All posts by Opal Palmer Adisa

Diverse and multi-genre, Opal Palmer Adisa, is an exceptional talent, nurtured on cane-sap and the oceanic breeze of Jamaica. Writer of both poetry and prose, photographer, curator, professor, educator and cultural activist, Adisa has lectured and read her work throughout the United States, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Germany, England and Prague, and has performed in Italy and Bosnia. An award-winning poet and prose writer Adisa has fourteen titles to her credit, including the novel, It Begins With Tears (1997), which Rick Ayers proclaimed as one of the most motivational works for young adults.

Providing Creative Outlets for Our Children*

On April 20,  the National Child Month Committee launched its theme and program for May, Child’s month.  The theme this year is: “Listen Up ! Children’s Voice Matter. Given a common maxim in Jamaica, “children must be seen and not heard,” that some parents,  teachers and other adults use to measure a child’s behaviour, this theme is relevant and timely.

Some adults still do not understand the potential danger of silencing a child. All too often a silent child is deemed to be well-behaved. However, this is a very dangerous precedent as it implies that a child has nothing to say, certainly nothing worth hearing.  If a child is not allowed to speak and express herself or himself, the emotional and psychological implications are far and wide. It could result in the child being afraid or reluctant to tell their parents if they are abused or harassed or bullied. While a few children are just naturally quiet, most children are expressive as that is how they learn and engage with their environment.

Hence the theme, Listen Up ! Children’s Voice Matter is a warning to all of us, parents and non-parent or guardians alike, to listen to the children and know what their hopes, fear, and aspirations are.  Adults need to take a backseat sometimes and just listen. To our children and learn what their views are about development and what Jamaica should look like in the next 20 or 50 years, after all they will be the ones to live in it. The theme is also a warning for us to re-examine the implicit and explicit message we send our children that  “adults are always right and children are liars.” This prevalent belief further shuts down children and makes them even more vulnerable to negative and predatory adults.  While parents are expected to know what is best for their child, it is still important that the child’s feelings and sensibilities are taken into account. I invite all parents to grant their children the opportunity to share their feelings and ideas, and one way that educators and psychologists will agree is to use the creative arts as expression, poetry, drama, drawing, and any other medium.

We are better informed and are better able to help our children cope with whatever situations they encounter if they know they are being listened to and you the parent is interested in hearing what they have to say.  It is vitally important that Children are Seen and Heard, which is why, when COVID and the lock-in began I immediately send around a call, asking parents to encourage their children to write and draw about how they were feeling and share. Even though most schools have resumed face-to-face, the threat of COIVD still lingers, and just like us adults children are trying to make sense of the major interruption of their lives in the last two years.

Parents and caregivers should not believe that if they take care of a child’s basic needs, then the child will not be stressed or need a space to communicate their feelings. Wrong.  No matter how effective we try to hide and shelter our children, they know and are impacted when we are stressed and with whatever else is going on in the world. They hear and are often impacted more than we think.

Heaven, Age 8

In 2004 and  2015, a study done by Hyson and Kostelnik revealed that “Children’s social and emotional health affects their overall development and learning. Children who are mentally healthy tend to be happier, show greater motivation to learn, have a more positive attitude toward school, more eagerly participate in-class activities, and demonstrate higher academic performance…(Hyson 2004; Kostelnik et al. 2015).” If this is not your child, then you need to pause and learn what your child is thinking and feeling.

The more opportunities we give our children to express themselves, and tune into what they are saying without telling them to be quiet or shut up, the more informed we are and better able to help them cope with these times and process what is happening around them

For younger children under 10 years old, Justina Goh, a parenting writer, recommends 5 Ways  parents can “Help Children Identify and Express their Emotions:”

1.Name the feeling 2. Talk about how feelings can be expressed 3. Offer a deep nurturing connection 4. Resist the urge to punish 5. Praise and practice – often!

 While Listening and communicating with young children can be challenging given the numerous questions and whys why is the moon round? why is covid a pandemic? why am I a girl? Why is it a constant, and a vital part of their learning process? But we must be mindful too that communicating with our teens and providing non-judgemental space for them to talk about their Feelings really begin with us and requires practice and patience.

 

Covid 19 Pandemic provided parents and children with the unprecedented opportunity to be under the same roof 24/7 for almost 2 years. For some, it resulted in more spent quality time, especially if space and resources were not a factor, but for others, this shut-in period has been very challenging in numerous ways as both parent and child have been forced into an excessive situation of being home together and no outlet for many parents were working from home and no outlet for many children were going to school online and parents having to juggle being teachers while also maintaining their working life.

What has this unprecedented time meant for our children?  What sense are they making of covid-19? How is it altering how they will relate to others in the future? What fears and anxieties has it awakened? What is their sense of a future? We really won’t know the full impact until another five or ten years, but what we do know is that it has changed relationships and what we consider normal. As we move back into a new normal way of being, it is still imperative that we listen to our children. Having worked with children at every level of their educational process and taught poetry, creative dramatic and story-telling as vehicles of expression,  I know from first-hand experience, as well as from research, that these mediums allow for the greatest creative expression and honest sharing so that parents/guardians can discern what’s going on with their children.

 

As parents, caregivers, and mindful adults we need not fear if we allow our children too many opportunities to express their feelings that it will come back to bite us, so to speak.  Evidence suggests the converse; when adults treat children with respect and dignity and demonstrate that their feelings and ideas matter, children reciprocate with mutual respect and love.  Allow our Children to be Seen and Heard and Reap the Rewards by helping to create a safe and healthy environment for all our children. These images and drawings below are expressions of our children and offer a glimpse of the impact of the pandemic on our children. Listen Up ! Children’s Voice Matter

Crisis

by Courtney Greaves, Age 11

Crisis, Crisis!

Education inna crisis!

Children a bawl,

a who fah fault?

Teacha’s a bawl,

a who fah fault?

Money gone missin’,

What a cocka-fault! Who really at fault?

Crisis, Crisis!

Everything in a crisis.

Legacy gone, 

Inspiration gone.

School a lockdung

A nuh Covid fault.

Crisis, Crisis!

Police inna crisis!

Crisis, Crisis!

Hospital inna crisis!

Crisis, Crisis!

The worl’ inna crisis!

WHO AT FAULT?!

A NUH COVID FAULT?

What a cocka-fault~

My Life in the COVID Crisis

Oren, 14 years old

Life is meant to be enjoyed wisely

And as humans we take care of each

other proudly 

COVID has impacted our lives

in the bad and good times

But we as a people put our effort

into making a change for a nation

We have suffered our own types

of pain during this challenge

God has had a plan for us to seek for answers

 and when we work together as a nation

we can fix the problem.

How I feel about COVID19

Zaira, Age 10

I feel bad because we can’t go out or see family members often

 and I can’t socialize with friends a lot. Corona makes me feel

 terrible. Even worst – it’s hard to breathe in a face mask. 

Corona is also a stress to me because going online is hard to do.

Corona affects me in many ways like I can’t go to face-to-face school. 

