gspottt•t&t's triggersite for sogi passion & advocacy

16 April, 2011

Mia Mottley, Champion for Change

“I wonder if you know how good that was”, the Chair of the Barbados National AIDS Commission asked the former Barbados Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General and Leader of the Opposition as she had just concluded another of the inspiring and visionary addresses she is well-known at home for delivering completely unscripted. But it wasn’t just any other Mia Mottley speech. The hard-hitting and truth-telling early morning address, which she began by playing in its entirety the 2006 anthem, Do You Still Care, for which Jamaican mouldbreaking songstress Tanya Stephens is best known in GLBT communities, by its end had riveted listeners to a standing ovation with its call to clarify our values and its framing of a set of questions that Mottley has repeatedly challenged us to answer as Caribbean people:

What kind of society do we want to build? What kind of children do we want to raise? And what do we have to show for having had control of our nations for two generations since Independence?

Click on Mia Mottley’s image to listen to her full speech

Reminding her audience at Port of Spain’s Hyatt Regency hotel that as a region the Caribbean has always “punched above our weight”, the Member of Parliament for St. Michael North East since 1994 admonished that “leadership is more than being a head of government”, but “about recognizing where we want to take our people, why we must take them there” and “sometimes that means being ahead of your population”. “We have a credible voice that must be heard as a guiding principle to the rest of the world”, she urged, on “building tolerant societies”. “Name me one other region that has been forged in the modern exploitative era…that carries every race that has populated this world within this small basin that have been forced to live together, that have been forced to forge an accommodation with each other. We have a story to tell to the rest of the world. And we have a credibility in telling that story, and our voice therefore must be heard, because it costs nothing to speak.”

At the same time, she drew laughs of recognition as she lamented the cancer of “implementation deficit disorder” that currently plagues the region, with “systems of parliament that are rooted in excessive partisanship that is a battle between political institutions, rather than being a fight to carry forward development and people” and “systems in our public service and other aspects of our governance that are so complex and Byzantine, that not even the Romans would recognize them if they returned today to be responsible for global governance.”

The March 24 plenary address was intended to set the tone at a United Nations consultation on universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, intended to prepare the Caribbean region for participation in the June High Level Meeting of UN member states on AIDS. The meeting drew government ministers and senior officials from Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago. Most listeners would agree Mottley’s speech was one of the most powerful and cogent things to happen at any of the series of regional meetings that have become well-known as of the key ways we spend HIV money in the Caribbean. In it she called for the creation of a Caribbean Human Rights Charter and for tolerance education to be part of the Caribbean Examinations Council curriculum. And three weeks later she was back at another UN HIV meeting this week in Port of Spain, spurring human rights lawyers and activists in the region to found a Caribbean Coalition for Social Justice, and taking steps towards the creation of a Caribbean Law Reform Commission.

Mottley’s countryman Henrik Ellis wasn’t the only one who thought the speech was breathtaking. I-95.5FM Radio’s Dale Enoch broadcast it in its entirety the following day; and responding to meeting participants’ advocacy, UNAIDS’s Caribbean team has graciously posted both the video of the speech and a transcript prominently on their website. These words, perhaps more than any others were the ones that reached home:

The battle against the abolition of the slave trade took, like, decades. And the battle against the slavery institution also took decades. And the battle for independence took decades. We have already started with a few decades in the battle for a common gold standard of regional human rights. But the time has come upon us to up the ante, and to call on the region to protect your own. You cannot accuse those who governed you through colonial exploitative regimes of perpetrating crimes against you, or taking away from you your dignity and your ability for controlling your destiny – and then when you have control of your own societies for two generations of independence, you are not prepared to secure the rights of every individual irrespective of whatever differences that may occupy the human race. It is unacceptable. And the time has come for it.

24 July, 2009

CAISO in the media

Filed under: calypso,gender policy,media — caiso @ 08:52
July 10

July 18

June 29

June 29

As we hope you’ve been noting, CAISO has been appearing in the media repeatedly over the past month since our formation. Today’s half-page feature in the Guardian marks our ninth instance of coverage since our launch.

