Remember when Ebony Patterson loud up di ting? Still on the aftermath of the 2010 Tivioli Incursion, not many people would envision using Jamaica Carnival as a platform for espousing the atrocities of 2010. But, this is exactly why we have creative and socially aware minds like that of Ebony Patterson.

Renowned artist and art educator, Ebony Patterson’s works are known to deal with a wide array of social issues in Jamaica including sexuality and contemporary ideals of beauty. In 2014, she showed her prowess as an advocate for social change with her Invisible Presence: Bling Memories performance art performance at Jamaica Carnival 2014.

This act of protest using a visual medium, much like the Protoje’s Kingston Be Wise, served to keep the Tivoli incursion on the hearts and minds of the masses.

An extract from Arc: Magazine notes that:

“In this work, Patterson investigates performance and masquerade in cultural rituals like Carnival. To do so, she took Bling Funerals, the contemporary growing phenomenon celebrating death, popular in the working class of Jamaica today. Patterson led a spectacular procession of 50 volunteers holding blinged-out coffins high up in the air, preceded by a marching band through the streets of Kingston. Giving visibility to the invisible, she is also making a case for the influence of popular culture on daily life, traditions and rituals. This work is Patterson’s way to give validation to the socially and economically challenged, getting this marginalized group noticed in the wider society she has access to as an artist, and can and will be heard.”

Using the 2010 Tivoli Incursion as our example, seems to me the key to success as it relates to enacting change in Jamaica is impact, strength of appeal and consistency. Not many issues we face as a country are treated like this. In fact, once we can express our views on it in some fashion – social media currently being our main means of doing this – we simply move on. Our issues do not deserve to be treated as transient fads or topical discussions that make us seem smart and aware. There are actual people who are affected by these “topics” of discussion and they need our help.

#HashtagAdvocacy can be very impactful especially in building awareness. However, #HashtagAdvocacy should build an awareness that pushes us into action NOT build awareness so we can sit around together being aware. I support all the individuals who got up and carried coffins in remembrance of those killed in Tivoli, plus and other marginalized groups represented. However, not only do I stand with her on social media, I stand with her offline as well.


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