We have to do many things like wear a mask, and social distance to 6 feet apart. 

Avoid sharing, wash hands regularly.  It is hard to not share when you are kind.  Corona makes me feel scared especially when my Family has to go

to Face to Face work.

This is how I feel about COVID-19

Zamoya, Age 8

Unhappy and scared.  It’s hard for me to breathe in the mask. 

COVID-19 is a very bad virus.  It is so bad I cannot play with my friends. 

 I am sad because I cannot go to face-face class. 

We have to wear face mask, social distance, avoid sharing. 

We must follow the protocols. I am scared because my mother

has to work at the office.  I wish COVID would go away.

Covid-19 is a Bad Thing 

Mehki, Age 8 

Covid-19 is a bad thing!

If you get sick and can pay the expenses

you can live for a longer time.

I don’t feel like Covid-19 is a good thing to get

because you will get sick and maybe even die.

That’s why I put on my mask and wash my hands 

I use the hand sanitiser when I am going out. 

When I got Covid-19 I didn’t feel anything. 

I thought I had a cold 

One night I got too hot and then I had to take a shower

but it couldn’t be hot water because

that will make me more hotter and

I may could have died.

I use cold water instead to cool me down.

I feel fine now!

Untitled

Shawn Paul, 18

Covid  is a virus

that is dangerous for you.

You might catch a flu

and you might get a tummy ache

but the severity of this virus

could put you in a hole.

So always wear your mask

and keep sanitized

because the safety of your health

is the safety of all.

pictures by Zahra, Safayah, Mora, Skye, all Age 9

I encourage all parents to provide space and time for their children to express their feelings and ideas through the use of a creative medium, and look out for the launch of Breadfruit & Ackee and journal for Caribbean Children.

*A partial version of this article was published in The Daily Observer, Monday, May 30, 2020

Always Knowing I would Be Mother

They say all little girls dream of being mothers. I don’t know how true that statement is, but I remember consciously planning my motherhood when I was about ten years old.

I was going to marry a cricket fast bowler and we were going to have four children. I was going to play outside barefoot with my children. I was going to plait my daughters’ hair in three, triangle-parted just like my mother did mine. We were going to go to the beach every Sunday and eat mango ice cream. Our life would be perfect.

I didn’t marry a cricket player and I didn’t have four children. Three seemed plenty. We did play and eat ice cream and I did plait my daughters’ hair and I loved being a mother as much as I love being a writer, and I miss mothering young children.

As I think about being a mother this year, this is my offering.

100+ Voices for Miss Lou

100+ Voices for Miss Lou is an anthology of  poetry, tributes, interviews and essays by  107 contributors that took me two years to put it together. The anthology is a homage to The Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley whose work and life have been sources of inspiration, and have helped me to develop as a poet and a social/cultural activist. While many Jamaicans want to trap Miss Lou in a bandana and smiling , I know her as a warrior who had to fight numerous battles to stand in her own shoe, and this collection is to help shatter the very narrow box into which we have imprisoned Miss Lou.

Putting an anthology together is perhaps harder than writing a single collection of poems or stories or even a novel because so many people are involved with personalities and a different sense of deadline, and also their own agenda, which might not dovetail with yours the editor. While I cannot say that when the idea of the anthology came to me that I knew what I wanted it to be or even knew the different sections, no I did not. What  I knew was, it was intended to fulfil a promise I made to Miss Lou when I first interviewed her in 1987. In 1987 when I entered the doctoral programme at the University of California, Berkeley, I initially thought about writing a biography of Louise Bennett, but after the first of two interviews, the project seemed overwhelming so I abandoned it. An excerpt of the interview is included in the anthology.

Readers will enjoy contributions by the obvious suspects such as Mervyn Morris and Carolyn Cooper, both of whom have done extensive work on Louise Bennett as well as poetry and essays by Joan Andrea Hutchinson,  Mutabaruka, Amina Blackwood Meeks, Linton Kwesi Johnson, then some wonderful surprises by Kei Miller, the essay on her war poems by Dalea Bean and the marvellous sharings and  tributes by Lorna Goodison, the former Poet Laureate, and the former Prime Minister, PJ Patterson and the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Oliva Grange. While most of the pieces are first time publication, there are a number of pieces that have appeared elsewhere. Also, in order to get the diversity of voices and include a number of persons who worked with Miss  Lou, but who aren’t writers, I ended up doing eleven interviews…the work was enormous and demanding making this anthology come alive.

I have gotten a lot of queries about the cover image which is by Tommy Ricketts, and my first and only consideration for the cover.  Tommy Ricketts has six other images in the collection and this work came about as a request from me to him, when I were organizing Miss Lou’s centennial, and hosted an exhibition of Tommy Ricketts unorthodox images in the foyer gallery at the Regional Headquarters of The University of the West Indies, Mona. This image, like the others, debunks all the popular and loved images of Miss Lou dressed in her folk costume, regale with a bandana.  Instead, in an attempt to have readers and lovers of Miss Lou see the fierce strategic side of her, she is armed with a nib pen, her weapon of choice, her sword strapped on her back and behind her are two male elders, also armed with pens, who have allowed her into the valley of liberation. This image shatters any box into which others might want to confine Miss Lou, who is more than a comic, more than a smiling sweet woman who promoted the Jamaican language and legitimize our nation language.

The importance of 100 + Voices for Miss Lou is not just s tribute to her, but more importantly, a place where lovers of Louise Bennett-Coverley’s work and the work of those who were touched and moved by her generosity of spirit can find in one single collection, a rich, diverse body of work that reveals the range of Louise Bennett’s contribution to Jamaican culture.  It is a teaching tool as well as a full read for those who love literature.

 My goal as a writer is to publish at least 50 books before I transition from this life and to have them all made into movie and translated into 200 languages. I am affirming 3 Netflix Series: Love’s Promise; Until Judgment Comes and Bake-Face and Other Guava Stories…

I am also working on a children’s picture book of Miss Lou, which I plan to have out next year.

I welcome your help and sponsorship to make these dreams a reality.


Please note, 100+ Voices for Miss Lou is available at the following locations locally and internationally:

§  The University Bookshop, The UWI, Mona Campus

§  Kingston Bookshop Limited

§  Fontana Pharmacy

§  Books & CD’s (located at the Norman Manley International Airport)

    Sangster’s Book Stores Limited

Buy a copy for yourself, and buy a copy for a local library or school. I thank you for your support.

The eBook is available at:

Amazon (Kindle and Paperback) click here

BookFusion click here

ORDERING INFORMATION

For orders and customer service in the United States, Caribbean and Latin America contact Longleaf Services, Inc.

Customer inquiries to:

Customer Service

Longleaf Services, Inc.

