Fresh off my European tour, I’m please to play a benefit for The Jamaica Project, a small project furthering education, cultural exchange and sharing resources between the region of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, and the NorthEast Coast of the US.
As we see in relation to Greece the depredations of the IMF and rabidly destructive austerity and “economic restructuring” projects, I’ve been struck by the fact that these projects have already been in place in disastrous results in Jamaica (and for those of you with long enough memories, Russia before that). In Jamaica, although there is wealth, it is not in the hands of the Black majority, and people in these districts farther from the city struggle, with a great deal of heart and creativity but not a lot of resources.
The Jamaica Project is heartening me for me, as an example of how people can attempt to move resources back in the direction they should be going: it includes a breakfast program for kids in school in St. Elizabeth (something I’ve been increasingly aware of as an educational issue even here in NY teaching at the college level), and a teacher exchange program that partners schools in NY and NJ and also sends tutors down to JA to support educational programs happening there. There was also a sweet little project where kids in the two countries learned each others songs: students from Hamilton Park Montessori in Jersey City, and students from Bigwoods Primary school in St. Elizabeth JA collaborated: the Bigwoods kids sent two Jamaican folk songs were sent to New Jersey, who sent two school favorites back to St. Elizabeth. All students learned all four songs and they were recorded and combined into a set of recordings that blended both schools together. They experimented with a concert in NJ where recordings from Jamaican school were blended with a live performance (I think a simulcast would be the next thing to work out)!
It’s a small, creative project, coming from the heart, and I hope it can sustain itself and maintain a positive, non-exploitative, non-savior approach to support Jamaicans whose labor, skills, and talent have provided so much wealth to the rest of the world.
The night, at Max Cellar (2 Knickerbocker Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11237) will be a combination of live acts and DJs:
RSVP at the event page (donations gratefully accepted at the door): Jamaica Project Party