Despite the ridiculous racist attacks coming from white gay men and lesbians, don’t even think about it (I really want to see how noted sexopinionator Dan Savage is going to dig his whiny ass out of the mess he has created.)

Read this righteous rant from Ernest Hardy, and then think again.

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I’m working through all my unopened email, and came across this. Pass it on to those interested.   Is there something you think readers should know about this group?  Do tell!

Art Competition on Hinduism in Trinidad

Radio Jaagriti and the Indo-Caribbean Cultural Council (ICC) are inviting visual artists to submit their work for an art competition on the theme of Hinduism in Trinidad.

The prize for the 1st place is $TT1500, 2nd place is $TT1000, and 3rd place is $TT500.

All contestants will be given certificates of participation. All acceptable works will be displayed in an art exhibition and featured in a Divali magazine in October 2009.

The competition is open to enthusiasts, amateurs, beginners, students and professionals. There is no fee for participation. Children under the age of 18 years must have the written consent of their parent or guardian.

Paintings must be on paper, poster-board or canvas and must have mounts to hang on a wall. They must not be laminated or covered with glass.

Paintings must be done in colour in any medium except crayons, pens, pencils and markers. These two-dimensional pieces must either be in watercolor, acrylic, pastel, paint or oil.

Each entry must be submitted with a 250-300 word description of the painting which must include a two-sentence biography of the artist.  Submissions must not be smaller than a letter-size page.

Entries must be entirely the original work of the artist. Adaptations or reproductions must not be submitted. Each artist must send no more than one entry.

Entries must be delivered to Radio Jaagriti, Corner Pasea Main Road Ext. and Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago, between the hours of 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. from November 24th to 28th 2008.

Entries will be judged on the basis of creativity, authenticity, interest and style. Decisions of the panel will be final, and no communication will be entertained about the results.

Every attempt will be made to secure these paintings but Radio Jaagriti and ICC cannot accept any responsibility for lost or damaged entries.

All efforts will be made to return works to their owners after the art exhibition.

Results of the competition will be announced by December 12th 2008.

Entry implies acceptance of all the terms and conditions stated above.

Questions about the rules of the competition should be sent to Kumar Mahabir, dmahabir@gmail.com

Dr Kumar Mahabir
Coordinator of Competition
*Indo-Caribbean Cultural Council*
10 Swami Avenue,
Don Miguel Road,
San Juan,
Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 674-6008
Tel/fax: (868) 675-7707

* *

*Radio Jaagriti 102.7 FM
Corner Pasea Main Road Ext. and
Churchill Roosevelt Highway,
Tunapuna,
Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 645-0613
(868) 663-8743

And then again…

August 31, 2008

the one thing that is certain in Jamaica is that there is no shortage of drama in the aftermath of a natural disaster. In Harbour View and elsewhere, insanity and ingenuity take comfort in each other…

According to Richard, one of the self-appointed guides at the former Harbour View bridge, “the last time the bridge had a breakaway was in 1986 and then they were able to make some money but only for a short time. “We were able to make a little money then but they quickly fixed it,” he said. “This time should be different.”

I am really just trying to figure out why the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management thinks that merely warning people to stop crossing the river will do much? Richard knows and recognizes something that ODPEM doesn’t. Maybe they should talk…

Champion Readers

August 22, 2008

This was published in the August 22, 2008 edition of the Gleaner.

Congratulations!

I echo what all the pot covers, loudspeakers, and letter writers have been shouting: congratulations to a stellar group of athletes who have brought much favour to Jamaica.

I also want to add my own suggestion to the long (and growing!) ‘to-do’ list of how we should best commemorate this historic moment.

Along with the plaques, monuments, buildings, honorary titles, parades, etc, I propose that the relevant ministries partner with private sector entities to develop a literacy campaign featuring our athletes as champion readers.

What simpler and better way to show that we are a great nation, than to demonstrate to our youth that we stand for intellectual as well as athletic excellence!

– Long Bench, longbench@gmail.com, St Ann

Sounds familiar?

August 17, 2008

When I read this article in the Observer, I wondered if it wasn’t Jamaica that Keeble McFarlane had in mind when he said the following about post-communist Russia:

“While they can vote for their leaders, they still can’t be sure of the integrity of the voting system and the arbitrary rules which favour certain people running for office at the expense of other worthy candidates. Most of all, the economic system has allowed the rapacious to make themselves very wealthy while vast numbers find themselves barely able to eke out an existence.”

Hm!

Reviving SISTREN’s legacy

August 11, 2008

Look out for, and support the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre’s new initiative in street theatre. WROC is a non-governmental organization that does some amazing work. The organization is currently led by Linnette Vassel, a feminist scholar and activist who works quite dilligently to keep the history and contributions of SISTREN alive, and who, it appears, has never forsaken her own left-of-centre politics (not like the rest of dem like di one Beverly Manley she.)