116 S Boundary St.

Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Tel: (800) 848-6224

Fax: (800) 272-6817

Local or long distance tel: (919) 966-7449

Local or long distance fax: (919) 962-2704

Email: customerservice@longleafservices.org

orders@longleafservices.org

http://www.longleafservices.org

San Number: 203-3151

For orders and customer service in Jamaica contact Kingston Bookshop Limited

Kingston Bookshop Limited

80 King Street

Kingston, Jamaica

Contact: Jermaine Simms

Tel: (876) 948-6928, (876) 948-7198

Fax: (876) 967-3231

Email: jsimms@kingstonbookshopjm.com

http://www.kingstonbookshopjm.com

For orders and customer service in Canada

For Ampersand Sales:
Toronto tel: 866-849-3819
Vancouver tel: 888-323-7118
Email:  https://ampersandinc.ca/contact/

For UTP Distribution:
Tel: 1-800-565-9523
Fax: 1-800-221-9985
Email:  utpbooks@utpress.utoronto.ca
EDI through Pubnet:  SAN 115 1134

For orders and customer service in the UK, Europe, Central Asia, Middle East & Africa contact Eurospan Group

Eurospan Group

Gray’s Inn House

127 Clerkenwell Road

London, EC1R 5DB

United Kingdom

Trade Orders & Enquiries:

Tel: +44 (0) 1767 604972

Fax: +44 (0) 1767 601640

Email: eurospan@turpin-distribution.com

Individual Orders:

http://www.eurospanbookstore.com

Individuals may also order using the contact details above

For further information:

Tel: +44 (0) 207 240 0856

Fax: +44 (0) 207 379 0609

Email: info@eurospan.co.uk

Shayma Kamel: An Activist Egyptian Visual Artist

I have been an artist since I first held a pencil and started to scratch on my grandmother’s wall, drawing from my imagination all types of shapes and forms.

Everything inspires me, big or small scale, starting from my feet to the street animals that I encounter every day. The continuous changes in the world, political and cultural, and the different perspectives inspire me also. I take in lots of the images and news and then translate them into my language of art and paintings.

FREEDOM

Mainly the themes I focus on are the contradictions in our life –that attract me a lot, those right and left, ups and downs, and how the stereotypes about different lifestyles are playing an important role on our world nowadays.

LANDSCAPE

My grandmother remains the main influence in my work. I still use my grandmother’s fabrics that are full of bright colors and that make my work nostalgic, especially when I work with collage. The image is almost always  a black woman figure, like me or any of my family.

    Artists, in general, are supporting themselves; it is still a long road to put  

    the artists (not the actor in cinema) as a primary interest to people.

Due to lack of education, fine art is still seen as decoration that should be cheap and not as important as any new vase or any new electronic; it comes at the last of choice. However, within the last 5 years there is a movement to incorporate art more, and some rich people are investing in art. Still, there is not a lot of information/knowledge about art in Egypt, and its cultural and historical value.

There are some avenues for you to show my work in galleries in Cairo, and Beirut where I can show my work, but there are not enough venues.

Like any artists in her 40 who is looking forward to live from her Art, that is still a big challenge.  Who is spending on what?!!

Yet, Art will always be the language that translates life from a true human perspective, and it is the healing that gives meaning to this fast life that we are living, without a break to understand what happened the last second before.

 COVID actually allowed me to connect better with other artists around the world, to talk and discuss more about how we can share our studios together through the internet, and at the same time work. I think for us it was blessing to be forced to sit and do the job without being distracted by going out a lot and social responsibilities.

Screaming Faith

I am in contact with women artists in many countries like Lebanon, Jordon, JAMIAKA, Holland, Sudan and many other places.

I just finished up my solo Exhibition in Cairo that was part of my last journey in Lebanon that ended up unfortunately, with the big port blast August 2020, and that pushed me out of the country and replaced me back to Egypt.  This exhibition it experimenting and documenting part of those years I lived in Lebanon, which were very difficult and I was subjected to racism as a Black Egyptian woman. 

I would love to show my work at MOMA IN THE US and other Arab countries like Dubai, and African countries like Senegal, Europe, Germany, France, all over the world…

I love collaborating with other artists and for sure always seeking the right space in which to work. I also dream to get the chance to work in a big museum and fill it with my works. I would love to make an exhibition about my last 40 years of being an artist in one of the museums in the world.

Freedom 1

 Art is activism –when we try to make a statement that mirrors what is happening in our society, positive or negative, that’s a activism. And yes, I am an activist artist because through my art I also seek to help my society and try to fix the world around me.

 You can see and learn more about Shayma Kamel below:

https://www.missionart.online/shayma-kamel

https://www.nahlaink.com/tag/shayma-kamel/

http://www.fineart.gov.eg/AllPics/Catalogs/PDF/255/Shayma-Kamel.pdf

https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/30439

https://www.facebook.com/shaymakamelstudio  Contact Email: komthra@yahoo.com

NO to Commonwealth/Yes to Independence

I can’t imagine why Jamaica would consider remaining with the Commonwealth. I truly do not understand why the Government is investing money in hosting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at this time when in Jamaica, every day, so many people go hungry, some literally starving as a result of COVID-19, when thousands of children have not gotten an education because they don’t have Internet access and now need remedial support, when so many roads are in need of repair, when violence, terror, and fear of illegally smuggled guns are rampant, when our beaches are eroding, and most citizens do not access to them anyway.

Why should Jamaicans be subjected to the rhetoric of the Duke and the Duchess about staying in the Commonwealth? What has the Commonwealth done for us except extracted our natural resources, brutalised us with colonial institutions, and exploited and overworked our African ancestors for more than 300 years?

Unless the Duke and Duchess are coming with an Official apology from Queen Elizabeth II and Britain, unless they are prepared to offer viable reparations in the form of at least four new state-of-the-art hospitals, providing every rural school with Internet and indoor sanitation, solar power, and a laptop for each child, repair all our roads, provide irrigation and machinery for all our farmers, provide mental health care for the many still dazed from the trauma of slavery, provide free tertiary education for every Jamaican child wanting to pursue such course of study, and other skills training for those who opt for other choices, building at least two museums and returning stolen artifacts, and augment the salaries of teachers, nurses and police , then I am afraid I can’t welcome them, nor sanction our government expending our money to host them.

But even with these overdue concessions, I am completely against staying with the Commonwealth. We were robbed of our African names, our religion, which was maligned, our language, and repeatedly lied to that we came from the ‘Dark Continent’, instead of being told of Africa’s vast natural wealth, gold, diamond, oil, natural gas, uranium, platinum, copper, cobalt, iron, bauxite and cocoa, that were and  continue to be extracted to enrich Europe and the Americas. We were not told about Africa’s diverse civilizations, the Kingdom of Kush, Land of Punt, Carthage in Tunisia, Mali and Songhai Empires, the Great Zimbabwe so many others. We were deliberately miseducated and Christianity used to oppress us and deny us an education and destroying our family structure.

I hail Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and I hope our own government and the rest of this region will take the brave step she did and stand up as a true independent nation, not simple changing the Union Jack for the Black, Green and Gold. It is time to right history and once and for all throw off the colonial legacy that has unchained and dragging us down. Why should much needed resources go to pay a Governor General who represents the Queen?

The Commonwealth was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949 to maintain its power and control over its former territories. When has the Queen really represented, cared for or protected us?  What are the tangible and evident benefits of remaining under the Commonwealth? None!

