Open letter to Max-Arthur Mantle of VISIBLE documentary

Dear Max-Arthur Mantle,

You have reached out to a few LGBTQI* people, organizations and allies from Grenada, other Caribbean countries and the diaspora to seek participants for your film. Your intention was to supposedly document our experiences yet disappointingly, many of your interactions in messages and on public platforms such as Facebook have been disrespectful and offensive. On a number of occasions you have reacted unprofessionally to individuals who have not responded the way you wanted or who informed you that they were not interested in being interviewed for your film, VISIBLE: Portraits & Narratives of LGBTQ People of the Caribbean Diaspora.

This is certainly not the biggest issue we have to deal with as LGBTQI* communities, and  while we stand with you in solidarity as a Caribbean person, a gay person, and a human being, it is our responsibility to hold you accountable for the inexcusable levels of arrogance, entitlement and patronization you chose to share with us.

We were appalled when your first point of contact with one of our sisters, was you sending a message asking what her sexuality was.  We were further appalled with your engagement with some of our other colleagues, whom you referred to as “b**ch” and “motherf**kers”. From the onset many of us had only first heard of you via your online messages that lacked warmth, such as “Hi are you LGBTQ?” and your rude demeanour when questioned about your lack of introduction. Some of your responses even amounted to “I’m short on introductions right now” and “Read my page, I’m busy…”.

When you were not getting participants as willingly and quickly as you wanted in Grenada you chose to make a Facebook post on May 18th attempting to publicly shame the Grenadians you had contacted. Instead of being understanding of the many reasons one might not want to be interviewed by you, you diminished our concerns to us not understanding what it means to identify as LGBTQI*. You took an unrelated post by an LGBTQI* activist group referencing “lifestyle choice” to assume that we all think of our sexuality in one way, ultimately misjudging and demonizing us.  As someone coming from the US, you acted callous and irresponsible by further dismissing our concerns by stating “I think the locals are still traumatized by 1983”.

Max-Arthur, we would like to caution you to not take in jest, the seriousness of our history, our attachment to those histories and the ongoing revolutionary fire that burns within all of us. Do not insult our ancestors and the ongoing work that we do, much of which continues to be inspired and fueled by those revolutionary warriors.

You classified our views as “primitive” and dismissively referred to us as “the locals”. You attempted to pass judgement without having one real and substantive conversation with a person in Grenada. Claiming that we are suffering from internalized homophobia because we chose to not be a part of your film is offensive and untrue. When you received push back about your Facebook post you lashed out with comments like “Google me bitch” and you even sent a message to a youth LGBTQ activist saying,

“…come at me! I have a lot of people supporting this project! After all this is a film project. I wouldn’t want you ugly motherfuckers fucking up my shit!”

Do you realize the ways in which you are feeding into the racist, colonial and capitalist tropes where again, our experiences are only deemed valuable once they can be exploited? Is this how we build community across borders?

In the past 24hrs since we have started an online discussion about your actions, colleagues from across the region and diaspora from countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent, the Dominican Republic and Barbados have come forward to voice similar concerns as those shared by us Grenadians. They have shared similar experiences of you being rude, pushy, bullying and also attempting to shame them for their choice – if they decided not to – participate in your film, VISIBLE. Regionally, people did not respond to you with the open arms that you expected. Our reasons are personal, political and our own. Clearly some of us sensed the person you have now publicly exposed yourself to be.

We would advise you to, next time, insert love and compassion into your approach. Our community is tender yet resilient. With trust, care and empathy being core elements of how we live, love and build relationships, we open spaces to have conversations; spaces we see as sacred and valuable in order for us to do the critical movement-building and relationship-building work that we hold dear. We are telling our own stories and we allow people who approach us with love and respect to document our lives as well.

