Question time with CSA


Over the past week, the Caribbean Student Association had a box in the SPO for the Macalester community as a means to ask any question they might have. We have tried to answer your questions to the best of our ability and hope that you enjoy our answers. We are writing this article as we celebrate our cultural week. We have quite a few events this week like the Feed My Starving Children event (the picture is from that event) and the Dance Session in the gym. Tomorrow, Saturday, April 24, we will be hosting a games day on Kagin lawn and a Carnival in Kagin. The party is going to start at 11:00 p.m. and will go until 2:00 a.m. It is going to be wild so be sure to come out and be sure to wear a mask and get into the Carinival theme. We will have some masks, beads, etc. available, so come early.

What is CSA?

The Caribbean Student Association is a student org on campus committed to being an org on campus that educates and showcases our culture and community to the Macalester student body. CSA has and will continue to put on great events that expose the Macalester community to our culture, food, music, dance, art, spoken word, thoughts and ideas, drama, politics, etc. CSA strives to not only have a great time together as a community but also to give back to our roots. Through education and social projects we support the Caribbean.

Do I have to be Caribbean to join CSA?

Absolutely not! We encourage people from all parts of the world to come and share in our culture. We love having non-Caribbean students in our org because we also get to learn from them. Over the years CSA always has diverse membership. We have had students in our org representing Ethiopia, Iran, South Africa, Tanzania, the U.S. and other places.

What would you describe Caribbean culture as?

Caribbean culture is a hybridized-creolized intertwining of many other cultures which is the product of a ‘true’ melting pot of cultures. (European, African, Chinese, Indian etc). The region shares a common history of colonization, slavery, revolution, independence, migration, globalization, and integration that continues to be told.

What is the biggest cultural event of the Caribbean?

Carnival is celebrated at Easter in Jamaica, while in Trinidad and Tobago it’s before Ash Wednesday, and in Barbados is held in June till August. This is because Carnival was originally a pre-Lenten festival brought to the Caribbean by the French. People would dress-up in elaborate costumes and parade in the streets to music. Over the years the music has become infused with African beats and rhythms but the practice of dressing up and parading has not changed. Come and celebrate Carnival this Saturday in Kagin!

What is Rastafarianism and is it still practiced in the Caribbean?

Yes. Rastafarianism is still practiced in the Caribbean. Rastafarianism is a religious movement that arose in the Caribbean around the 1930s. Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie (the former Emperor of Ethiopia) was the second coming of Christ. Rastafarianism continues to grow and is culturally influential in Jamaica and abroad. There is significant variation within the Rastafarian movement and no formal organization. Some Rastafarians see Rastafarianism more as a way of life than a religion.

The Rastafarian lifestyle usually includes ritual use of marijuana, avoidance of alcohol, the wearing of one’s hair in dreadlocks, and vegetarianism.

What’s it like growing up white in Jamaica?

Jamaica, like other islands in the Caribbean, has a diverse population. Many diverse groups from East and South Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America have made the Caribbean their home. Slavery, indentureship, and migration have all brought many of them together. The region has a few small groups that have survived from colonial days when the majority of the region’s natives where wiped out through disease, slavery, and war.

The fact is though that this is a weird question and is close to one of those annoying questions that people sometimes ask. It is hard to explain what your life is like. Truthfully though, living in the US has opened my (Stephen Snider’s) eyes to the many different layers that exist in Jamaican society. Although, I am a small minority in Jamaica, many white Jamaicans are wealthy individuals working in business and some in government. Many persons in Jamaica make that assumption about my family who are social workers and missionaries to the island. For my father, as a foreigner this makes it extremely hard for him to do business in the country. Thankfully, he has lived on the island so long that he knows how the system works. Although my parents were newcomers with no other relations in the country there are quite a few white Jamaican families that really place value in the fact that they have been on the island for many generations. An interesting component of the Jamaican racial structure is that popular culture places value in lighter skin. Some Jamaican artists have said in their songs that they like “Brownings” (a lighter skinned girl).