Although many want to sweep slavery into the sea and say we must get over ourselves, we endured 179 years of severe brutality and terror, rape and mutilation, worked to death without pay, and at the end, our British oppressor were compensated handsomely for the loss of our labour and we were tossed aside with no land, no food, no home.

Jamaican scholar Orlando Patterson recently said that under British enslavement an estimated five  million Jamaicans were lost to us. We have endured 400 years of colonialism and neo-colonialism that has made Britain one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and still to date we have not received an apology or any compensation. Shame, I say to the queen and Britain!  Shame I say to the Duke and Duchess for coming here with such a bold-faced request! Shame I say to us for welcoming them and acting like beggars!

We must not allow our children or our people to stand in the sun and wave flags. We must be resolute and stand as a proud people in honour of Nanny, Tacky, Paul Bogle, and all the nameless heroes who risked their lives for us. If we are serious about development, liberation and the sovereignty of our people, if we understand what true Independence means, let us not dishonour ourselves, not subject our people to insult, not throw away needed money and resources on those who have continuously exploited and abused us.

Let Jamaica stand as a proud Independent nation. Let us get from under the Queen’s frock.

60 Reasons for Reparations

As a member of the Advocates Network I endorse and am happy to be a part of the movement.

60 REASONS

FOR APOLOGIES AND REPARATIONS

FROM BRITAIN AND ITS ROYAL FAMILY

After 60 years of Independence we have not forgotten and we demand an APOLOGY and REPARATIONS…

CONQUEST & TRANSATLANTIC TRAFFICKING OF AFRICANS

  1. For continuing after the 1655 conquest of Jamaica from Spain, the exploitation of the indigenous people of Jamaica, capturing their land, and forcing them to continue escaping to the hills to live a precarious (though freer) life because of their inhumane treatment.
  2. For establishing in 1661 the Jamaica seal and coat of arms using the indigenous persons as supporters in symbolic heraldic representation of animals, handing over the fruits of the island to the monarchy; noting that by 1672 some the fruits from Jamaica included approximately 89,000-100,000 enslaved persons shipped from Africa into the royal port of Jamaica, named “Port Royal” as the crown’s principal trans-shipment hub.
  3. For setting up as the Crown (1672-1731) the ‘Royal African Company’ modelling its coat of arms on Jamaica’s by replacing the supporters with African people, and giving knighthood and leadership to business partners of the crown – buccaneers, privateers, pirates, merchants & planters – who were rewarded with Jamaican property, including governorship for their involvement in enslavement as a lucrative business for the Crown.
  4. For enabling Port Royal within only 37 years to become the “richest and wickedest city in the world” at the time of its 1692 earthquake, through atrocities of deception, collusion, corruption and murder on land and sea; controlled from Jamaica as the hub for the gathering and accumulation of wealth for the monarchy, centred on African human cargo stored inside the forts at Port Royal, many of whom perished in the 1692 earthquake when 4 of the 5 forts subsided into the sea, bemoaned as loss of property instead of loss of human lives.
  5. For human trafficking across the atlantic ocean in the transatlantic trade in enslaved peoples, dislocating them from their communities, leaving many grieving families to wonder what had happened to their loved ones, and refusing to acknowledge the historic trade in Africans as a crime against humanity.
  6. For the demographic disaster and genocide between 1655 and 1834, with just over 300,000 of the estimated 1.5 million trafficked still alive at emancipation.
  7. For causing the high mortality on the floating dungeons that you called “slave ships” because of the inhumane conditions on board (and creating a path for the sharks to follow, because they knew they would feed off the dead bodies of our ancestors along) in what is known as the Middle Passage route.
  8. For the “Zong Massacre” in 1781, when British crew threw 132 live Africans overboard just for financial gains from insurance and 10 of them forced to jump overboard.
  9. For keeping our records of the Transatlantic trade in your archives and not making available to Jamaican archives copies of all of them; instead of destroying some of them, based on reports.

PLANTATION SLAVERY & INHUMANE PUNISHMENT

  1. For establishing a plantation system as the main economic enterprise that changed the geography and landscape of Jamaica, destroying the natural environment.
  2. For the dehumanizing violence toward the enslaved body, soul and spirit, both male and female, including excessively long hours work days, especially during the harvest months, without a rest day.
  3. For extracting the material and human resources of the Caribbean and Africa to develop your country while under-developing ours.  You made Jamaica and the Caribbean primary producers of goods while ensuring that “not a nail was manufactured in the region” even after independence.
  4. For attempting to corrupt the Maroons through divide and conquer strategies; for failing to respect the 1739 treaty arrangements with the ‘Trelawney’ Maroons; for crafting, even as you lost the war, the treaty, mostly to your benefit in the first place.
  5. For the brutality inflicted during the period of chattel enslavement. We are aware that in 1789, Thomas Clarkson, the anti-slavery campaigner wrote: “the wharfs of Kingston are crowded every Monday morning with poor slaves who are brought here to be whipped for the offences of the preceding week. They are generally tied up by the wrists and stretched out [as] punishment”.
  6. For encouraging monsters like Thomas Thistlewood, who repeatedly raped enslaved women; and who also administered punishments called the “derby dose”, sealing faeces from one enslaved person in the mouth of another, until the enslaver decided to free the victims mouth from such depravity.
  7. For deporting our ancestors who were deemed revolutionary leaders, for example in July 1796, between 550 and 600 Maroon men, women, and children were exiled from Trelawny, Jamaica and shipped to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada eventually deployed by Prince Edward Augustus (later Duke of Kent) to build fortifications there.
  8. For the cruel and inhumane punishment of our ancestors for their heroic resistance to the institution of slavery, including for their insistence on maintaining African cultural practices including birthing practices and even claiming ownership of their own children.
  9. For the shooting excursion on the mountains near Dromilly Estate in Trelawny in the month of October 1824 where runaways were brutally shot like animals.
  10. For decapitating runaways and rebels, for progressive mutilation, slow burnings, breaking on the wheel depicted inside “a Jamaica house of correction” published 1843 by James Phillipo (where bones were dislocated and the body pulled apart) and other forms of inhumane killing and for institutionalizing violence as a way of life in our society through the sheer brutality and wickedness of slavery and the practice of a brutal brand of colonialism on Jamaica and the continent of Africa.
  11. For criminalizing our revolutionary heroes and taking the life of Chief Takyi, Sam Sharpe and many others and for the severe, inhumane punishment of many more of our ancestors in the 1831/32 pre-emancipation war.
  12. For taking Jamaican parliamentarian George William Gordon outside the martial law zone, trying him by court martial and executing him in 1865  when he was not a rebel/not a part of the Morant Bay war.
  13. For the directive that Governor Edward John Eyre gave the British colonial forces to hang and shoot George William Gordon and over 400 Jamaicans, among them the men and women murdered on October 25, 1865, and for refusing to indict Governor Eyre for these atrocities and crimes against humanity in Morant Bay and Spanish Town in 1865.

