CFP: Caribbean Blog Carnival

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CODE RED for gender justice is hosting a Caribbean Blog Carnival throughout the entire month of January!

The theme is To the Caribbean, With Love.

Here’s how to participate:

1) Write an original post based on the theme or share something you’ve written before which you think fits.

2) Share your post with us on facebook, twitter, via email [redforgender at gmail dot com] or even in the comments below.

3) Be sure to leave a link to this post on your post letting users know about the carnival.

4) We’ll share them as they come in and collate them on our blog when the carnival closes.

5) Use the hashtag #dearcaribbean

6) Visit the e-Mas Caribbean Blog Carnival page for real-time updates & new submissions

Any blogger from the multilingual, multi-ethnic Caribbean and its diaspora can participate. We welcome a diversity of voices, approaches, ages, styles, sub-themes including:  gender, sexuality, race, love, dis/ability, economic crisis, activism, art, politricks, tech & media, your dreams for the region etc.

Don’t yet have a blog but a carnival neva miss you yet?  We welcome guest posts and will post them here once they respect our submissions guidelines.

Still confused about what a blog carnival is? Think of all the usual ingredients of a Caribbean carnival and try to replicate those with words, images and/or sound.  The theme is broad enough that you can guh to town pun it!

Full disclosure: the inspiration for this blog carnival came from “Why I still deh hey..” on the Thoughts of a Minibus Traveller Blog.

Edited to add: Vidya, who inspired this call for submissions,  has reminded me that not all Caribbean countries have carnival:

“Just thinking that since Carnival is mostly in the Anglo Caribbean.. a TT thing, that some of us might not understand and I do not know if there are other things like cook up rice, or callaloo.. well even those things are not across the Caribbean.. “

He’s right.  There’s no carnival where I come from either. So how about some letters To the Caribbean, With Love?

Top 10 Must-read Caribbean Feminist Blog Posts

In no particular order here are 10 boss posts from Caribbean feminist bloggers writing out loud.  Read, share and tell me what other articles should be on this list. Enjoy this gift from the Caribbean femisphere!

a. I swear if I hear “independent ladies” one more time…  by  Mar the Mongoose (Barbados)

Why? Quick wit. Pulse firmly on Caribbean popular culture! You will never scream on cue again!

stop singling out women as “independent ladies” based on some bullshit basket of goods that you determine of value to women: weave and clothes and underwear. All the women in that particular show or fête are independent by virtue of the fact that they are adults with rights. And they don’t need to scream at your command to make that so.

b. No Women Died, This is Not a Women’s Issue by Sherlina Nageer (Guyana)

Why? Because when innocent men are killed by police, it IS a women’s issue.

The people of Linden were peacefully protesting as well when twenty three of them were shot, three in the heart. One a teenager, one mentally challenged and the other father of two and chief supporter of his 79 year old mother.

c.  An Angry Victim and a Survivor by Angeline Jackson (Jamaica)

Why? Fierce, moving personal testimony of surviving sexual assault and working for LGBT rights in Jamaica

I remember the day I was called and asked to come in and do an identification. I remember being driven to the “100 Man” Police Station in Portmore after hours of waiting in Spanish Town. I remember meeting another bisexual woman who had also suffered the same. I remember going into that room and looking at the lineup of men before me. I remember as I eliminated them one by one till I was down to two. I asked the officer in charge of the proceedings to ask both men to hold out their hands. I remember requesting that they each say, “Pussy-hole come here.” I remember standing directly across from number six and looking at his eyes. I remember stooping and holding my head as the pressure mounted.

d. Roll It Boy, On Men, Masculinity and Bringing the Winery by  Creative Commess (Trinidad & Tobago)

Why? A celebratory look at Caribbean masculinity as multiple, multi-layered, fluid and complex. How often do you see that expressed anywhere?

