True emancipation from mental slavery is still a work in progress in Jamaica. The People’s National Party swept into power in 1972 with an agenda of socioeconomic and cultural empowerment for the poor black majority. That agenda, however, was executed imperfectly. Considering a selection of (semi)autobiographical 1970s-based literary works such as Anthony C. Winkler’s Going Home to Teach, Brian Meeks’s Paint the Town Red, and Margaret Cezair-Thompson’s The True History of Paradise (and interweaving Shara McCallum’s This Strange Land), this essay examines some shortcomings of the PNP’s execution of its vision and, critically, of the Jamaican population itself, from these literary perspectives. With the PNP’s defeat in 1980, race and class relations quickly reverted to the status quo position of white (light) economic power/black subservience. The year would signify not only the abortion of “black man time now” but also a loss of idealism and a growth of a cynical self-serving pragmatism, disturbing features that still scar the Jamaican psychosocial landscape today.
“Black Man Time Now”: Race, Class, and Culture in 1970s-based Jamaican Fiction
Kim Robinson-Walcott is the editor of Caribbean Quarterly, University of the West Indies, Mona, and also the editor of Jamaica Journal, published by the Institute of Jamaica. Her publications include The How to Be Jamaican Handbook (1988), which she coauthored and illustrated; Jamaican Art (1989; rev., 2011), which she coauthored; and the scholarly work Out of Order! Anthony Winkler and White West Indian Writing (2006). She is also the author of the children’s books Dale’s Mango Tree (1992) and Pat the Cat (forthcoming), which she also illustrated.
Kim Robinson-Walcott; “Black Man Time Now”: Race, Class, and Culture in 1970s-based Jamaican Fiction. Small Axe 1 March 2019; 23 (1 (58)): 77–96. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7374466
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