by Linda A Palazzo
Chair of the “State of Nonviolence” Coordinating Committee
KINGSTON, RI The President has given the “State of the Union” and the Governor has given the “State of the State.” Now it is time fo the “State of Nonviolence.”
On the evening of April 28, 2008, the University of Rhode Island Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies will hold “The State of Nonviolence” Reflections and Awards Fundraiser.
These past 9 years have seen the Center travel internationally, while the University of Rhode Island has remained our ever-faithful base. Trainings in Nonviolence, based on the philosophy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have touched the lives of tens of thousands due to the persistent work of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies. Accordingly, two distinguished speakers have been chosen for the evening.
Dr. Robert L. Carothers is the President of the University of Rhode Island, and a recipient of the Center’s Governor Guillermo Gavaria Correa Award. His tenure at the University of Rhode Island has been highlighted by his dedication to a campus free from violence.
Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., Civil Rights Activist, Distinguished Scholar-In-Residence, and authority on the strategy of nonviolent social change, has been the dedicated Director of the Center as a visionary for a nonviolent future.
Both speakers are highly regarded and admired, with each having received additional, counteless awards for their efforts in building Dr. King’s “Beloved Community.” They are expected to both reflect on past accomplishments and advise on the future course.
A reception will precede the dinner in honor of the high school graduation of Mrs. Robin Wildman’s former fifth grade class, trained in nonviolence and one of the Center’s first formal initiatives with youth. The evening will be enriched by music, food, and reflections, while proceeds from the reception and dinner will benefit the Nonviolent Summer Institute Scholarship Fund.
To RSVP, call 401-874-2875. To make a donation, make checks payable to:
In case you didn’t get the memo - I, Reza Rites, have been dj’ing at least once a month on 90.3 FM, WRIU in Kingston RI, having officially joined the now-four person team that produces the music show, “Voices of Women.” We each are on about once a month, and the show is live Saturday mornings, 9:00 - 11:00 AM. You can listen online by going to www.wriu.org, or by using and downloading one or both of the following two links:
Check me out tomorrow, Saturday, April 19!!!!! I’ll be playing women like Billie Holiday, Ninah Simone and Dinah Washington; Celia Cruz, CEU, and Ivy Queen; Ciara, Janet, Beyonce; Angelique Kidjo, Sara Taveras, and Les Nubians; Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, and MIA; Kim Trusty, Iyeoka, Ghislaine Jean-Mahone. Can you really miss this? Are you sure you don’t want to roll out of bed?
THIS JUST IN: Reza Rites appears next on Voices of Women on Saturday, May 3, 2008
I am writing to share some exciting news with you and to invite you to apply your expertise. As you may know, besides running a website (RezaRitesRi.com) I have been a freelance journalist for the past 4 years, sending out articles on a number of different topics to a variety of local and national publications. One of these publications is She Shines, a magazine that celebrates “the aspirations and accomplishments of women.” She Shines is a free publication published five times a year by YWCA Northern Rhode Island and mailed and distributed to members of YWCA NRI and to over 7,000 homes and businesses throughout RI and southeastern Massachusetts. It can also be read at www.sheshines.org.
Why is this information important? I am happy to report that I have been selected to be Guest Editor of the next issue of She Shines. The next edition, the Summer Issue, will be released in mid-June with the theme, Minority Health: Prevention and Wellness for the Soul.
I am overjoyed to be charged with such an important topic, but it is clear to me that I cannot do it alone. Nor does it make sense given the expertise and passion of all the advocates and organizations already out there. That is why I am reaching out to you: I want to include your voice on this topic. But how can you help?
- Purchase and reserve ad space to announce an event, highlight your organization, recognize achievement, etc. It will appear in print and online.
- Send me short articles or journal excerpts written by you/your organization on the topics of Minority Health, health disparities, successful treatments, etc.
- Send me fact sheets, statistical data, or background information on medical studies, health disparities, or your healthcare organization.
I hope that you will join me by having your ideas included in this exciting edition of She Shines and by calling attention to this important issue in general. The deadline for content is April 28, 2008. For more information or to start helping immediately, call me at 401-497-5246 or email me (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Reza Corinne Clifton
Guest Editor, She Shines Magazine
celebrating the aspirations and accomplishments of women
(Israeli and Palestinian women, Ghada Ageel, Shireen Khamis, and Rela Mazali pose in Providence in October 2006, during a stop on a tour they participated in, ‘Jerusalem Women Speak: Three Women, Three Faiths, One Shared Vision’.)
