One of the excuses you often hear about photographing black women is how difficult it is to get their skin tones right with photography standards which are designed for white people. Then you come across a few videos which turn all that on its head and reflects the nonsense of black people seeking self-expression through resources controlled by a race which has denigrating black people as part of its agenda, whose very sense of identity revolves around fact their distinctiveness from black people, that black people is what they are definitely not.Here is a video and some stills from Jamaican dance-hall artiste Spice. She doesn't come across as the woman you would invite home to see your parents, but deep inside she is such a nice decent girl. It is all showbiz you know. We don't see that many videos of ebony-complexioned female artistes and I find it sad that it is in this musical genre I have seen so much attention given to the makeup and photography of an ebony sister. Admittedly this video is well within the bounds of what is considered decent by contemporary standards, but the other one below is not, and is labelled as such.
Then there is the downside of the aggressive female sexuality displayed in dance-hall music and these other wining genres. So the question arises - is that regular Jamaican/Caribbean culture or is it something done exclusively for show? Or is it the image that their white/foreign funders and producers prefer to promote? It seems so at odds with the generally conservative nature of Afro-Caribbean cultures.
In the Western world, ie the diaspora, do our young females find refuge or solace in exhibitionist, aggressive and even vulgar displays of sexuality because it is the only way they are permitted to express themselves, being denied portrayal as elegant and refined? A means of expression which is as attention seeking as it is vengeful, because in portraying themselves that way they place us in a bad light as they express themselves in a bad light? Is it a demand that we better ourselves by showing some more respect and appreciation for them, because we do not express appreciation and respect ourselves if we don't do the same for them? Is it our punishment for the way we neglect their image in the media? We allow video after video after video by black male artists featuring mixed race and white women, as though we do not think they actually matter and they seek revenge by trashing our image. I can't I say am happy to see black girls in twerking and booty-shaking videos, nor do I think it is proper for mixed race women (which for me includes Latino and Mestizo women) to engage in such exhibitions, but then if that seems to be the way then why not them too?
Here is another one from Spice, which although comes with warnings is not out of reach to impressionable minds
There is a bigger issue here, because it seems that over the last 50 years we haven't paid attention to our portrayal in the media and considered its effect on the outlook of our youth. We have taken the media as an environment driven by fads and fashions which are trivial, transient and inane, and have failed to consider its effect on our young. We have taken for granted that there has been no ill-will towards our cultural ideals in the images portrayed and the effects on or young. We have taken for granted that regulatory bodies such as censors and broadcasting authorities have been doing a proper job, that if it was alright by them then it was alright. Then you have foolish displays being OK by virtue of having the imprimatur of august instititions such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and the counterparts across the Atlantic.
It is time to take a direct interest in how our youth are portrayed in the media, and destroy productions and distribution companies that promote images we don't want our youth to engage in.
Coming back to Spice she displays a nice turn of humour in her videos, and clearly doesn't take herself seriously, unlike some Nicky Ms and Riris. She and Pamputtae are actually nice ladies but should endeavour to stay on the right side of obese (I have to say many African men and Jamaican men are fine with that). Pamputtae can be so cute. Differences in social background aside they are home girls to me and I would date women like them. I don't want to be judgemental about people raised in a different environment of class, culture and opportunity, but we have to seriously question whether differences in culture and environment excuse such conduct. Africans and Asians both in their homelands and within the diaspora live in circumstances which are not much different from the poorest ghettos in the Western world, yet do not engage in such displays, so why excuse it among Jamaicans or a small sub-culture within Jamaica?
Then we come to Jamaica and its cultural impact on the world as a whole. Many people are unaware of this but Jamaica is a very small country by any measure. The current measure on Wikipedia is 2.8 million. That means the Greater Accra Region probably has a higher population than the whole of Jamaica, and we are not yet even into Lagos, Abidjan, Nairobi etc. Yet we see how much some highly promoted sub-cultures within that small population influences cultures and behaviours far outside. What is even worse is how much the media blows up the trials, tribulations and petty dramas within such cultures and their artistes into much more than they are. I mean why should something like skin-bleaching of an artist like Vybz Cartel and his incarceration for murder warrant so much column inches within any sane society? You see the same thing as with the hip-hop industry. People whose background, conduct and patently absurd lifestyles are promoted as worthy attention by a fundamentally malign media establishment.
We can't let a population of over a 1 billion in Africa, and other black populations worldwide, African descended or otherwise be unduly influenced by small cultures in the West simply because their music and culture is promoted heavily in the Western world by corporations which are indifferent to the effects the adoption of such cultures have on the character formation and outlook in our youth. It is time to start putting our foot down on such displays. So described Salafist/Wahabist Islam is another ideology promoted by foreign influences whose effect I am now beginning to notice. It is time to deal with that as well, but that warrants another blog post.