder to think of what he would say is wrong.

The “Kill Dem Wid De Polls” machine drones on. This time, we are asked to believe a recent poll’s results that Jamaicans are overwhelming in their disdain for homosexual men and women, and unfailing in their efforts to deny basic social rights to our fellow citizens. Well, what’s new here, you ask?

Oh, but there is definitely more than a glimmer of something here. Given the amazing effort devoted by press, pulpit, party and academia alike over the past several years, what should be surprising to the moral crusaders, including the PM, among us is that there are not MORE people who support their retrograde point of view that homosexuals should not be regarded as equal citizens.

Yes, 26 percent is a w’ole ‘eap in any survey researcher’s book. And that’s a cause for celebration, my fellow justice-minded Jamaicans!

If you take the margin of error seriously (that’s the amount of percentage points that the figures could increase or decrease by, given how the questions were worded), 23 – 29 percent of those coerced by the veneer of objectivity of the poll into answering poorly worded questions *still* think that the question of fair and equal treatment of homosexuals before the law deserves redress. Given the transparency of the positions taken by those who want to keep the sodomy laws and who regularly argue for more, not less, violence against homosexuals, and the disjuncture between the anti-homosexual position and the overwhelming concerns for the state and citzenry to be more proactive about dealing with violence and social decline, it is hard to ignore that the anti-homos are stagnating, stewing and even being drowned in their own hate-mongering juices.

Yes, social attitudes do catch on, and the call for a more inclusive, justice-minded, and democratic society is being reflected in greater social tolerance. Even our brilliant PM had to cede this point, although he was dumb enough to paint himself as one of the intransigents, rather than part of the vanguard. It is also highly likely the respondents are going to bring these perspectives to bear inside their families, churches or in public. So what we have here is enough commitment to ferment significant dissent. In other words, there is enough support for the idea of equal treatment before the law that such support will not wash ‘way anytime soon, and will probably continue to “contaminate” and eat away at the baldly prejudiced viewpoints and perspectives of many others.

Now, if only we could get our pollsters and spinsters to be clear and consistent in their definitions. Granted, the pollsters were obviously trying to figure out a way to distinguish between the specific attitudes about homosexuality, and respondents’ support for broader ideas around inclusion and citizenship. But, I am still waiting for a definition of the “homosexual lifestyle”, just to make sure that I am living correctly. Straight folks should try to find out an answer to this one too; just to know if ass play is the only criterion, or is there more to it.

One other moment of glee — the folks who were surveyed didn’t really agree that our esteemed PM’s grand entrance on the world stage of hypocrisy increased their support for him. Sorry, PM. You thought you could cash in some political chips with your embarrassing ignorance sung to the NIMC drumbeat. You keep showing your ass on so many other things, its only a matter of time before Jamaicans, even the bell-ringing types, see you for what you are.

So, in spite of ourselves, we show that we are not as daft or as blind or as inhumane as we are often portrayed, or even portray ourselves. And our moral crusaders can now get back to work on amping up the hate-speak and inciting us to unspeakable violence in every possible form. It’s a losing battle, so please save unnu money and bile.

Justice will not come tomorrow morning, but it will come. 26 percent and counting…

Big Up Pear Tree Grove!

June 21, 2008

The Gleaner recently featured the Pear Tree Grove Citizens’ Association, which was recognized with the Michael Manley Award for Community Self-Reliance.

I am sure there were many naysayers, but that’s just because they were used to saying no regardless of the question, and sitting down to wait for the government or someone to come rescue them, though they’d probably never been rescued before. I’d like to know what made them change their minds. We could all stand to learn from these efforts at community mobilization.

But others clearly thought differently. They knew that the hardest thing to do, but the surest way to get things going, was just to show up. And they did. Here’s to communities figuring their way out, one idea, one cement block, one post office at a time.