How are you doing? Nice to see your periodic updates. I wanted to send you the info below about the delegation I am leading this summer focusing on the issue of Apartheid. I am co-leading the delegation with Felicia Eaves of Black Voices for Peace. These delegations are a great way to learn firsthand about the struggle for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine. Are you interested in joining?
I am attempting to do some focused recruiting in order to attract activists (and others) to the trip and thought you might be able to help me spread the word. I am pasting an announcement below. Could you forward it on to your networks?
Do you know any specific people we should reach out to in order to recruit individually or simply to spread the word about the trip? I would also be happy to be in touch with them.
We are also currently looking critically at how we can raise some funds to subsidize the expenses of low income delegates (and especially, given the Apartheid framework, African-American activists who cannot afford the full costs). Do you have any ideas of donors or organizations who may be willing to help support a delegate on this trip? If you have any thoughts, I would certainly appreciate the help. It’s very important for me individually to have a diverse group on this trip so I’m trying to work hard on that aspect.
I hope you are well and I look forward to hearing from you!
Jacob Pace, Assistant Director
1326 9th St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Investing in Peace: Models for Addressing an Ongoing Occupation and the Question of Apartheid
A Delegation to Israel/Palestine
VISIT ISRAEL/PALESTINE! APPLY TODAY!
July 27 - August 10, 2008
Join Interfaith Peace-Builders and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation to travel to Israel/Palestine this summer. Your participation as an eyewitness to the situation will enrich your understanding of the conflict and empower your work back in the United States.
World leaders and Civil Society Groups have increasingly termed Israel’s domination of the Palestinian territories as a form of Apartheid. This delegation will examine the structural segregation of Israeli and Palestinian space and the physical separation of the two peoples.
You will also explore methods proposed by Israeli, Palestinian and international peacemakers to challenge the Israeli occupation. Meetings will address the ongoing debate surrounding boycott and divestment from companies which support the occupation. Additional meetings will explore opportunities for investment in projects which promote peace and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.
Felicia Eaves is a Steering Committee Member of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Felicia also serves as Chair of Black Voices for Peace in Washington, DC. Black Voices for Peace is a national network of activists, organizers and ordinary people from communities who work for freedom, justice, respect for human rights, and peace in their neighborhoods, throughout the nation and around the world. Felicia has been a dedicated social and environmental justice activist for nearly 20 years. She previously worked for the Environmental Heath Coalition, a San Diego based Environmental Justice organization and is a founding Board Member of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, a national preventive health and environmental/economic justice network in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
Jacob Pace joined Interfaith Peace-Builders in 2007 as Assistant Director. He previously worked with Partners for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in Washington, DC. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz where he worked with the Resource Center for Nonviolence. Jake spent more than a year in Israel/Palestine between 2003 and 2005 working with the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem in Bethlehem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip where he researched human rights issues and Israeli settlement policies.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
The cost of $1950 covers 14 days of hotel and home stay accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, local transportation, guides, speaker/event fees, and basic tips and gratuities. The cost does not include domestic and international airfares.
Interfaith Peace-Builders and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation would like to provide financial support for low-income activists who cannot afford the full cost of the delegation.
If you cannot attend, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the costs of a low-income delegate at www.ifpbdel.org/donation (please mark “scholarship fund” in the comment box).
DEADLINE TO APPLY
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until June 9, 2008. Apply early to reserve and lock in lower airfares.
Click here to keep reading, or visit www.ifpbdel.org for more info.
by Kalyana Champlain
(Young women express their feelings about the relationship between state budget priorities and poverty in RI.)
PROVIDENCE, RI - On April 4, 2008, RI community activist Bill Bateman organized a protest to speak out against poverty in Rhode Island today. The purpose was to not only call attention to the growing problem of poverty in Rhode Island, but, as it was held on the day of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., also to celebrate the struggle he waged, and to remind us that is his work is not done.
Called the “Poor Peoples March of 2008,” community members and activists arrived representing local organizations. There were youth from Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), staff and volunteers from the George Wiley Center and the RI Campaign to End Childhood Poverty (RI CECP), and reporters from StreetSights.org – a publication that provides “accurate and honest information about issues relating to homelessness.”