Street theatre is a form of grassroots activism which has been the basis of SISTREN’s popular and pathbreaking work in poor communities in Jamaica since its inception in the late 1970s.

Street theatre is performance-based community engagement, and is practiced around the world in a variety of ways, usually to generate dialogue and interest in issues about social justice. It is a methodology – ie. an approach to dealing with an issue – that is favoured among groups that don’t have the resources or the power to get on radio, tv and run ad campaigns to get their ideas out to the masses. In fact, these are usually the groups who are the targets of retrograde policies or are vilified in some form by the mass media. Often the messages they are spreading might seem basic, but are often quite threatening to those in power. That street theatre is ephemeral makes it an especially useful and subversive medium to deliver powerful and unpopular messages that will take on a whole other life as it is being spread by word of mouth.

SISTREN’s focus – in various shades since the 1970s – has been to provide a platform for articulating the ways in which working class Jamaican women’s daily lives were ridden through by poverty, sexism, colour prejudice, paternalism, and all kinds of violence. Today, the group continues to use theatre to make these experiences visible to women and men also helped women to recognize how they could act collectively to change their situations as individuals and members of a disadvantaged group. Not surprisingly, we don’t have a real sense of what effect SISTREN’s work has had on individual women’s (and men’s) lives beyond those involved in the project; we haven’t really bothered to ask or look into such an issue. Some of the women’s accounts are published in the book Lionheart Gal, which was brought back into circulation about three years ago. I certainly don’t know of any other grassroots activist group that has had the vision or the sheer determination to survive that SISTREN has demonstrated.

WROC is using SISTREN’s model to get women and men talking about and acting in concert with the human rights approach as it relates to women’s everyday struggles. I don’t totally agree with how and why Jamaican femocrats are defining and focusing their work so narrowly – ie. on getting Jamaica to sign on to the UN Convention to Eliminate Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). But, as there can be multiple positive effects of doing this kind of consciousness-raising work (if only folks like Glenda Simms can back off and not work so hard to contain women’s ideas and interests that don’t mesh with hers) I am still glad that something is happening.

In fact, I think that more of us who are interested in social justice issues need to take on street theatre as part of our way of getting ideas out there and people talking and taking on more progressive positions. There’s nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Street theatre is not just for or about “women’s issues”. We need folks doing theatre to address corruption, police violence, illiteracy, food and politics (e.g. chicken back and cassava), urban un-development, how art has been hijacked by elites, etc. etc. etc. You got an issue, there’s a street corner waiting for you to do something to get us talking about it.

Sand in our faces

July 18, 2008

Letter to the Editor sent July 18, 2008

NB. The Gleaner did publish the letter albeit edited. Unnu nuh see seh di dyam editor people dem change the pronoun referring to God from “she” to “he”?! Is there any gender justice in this world? [one big kiss-teeth]

Sand in our faces

Regarding the sand mining in Coral Springs, Trelawny: Ol’ time people seh tief from tief god laugh. Most assuredly, God is probably in tears, as she bears witness to the offspring of an unholy matrimony between developers and construction companies, sanctioned by privatization ideology, and officiated by the national government. For the past two decades, both parties have ruthlessly acquired, exploited and overdeveloped the physical landscape, mining the beaches, polluting the ground waters and the ocean, running our already overburdened infrastructure into the ground, creating both substandard and exclusive developments, and contributing little to the standard of living of the people on whose backs such “development” occurs: ours.

These entities have worked well together and will continue to do so, thanks to the enthusiastic support of our Prime Minister, and the stewardship of Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, whose personal and political interests are one and the same. I assume that we should be impressed by the stellar list of local millionaires involved and feel a measure of sympathy for them. Alas, Felicitas Ltd. is feeling anything but happy right now. I feel a tremendous sense of loss, but not for these actors.

Despite the flurry of activity of the high-level investigative team composed of geologists, police investigators, and other environmental specialists, the irony of this situation is not lost on most of us.
Whether the sands of Coral Springs was stolen by a construction company or appropriated by privateers for their own exclusionary means, the result is the same as it has been for years now: once again, sand has been kicked in the faces of the majority of Jamaican people who have been rendered virtually powerless to stop these folks from taking the land from beneath our feet.

P.S. A letter published in the Jamaica Observer (Sunday edition) points out, ever so politely and mathematically, that there is more than one way to approach the issue. Of course, all the focus is on finding the culprits, not addressing any the larger issues I raised in my letter. Maybe one can lead to the other, but I’m not going to hold my breath.