OK so Kingslee probably hasn’t said “Pass The Dutchie” but if he did, he certainly wasn’t the first. Even if he had spoken those words at some point, it probably wasn’t with the same metaphorical context I’m using them here. But more of that later.
Note: This particular blog is heavy on lengthy video content. I would suggest that if your’re interested enough to read the content, you find time to watch the video content at some point.
For anyone who doesn’t already know; Pass The Dutchie was the title of a 1982 Grammy-nominated globally popular song in the reggae genre. It was recorded by a group called Musical Youth, a band of young musicians from Birmingham (Kingslee wasn’t even born then).
A lesser known fact about the song (and the band) is; it took the record company several years to pay the band what they were due. Back in those days of the music industry, similar occurrences were not uncommon. But this factoid is not the underlying reason for the analogy however; the rhetorical simile will hopefully become more clear as you read on.
Kingslee James McLean Daley, better known by his stage name Akala, is a British rapper, author and poet. Some say he is a political activist but I suspect he prefers not to sit under that particular nomenclature. Akala is however undoubtedly a publicly vocal intellectual, somebody who has a passion for his background and beliefs.
Pride is something that we should all have, and be able to display if we so desire, at least to some degree. The problem today is; political correctness tends to dictate that ‘pride’ is only displayed in the promotion of minority diversity and acceptance. Or worryingly but increasingly, the word ‘pride’ is a label that bigots hid under in pursuit of extremist political populism.
This is something that is often born in poor understanding, intolerance of diversity and acceptance of difference. But, in many ways this is similar to the perceived ‘chip’ carried on the shoulder of many young people of Afro-Caribbean origin… it is born in fear and/or misunderstanding.
In the award winning book – Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala displays an acute social awareness. He is both socially and politically astute and continually throughout his work, he delivers many profound observations along with a great deal of enlightening information.
If you really want to try and understand some of where Akala’s comments and philosophy comes from,, or how different racial demographics have been set against each other [mostly by design] for decades, you really need to read his book. I can highly recommend it.
Do yourself a favour – visit any primary school in any ‘hood’ in the UK, black or otherwise, watch the children’s playfulness, their sensitivity, their willingness to learn and then ask yourself in all seriousness how any of these little spirits will become killers within the next decade. In fact, you could equally visit any of the top private schools and ask how some of those children go on to become the political psychopaths who justify wars with all sorts of profound rhetoric, knowing full well the killing is for profit and for strategic advantage. Rich people crime good, poor people crime bad. (Akala)
Akala was born in 1983 in West Sussex, to a Scottish mother and Jamaican father, he grew up in London. He is someone who was born of ‘mixed-race’ and comes from a cultural, social, and economic background in a community that for many, presents constrained and limited opportunities for later life.
These factors alone almost give anyone the right to carry a chip on their shoulder. That ‘chip’ of ingrained and inherent (but often justified) angst about our society. A feeling derived from being at the shitty end of the stick, in what is often still class based society, with engineered levels of perception, acceptance, inclusion and individual ‘worth’ …all of which impacts upon opportunity.
The plain reality is that even in a developed, wealthy country like Britain very few people want to spend their lives working for someone else with very little prospect of a serious improvement in their lives or those of their children, so people have to be conditioned to accept this reality. (Akala)
But are these ‘opportunities’ denied to people, because of factors born in overt (or covert) racism? Akala suggests that sadly, this may well be the case.
I often look at the world and just think fuck it, why bother, but I know that’s how we are supposed to feel, that’s why the corruption is so naked and freely visible – to wear down people who have the conviction that things could be better. (Akala)
But still Akala isn’t angry about racial inequality per se, at least not overtly. He makes no bones about explaining how this has occurred; eloquently and proficiently explaining his thought process around what are valid concerns but most importantly, he can also evidence the basis of those thoughts on the subject. Something that will undoubtedly be a little scary for some… “an intellectual eloquent black man, surely not?”
Education & Racism
Unfortunately, many of the bigots and racists who hold these types of belief (above) still inhabit our island. People who are often insular, uneducated and ridden with self-indulgence and sadly, emboldened by people who really should know better. People who I fear will still be shouting – “fuck off back to where they came from” – for some time yet. No matter how much we try to do to educate them.
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance – Confucius
See Akala’s address to the Oxford Union (below).
Talking about education and racism, Katharine Birbalsingh has some sound but highly controversial opinions on the educational process… and any lack of BAME opportunity in our society. Politics and social class structures can and do have profound impacts upon education.
Katharine is the Headmistress and founder of The Michaela School – a free/charter school in London – that is doing things differently. She believes in freedom from the state, talking truth on race issues, and holds small c conservative values. Check out Katharine’s blog at To Miss With Love.
Any conversation between Akala and Katharine (on education, racism and opportunity) would be enlightening and worth listening to.
The apparent rise of knife-crime in our capital city (see here) means that the media has been seeking the opinions of many, not least Akala. Any self-respecting hack, trying to present balanced view on this latest bout of serious youth violence needs to speak to someone who can make comment from lived-experience, as well as the informed and educated stance… who better than Akala?
Akala was praised by the media (see here) after appearing on Good Morning Britain where he spoke why it is wrong for the media to suggest knife-crime is a race issue (see below). I wholeheartedly agree, that really is counter-productive.
