In September 2012, The STAR reported that local stores had rejected Vybz Kartel’s book, ‘The Voice of The Jamaican Ghetto’.
In May 2013, there were mixed reactions when Professor Carolyn Cooper called for the book to be in schools.
In fact, a few book stores had carried the book, but there has been no progress in it being accepted in schools. Overseas, however, it has managed to make headway.
The book, co-authored by Vybz Kartel and Michael Dawson, now sits in the libraries of universities such as Princeton, Duke and Vanderbilt.
Dawson shared that the news brings a bitter-sweet feeling.
On one hand, it is humbling to know that the hard work is recognised and there is a sense of validation. However, the book was written for “our people, for the youth of Jamaica”, and they (authors) feel that there is a concerted effort to keep it from them.
In addition to that, he can’t properly celebrate, with Kartel being behind bars, as they share equally in the achievement.
“I think the main problem with the Jamaican education system is that they would have to find a way to rationalise the inaccuracies, distortions and omissions in the traditional history books that our book highlights. The reality is that the book factually discredits some of our traditions – from Jonkonoo to the dominance of Euro-Christianity,” said Dawson.
He also questioned: “how will the education system handle a book that explains with facts and empirical data that much of what they have taught children is a lie? The book states that ‘Baa, Baa, Black Sheep’ is abusive to black children … . So I think the book is, at a minimum, disruptive to the traditional education system. Add to that the fact that Vybz Kartel has the ear of the youth, (I’m) not sure if the education system can come to terms with that. No surprise there,” said Dawson.
He explained that Kartel had always explained to him that “overseas educators and music critics laud him for the power of the social commentary and realism in his music as they accept it as art, but the Jamaican system instead, criticises it because … they prefer to sweep the things he sings about under the rug. He believed this would be the same thing with the book. I think all Addi would say to me is ‘I told you so’.”