by Jodee Brown
Despite an apparent hesitance by some Jamaican bookstores and universities to facilitate it, Vybz Kartel’s debut book, Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto has now received strong endorsements from prestigious American universities, according to co-author, Michael Dawson.
According to reports this past weekend, Prominent Ivy League school, Princeton University as well as Duke University in North Carolina and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee now have Voice of The Jamaican Ghetto in their respective libraries. This adds to attention Kartel’s book has received from major international media outlets such as HOT 97FM as well as sales in places such a Germany, Chile, Austria, Holland and many other countries.
While Dawson is pleased with the universal exposure Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto has received, he believes the book still has not received full appreciation from the Jamaican public.
“All major book stores – Sangster’s, Kingston Book Shop, LMH, both airports, I-Nation, Bookophilia and Bookland – have carried the book,” Dawson told the Jamaica Gleaner. “Uptown stores and religious book stores refused it out of ignorance, I believe, and we expected that,”
There has been much debate as to whether or not Jamaican schools will adopt Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto in their curriculum, with University of the West Indies (UWI) professor, Carolyn Cooper calling for the book to be introduced to Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) readings this past May.
Dawson believes the reason for the education system’s reluctance to circulate the book within its channels comes down its challenging of the historical data taught throughout schools for years.
“I think the main problem with the Jamaican education system is that they would have to find a way to rationalize the inaccuracies, distortions and omissions in the traditional history books that our book highlights,” Dawson told the Jamaica STAR. “The reality is that the book factually discredits some of our traditions – from Jonkonoo to the dominance of Euro-Christianity.”
He continued, “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.”
Vybz Kartel remains incarcerated in a Spanish Town jail as he awaits the beginning of the Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams murder trial in November. He, along with five other men are charged with the August 2011 murder of Williams. Additionally, Kartel and two other co-accused face conspiracy charges in connection with the case.