dub poetics and personal politics…pt 5
by d’bi.young anitafrika
my liberation is my ability to let go of everything except love
- d’bi.young anitafrika
gawn to foreign
by the time I left jamaica for toronto canada, I deperately wanted to escape the country. my mother and I had been separated for three years and the distance was an emotional black hole, consuming all my ability to remain balanced and grounded without my mother. coming to canada at age fifteen however, was very traumatic; culture shock, racism, the unbelievable and merciless cold. once I get past these, questions around identity, belonging and assimilation plagued me like horse flies. I hid behind make-up and a linguistic chameleon-like ability to simulate the canadian accent. I had a lot of practice in jamaica on the art of changing one’s identity. being from a working –class community in kingston and attending campion college (an upper-middle-class/upper-class school) where the wealthy and privileged sent their children, facilitated a hybridism of identity a at home and identities b, c, or d at school, depending on who I needed to be on that day. my experience in both home and school spaces was alienating at best and taught me first hand about the opportunism of oppression. interestingly enough however, when I came to canada I quickly began to recognize my conflicted upbringing in jamaica as home and safety, clinging to my jamaican-ness as my primary place of identification. it took me twelve years before I began referring to myself as jamaican-canadian; a hybrid.
as I became older and more exposed to the works of jamaican-canadian dub poets such as ahdri zhina mandiela, afua cooper, lillian allen, and the feminist theory of afro-americans bell hooks, audre lorde and tracy chapman, the multiplicity of my identity began to shard itself like broken pieces of glass, stabbing at my conditioned bigotries and creating internalized polarities. questions around queerness vs homophobia, working class vs privileged, xenophobia vs recognizing-everyone-as-an-immigrant-on-first-nations-territory, became the macrocosms to my micro concerns around attractiveness, intelligence, talent, and my future. always our different selves collide; sometimes destructively and other times growingly. new parts of ourselves become apparent to us. during the first four years of being in canada, new parts of myself burst forth as I grew; each making me more aware of the other. to be continued…