Pride Mubarak

Guest post by Lina Free

So does Ramadan mean no sex for the whole month? Hello- I’m not that kind of Muslim! Ha ha, I just troubling u girl; I kno the thing- my father was Muslim. Eh heh? Yes, Salahuddin was his name. But is only me outta my brothers and sisters get that name. How come? He was always drunk, never had time for us. But I was the last chile; my mother said he felt sorry by then. Salahuddin sounded just like my grandfather Shaheed. Another ‘fullaman’ yes, but that didn’t stop him from drinking and womanizing. When my grandmother ‘ran off’ her head after he got another woman pregnant the same time as she and had to be committed to the Berbice mad house after giving birth to my father- the last child of eight- Shaheed amended his ways. But by then it was too late, the damage already done. Decades afterwards, when I sat behind him in the masjid, watching him prostrate himself in prayer, all I could think about was why I had to sit behind and not beside him. Stop asking all those questions I was scolded. Just keep quiet and do as you are told. Continue reading

Mama’s Day Poetry Playlist

If mothering is the kind of work that makes all other kinds of work possible why are mothers and grandmothers turning to the media as a last resort to plead for jobs and housing for themselves and their families? Why have we not figured out a way to nourish and support mothers in the work that they do? Why is motherhood often impoverishing? Why do women as group earn less than men as a group (around 18% less in Barbados) and why is motherhood part of the answer? Why have we not figured out work-life balance? And learnt a way to honour the multiple journeys to motherhood? That post-24, pre-35 (heterosexually) married, middle-class, with medical insurance, making more than the national average, able-bodied, sound-of-mind, mythic ideal of appropriate motherhood is a minority experience in the Caribbean.  Can’t we honour and support all moms to be the best moms that they can be?

Here’s a poetry playlist that addresses motherhood in all it’s complexity.  Happy Mothers’ Day!   Continue reading

Take Back the Tech, Don’t Take it Away

Here’s a video clip in which a Trini mom explains that after observing changes in her nine year-old son’s behaviour she became worried that something was wrong.  On attending a PTA meeting she heard teacher express concern about boys performing oral sex on each other at school.  She then states (quite matter-of-factly, in my opinion) that only after she beat her son, to get him to talk, she explains, did he admit to having been raped and bullied at school. She suspected that he was being victimised and her last resort to get him to open up to her about that victimisation was to beat him, to use violence against him. Continue reading

Performing Good-West-Indian-Discipline Online

Today I shared a viral video of a Caribbean mom beating her 12-year-old daughter with a belt for talking to and sending photos of herself to a man online posting photos of herself in a vest and underwear online. In the comments which followed on the CODE RED facebook page two persons wrote that they were unable to watch the video as they felt sick to their stomachs. Continue reading

Who’s next?

Guest post by Colin Robinson

Who’s Next? is a free noon event on Thursday at NGC Bocas Lit Fest at the Old Fire Station in Port of Spain. Seven intriguing new voices offer a tease of T&T’s writing future. The literary festival is overflowing with treats. I’d promised to unwrap more today, but life has overtaken literature.
Allegations about Delmon Baker pose one of the toughest ethical and political challenges the local LGBTI movement has faced. The only thing I’m clear about is that if I were a parliamentarian who was gay or bisexual, I would come out this week.
Media houses report claims by an articulate 27-year-old man (who cites scripture to deny he is gay or bisexual) that,in a four-year friendship, on at least three occasions in times of need he visited the home of the now 37- year-old MP, who touched him sexually or intimatelyThe accuser is described as “vulnerable,” related perhaps to his children’s home upbringing. He says the touching was unwelcome, and showed e-mails in which he shared his distress (but I’ve seen no timeline of the alleged incidents and communication).
Gabrielle Hosein reminded us last week how easily accusers get demonised. But this one has not painted a sympathetic picture of himself. He says he was inspired to break his story by Patricia Singh, who accused Minister Ramadharsingh of soliciting oral sex for help getting a house. But his demand for a public apology for private acts seems odd. Another newspaper reports he has fraud charges and court matters pending.
Homophobia skews public discussion about such allegations, and Baker’s legal team’s preaction protocol letters have silenced legitimate debate about them, leaving much of it up to scandal rags and social mediawhere it is least helpful.
Peeling away the feeding frenzy by those who smell a badly bloodied government is hard too. One test I’ve tried to apply to clarify the ethics of the matter is to change the sex of the complainant. But so much is genuinely different about this. Including the Government’s responses—like refusing Baker’s resignationpastor Rodger Samuel counselling the alleger to pray; and he and the communications minister invoking the legal response to dodge comment.
It’s complicated. Many ask: why did the accuser go back, after the first unwanted sexual advance? I know I’ve gone back. What sort of sexual advances are legitimate between friends, and in relationships that have nothing to do with any office?

In a 2002 decision soundly criticised in a UWI-commissioned law paperby SeShauna Wheattlea former Chief Justice freed Marvin Marcano for Christopher Lynch’s murder, saying his victim’s same-sex sexual advance was so unnatural it would send any right-thinking person crazy. Women don’t enjoy that protection. Twelve years later, a few months after the paperthe retired CJ mused that same-sex love is not repugnant and hurts no one.
But take Baker out of the picture. What about the other MPs, on different benches in both houses, who are lesbian, gay or bisexual? Who is “vulnerable” when they make sexual advances? Does our culture of scandal and stigma around same-sex desire make such office holders especially susceptible to sexual blackmail? Do our unenforced laws that make such behaviour illegal, even when it’s consensual, drive talented people away from—or out of—public service? Does the forced secrecy around such desire drive powerful people to seek sex from the vulnerable?
Public debate has also not yet turned on the fact—perhaps because few know this—that 25 years after Independence, the PNM created a new law criminalising with a five-year jail sentence a man playing with another man sexually in private— regardless of consent (though no one may have ever been prosecuted for consensual conduct). No parliamentarian is calling for such laws—which could be used to prosecute them—to be repealed.
But some things are refreshing. Despite the “No man, woman or goat is safe from this Government” picong—the titillation of prime time TV reporting—and the broadcast of a purported recording of a grown politician in tears on the phone—I’ve heard no loud voice say no homosexual belongs in the nation’s CabinetLast week the chief justice, attorney general, police commissioner, house speaker and arts minister all turned out to embrace the visiting American couple whose son, Matthew Shepard, was murdered, and listen to their message of acceptance and equal rights (though Rodger Samuelput in charge of national diversity, was notably absent.)
Hopefully Dr Baker and his accuser will be judged on the ethics of their conduct and not the other’s sex.
Forging the liberty to love: one nation…many bodies…boundless faith.

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