One thing causing concern for participants in the march was a bill passed in 2006 aimed at reducing income tax for the state’s richest residents at a time when the state was – and still is – cutting back on things like after-school and general assistance programs that serve those in dire need.
In an article run in the May 4, 2006 issue of the Providence Journal, RI Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano was quoted saying in regards to the bill that “we will not do so at the expense of the people who rely upon the budget, Rhode Islanders in need of assistance such as RIte Care, and other families who are struggling, especially at this time of higher gas and energy costs. As long as we are able to provide the vital services upon which Rhode Islanders rely, then we in the Senate will keep an open mind.”
However, two years later it seems that his concern in regards to “vital services” was not heard or adequately addressed according to attendance at the protest on April 4th. As people shared individually and collectively, some RI’ers have paid dearly since this decision, and looking at rising oil and food prices, things are only getting worse.
(Two older caucasian men express their concerns about the relationship between escalating miliatary spending and poverty in RI.)
Angelo Adams, a Providence resident and member of the George Wiley center tells us, “[When cuts like this happen] it puts us in survival mode. This makes crime rise and things get worse. The Poorest people are the canaries in the mine…Governor Carcieri cannot keep putting things on the back of the poor.”
Cathy Riley-Jones, also of the George Wiley Center and RI CECP, had a similar statement. “ It’s, well, it’s [about]Martin Luther. It’s unbelievable…they are cutting everything. He [Carcieri] is constantly cutting social services. We need to build folks up—we can’t constantly cut and build folks up.”
Perhaps one of the most moving testimonies, however, came from 13 year old Anea Garcia, a student of the St. Paul School and member of DARE. When asked what brought her to the protest she passionately stated, “There are no jobs. They are cutting after-school programs. These programs are important for the youth to stay out of trouble so they won’t be doing other things like drugs. They have cut the budget from No Child Left Behind. We are the ones suffering, and the youth are supposed to be the future.” Later, as she addressed the public, she would discuss the case of young women selling their bodies and young men selling drugs to make ends meet.
As community members stood on the steps of the State House, as they had been locked out and blocked from protesting inside, a cold rain began to fall. But their commitment was strong and they continued on—determined to make a statement that Rhode Island is not doing its best to take care of all of its residents.
When asked what needed to be done from this point on to make a difference, Robert Parham Jr., a writer and community member, stated, “We need to move economics in a different direction. It needs to go to the people, not the politics. We must break out of our mode of apathy.”
Kalyana Champlain is a Communication Studies major at the University of RI – graduating in May 2008 with honors – and she is a writer and spoken word artist. She is currently working on a thesis entitled “Hip Hop is Dead? The Rhetoric of Hip Hop,” discussing the social conditions that have lead to this art form’s rhetoric and how they are now causing its decline. To reach her, please feel free to email email@example.com.
Originally sent Thursday, April 3, 2008
It’s Thursday afternoon April 3, 2008 , and boy are there lots of things happening. If you missed it, last night, April 2, marked the first date in a new series bringing Tavis Smiley’s “Covenant” with Black America to RI. Information about future discussions in the series, as well other events and updates, have been made or will be made to the Listings Pages, so be sure to check there to see what some of these things are.
But what about tonight, tomorrow, and later you ask? Below, I’ve listed titles and brief excerpts from some of the new posts on my site, a few of which deal with events, actions, and other ways in which you can get involved or get active. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the posts, and I hope you’ll enjoy attending some of these events.
Sunshine and Laughter,
As you may know, Lt. Governor Roberts has recently submitted a package of legislation to the general assembly that will transform the health care system in our state by putting in place a strong new structure for ensuring that all Rhode Islanders will have access to high quality health care at a price they can afford. We are going on the road with our health care plan, and our first meeting will be on the South Side at Ada ’s Creation on Broad St. April 3, 2008 at 6:30pm .
Scroll down or click here to keep reading.
RIYP GENERAL BODY MEETING, Thursday, April 3 at 6 p.m ;
Poetery, LIVE Music & SERIOUS funk-rockin’ Hip-hop with
The Press Project and IYEOKA, Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 9:00 PM;
Looking the Storm in the Eye:
A week of active reflection in Providence on Hurricane Katrina and a community based call and response. Featuring the first-ever unveiling of Climbing PoeTree’s “Hurricane Season” and culminating in a Folk Thought forum and solutions-cipher. Editors note: Ends Sunday, April 6)
Scroll down or click here to keep reading.