There are few things I love more than men wining in wanton abandonment. Maybe good food and a select range of other things excite me more. I love men wining because of the ways in which it disturbs the mask of heterosexual masculinity. It flexes, disrupts and discombobulates with a swivel of the bamsee — most of all, it makes a lot of people, men and women, uncomfortable. 

e.  Memoirs of an Almost Virgin by  Carla Moore (Jamaica)

Why? Carla dissects heterosexual sex and finds the expectations of and for women and men to be wanting.

as a woman i must expect to be beaten like a slave, mash up til i can’t walk and somehow smile about that in the morning. roughness has its place but honestly, must my pum pum be utterly destroyed at the end of every sex act? can we be nice to the vagina?

as a woman i must expect to represent everytime i jump on the dick, i have to prove myself by doing various things in a crowd and to the point of gagging just so the man knows i appreciate his penis. yes, its  a flag raised in triumph at the base of my now conquered vagina.

f. In Need of Reliable Allies by Roots & Rights (Caribbean)

Why? Because men can be major game-changers for gender equality and they need to know that.

The journey for men is even harder because men know, really understand, that accepting equality means relinquishing privilege, power and accepting more work in the private sphere. In the long run, there are advantages to be gained, but in the short run, who can doubt that many men question the cost benefit of rejecting entitlement to women’s labour and bodies? Who can doubt that some lack the courage and moral clarity required to share power and influence? Recent events in the Anglican church bring this latter to mind.

And so for these reasons, men’s advocacy for equality is crucial, not only because men listen to men, but let’s be real, men control the levers of most influencing powers- whether as priests, parliamentarians, popular artists or private sector mavens.

g. To Girls Whose Thighs Touch… by Amina Doherty (Antigua & Barbuda/Nigeria)

Why? Because we don’t talk enough about embodiment.

And I can hear some of you now — “but Amina you doth protest too much — you are ok, curvy is in” and  “men love curvy women” and “black women are curvy” “African women have shape” and these comments while not altogether true are also the kinds of comments that I take serious issue with. The way fat women’s bodies are only viewed as attractive if they are a certain kind of ‘big body’ – bootyliscious, beyonce’d ….and straight. Fat women without asses like J’lo’s are shamed. Fat women with small breasts are shamed….fat women who don’t have ‘curves’ are shamed — and it goes on…

h.   In the Caribbean’s true battles LGBT citizens are comrades, not the enemy by Richie Maitland of Groundation Grenada

Why? CARICOM can end homophobia and transphobia. We can do it!

The whole Caribbean is mired in the same ‘great and true battles’ noted in the Haitian release. Equality and inclusion make winning these battles easier. Political and religious leaders can help include all in winning those struggles; hopefully without more people having to be killed.

i.  Catching Fyah to Add Fyah or Adding Fyah to Catch Fyah by  Add Fyah and Stir (St. Kitts and Nevis/Trinidad & Tobago)

Why? Critical reflection on the challenges of movement-building in the Caribbean

Though not necessarily individually, we were a privileged group. We were funded, had a comfortable meeting space (that was not wheelchair accessible) and among us were many a university degree. That in itself is a disconnect from large numbers of women and men our work seeks support and empower. Even those words, support and empower are problematic… Though raised, the challenge remains, how do we make it different for our next meeting? For our next project(s)? For our work? Class privilege is unwieldy dammit!

j.  Diary of a Mothering Worker by  Gabrielle Hosein (Trinidad & Tobago)

Why?  Raises lots of questions about mothering, fathering, co-parenting and intimate relationships.

I see how Ziya would be confused, unsettled and heart-broken at the loss of having both parents with her. It makes me think back to myself at two and the complex, formative emotions that I forgot existed in me then. It makes me realise, not that break-ups are bad, because they can definitely be for the best, but how much adult partnerships define children’s sense of self, safety, stability and social space. When Ziya wants to know where the daddy hippo is or decides that two of any animal represents a mummy and a daddy, it’s a visceral statement that your relationship profoundly matters and is accountable to someone else besides the two of you.

k. An Open Letter to Caribbean Men from Caribbean Women by Patrice Daniel (Barbados)

Why? First ever Caribbean feminist blog to go viral. Literally thousands of shares. Click the link and you’ll see why. Patrice is a powerful communicator.

