So Queen Ifrica has been dropped from the lineup of an upcoming festival because of remarks made at the recent Jamaica Grand Gala celebrations. This outcome was hinted at since offended persons spoke out against her actions that night and Queen Ifrica saw fit to record a song about it August 21 to, I assume vent.
And I now have a couple things to say:
Let’s be clear, asking you to not speak against something is NOT equivalent to asking you to speak out promoting it. It is possible to shut up. It is possible to pick your battles, to know about time and place.
When you, at a national family event, speak out against a certain lifestyle when that response was in no way prodded from you, you are showing the caliber of artist/spokesperson you are. Add to that the fact that you also encouraged the government to change their stance on the legality of marijuana, it is clear that you felt in a groove to speak out that night. And then those who were offended spoke back. I don’t think it was a matter of you not being allowed to say what you said; it was more a matter of you now having to face certain unpleasant circumstances because of what you said. You were not fined or imprisoned, you were simply removed from a lineup.
Before I go any further, let me state: freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.
What gets me is that, Queen Ifrica, like so many other artists (from Jamaica and otherwise) are not thinking about the detrimental effects of the words they sing. They are not thinking about the young people they profess to care for who have to suffer through taunting, bullying, depression, self-hate, violence and even worse, being made invisible and treated as non-persons, because of what they are promoting directly or indirectly.
Even worse, the fact that she and anyone else can ignore that she voiced her support for the continued criminalization of a sexual act mostly (note, not ONLY) done by homosexuals at a same festival at which was most likely pulled of largely by the work of homosexuals is a bit baffling. I’m here for our artists being smart about what they say and when they say. It’s full time now. Stop trying to get props by speaking out against people who have not provoked you. And for the record, someone wanting or choosing to live their life their way is not provoking you unless they try to force it on you. Having to see someone or know of someone living a different lifestyle than you is NOT forcing it on you. I see you being a Rasta. I don’t feel forced to become one. But I guess, given that the Rastafarian lifestyle is no longer treated as inferior, amnesia leads to us feeling oppression of another group is par for the course.
Now, my personal view on whether or not she should be removed from the festival takes into consideration a few things:
1) What kind of festival is it? I see that it is called Rastafest. The Rastafarian lifestyle does seem to be pretty anti-homosexuality but don’t quote me on that. Therefore, her message would be right at home, I assume. Appurtenant to this would be whether this was also a family festival in which case, another declaration of being anti-gay in stance would take away from the enjoyment of the festival by many.
2) Was Queen Ifrica a big draw for those who were planning to go? I’m sure the promoters must have considered this. This is a business afterall.
3) Were those who were offended by her being on the roster planning to support the festival but, due to her recent actions, decided against doing so? If so, how significant a portion of people are we talking about? Again, it is a business. I am simply asking about a profit/loss assessment.
I will not label Queen Ifrica as a “rabid homophobe”, like some apparently, have. I can really only recall one or two lines where she declares her support for the heterosexual lifestyle while making it clear that she is not an ally for homosexuals. I am also mindful of the culture she has been living in which would lead to her current values. I will say, though, that I get the impression that she is in a rebellious state of mind and she felt like adding fuel to the fire was appropriate. I don’t know the reason behind this, and truthfully, I don’t care. I only hope she was prepared to deal with the worst- which is what has now happened- being dropped from the lineup.
Don’t get Freedom Of Speech twisted. There is no true and unlimited freedom in this world and especially in this country. There are more freedoms where speech is regarded for heterosexuals and other privileged groups so maybe try and play another card. Or maybe wait until this blows over and use the situation as inspiration to write another hit, one with a different topic.
Most importantly, don’t be your own worst enemy. Think about making moves for your career and your livelihood. Or not. Your choice.
I think Junior Gong has managed to do well for himself as a Rastafarian reggae artist in terms of conscious music that seeks to uplift without tearing down. But maybe I’m not listening well enough.