CRUELTY TO WOMEN AND MEN & DESTRUCTION OF FAMILY LIFE

  • For the raping and force breeding of enslaved African woman, and the wicked treatment during pregnancy when they were unable to maintain the pace of work required by slave drivers, including enslaved women like Ann Smith from the Friendship Estate in Trelawny who asserted that she was “entitled to sit down” because she was pregnant; for depriving mothers adequate recovery time after childbirth and for punishing them when they took time to look after their children to ensure that they were fed, cleaned, loved, and integrated spiritually and socially into the human community.
  •  For the psychological traumas of slavery that enslaved men, women, and children endured due to not only being in a system of racial bondage but also in a system of sexual bondage; and for treating enslaved men, women and children as property to be raped and sexually abused by the planter class.
  • For the horrific experience of pregnancy, birth and motherhood of enslaved women ‘rooted in loss’ – marked by ill-health and death, pain and grief – as described by Jennifer Morgan in her 2004 book labouring women; the high rates of miscarriage and infant death, even after slavery, due to the extremely strenuous physical exertion of work, inadequate nutrition among other conditions during slavery and colonialism.
  • For emotional and psychological damage and trauma to parents who saw their children being sold and making them work in the fields from age 6; and the loss of about 1/3 of the children born in slavery who died before they reached 7 years of age.
  • For the harsh and severe treatment of enslaved men as beasts of burden and sperm donors under enslavement and humiliating and emasculating our fathers and brothers under enslavement, including forcing men to watch their partners taken away for white male entertainment.
  • For selling and separating parents from children, wives from husband, thereby disrespecting and destroying family bonds, including through sale to settle debts under the system of enslavement, insisting that the enslaved had no rights over their progeny or their bodies, discouraging marriage among Africans during enslavement and the ongoing efforts to devalue and destroy the African family and family values. By deeming our ancestors “property” your citizens claimed “property rights in pleasure.”
  • For creating the stereotype “Jezebel” – an objectified enslaved woman who was treated as a “sexual object” – widely used justification by white men and enslavers (even also some free and enslaved African men) to rape women; also the stereotype “Mammy” – an inferior, surrogate mistress and a woman completely dedicated to the white family, especially to the children of that family, often neglecting her own children, if she had any.

IMMORAL, UNCONSCIONABLE LAWS & GOVERNANCE

  • For imposing slave laws that: a) provided financial and other rewards for enslaved Africans that killed or captured other enslaved Africans during wars of protests; thereby fostering the divisiveness among our people that still exist today; b) suppressed all forms of gatherings, especially at nights; c) prohibited enslaved Africans from keeping any horse, mare, or mule and if caught stealing was put to death; thereby stifling opportunities of the enslaved Africans to own or control property for the development of business; and d) limited the Sunday market to 11am; thereby limiting the opportunity for enslaved Africans to earn income.
  • For mis-use of power, imposing martial law for a whole month in the county of Surrey in 1865 in order to give you a free hand in murdering the activists in the Morant Bay war.
  • For making it difficult up to 1962 for Jamaicans to govern ourselves, even abolishing the old representative form of government in favour of direct Crown Rule in 1866.
  •  For using legislation to enforce Anti-Black laws to make it difficult for our ancestors to achieve upward social mobility.
  • For laws which denied women and men the right to vote until the 20thcentury.
  • For the looted and stolen personal possessions belonging to black Jamaicans during the Morant Bay war and for other lands stolen or confiscated and kept legally as either Crown lands or private ownership.
  • For instituting laws that prevented and restricted land titling to free Africans thereby forcing them and their descendants to become labelled as squatters today.
  • For instituting laws after emancipation, such as the 1834-1838 apprenticeship which institutionalized discrimination against black and coloured people and confining them to labouring on sugar plantations where few earned enough to purchase land and develop business.
  • For the criminalization of Obeah, and for imposing laws that punished the practice of Obeah by floggings.
  • For taking away our African names and imposing English names on us, thereby denying us an authentic identity and making it hard for us to trace our lineage back to Africa by not recording our origins.
  • For the slave compensation act 1837 which compensated the planter class for losing their enslaved labour while ignoring legitimate claims for compensation, including the June 1865 petition labelled by the colonial government as presented by “certain poor people of St. Ann’s parish, Jamaica” sent to the Crown requesting lands and other means of relief from distress. In the Crown’s callous response, petitioners were advised to provide against adversity by “industry and prudence,” thus blaming our ancestors for their condition, whilst compensating the enslavers.   

HEALTH, EDUCATION, IDENTITY & SELF-PERCEPTION

  • For denying us an indigenous/African-centred education but forcing on us eurocentric education/mis-education, the legacies of which are still with us today.
  • For referring to Africa as the “dark continent” and for teaching us that that our African ancestors were simple and could not think, that Africans in Africa were uncivilized and could not read or write; and for classifying our African ancestors as 4/5th human.
  • For devaluing our African religions, calling our traditional priests and doctors “witch doctors” and “ju ju priests” and taking away our African iconography and replacing them with a white religious iconography.
  • For lying about African history and keeping important historical facts from us, including that the oldest university in the world is Africa’s university of Al-Qarawinyyin, founded in 859 and located in Fez, Morocco, and that the Sankore mosque and university in Timbuktu, Mali is the oldest continuously-operating institution of higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is believed that the mosque and university were erected in the 1100s c.e. (Twelfth Century) by Berbers who settled in the Timbuktu region.
  • For destroying our indigenous languages and replacing them with your English as formal then judging our intellect by our achievement of proficiency in it.
  • For using the English language to instil colour prejudice by using black as negative, and making everything prefaced by or called black, bad and legitimizing it by putting it in your dictionaries, while equating white with purity & goodness.
  • For the legacy of structural and direct discrimination in the educational system that persist and is at the root of an apartheid system of education in Jamaica today.
  • For appropriating all of our agricultural, engineering, and artistic skills/inventions calling them English/“Georgian”/“Victorian”, and brainwashing us to believe we created nothing, contributed nothing and therefore uncivilized.
  • For the distortion of our history, especially that relating to emancipation, pretending that the British led the abolition movement, when our ancestors worked, prayed, and fought hard for this.
  • For feeding us a “slave diet” of sugar and salt from which we suffered daily and which contributed to our current health problems; today, we have the highest rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes in the world.
  • For recording the health practices of our ancestors and exporting natural herbs and medicinal plants they used traditionally to set up medical practice in 17th century England through Hans Sloane recording, and taking them to establish the British museum, also others; yet making traditional African-Jamaican medicinal practices illegal thereby exposing us to increased ill health and for encouraging us to view our traditional medicinal practices as backward and “Witch-Craft.”
  • For identifying and recording our African ancestors as chattel with the horses, donkeys etc.
  • For the promotion of mimicry images and stereotypes of Africans and Africa that persist today and which have contributed to African hair discrimination, skin bleaching, self-hate, lack of self confidence, self doubt and fearfulness.
  • For creating a skin-colour scale (the pigmentocracy) that put whiteness at the top (hierarchised whiteness), causing the “one drop of black blood system to apply, with octoroons, quintroons and mustee and mustiphini categories of skin shades that privileged “white blood.”
  • For the continued policy of discrimination that keeps African Jamaicans in a subservient class and is against people of African descent especially those of a darker complexion which still continues today as part of the legacy of underdevelopment.
  • For the psychological & mental health implications of slavery & colonialism that still affects the descendants of Africans in Jamaica today.