You could argue that only a very particular demographic of young black boys, only at a very particular stage in their lives, feel a degree of psychological self-hatred or contempt for themselves that they project on to other people. (Akala)
Constantly suggesting that knife crime is “a black problem” (as the media tend to do), is distorting facts. Often for divisive, emotive ‘click-bait’ (possibly even racist) reasons.
Suggesting that the problem is simply – black kids killing other black kids – perpetuates the problems of non BAME people looking down on the issue… often with an air of superiority, leading to even greater levels of individuals feeling they have some cultural supremacy, sadly.
Akala Observes Society
I find it easy to subscribe to many of Akala’s views on our society, not least those problems that have their roots in the economics of commercialism.
Today’s assumption that human ‘worth’ is all about accumulated ‘wealth’ is an underlying problem.
As Akala points out, there are many Pro’s and Con’s of Capitalism however; I’m increasingly convinced that our society is driven by systems that promote and reward greed and avarice.
We also mustn’t forget the absolute must have requirements of courting another 10k of devoted social-media followers.
Sycophantic self-promotion (irrespective of skin colour) is de rigueur in today’s society, way too prevalent and sadly highly rewarded.
In the next clip, Akala deconstructs race, class, and Britain’s modern myths in an interview with James O’Brien, after publication of his award winning book – Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire.
Next Akala presents his essay on The battle of Britishness in the Age of Brexit…
Back in 2011 Akala gave his popular and subsequently relatively well-known TEDx talk about the Hip-Hop & Shakespeare (see below).
Often white males (like myself) can be lambasted for ‘cultural appropriation’ of anything that originated in a different country or, is perceived to have come from the cultural heritage of another race, particularly if that place happens to be a former ‘colonial’ state.
In my case, Reggae music (of differing sub-genres) and Caribbean food are examples in point.
Both of these have been a staple of my life for as long as I can recall. But is my love of another culture and it’s ‘property’ really appropriation when I espouse it’s value?
I’ll include the following clips and let you decide about what constitutes ‘cultural’appropriation?
One of the largest problematic issues in today’s society (IMHO), is that of political correctness and virtue signalling for purposes of self-promotion.
We have become scared to talk through and understand our concerns and those of others. We are unable to learn about differences in individuals, their backgrounds and cultures and then discuss and where appropriate, challenge them openly.
The renowned doyen of comedic observation John Cleese believes – Political Correctness Can Lead to an Orwellian Nightmare – he said; “we shouldn’t protect everyone from experiencing negative emotions by enforcing political correctness.”
Some have said that Stephen Fry’s argument against Political Correctness (see below) is one of the best ever.
The above should help you to understand many of my thoughts around the, often misguided and incorrectly applied topic of Political Correctness.
I’m all for never intentionally offending anybody and any form of incitement to hatred, of anyone, is just so fundamentally wrong however; there is a danger that the PC process is now often used to shutdown the opinion of those who oppose the one you might have… also wrong!
Music: Bridging (and creating) Differences
Irrespective of whether you like a particular genre or not, music has the ability to divide and connect diverse communities.
This is something that Akala understands and he continually works to break down the culture of cliché and stereotype… something that tends to smother the Hip-Hop genre that he loves. See The Evolution of the Emcee (below) where Akala explains how all music, not least Hip-Hop, is rooted in the culture behind the genre.
Despite the fact I like a diverse range of music, Rap and Hip-Hop would probably be at the bottom of my favourite genre list. That said, I can understand and accept it’s concept and following. Just as I can see it as a means of cultural communication, one that is often misunderstood (and feared) by many who don’t find their personal origins in the same culture.
In the following TEDx talk (The Threatening Nature of Rap Music), Charis Kubrin, a specialist in criminology (see here), shares a story of Rap on trial that elucidates some of the fundamental issues that we face today in relation to freedom of speech, liberty, equality and justice.
Summary & Conclusions
My Dutchie Analogy
It’s not until you understand that ‘dutchie’ was also an expurgation of the original lyric – “Pass The Kutchie” – from an earlier song by The Mighty Diamonds. Kutchie is a slang term for a pot holding marijuana… also of Jamaican origin.
In perhaps slightly flippant manner, this song highlights some of the circumstances alluded to in Akala’s book and his connected work.
For me it serves to provide a small reminder of how our society has used its power to suppress and appropriate the individuality, skills and culture of often downtrodden and undervalued individuals… as a result of racism, built on fear and/or misunderstanding but mostly… for financial advantage or social reward of past colonialism and the white man.
Do we have still have Racism in the UK (and elsewhere in the so-called developed world)?
Undoubtedly so sadly the answer has to be yes, despite all the PC phrases and positive discrimination to promoted diversity and inclusion.
As Akala alludes to in this eloquently constructed response to the question, the demise of racism is only likely to arrive from understanding and acceptance. A difficult conundrum for uneducated people!
we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us (Jo Cox 1974-2016)
So true however, the problem is that too many politicians, ably assisted by the media and commercial purpose, constantly feed the self-interest of ignorant and/or poorly educated individuals. The ones who often angrily and continually work to divide the remainder of us.
Until this stops I fear our society will remain broadly similar and perhaps sadly, less safe!