We do not have to dance with you. Our hips are our own. Your admission to the fete did not include an all-access pass to our waists, breasts, behinds. When we walked through the gates, we did not sign permission slips. You don’t get to be angry because we don’t want you as a permanent appendage. You don’t get to grab us, restrain us, and force your bodies against ours. Our role at the fete is not to amuse, entertain, or provide you with a grinding post. Dare to imagine that we enjoy dancing alone. Dare to imagine that we enjoy dancing with our friends. Just because we dance with other guys doesn’t mean we now owe you. So stop, Caribbean men. Stop degrading us and insisting we accept your advances. We do not have to dance with you. Our hips are our own.

Too many to just list 10! Learn more about Caribbean digital feminist activism here and here.

Edited to add: Who am i kidding?? Can’t name just 10 or 11! Also, people have been asking about feminist bloggers from Belize, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Lucia, SVG…so please use the comments to nominate your top posts.

l. Nobody from a Nothing Place by Tillah Willah (Trinidad & Tobago)

Why? Boom! Before you can fully enjoy the Nicki Minaj take down you are drawn into self-reflection on your own complicity with the racist worldview that paints the entire Global South as less than human.

In one fell swoop she perpetuates the myth of the savage Third World and also the streets paved with gold that exist outside of these Third World hell holes.
You really have to wonder if Ms. Minaj has some sort of post traumatic stress disorder. But if she does, if she is yet to deal with the traumas of her childhood, she should see a specialist about it, instead of going on American television and describing her country, my country as ‘nothing’.
Also I am curious about the something that she says that she is now. I suppose having millions of dollars is success. It doesn’t matter if you get this money by acting like Oversexed Barbie. It doesn’t matter if you are part of a media machine that sexualises girlhood, that preaches bamsie shaking as the sure fire way to get attention. And if you’re a black woman of any kind of popularity you start to get progressively whiter the more famous you get.

m. Title: Clutching Straws ~ Why the Insecurity Around Women’s Movements? by Richie Maitland of Groundation Grenada

Why? When an candlelight vigil for victims of domestic violence brings out the Men’s Rights Activists who argue that feminism is everything that is wrong with the region, someone needs to set them straight.

I think persons who don’t really wish for substantial change between the power dynamic between men and women feel insecurity at the slight tremors which signal the imminent clash of the women’s liberation movement with patriarchy and sexism. They are afraid of the boat being rocked, because they are enjoying the smooth sailing. Perhaps the boat needs to be rocked when the smooth sailing is enjoyed at the detriment of the womenfolk rowing in the galleys, who suffer silently and endure amidst myriad tribulations.

Mansah refers to Groundation Grenada as Satan and a meteor dislodged from nowhere. To set the record straight , we haven’t come from nowhere dear sir. We come from the very bowels of Grenadian society, perhaps working some movement in those bowels because the place needs a purging and senna never kill nobody yet.

Caribbean Feminist Digital Activism in a Post-Feminist Age

Trinidad & Tobago’s College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of T&T will be offering daycare facilities to it’s students soon. YAY!  At the time of making this announcement, one of the College’s administrators insisted that they did not want to be seen as “the one championing everything for the woman in the classroom.” They insisted that the daycare facilities would be to the benefit of both women and men.  And of course they should be.  I highlight that comment, however, because it demonstrates how difficult articulating anything that would be to the benefit of women is in the region.  The strategy around the pervasive anti-feminist backlash has been to couch all gender in/equality issues in gender neutral, post-feminist language.

The purpose of this post is to highlight the Caribbean online spaces where feminism is not a dirty word:

Online Groups & Pages

WOMANTRA: This group has been created for all womyn who are interested in sharing experiences, links, ideas … ANYTHING. We hope that this space is utilized not only as a networking tool but also to share, spread and gain from the knowledge that sisters have taken time and initiative to put forward. WE hope that posts will create discussion among members around the issues that affect us.