REPARATION & REPATRIATION

  • For genocide in the parish of St. Thomas which has not recovered to this day from the 1865 massacre, and for refusing to discuss reparation for this.
  • For failing to provide a repatriation and resettlement package for Rastafari and others those who wish to return to their original home but who are trapped in “Babylon” even though they have the right to return.
  • For maintaining policies (eg., imposition of expensive visas for us to travel to the UK) and practices, including discriminatory attitudes to Diasporic Jamaicans, especially the Windrush generation and their descendants, thereby demonstrating continued racism and inequalities towards Jamaica persist today!
  • For refusing to engage in a conversation about reparatory justice for slavery and colonialism as set out in the motion in the Jamaican parliament and the 10 Point Action Plan of CARICOM, and failing to recognise that reparation is a route to peace, healing and reconciliation. On the contrary, official representatives and your former Prime Minister Cameron, who addressed our parliament in 2015, have told us to forget about slavery and the past, “get over it and move on!”, without an apology nor reparations.

#Jamaica60   #WeNaaEaseUp  #AdvocatesNetwork

CONTACT:  The Advocates Network at advocatesnet@gmail.com

March 20, 2022

WHAT BELL HOOKS TAUGHT ME

“I am not a writer who happens to be black.  I am a writer who is black and female. These aspects of my identity strengthen my creative gifts. They are neither burdens nor limitations…” bell hooks from remembered rapture

bell hooks’ feminist scholarship has informed and sharpened both my creative work, as well as my scholarship. She has influenced and shaped many Caribbean women scholars, who have been paying homage on social media and in other formats since her death on December 15 at the age of 69. While I cannot claim bell as a friend we were more than acquaintances and during our time together she taught me a valuable lesson as a sister-feminist, for which I am eternally grateful.

In 1994 the University of Kentucky hosted the Kentucky Women’s Writers’ Conference. Gloria Anzaldua, bell hooks and I were the featured writers and presenters for the 3-day conference. Gloria  and I were both coming from the Bay Area, California, and  were friends having met and read at several venues over the years. I  knew of bell hooks’ work well and, in fact, had been challenged and chastised by at least two professors at UC Berkeley when I was pursuing my doctorate in the late 80s for citing her Ain’t I A Woman. They said she was not a serious scholar and her work lacked academic merit as she did not follow the standard footnote/endnote citation. I argued the point, but the professors did not relent, and I often wondered what they thought when bell hooks became more famous than they. I make this point because many young scholars are not aware of some of the struggles bell hooks faced, not just by white academics, but also by a few prominent black feminist and male scholars who did not accept or respect her work.

 I was thrilled when I was informed that I would be sharing the stage with bell, and we each were scheduled to do a reading, participate in a panel discussion and lead a creative writing workshop. We all were scheduled to arrive the evening before the start of the conference and were invited for dinner. Less than 15 minutes upon checking into my room, the phone rang and  the voice on the other end said, “Hello Opal, this is bell can I come to your room?” I was tired and was planning to rest before the scheduled dinner, so agreed to her coming in half an hour.

In exactly 30 minutes bell knocked on my door. We exchange pleasantries and talked a little about each other’s work and what we planned to do at the conference. Then bell switched and asked directly, “How much are they paying you?” I was thrown off because no one ever asked me what I was getting paid, so I muttered unsure if I should reveal my fee. However, since bell was forthright and unrelenting,  I told her. She shook her head, said umum. “I’m getting almost twice what you’re getting; that’s not right because we’re doing the same number of sessions.  I bet you didn’t negotiate.” And she was right.  Until that time whenever I was invited by a university I accepted what they offered. All the other arrangements for us including airfare,  accommodation and per diem were the same, and bell told me that she had negotiated her honorarium.

bell then  looked me directly in the eye and said, “I’m going to tell you something that you need to do from now on.” She leaned forward in the chair on which she sat while I sat at the foot of the bed. “Whenever a university or any place invites you to read or conduct a workshop don’t accept what they offer you at first. Always ask for at least 20% more than what you want so that you can bargain. I learned that the hard way.” I was so grateful because I had asked several writers before about what they were paid and they generally beat around the bush without disclosing. But not bell hooks. She took me under her wings, and added,  “get yourself an agent who will do all the negotiating and do at least 4 engagements monthly.” I told her that was impossible. She frowned and objected.

I explained that  I had three young children, ages 3, 5 and 10 respectively, was recently divorced , I headed the department at my university that was under-funded, and in order to be there it took a tremendous amount of negotiating and support with family, friends, students and faculty. In short it was a miracle that I was able to be there. She embraced me and said, “Sister Opal, I understand, you are wading through a river, but you are moving.” This thoughtful action illuminated a passage from hooks’ Ain’t I a woman that I had underlined and quoted years earlier.

“By completely accepting the female role as defined by patriarchy, enslaved black women embraced and upheld an oppressive sexist social order and became (along with their white sisters) both accomplices in the crimes perpetrated against women and the victims of those crimes.”

That was such a moment of light and assurance, and those 4 days in Kentucky were awesome as I got to hang out with bell, which also included going with her to buy shoes.  She had a fetish for shoes and bought 4 pairs, and admonished me for not even buying one pair.

By that single generous act of schooling me about the college circuit, bell hooks demonstrated the true meaning of feminism, which promoted me to secure an agent six months later even though I was not able to be on the road as frequently as bell suggested because of my family and academic life.

Nikky Finney is another sister/writer friend (featured in the photo) who has also been supportive, and who had recommended me for the conference. Although that was bell’s and my first meeting, we had communicated a few years before when she was writing Sisters of the Yam: Black women and self-recovery, 1993. I had been performing with devorah major as Daughter of Yam, and bell wanted to use a quote from our performance. Several years later when that collection was being republished she reached out to me again for a blurb.

bell was forthright, generous and had bottled energy.  I remember one of our late night conversations, when my eyes were blurry with sleep and she was energetic, and me asking her  how she managed to write and published so much. She laughed and said, “I don’t have three young children.” Touché I nodded.  Then in a more serious tone she added, “ I have serious insomnia so I write to try and find asleep. Also, I am driven to comment on all aspect of black life, to shed light.”

What impressed me about bell hooks at the conference, as well as other times seeing and hearing her, is her analytical ability. Her penchant for bringing many thoughts together through her wide-range and vast reading, and her unapologetic stance about  being black and woman and all the things that she felt black writers and artists worldwide needed to do.

“The black aesthetic movement was a self-conscious articulation by many of a deep fear that the power of art reside in its potential to transgress the boundaries…” she pronounced in Yearning, one of her many books that I taught over the years.  And that was indeed her charge and the work that she demanded that women feminist writers do continuously— bulldoze boundaries, deconstruct discourses and create new paradigms.

