Forget The Internet Issue - Classism Is Ruining Jamaica's Creative Industry

Forget The Internet Issue – Classism Is Ruining Jamaica’s Creative Industry

The music industry in Jamaica is in a crisis and for once, the problem has nothing to do with piracy or streaming technologies.

No, Jamaica is facing a different problem with their entertainment industry, one that has its roots in slavery. A number of activists addressed this issue and more, including US entertainer Danny Glover, at the “Editor’s Forum,” which took place at the Jamaica Gleaner’s offices. During the forum artists and other creative professionals discussed the challenges facing Jamaica.

Kool Herc
Kool Herc, recognized as the father of Hip-Hop, was born in Kingston, Jamaica.

Although the country has produced Reggae legends like Bob Marley, Beenie Man and DJ Kool Herc, the industry has been continuously hampered by “creative resentment.”

It’s coming in the form of classism, which makes the upper-class hate on the music, art and film that the members of the lower-class are producing.

“Our industries cannot excel because those persons at the head are from a section of society who think the person in the movie or the song is expressing too much of this or he/she talks different from me,” said Patrick Gaynor, one half of reggae duo Twin of Twins.

Jamaica is still psychologically scarred from slavery, according to Gaynor. Ironically, the same week as the forum, Jamaica celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay uprising.

Although blacks were emancipated in the country in 1834, they suffered from extreme poverty and lack of access to participate in the government. By 1865, the tensions between slaves and ex-slave owners had come to a boiling point. A full-scale riot broke out and British soldiers killed almost 500 people.

Hundreds more blacks were put on trial and executed for their role in the uprising.

Even though 150 years may seem like ancient history, Patrick Gaynor of The Twins believes the legacy of classism in Jamaica has stifled the global export of Jamaican art and culture. Gaynor and other professionals from the film industry said that rules, restrictions and other laws have fostered an environment of “creative resentment” from the majority of creators in the country.

“Put aside pride and listen to the people who are feeling it the most. We can change things moving forward by changing things within ourselves, because we all know the truth,” Patrick Gaynor said. “Consider the persons you consider below you and put your mannerisms acquired through slavery aside.”


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