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Race, Class, & Dancehall F16

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by

Julie Jenkins

on 9 December 2016

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Transcript of Race, Class, & Dancehall F16

Race, Class, & Dancehall
--middle class able to send children to better quality schools
--lower class less able to do so
--All Age school-
poor quality, multi-grade setting
--passing the CCE determines the rest of the educational futures and career options
middle-class makes moral judgements about the values and quality of persons in dancehall and "Downtown" spaces
"Dem people not going forward in life. All them do is smoke spliff and drink all white rum and tun themselves wutless"
So fix the educational system...well...
--secondary education is not necessarily translating into more/better economic opportunities.
"dancehall" expression mirrors experience & critiques social/economic hierarchies
--rejects assumption education and middle-class values are route to mobility
-- focuses instead on acquisition of wealth and status for social/economic mobility - even if this is through illicit means
Today:
GDP per Capital PPP
US: $51,704
UK: $36, 569
Mexico: $15,363
Jamaica: $8,916
Haiti: $1,229
When economy declined b/c of oil crisis in late 1970s--
"Blackness" and policy aimed towards the lower class were blamed
Reacted by electing Seaga in 1980
fully imposed IMF conditionalities
uneven domestic distribution:
GINI: 45.5
0- absolute equality; 100- absolute inequality
1.1 million under poverty line of $2.50/day PPP
Wealthiest 20% owns 47% of national wealth
To middle class:
"cultural", rasta inspired artists as legitimate
"gangster" & "slackness" artists as problematic
To understand poverty and the lack of social mobility, have to examine:
Domestic & international economic policies
Social policies
the type of ideologies that maintain a racialized class system
Cutty Ranks- Gun Disease
Everybody wants to be somebody/ Ask the youth dem whey dem want/
do you want to be a lawyer/ he says no/ do you want to be doctor/ he says no/ do you want a job/ he says no/ so den what do you want/ gi mi one gun, two gun, three gun please/ wave mi gun nuff dem tink mi have gun disease/ 4 gun, 5 gun, 6 gun please, me can't hold dem in mi wais dem have dem under mi sleeve. The mlO, mack 10, the bwoy dem naw cease, but the tek 9 bring dem to dem to knees. I walk with mi gun, talk with mi gun, sleep with mi gun, wake up with mi gun, bathe with mi gun, dress with mi gun, mi no lotion mi gun, mi na powder mi gun, mi oil up mi gun, clean up mi gun, and if a bwoy try a ting, him life ago dun, so give 1 gun, 2 gun, 3 gun please.
So it's like I am definitely telling you a story. That is not promoting violence. So if you come now and you have two thousand dollars in this hand and you have a machine gun in this hand and you put the two thousand dollar on this side of the table and put the machine gun on this side of the table and ask a little young youth to pick one out of the two of dem. He goin' to pick the machine gun. That is what dem doing. That is things what I see. Him pick de machine gun, because him figure more or less because he can use the machine gun and go around and rob more than two thousand dollars. He can go on one robbery and earn around two thousand. So the gun is more useful to him, that is how him check.
Why might one see the discourse of 'hardwork' as an ideology that maintains the status quo? Why might this idea be felt as constraining?

-reinforces class boundaries and idea that upper/middle class should be in control

-rather than transforming the economic, educational, and social institutions to allow for *more* equitable distribution of resources and possibility for social & economic well-being
-Upper classes argue that these types of lyrics promote violence and are indicative of the incivility and lack of respectability of the lower class
-and that produces their position within the socio-economic order.

Education & professional contacts understood by most as the primary route to social & class mobility.
--But do members of different class groups have the same educational opportunities and experiences?
Dancehalls
--voice overs on dub-plates
--sound system contests

--Valorization of capitalism, individualism, consumerism, gunds, sex
--"slackness"- i.e. sexually explicit
--has to be understood in relation to class-based and racial biases as well
-Others argue that lyrics and performances are symbolic, conveying a message about the social economic realities of life & an attempt to exert control over these.

--what do you think?
--What purpose does it serve to focus on and stigmatise the content of dancehall music and lyrics? Whose purpose does it serve?

Why does inequality persist, then?
"Functionalist" perspective:

--inequality provides motivation for people to worker harder and take on more challenging (& socially valuable) roles

--& it ensures the most able individuals are recruited into these roles
-is wealth the only motivating force?

-are those who take on more socially valuable roles rewarded in terms of wealth? What makes a role socially valuable?

-are the most "able" people actually recruited into socially valuable jobs?

-Is hard work the only factor leading to economic mobility?
"But if you tax achievement, some of the achievers are going to pack it in." - Bill O'Reilly
"Conflict" perspective:
--inequality maintains a power relationship between:

those who own the "means of production", technology, land, corporations, capital
and workers
-use power & assets to maintain control over workers & profits

-profits reflect the degree to which workers are exploited
-is every role that has a lot of power not socially valuable?

--Do these relationships have to be exploitative? Is there a way for them not to be exploitative?
How is inequality maintained? How is it reproduced?
--violence
--ideologies (ideas that maintain the status quo)
--patterns of behavior
--devaluation of labor
--debt & the redistribution of wealth
Full transcript