With it’s message of tolerance and inclusion, Reggae music has been a powerful vehicle in advocacy in Jamaica for years. It’s anthemic sounds provide the perfect soundtrack for the oppressed to rally around as the fight for equal rights and justice. Not without its problems, Reggae is also seen to be exclusionary and even discriminatory by some with it’s message shades of sexism and homophobia (among other problematic rhetoric it seems to support).
A few years ago, Jamaica started recognizing February as Reggae Month. Last year, I the opportunity this 28-day long celebration presented to undertake an arts as advocacy project with a long-time collaborator and talented friend, Renee Kitson. With the goal of showcasing how Reggae through its messages is a catalyst for social change in Jamaica – despite it’s bad press – I hosted a series of online engagement forums. This included illustrated versions of Reggae lyrics, as seen below:
This year, being that I’m miles away from my island home, I hope that you all will join me in celebrating Reggae Month with copious amounts of Peter Tosh, Ini Kamoze, Eek-A-Mouse, Lady Saw, Maxi Priest and any other Reggae artiste you can get your hands on.
One Love and walk good!
P.S. If your only Reggae reference is Bob Marley then we have a problem.