Support Non-Commercial Radio, Part 1:
A MESSAGE FROM 90.3, WRIU FM
90.3 is Rhode Island ’s leading non-commercial radio station. A broadcast service of the University of Rhode Island , WRIU is managed by a student-run Executive Board and staffed by many dedicated students and by community volunteers like myself. Hear me, Reza Rites, playing the best women artists once a month on Saturdays from 9 am -11 am on “Voices of Women.” You can also hear me occasionally co-hosting “Bladeconnex Radio,” Saturdays, 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM .
Scroll down or click here to keep reading.
Top 10 Reasons to Support WRNI Today; A message from 1290 AM, 1230 AM, 102.7 FM and WRNI.org.
3. You won’t be able to master your well-polished British accent without your daily dose of BBC programming.
2. You often experience “driveway moments” - when you just can’t leave your car until you hear the end of a story on WRNI.
1. WRNI depends on listener support to bring you the comprehensive and in-depth programming that you listen to and rely on.
Scroll down or click here to keep reading.
“One and two years ago,” said Essex Properties owner Kate Duggan, who is pictured here, “you could literally buy a house for less money down than a car . . . but now we’re in downturn.” Posted online with permission from She Shines(tm), a publication of YWCA Northern Rhode Island. This article appeared in the Winter 2007/2008 edition; for more information visit www.sheshines.org.
Scroll down or click here to keep reading.
Despite the 30-year span between this year’s election and that underscoring “Two Can Play,” Queen Ifrica’s description is not wholly unlike the social and political undercurrents flowing through Trevor Rhone’s play. The setting for the story is Kingston , Jamaica during the late 1970’s / early in 1980, and it is in an area “ravaged by the effects of political warfare” – between the same two parties that competed in this just-passed election season. Campaigning at the time as leader of the PNP was Michael Manley; leading the JLP campaign was Edward Seaga.
Scroll down or click here to keep reading.
0 comments reza | Women in RI, Leaders/Organizations/Businesses in RI, Art, Poetry, Music, Theatre, Human/Civil Rights, National and International Women - NEW, National and International Organizations - NEW, National and International Leadership - NEW
New updates have been made and will continue to be made to the Listings Pages. Make sure to check them out to hear about events and opportunities in and outside of Rhode Island.
Sunshine and Laughter,
SOUTHSIDE HEALTH CARE MEETING
Health Care Reform Community Meeting with Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts
an initiative of Mission: Healthy Rhode Island
Thursday, April 3, 2008
1137 Broad Street in Providence
The goal of this meeting is to allow members of the public to hear first-hand about how this plan is going to help them, and have the opportunity to ask the Lt. Governor any questions that they may have. Most importantly, it will allow the Lt. Governor to listen to Rhode Islanders, to hear their stories, concerns, thoughts, and ideas. Scroll down or click here to keep reading.
RIYP GENERAL BODY MEETING
Thursday, April 3 at 6 p.m
In the offices of New York Life
In the Charles Orms Building
10 Orms Street, Suite 410
RIYP will host its next General Body Meeting on Thursday, April 3 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at the offices of New York Life, located in the Charles Orms Building, 10 Orms Street, Suite 410, Providence. There is free parking available on the side of the building after 5 p.m. All are welcome to attend.
Poetery, LIVE Music & SERIOUS funk-rockin’ Hip-hop with
The Press Project and IYEOKA
Thursday, April 3, 2008
at CLUB FELT
533 Washington street
(Downtown) Boston, MA
THIS JUST IN: Pick up Your copy today of the cd, “In The Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2,” where Iyeoka lends her talents to a song with the African Underground All-Stars featuring Optimus from The Foundation Movement and Sierra Leone rapper, Chosan in an Afro Hip-Hop cover of U2’s 1988 hit song “Desire”. The album will be released April 1, 2008 on Sony BMG. Proceeds from the sale of the album In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 is to benefit the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa. For more performance dates or other information about Iyeoka, visit www.myspace.com/iyeoka
Looking the Storm in the Eye:
A week of active reflection in Providence on Hurricane Katrina and a community based call and response. Featuring the first-ever unveiling of Climbing PoeTree’s “Hurricane Season” and culminating in a Folk Thought forum and solutions-cipher. The featured performance of the week is this saturday, and it’s the first-ever public unveiling of “Hurricane Season: the hidden messages in water” which is a multimedia theatre act with a poetic script, done by Alixa and Naima of Climbing PoeTree (www.climbingpoetree.com). There’s a lot of buzz around the show, the tickets are free and we’re definitely going to have to be turning people away (which sucks…) - so what we’re doing is only giving reservations to people who come to one of the workshops.
