I applaud Red Stripe for its bold step in removing sponsorship from association with the violent and xenophobic lyrics of the dancehall venue, and it is a pleasant surprise to see the media coming out in support of this move.
I am sure most of the DJs will not readily see the parallel between the old practice in the American South of lynching negroes, with their call to decimate gays, since their lack of exposure and ignorance of the fundamental human rights of the individual limit their perspective. Instead they see, in the context of the innercity, people like themselves whose existence is threatened with modern day obliteration by Dons with guns. So they conclude that there is nothing wrong in calling for the eradication of those in the society who are “different”, or a few gays who might “live in a foreign a try fi lick a food out of [their] mouth.”
This development, Red Stripe’s capitulation to the demands of a powerful interest group, is yet another case of the pervasiveness of globalisation. Until Red Stripe was hit in their bottom line by continuing to sponsor stage shows that trumpeted out bigotry and violence, they would not have reacted the way they did.
Now the artistes are realising that the decision on the part of the brewers is not just about entertainment but more about business. Shabba Ranks and Buju Banton, seasoned dancehall artistes, have experienced the backlash of “Global Gay”, and now Red Stripe is being informed, not by Jamaican beer drinkers that enough is enough, but by forces far away in Europe.
How hard the move will hit the local sales of the brew remains to be seen.
Our entertainers and their handlers need to learn about some of the competitive forces at play in business. Those who can spot trends and patterns early and make the moves to either counter or exploit them will enjoy long term sustainability.