WomenSpeak Project: The WomenSpeak Project encourages women in Trinidad and Tobago and throughout the Caribbean Region to tell their stories of discrimination – in the home, in the workplace and in the public domain.

Speak Up & Out: The facebook page of a Poster/Photography Exhibition on intimate partner violence running from 24th Oct – 10th Dec in Grenada.  The page provides daily updates on domestic violence and gender equality issues in the region.

Walking into Walls is for every Caribbean woman who had to explain her beatings and bruises by claiming that she walked into a wall. This social media campaign has its roots in a 2012 regional meeting organised by the Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership (CIWiL). It was developed by four passionate, committed Caribbean women who are tired of the walls that are routinely hit in the struggle to end violence against women. There are awesome and super active, updating the page constantly!

Guyanese Sisters is a closed facebook group for women only.

On-the-Ground Feminist Orgs 

Many other Caribbean feminist organisations with long histories of hard work on the ground also have online spaces, usually facebook pages.  I am concerned about the survival of these Caribbean feminist online spaces as facebook’s ever-changing policies seek to monetise every aspect of the facebook experience.  These organisations cannot afford to pay to promote their content.

Here are the facebook pages of notable Caribbean women’s/feminist organisations:

Women’s Media Watch of Jamaica

Haiti’s KOFAVIV which was selected as a top 10 CNN Hero.

Sistren Theatre Collective of Jamaica

Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (Trinidad & Tobago)

Feminist Blogs

There are also feminist blogs from the region like Add Fyah and Stir (Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts, T&T), Paula Lindo’s blog and Creative Commess (T&T) and And Still I Rise (St. Vincent & the Grenadines). Diary of a Mothering Worker by T&T feminist-mommy-worker-academic, Gabrielle Hosein, is now also published in the mainstream press.  Carolyn Cooper’s Jamaica Woman Tongue tackles race, language and everyday life in Jamaica and beyond.

Feminism in the Mainstream

Of course, Caribbean feminist voices are also found in mainstream digital spaces such as newspapers and magazines. Outlish magazine has been doing an excellent job of opening up spaces for both young women and men to discuss gender issues.  Stabroek News’ In the Diaspora Column edited by Toronto-based Guyanese scholar-activist, Alissa Trotz, gives a wide, mainstream audience to a range of social, political and development issues including state violence, violence against women, homophobia, masculinity and feminism in the region.

Feminist Twitterati 

You can also follow feminists from the region on twitter: @kennibay is Head of St. Lucia’s only LGBT rights organisation, United and Strong, and was recently profiled as one of St. Lucia’s top 10 women in the public eye.  There’s the wildly popular @mooremayhem who brings her critical eye and comedic wit to a range of issues (she’s on youtube, facebook and blogs on wordpress as well, just google Carla Moore). @fridafund is a young feminist fund coordinated by a twentysomething activist with roots in many places including the Caribbean.

LGBT Rights Activism
Trinidad and Tobago’s Coalition for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) and Jamaica’s Forum for Lesbian’s All Sexuals and Gays are both very active online and off. Barbados GLAD is a very recent LGBT online space and of course, there are many other private groups.

Theorising Homophobias in the Caribbean is a multimedia collection offering up everything from art, activist reports and academic articles.

And there’s us!
A team of five (women and men) keeps our facebook page updated and diverse in its range of issues covered. Sometimes we wonder if anybody’s listening and if we will survive facebook policies which threaten zero-budget organisations like ours.  Nonetheless, we’re still active and growing on twitter. Earlier this year we held our first regional feminist meet-up and intend to follow up with on-the-ground in country activities. You can sign on to the CatchAFyah Caribbean feminist network here.

Please drop us a line in the comments and tell us about other digital Caribbean feminist and LGBT spaces we should know about!  (We want to know about men’s groups too!) We’ll update this page with all your suggestions!  Let’s grow this digital feminist archive!