Originally posted on: 2015/02/06
Happy official “Bob Marley Day”, I guess? Thanks to Toronto’s conservative Mayor John Tory, today is now officially “Bob Marley Day”. What a befuddling thing to write. For those who don’t know (or care), John Tory is conservative Toronto’s response to their embarrassment around Ford Nation. So yes – a conservative Canadian mayor gave a black-mixed man an official day – sounds legit (more side-eye).
Today I will be brief in my critique other than to say that Bob Marley deserves better. His legacy, much like the legacies of Martin Luther King & Che Guevara, has been bleached beyond recognition. Bob & Che’s images in particular are mega-appropriated by hipsters and university students alike. All three were revolutionaries, and also real people with real faults, but certainly not the 1-dimensional caricatures we see today. Danielle C. Belton wrote in her piece “#ReclaimMLK Seeks to Combat the Sanitizing of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy”:
“Martin Luther King Jr. had more than “a dream,” but you might not notice that on Monday during observances for his birthday.
Somewhere between his assassination and today began an MLK-neutering campaign meant to turn the famed agitator’s holiday into a national Day of Service, a generic mishmash of good feelings that contorts King’s social-justice legacy into a blissful Hallmark card of post-racial nothingness.
This has not gone unnoticed, from scholar Cornel West—who has pushed back against the “Santa Clausification” of King—to the #ReclaimMLK campaign, currently being spearheaded by young activists involved in the Black Lives Matter campaign. Many realize it’s time to stand up for what King actually stood for before his entire legacy is retconned into some “Chicken Soup for the Soul Brother,” feel-good tripe.”
I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s time for Jamaicans both here in Canada and back home, as well as the worldwide Diaspora, to #ReclaimBobMarley. No more “ya mons” and “one loves” – please. Like actually PLEASE. Much like MLK’s speech “I have a dream” has been contorted into cold lumpy porridge, Bob’s work has been equally pulverized into sloppy co-ed slogans. So to conclude, here are some lyrics I’d like folks to remember him by instead:
“And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique,
South Africa sub-human bondage
Have been toppled, utterly destroyed
Well, everywhere is war, me say war
War in the east, war in the west
War up north, war down south
War, war, rumours of war
And until that day, the African continent
Will not know peace, we Africans will fight
We find it necessary and we know we shall win
As we are confident in the victory”- War
“I’ll never forget no way: they stole Marcus Garvey for rights. I’ll never forget no way: they turned their back on Paul Bogle. So don’t you forget your youth, who you are, and where you stand in the struggle.” – So Much Things to Say