Thursday April 3rd, 6pm: “Railroaded in Rhode Island” by Bruce Reily at O’Ville (239 Oak St behind Wes’s Rib House)
Friday April 4th, 6pm: “Conquering Fear” and screening of DETAINED at ONA (122 Manton Ave)
Viernes, 4 de Abril, 6pm: “Conquistando El Miedo” y la presentación muy esperada del documental DETENIDO (DETAINED) @ ONA (122 de la Manton)
Saturday April 5th, 7pm: First-ever unveiling of Climbing PoeTree’s “Hurricane Season: the hidden messages in water” @ Rites and Reason Theatre (155 Angell St). Tickets are free, but reservations will only be given to people who come to one of the workshops
Sunday April 6th, 12-5pm at Rites and Reason (155 Angell St). Folk Thought Forum and Solutions Cypher: a stencil-making and vision-sharing session hosted by Alixa and Naima of Climbing PoeTree. RSVP to reserve a space.
For more information on the week’s activities, visit http://LookingTheStormInTheEye.blogspot.com. For more about Climbing PoeTree, visit www.climbingpoetree.com.
Per our conversation
Click on the images above to download, from left to right, the English version of the flyer or the Spanish version. Haz click para arriba para escoger el anuncio en ingles, a la izquierda, y en espanol a la derecha.
As you may know, Lt. Governor Roberts has recently submitted a package of legislation to the general assembly that will transform the health care system in our state by putting in place a strong new structure for ensuring that all Rhode Islanders will have access to high quality health care at a price they can afford.
Our office is working hard to promote this agenda inside the state house, but we are also taking the plan outside the building to regular Rhode Islanders.
I am reaching out to you because we are going on the road with our health care plan, and our first meeting will be on the South Side at Ada’s Creation on Broad St. April 3, 2008 at 6:30pm. I am organizing the South Side of Providence for this event and I would like your help in making sure that members of the community know about this event.
The goal of this meeting is to allow members of the public to hear first-hand about how this plan is going to help them, and have the opportunity to ask the Lt. Governor any questions that they may have. Most importantly, it will allow the Lt. Governor to listen to Rhode Islanders, to hear their stories, concerns, thoughts, and ideas.
If you are interested in helping out with the meeting, please give me a call or email me back. I would be very interested in discussing with you who you think needs to be contacted to ensure that as many people as possible learn about this opportunity to discuss such an important issue.
Brian A. Monteiro
Office of Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts
Phone: (401) 222-2371
A MESSAGE FROM 90.3, WRIU FM (WRIU.org) and
Corey Taylor, a.k.a. Blade Mon of Bladeconnex Radio
(Hear me, Reza Rites, playing the best women artists once a month on Saturdays from 9 am -11 am on “Voices of Women.” You can also hear me occasionally co-hosting “Bladeconnex Radio,” Saturdays, 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM)
KINGSTON, RI - Greetings family and friends I think most of us all know about 90.3 WRIU FM, or have kept their dial locked to this frequency and some point in time. 90.3 is Rhode Island’s leading non-commercial radio station. A broadcast service of the University of Rhode Island, WRIU is managed by a student-run Executive Board and staffed by many dedicated students and by community volunteers like myself.
Our offices and broadcast facilities are located on the third floor of the Memorial Union on URI’s Kingston campus. The station operates a 3500 Watt FM station broadcasting at 90.3 FM from a transmitter located on the URI campus to all of Rhode Island, as well as parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Long Island, NY, and worldwide via our Internet webcast. WRIU is completely non-commercial, and receives all of its funding from three sources: the students of the University of Rhode Island, revenue earned from underwriting and, most importantly, through the support of its listeners during our annual fundraiser.
This year, WRIU’s annual fundraiser, Radiothon, runs from Sunday, March 30 through Sunday, April 6. These eight days will be the one time all year when we take to the air to ask you, our listeners, for financial support. As always, you should call in during your favorite WRIU program and make your pledge by calling our phone numbers (401) 792-9030 or 1-888-303-WRIU (1-888-303-9748). You can also make a pledge online by using our online Radiothon form.