A few years after the conference when bell was coming to the Bay Area to present she reached out and asked me to introduce her at the event. I wrote a poem as way of introduction, which I am unable to locate now. bell was someone whose work I respected and taught, and she likewise respected and taught my work. We communicated over the years, briefly. We saw each other a few times. In New York at one conference, we talked over tea about home and wanting to return.  She was fed up with being in New York and wanted to return to Kentucky and I was similarly wanting to return to Jamaican from California.  When she finally moved back to teach at Berea College, Kentucky, in 2004 I sent her a congratulatory email for being able to make that move and wished her wellness as she had been having health challenges.

bell hooks knew all too well domination and had managed to find a way out of its grasp.

“A culture of domination demands of all its citizens self-negation.

The more marginalized, the more intense the demand. Since black people, especially the underclass, are bombarded by messages that we have no value, are worthless it is no wonder that we fall prey to nihilistic despair…”  (from Black Looks)

The above quote by hooks is relevant to the conditions that many Jamaicans and other Caribbean people are currently facing given the crime rate, the cost of living, the gender-based violence and the horrendous physical and sexual crimes against our children. The nihilism is evident in the acceptability of the present reality and the general belief that there is nothing we can do beyond trying to survive. hooks’ work, although focuses on black life in the USA, offer us many parallels in the Caribbean. It provides us with a framework to engaged in critical feminist discourse that incorporates culture, the patriarchal and colonial  modules that still govern/define our lives. Her books, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, 1984; Talking Back: Thinking feminist, thinking Black. Between the Lines, 1989; Yearning: race, gender, and cultural politics,1990; Black Looks: Race and representation, 1992 are lucid and straight-forward readings that connect the dots about how the historical antecedents continue to move us further away from who are, and our goal to resist the domination in every form.

For all educators and those wishing to truly create a liberating pedagogy, studying Teaching to transgress: education as the practice of freedom, 1994 and  Outlaw culture: resisting representation, 1994  are prerequisite readings. For those writers or those who desire to write or who teach creative writing,  I recommend these of hooks’ books: Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood (1996); Wounds of passion: a writing life (1997); Remembered rapture: the writer at work (1999). I have required these readings when I taught in the MFA in Creative writing program at California College of the Arts.

bell hooks constantly moved through fear to unbarring the door and she kept the door open not just so that she could enter, but that other writers and feminists of colour could enter too. She blended scholarship with creativity, inserting her voice as Primary source, worthy to stand alone and tell her truth.  A true trail blazer she took Audre Lorde’s intersectional concept a step further thus by creating more space for other voices.

I am honoured that I knew her and got to share the stage with her a few times. Most importantly, I thank her for setting me on the path to ask for what I am worth and deserve.

Sleep now my sister. You have gifted us with a formidable body of work to feed our minds and guide our path.  Asé

This article was published in Bookend, The Observer, Jamaica, Dec 25-26, 2021.


Monica Minott: Zion Roses

Zion Roses is the title of the collection. The collection engages with the loss of our roots as Caribbeans, we who have been separated from our ancestral history , continue to suffer  disenfranchisements. Loss of land, language and cultures report in our daily experiences. Zion Roses acknowledges our pain but it does not ask readers to wallow in self-pity, but to rise-up and overcome. The collection engages with music, art, and literature, as avenues of overcoming.  Descendants are encouraged to innovate and lift ourselves/ themselves into a brighter future, to use dance, music , poetry, and visual art as cure, acknowledging the power in both ‘history’ and ‘history-less-ness.’

In June, 2018, while having lunch with a painter, Stefanie Thomas, who had only a few minutes before completed a painting and set it near an open window to dry, I found my gaze time and again drawn towards the image resting against a wall. I finally got up and studied the painting more closely and I said, “Stefanie, these are flowers falling from heaven, from Zion, a gift.” She studied me and the painting, a smile was her only response.  Days later she called and shared her decision to name the painting … “Zion Roses.” I knew then it would be the title of my next book.

My first collection  Kumina Queen was published in 2016. In that said year I attend Bennington College, Vermont (2016-2018) where I obtained an MFA. Several poems in this collection were penned during my time at Bennington. At Bennington I had the benefit of  working with several significant poets resident in the United States of America, including Major Jackson, Greg Pardlo, and April Bernard. I consider my time spent interfacing with these poets as part of ‘the high.’ But the high did not start there. I had before Bennington, the benefit of mentorship from Edward Baugh and Mervyn Morris. The low …Mama said “Rome was never  built in a day”…poetry needs patience and dedication. I am thrilled  when a new collection is published, but the product  takes time.

This collection captures the scattering and fragmentation of lives — trafficked Africans and their descendants. The continuing impact of European colonisers on the descendants of the enslaved  is of particular importance. The collection reports various influences, with respect to language, foods, and cultural norms; in my mind these influences explain much of the unique multi-layered complex individuals we meet in the Caribbean and the diaspora. The collection introduces subversive voices of persons disenfranchised: “BAG-A-WIRE,” “Mahogany Tree” (Tour guide) , “Telemachus,” and “Jean Michel Basquiat,” to name a few.

Jean Michel Basquiat was born to a Haitian father and mother of Puerto Rican heritage. Basquiat has been described as: rebellious, unique, subversive, difficult, and exceptional. Every black person, more recently termed ‘hybrid,’  should want  to know Basquiat’s story, his successes and his failings. His subversive paintings speak to  his rejection of a system of oppression, ‘The Establishment.’ His paintings report on  life in the USA for  black persons. Basquiat employed symbols in his paintings: skulls, bones, crowns, scribblings and ladders of escape. He used symbols like trademarks.

Zion Roses reports on a history of violence and pain, which may be ascribed to epi-genetic markers ( findings of a recent scientific study) that may one day explain the continuing violence in our  islands. But, most important, the collection encourages overcoming, planting seeds of hope.

LIGNUM VITAE. 

(Three wooden figures, said to be Taino deities -Zemis  on display before the Society of Antiquaries of London.”)

Hardwood taking shape.

Cacique listens to grain

of the wood, turns voice

into form. Ancestors’

knowledge-tree bends

but never breaks, stone-

chisel strips away bark                        

revealing heart-wood

ready for stone grinder.

Beveled liberation. No

Auction Block. Bird-

man finds tree-of-life

good to make ships. 

Audience: Persons who are interested in  postcolonial studies, history of people in the Caribbean, and the complexities of Caribbean persons, will appreciate Zion Roses. 

Covid 19, facilitated my focused attention for approximately 14 months on the third collection. The Black Lives Matter movement confirms that my decision to explore the continuing impact of colonial occupation on trafficked Africans, via  “colonial loss and reconciliation,”  is reasonable and relevant.

I am currently completing my third collection,  this collection, heavily biased towards  ekphrasis, will present “ships that scattered us.” The collection again seeks to be a conduit of voices that had been silenced, voices that now must to be heard. I also continue my tantalizing journey through the works of  Jean Michel Basquiat.

