Garvey, Obama, Chronixx… and Russian to a lesser extent

A summary before I weigh in my thoughts. Chronixx made a post on social media in which it can be inferred that he refers to the US president as a ‘Waste man’; in the post he mainly addresses the issue of the injustice that Marcus Garvey has been served by the USA. What happened next was a barrage of anti Chronixx sentiment like scatter fire across the digital realm for ‘calling Obama a waste man’, followed by a second but way less voluminous wave of return scatter fire from Chronixx supporters.

Dread was never intended as a polite title. Chronix, dread
Dread was never intended as a polite title. Chronix, dread

Among the anti Chronixx wave of scatter fire was a post by popular dancehall producer Russian, in which he is generally disrespectful to Chronixx and says that no one is perfect and references Garvey, calling his Black Star Line shipping company a ponzi scheme. Some have expressed shock that the Jamaican public and members of parliament have not reacted the same way over Russian’s disrespect of our own first national hero as they did over Chronixx disrespect of a foreign president.

USA President Obama
USA President Obama

And now I weigh in.

Firstly it is evident that many see Chronixx as the voice of a generation, and a balance to other ‘negative’ voices in the space that is Jamaican popular culture. This is not something he asked for, in fact it is the same outspokenness that has now invited new enemies that rallied this generation around him as their voice. Whether he asked for it or wanted it or not, people care about what Chronixx says. And so when I hear people say that his statements are his opinion and people shouldn’t react certain ways because of his personal opinion, i can understand that feeling, but I can also understand why people react.

I get the feeling that Chronixx sees himself as more than an entertainer and that his genuine intention is to be a force for good and to make a difference in the world. I hope this is a learning experience for him, because he still has a lot of good and great works to do, and i don’t think people should give up on him even if they disagree with what he said. As I see it, the lesson to be learnt is that when you are positioned as he is, every word from your mouth or hand can send ripples across the world. You have to be very calculated to make sure that those ripples change the world how you intend for it to be changed, and also to avoid defeating your own purpose. Which in this case, as I see it, the purpose was to highlight Marcus Garvey but most of the tongue wagging has been about the messenger and not the message. In order to truly learn the lesson however, he should analyse this entire situation, dissect it, and gain a deeper understanding of how people and the culture work. People are funny things.

Secondly it is apparent to me that Jamaicans generally care more about what Chronixx says than they do about what Russian says, and sadly Jamaicans care more about what is said about Obama than what is said about Marcus Garvey.  After reading Russian’s actual quote, I don’t think he intended to diss Marcus, though what he said can easily be interpreted as being disrespectful

"No one remember old Marcus Garvey" lyric by Burning Spear
“No one remember old Marcus Garvey” lyric by Burning Spear

Thirdly, the media hypes everything. The media cares about page views and likes and shares and sales. They love the drama because media is for sale and drama sells.

Fourthly… I wish people were more problem-solving oriented than bashful. Exhibit 1: the youth are fiery, rebellious, outspoken and revolutionary… nurture them, this energy can change the world. Exhibit 2: Jamaicans care more about Obama than Marcus Garvey… I can’t say i know the solution for this, but I know only a few artistes who have songs about Marcus, top of the list is Burning Spear, but he is not popular among the youth. And I know that in school we only learn a few facts about Marcus during the heroes week. We spend way more time learning about who colonized Jamaica and the European power struggles in the Caribbean. I’m no expert here, but I think it is obvious that solutions are there waiting to be found.

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