What are some of the best locations to visit in the Caribbean?/ Where can I have my honeymoon?

Jamaica – Dolphin Cove, The RoseHall hotel, Duns Rivers, French Man’s Cove

The Domincan Republic – Punta Cana, Boca de Yuma, Casa de Campo, Cayo Levantado, Playa el Rincon, Samana, El Valle de la Vega Real, Cabarete, and lots more!

Tourism is the number one source of GDP for most of the Caribbean. The Caribbean economy is dependent on tourism. Around 45 million people visit the Caribbean to sample its cuisine, heritage, music, culture, history, and of course the beaches! A niche market that beginning to take root across the region is a backpacking industry where people can engage in ecotourism and interact with local communities on a deeper level.

What does “Rude Boy” mean/ refer to?

You may have heard this in Rihanna’s (a Bajan) new song “Rude Boy.” The word was originally created in Jamaica during the 1960s ska and rocksteady movements of Jamaican music. These often unhappy, unemployed men were employed by DJs to crash competition’s parties. They styled themselves after American cowboys and gangster outlaws. The word currently has less of a sinister meaning and more of a sexier one. It became known outside of the U.S. in part due to the acclaimed movie “The Harder They Come” by Perry Henzell, staring reggae artist Jimmy Cliff. The movie tells the story of Ivan Martin (cliff), a gangster who becomes Jamaica’s most wanted criminal after becoming a reggae artist turned drug dealer. Cliff’s character becomes a hero to the oppressed poor people who see a man that fights back against the institution which tries to control him.

What are some of the most annoying questions you get?

Kristen – “The most annoying question I get about my culture is if I smoke weed. No I don’t and I would like to point out that one, marijuana is not legalized in Jamaica nor does everyone go around smoking it all day.”

Stephen – “Feel the Rhythm! Feel the Rhyme! Get on up! It’s Bobsled Time! I’m sure you’ve heard it. So have I, but saying it does not make you any cooler.”

Jhanelle – “Yes, English is my first language.”

Luisa – “It upsets me when people ask me where I am from (Dominican Republic), and then proceed to give me an evil look and ask how I feel about Haitians. Dominicans are not evil Haitian-killers! Past, present and future aren’t the same. I don’t need to convince anyone of the fact that I don’t hate Haitians, so don’t expect it.”

Kerri – “Do I run fast too? Most people in Jamaica aren’t fast, they generally run an average speed. The ones you hear about are the fast ones who have been properly trained.”

What is the greatest source of pollution in the Caribbean Sea?

The Caribbean Sea borders most of Latin and South America to the South and the Greater and Lesser Antilles to the north. Communities in these countries are dependent on the ocean for their livelihood. Many have se
en fish stocks become depleted thanks in part to pollution and the destruction of the coral reefs. The Pan American Health Organization in 1993 estimated that only about 10 percent of the sewage from the Central American and Caribbean Island countries is properly treated before being released into the Sea. Cruise ships, a major component of the Caribbean’s tourism market, were singled out as being major polluters because they release sewage offshore. The capacity of Caribbean countries to treat sewage has not kept up with the large numbers of tourists, according to the report by the World Resources Institute group. Additionally, fertilizer from farms has contaminated mangrove and coral reef areas, and the reefs have been further degraded by human contact and destructive fishing practices. This could result in a drop in tourism revenues because many tourists travel to the Caribbean’s coastal areas to explore pristine marine environments, according to the report.

Contributors to this article: Stephen Snider ’10 ([email protected]), Kerri-Dale Smith ’10 ([email protected]), Jhanelle Latore ’11 ([email protected]), Luisa Paredes ’11 ([email protected]), Kristen Ross ’12 ([email protected]), Anna-Kay Brown ’13 ([email protected]), and Nick Brooks ’13 ([email protected]). You can also contact CSA at [email protected]