While reading, a word or a sentence often provokes a memory, I am transported to a space where I  try  to resolve unresolved issues, or to document injustices I have unearthed.   I’ll stop and write my thoughts as they come, responding to the artistic intuition/ pulse.  A memory often forms the skeleton or the sub stratum of a poem.  For the poem to evolve  I meditate on the idea of the poem while trying to hear my thoughts clearly; thereafter, I widen areas of consideration through research or further readings in an effort to eliminate limitations I may have subjectively imposed. The lyrical call will already have entered  the lines,  ‘enriching the dry bones.’  My poems are never finished until they achieve the intended purpose, i.e.,  ensuring  the voices of the voiceless can be heard through my writings.

I wish to write the most powerful collection that I can possibly write that will impact lives and foster reconciliation.

I am  a workaholic, nevertheless,  I am a bit disorganized maybe because I am usually doing three projects when other persons  are focused on one.

         LET US PLAY BY MY RULES                                                           

I have been called, yes called

to a city where boys grow into skeletons

and skulls, wearing halos of nails and thorns,

where locusts deconstruct and  strip-down,

like I strip down for you, show you my lines

my angles, my crown. They cross over me,

Madonna, to feel what black-crazy feels like.

They cross me over, sit me down, sing me

soft, sing me wild, ring me with fire. Then

they listen when I testify, a broken heart,

loud, back-talking loud, before they reply,

calling out my name, Jean Michel Basquiat.

I say, “Off with their grinning heads.”

Zion Roses Reviews:

How To purchase a copy

https://www.peepaltreepress.com/books/zion-roses

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zion-roses-monica-minott/1139189453

How To Contact author:   @mint99wm twitter

Makers of Peace

I’m Professor Opal Palmer Adisa from Kingston Jamaica where I live and work, the home to reggae music, jerk food and the fastest woman and man in the world. I am a writer of poetry , prose, essays and children’s books. I am a feminist, gender specialist and cultural activist.

From I was in my twenties I have been writing and advocating gender justice, especially in the area of children’s right, specifically for girls to be safe and protected from sexual and physical abuse.

I have also been advocating against gender-based violence, in particular domestic violence that disproportionately affects women and children. I have worked with diverse groups that have made these issues their charge. I have written extensively on the issue, in fact my first short story collection, Bake-Face and Other Guava Stories, 1985, explores both of these issues.

When I was living and teaching in California, USA I taught at California College of the Arts, and headed the Diversity Studies programme, where among looking at Ethnic inclusion also worked  for gender equality; I also works  the Berkeley women’s center, designing and conducting workshops in shelters for women on self-empowerment and regaining their voice after years of domestic abuse.

In the US Virgin Island I worked with the V.I. Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Council and The Women’s Coalition of St Croix, where I wrote and directed plays as a result of interviewing women on the issue of childhood sexual trauma and domestic violence.

 In Jamaica, as the outgoing University Director of The Institute for Gender and Development Studies, with units in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, I had the distinct opportunity to oversee and direct programs that tackled these issues, as well as liaison with community service organizations and NGOs throughout the Caribbean regio n to network around these issues. I have been promoting intergenerational networking of veteran advocates with emerging advocates to build capacity, share best practices and learn from each other and work together to solves many of these issues, especially GBV.  As the present initiator of Thursday in Black in Jamaica, I have led island-wide campaign/demonstrations to bring public awareness to GBV and work to reduce and eventually eliminate it.

Gender equality is the necessary prerequisite to bring about a culture of peace and, it is crucial that women and girls, and men and boys are involved in every aspect of peacebuilding as we must learn to co-exist and thrive together. Gender inequality negatively impacts everyone in the society, and while some men due to their patriarchal upbringing, believe they will lose out as a result of gender equality; they are mistaken.  Everyone wins when the scale is evenly balanced.  Women and girls get to make independent choices and men and boys are no longer have to bear the burden of being bread-winners or protectors as everyone will contribute to their own welfare and safety.  And more importantly, for development, the full participation, intellectual, physical and other areas of both women and men and girls and boys will allow for greater progress over a shorter period of time, and the combination of innate skills will result in peace and more respect and Intunement with our environment. 

Gender equality is the vision of the future that we are working to ensure will be a reality. We are all daily dying from lack of peace, from conflict, from inequality. I firmly believe GE will rebalance and allows us to recalibrate how we can live and work together in peace and harmony.

I identify as an African Jamaican because my ancestral roots are in Africa, and that sense of geographic roots grounds and connects me in a visceral way with the people of Africa; their struggles are mine, and mine theirs, and their past and present achievements are likewise mine.

People of the African diasporas in Jamaica and throughout  Caribbean will feel more connected to their African roots if they are taught about Africa, not just the history of enslavement, where they are always told their people sold them, and never about their people who valiantly fought to keep them from slavery, not about the great accomplishments of Africans way before the Europeans and Asia, and all the natural resources of Africa that has and is still continuing to benefit the world, include the very technology that we now take for granted. We don’t know this history.  We are not taught to love ourselves and honour our ancestors. The education system must change from the colonial model to a Caribbean/African model.

Jamaicans and other Caribbean people have been and will continue to be  involved in contributing to a culture of peace in Africa.  Jamaica was one of the first countries to boycott South African for its racist, apartheid policy; our musicians, Peter Tosh, Bob  Marley, Juddy Mowatt,  and many others have sang about freedom and liberation and peace. Reggae music is known and appreciated globally for its message of peace and liberation; its call to stand and end sufferation… We have been working to bring about peace and have joined out sisters and brothers throughout the African continent to amplify that message and end colonnization.  But more needs and can be done.  One way is to allow for more educational and trade exchange between the Caribbean and Africa; African languages and its full history must be taught throughout the Caribbean. We have to examine and adopt some of the measures of the Queen Mothers of Ghana and the sisters of Nzinga, with our own Nanny and other female fighters, their  strategy and methods of resolving conflict and building coalition can be insightful to our struggles.

Portia Dreams – A children’s book

I am so excited about my new book for children, Portia Dreams.

It is the childhood story of Portia Simpson Miller, the first and still to date, the only female Prime Minister of Jamaica.


On March 2006 to September 2007 she was elected Prime Minister and again from 5 January 2012 to 3 March 2016. She was the leader of the People’s National Party from 2005 to 2017 and the Leader of the Opposition twice, from 2007 to 2012 and from 2016 to 2017.

Portia Simpson Miller is from a working-class family in the rural area of St Catherine, but she decided very early that she wanted to contribute to change, and supported by both her mother and father, she became a change-maker.

I invite you to read this book and learn about Portia’s childhood and the dreamer that she was.

My goal is to inspire children, especially those from humble beginnings, so they know that regardless of their circumstances, like Portia, they can dream and aspire and become Prime Minister one day.

For further information, please contact:

Lincoln Robinson

PSM Foundation Book Project Coordinator

Email: lincrob55@gmail.com

Tel: 876 833 0403

https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/art-leisure/20211212/portia-dreams-book-mama-ps-childhood-years