While WRIU receives funding from the URI Student Senate to cover most basic day-to-day expenses like office supplies and our telephone bill, that funding does not cover the extensive needs of a radio station. Your support of the station is necessary for us to continue to bring you the programming you expect and enjoy all year. From these funds we pay for essentials like repairs and maintenance on our transmitter, replacement of broken equipment, and royalty fees and equipment for our webcast. We also put some of it away for a rainy, or perhaps snowy, day, when ice acumulates on our antenna or that inevitable day when our transmitter needs replacement. Without the funds that we collect, and save, from radiothon, we would likely be unable to recover from such a setback.
Not only do we get something valuable out of your (tax-deductible) donation, you benefit as well. Aside from the obvious benefit of the continued existence of one of the largest and most diverse non-commercial radio stations in the country at a time when corporate ownership is at an all time high, we have a great assortment of “thank you” gifts for you! This year we’re offering many fine WRIU logo-laced premiums for your use and enjoyment.
All donors will receive our “basics”, which include a pen, a bumper sticker, a pair of sunglasses and a bottle-opener/flashlight keychain.
Donors giving $25-49.99 will get those basics plus a WRIU nalgene bottle.
For a donation of $50-74.99, you can get a long-sleeve, baseball-style t-shirt along with the basics.
Of course if you donate $75-99.99, you’ll receive both the nalgene bottle and the shirt.
Donors wishing to give a gift of $100 or more will get everything we’re offering: The pen, bumper sticker, bottle-opener/flashlight keychain, sunglasses, nalgene bottle, T-shirt, and a padfolio.
Plus, many programs and music departments will be offering their own special premiums in addition to the station-wide premiums. These will include anything from concert tickets to CDs, so listen to your favorite shows to see what they’re offering! You can also get a sampling on our premiums page. Whether you donate by phone or by web, we appreciate your support!
When you do donate, please remember to get your payment to us as soon as possible. Our mailing address is:
326 Memorial Union
Kingston, RI 02881
PLAYING POLITICS IN JAMAICA: STILL NOT A GAME
by Reza Corinne Clifton
Posted online with permission from Black Notes, a publication of The Providence Black Repertory Company. This article appeared in Volume 4, Fall 2007; for more information visit BLACKREP.ORG.”
(Popular, International reggae artist, Queen Ifrica, pictured here in the foreground, is involved in social activism and community empowerment back home in Jamaica. She says she is driven by “a sense of hopelessness and unrealized baggage taken from generation to generation,” and by the pattern of political problem-solving going “back to square one” following elections.)
“Jamaica is in for a little bit of a rough time, which can only be soothed by the political leaders taking a responsible and mature position as to what is quite clearly a crisis.”
For those familiar with Jamaican politics, this statement could have been made with respect to most of the election seasons the country has seen since the middle of the last century. But this quote was printed in a September 4, 2007 Miami Herald article entitled “Close election could toss Jamaica into turmoil.” It was in reference to the results of the country’s September third day at the polls, which were initially being questioned, according to the Herald’s story, by the country’s incumbent leader, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller. It was later clarified in the article that very little violence had in fact erupted.
Two days later, on September 6, international media organization Reuters reported that the now-former PM, Simpson-Miller, was accepting the preliminary results. Five days after that, the Jamaica Observer was reporting that Simpson-Miller had congratulated the new PM, O. Bruce Golding. A Jamaica Gleaner article stated that she was to be in attendance at his swearing-in ceremony.
In hindsight, with Simpson-Miller’s departure as dignified as it was, the alarm forecasted in the Miami Herald article appears unfounded and presumptuous. But as “Two Can Play” – the inaugural production for the Black Rep’s 2007- 2008 theater season – demonstrates, politics-driven factionalism and violence have been regular problems for the Jamaican electorate and citizenry.
This past July, during Sound Session 2007, Reggae singer and community activist Queen Ifrica noted similar negative qualities with regard to the climate of the then-current election season in Jamaica; the island’s pre-Hurricane Dean date for elections was August 27. Queen Ifrica described deep divisions between the island’s main political parties, the People’s National Party (Simpson-Miller) and the Jamaican Labor Party (Golding). She observed a “cult” of “thousands” against another.