We started with radio: I-95, as they love to, were the first to cover us, two days after we formed, even before we’d finished writing our release. The TV morning shows followed quickly: Gayelle, always cutting-edge; and the mainstream TV6, where Andy Johnson’s longstanding interest in the National Gender Policy helped get us airtime, in early July. Columnists provided our first print coverage: Lennox Grant taking the lead in the Sunday Guardian with a touching personal story; Lisa Allen-Agostini

July 3

July 3

following two weeks later. A Newsday journalist who has covered these issues diligently for some time now provided the first print news article. TV evening news was next, with a piece many of you complained about to us that fell out of

July 20

July 20

CNC3’s 7:00 pm broadcast on July 22, and appeared in a blink at 9:30. But CNC producer Ken Ali made up for it by doing a substantive interview on their morning show two days later.

On the front page of the Guardian’s well-read Friday features section, “Life Today”, editor Peter Ray Blood calls next week Thursday’s calypso event in tribute to CAISO “a most interesting and topical event”, and a link to the page B14 article appears on the home page of the paper’s website. The article also lists the link for gspottt.

July 5

July 5

And look out for another feature in Sunday’s Newsday; and coverage of Pride events on “Cock-a-Doodle-Doo” on Monday.

July 21 & 23

July 21 & 23

We salute T&T’s journalists for their 20/20 vision in “dealing with sexual orientation” by covering us and our issues in an open, balanced way; and Keith Clifford in particular for his firmness in handling abusive callers. CAISO is also fortunate to have lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual leaders and friends brave enough to appear on television carrying our message. Three women and two men have formed that growing team. CAISO salutes them.

To follow our media appearances and learn of upcoming ones, you can always click on the CAISO in the media link near the top of the right hand column of the website. Where links to the coverage are available, we’ll post them.

July 24

July 24

July 8

July 8

If you have a reaction, positive or negative, to coverage of CAISO or anything else that matters to you in the media, use your civic rights and write to the media house in question to share your views. And if you ever see or hear sexual orientation issues being covered somewhere in the media or addressed by a public figure, please record or save it and contact us.

13 July, 2009

July 30: Patricia gone with…Millicent? The ingenious imagination of homosexuality in calypso

Filed under: calypso,culture — caiso @ 12:01

Missed the original presentation of this amazing Pride month 2009 programme?
T
hanks to Alice Yard, there’s an audio document of the full event. E-mail us to request
access
to our online file of the presentation slideshow with an accompanying audio
track.
Help us identify opportunities to present the work, or develop its recording.

Believe it or not, in sharp contrast to dancehall, homosexuality is one of the topics that calypso has handled with some of its sweetest ingenuity and subtlest imagination. Not all the time, of course. But surprisingly often.

Come and listen, nah!

Invader, Growler, Atilla (in dress) and Lion in a calypso tent in 1943

Invader, Growler, Atilla (as Eve) and Lion performing at the US Army base at Ft. Read, February 1943 (US Army Signal Corps)

Whether you simply love the calypso artform and Trini culture or you have a personal or family connection to the topic, join in a tent-like atmosphere where we will take in some two dozen recordings of fascinating calypsoes from the 1950s to the present that display surprising wit and intelligence in their treatment of same-sex love.

Share your own thoughts and calypsoes in the following brief discussion on calypso, soca, dancehall and sexual orientation in regional music and society and some ideas about next year’s Carnival.

Lime afterwards.

Thursday 30th July
7:30 pm
Alice Yard, 80 Roberts St., Woodbrook
btw. Brooklyn Bar (Carlos St.) & the Augustus Williams Playground (Murray St.)

This is a free event in honour of Pride month and in support of CAISO’s mission to promote a 20/20 vision of sexual orientation in sweet T&T. Let’s use the national artform for which the coalition is playfully named to bring folks together in fun.

Click for newspaper and television promotion of the event.

with sincere gratitude for the generosity of calypso historians Gordon Rohlehr & Zeno Obi Constance and Alice Yard

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