Our campaign -‘Discrimination is Discrimination’ – addresses the fact that most people in the Caribbean reject other forms of arbitrary discrimination; they understand why it is problematic and toxic for our societies. Sadly, the same understanding isn’t extended to discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI). This is not to say that all forms of discrimination are the same or operate the same. There are, however, crucial parallels between various forms of discrimination that are often ignored. Our campaign visually juxtaposes discriminatory remarks in popular media in a way which makes the parallels apparent.
We wanted to use Caribbean relevant lyrics that many people, and particularly, a youth demographic, would identify with so that people would see how easily we normalise expressions of violence and expressions of discrimination against LGBTQ people and how much we are culpable in that normalisation. We wanted people also to interrogate why they were able to morally excuse lyrics which promote violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people and by extension, why they thought of sexual orientation/gender identity as different from other forms of discrimination, the expressions of which they would never endorse. The popularity of the lyrics was crucial to the campaign. The Indo-Caribbean woman who was jumping in a carnival band and singing Wanskie’s song must now be forced to think about her prejudices; same with the black man in the club singing Buju’s tune. They both may have experienced being discriminated against, depending on their other contexts, they would now be forced to think about the ways they endorse other forms of discrimination.
I think homophobia in the Caribbean is fueled by many things and that people are socialised into being homophobic. Children and people generally living in a space are constantly exposed to expressions of the values and attitudes of that space, which in many cases are internalised. Homophobia as a package is part of the value and attitude system of the Caribbean, expressed in many fora, including in popular media and internalised by people who don’t think about it critically. So popular media plays its part in fueling homophobia in so far as it parades value systems that are internalised. But we have to remember that the music reflects society. Families fuel homophobia a lot more than popular media does in my view.
We are also organising ‘Groundation Radio’, a blog radio program to expand our platform and improve our outreach. We continue to publish creative and critical pieces from Caribbean and diasporic thinkers and writers on our website. See the full interview HERE from Global Voices.