Despite the 30-year span between this year’s election and that underscoring “Two Can Play,” Queen Ifrica’s description is not wholly unlike the social and political undercurrents flowing through Trevor Rhone’s play. The setting for the story is Kingston, Jamaica during the late 1970’s / early in 1980, and it is in an area “ravaged by the effects of political warfare” – between the same two parties that competed in this just-passed election season. Campaigning at the time as leader of the PNP was Michael Manley; leading the JLP campaign was Edward Seaga.
Some will remember, some have heard of, or, thanks to YouTube, some have very recently seen footage from the One Love Concert of April 1978. It is famous for the performance given by Bob Marley and the Wailers, and for the moment during it in which the iconic lead singer invited rival leaders Manley and Seaga to join him on stage. He eclipsed this gesture by grasping one of each man’s hands in a powerful plea for the parties to issue a ceasefire and seek unity.
The concert took place, like the play does, during what author and University of Sussex professor Richard D. E. Burton calls the “height of Jamaican interparty violence,” during the campaign season of 1980. Burton, in his book “Afro-Creole: Power, Opposition and Play in the Caribbean” says that over 500 people were killed during this period. In his 1994 book, “Rastafari: Roots and Ideology, ” activist, scholar and lecturer Barry Chevannes puts the figure at more than 900.
Bob Marley and the Wailers was not the first band to participate in Jamaican politics. As a matter of fact, as Burton points out, Manley of the PNP had enlisted a “whole galaxy of sympathetic Reggae stars” – including Marley as well as big names like Peter Tosh and Max Romeo – during his 1972 electoral campaign against the JLP.
This point is not lost on Rhone, who wrote the play with Reggae music in mind – and in his stage notes. Reggae listeners who subscribe to the older, roots form of the music will surely make the connections too, as many fans of the genre, new and old alike, look forward to, prefer, or expect to hear songs filled with social, racial, global, dietary or spiritual politics.
Artists and performers that are musically in-sync with the plight, worries, or values of some in Jamaican society are more popular than ever. Take Marley’s son, Damian, and his hit, “Welcome to Jamrock,” or even dancehall king, Elephant Man, who released a track soon after the September 11 American terrorist attacks in which he discussed the falling of the Twin Towers’s global implications. Queen Ifrica says that it is “a sense of hopelessness and unrealized baggage taken from generation to generation” that influences her to produce empowering political and socially-responsive music.
But for some artists, action and activism isn’t limited just to song; it can’t be. Today, youth violence in Jamaica resembles the gang or inter-neighborhood violence seen in American streets. According to Queen Ifrica, both parties were trying to be responsive to it, focusing on getting young people to vote. She also predicts that, “as soon as the elections are over and when they find out who [wins], it basically goes back to square one.”
As a way to change things, Ifrica, along with artists Tony Rebel, Luciano, and others, has formed the Committee for Community, a group that has mediated gang disputes, provides free concerts and raises money to send youth to school. With the problems of unemployment, lack of educational access, and food security still afflicting many in Jamaica, these artists, like Gloria (in ‘Two Can Play’), can’t help thinking, “One day it muss be over. It can’t go on forever.”
For more on history, politics, and spirituality in Jamaica pick up “Afro-Creole: Power, Opposition and Play in the Caribbean” by Richard Burton or “Rastafari: Roots and Ideology” by Barry Chevannes. For contemporary news on Jamaica, visit www.jamaica-gleaner.com or www.jamaicaobserver.com.
Additional sources for this article included “Alertnet, a service of the Reuters (news) foundation (www.altertet.org),” The Miami Herald online, www.miamiherald.com.
For more about Queen Ifrica’s visit to Rhode Island, check out the article, Love for Humanity and Self-Awareness Takes Female Reggae Artist to the Top, or check out the Podcasts page to listen to “Top Female Reggae Artist Talks Race, Rastas, and Revolutions: A Conversation with Queen Ifrica, Part 1” and “Black History Month should not only Celebrate the Past: A conversation with Queen Ifrica Part 2”
Reza Corinne Clifton is a freelance journalist with six years of experience through multiple platforms including radio, print, and online. Her articles have been published in places like Blackenterprise.com, Urban Influence Magazine, She Shines magazine, RIFuture.org, Motif Magazine, and The Providence American. She is also an online publisher and a 2007 recipient of the Metcalf Award for Diversity in the Media for her website, RezaRitesRi.com. In radio, she has production and on-air experience in music and news programming from WRIU and WRNI.
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