When a journalist or filmmaker starts with the premise that they are “creating a voice” for someone, they are beginning with the false idea of voicelessness. You are not creating a voice for LGBTQI* folk living in the Caribbean or in the diaspora. You are not our storyteller since you are not willing to actually hear us. You’ve also made it clear from various posts, that you do not see yourself as part of our community. You reminded us repeatedly that you live in America. Now you choose to act surprised when the “voiceless” speak out. When they voiced sentiments that countered your own, your response became “I am keeping my ass in America.” It is again made clear that your goal is to exploit our lives and experiences in a way that reinforces geo-political power structures and that denies Caribbean people power and agency.

We hope that those considering funding and supporting your project think twice, as you have not only been unprofessional and disrespectful, but your use of violent language has done great harm to many organizers who continue to put their lives on the line. Your intentions have been made clear and we, members and allies of diverse Caribbean LGBTGI* communities at home and abroad, would like you to know that we condemn the harmful approach you have insisted on taking and your profuse lack of accountability and self-reflexivity despite being called out time and time again.

 

List of signatories (Alphabetical):

 

Abiola Clement

Alesia Aird

Alexa D V. Strauss-Hoffmann

Dr. Angelique V. Nixon, Caribbean IRN

Ayisha Sylvester-JohnGroundation Grenada

CAISOTrinidad & Tobago

Caribbean IRN (International Resource Network)

Carla Moore, Non-aligned anti imperialist activist

Castellanos ErikaBelize

Charlot Jeudy, Kouraj

Colour Pink Group

Damarlie AntoineGrenada

Debbie Douglas, Toronto, Canada

Dulce Reyes, Activist, Miami & New York City, United States

DomCHAP

Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality

Equals Barbados

GrenCHAP Inc.

Groundation Grenada

Hayden BethelmyGrenCHAP Inc.

House of Aquaria Dominica

Jeremy Steffan Edwards, Founder The Silver Lining Foundation

Jessica St.Rose  Secretary, Board of United and Strong

Joshua ElahieGrenCHAP Inc.

Kadon Douglas, Toronto, Canada

Kenita Placide, Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality

Kerlin CharlesGrenCHAP Inc

Kimalee Phillip, Groundation Grenada .

Kimani ParkeGrenCHAP Inc.

KizzyAnn AbrahamGrenCHAP Inc. & CatchaFyah Caribbean Feminist Network

Dr Krystal Ghisyawan, The Silver Lining Foundation

Lisa Harewood, Filmmaker, Barbados

Lysanne Charles-Arrindell, Alliance For Equality, St. Maarten/St. Martin 

Malaika Brooks-Smith-LoweGroundation Grenada & CatchaFyah Caribbean Feminist Network

Maria Fontenelle

Maurice Tomlinson

Melissa-Anne Cobbler, Social Worker, Québec

Michael Thomas, GrenCHAP Inc.

René Holder, Equals Barbados

Richie MaitlandGroundation Grenada

Ro-Ann Mohammed B-GLAD

Sakinah Ambrose,  GrenCHAP Inc.

Sean Macleish

Soraya Palmer

Saint Kitts Alliance for Equality

Stephanie LeitchFounder/ Co Director, Womantra, Trinidad & Tobago

Stévia P. Arthur

Timmia Hearn, I Am One TnT

Dr. Tonya Hayes, CODE RED for gender justice & CatchaFyah Caribbean Feminist Network

Patrice M. Daniel, Gender justice activist, Barbados

Paula Lindo

Yaneris González Gómez, Activist, Dominican Republic

Zeleca Julien, I Am One TnT

 


cropped-cropped-cropped-realgroundationlogo1.jpgGroundation Grenada is a social action collective which focuses on the use of creative media to assess the needs of our communities, raise consciousness and act to create positive radical growth. Our mission is to provide active safe spaces to incubate new modes of resistance, building from the local to affect regional and international solidarity and change. We pursue our mission online, through our website and social media, and also through live events and special projects in collaboration with local, regional and international artists, activists and institutions. Groundation Grenada’s website supports both local and diasporic voices, acting as an interface to connect people who are hungry for innovative change. We are a co-founder of Grenada Community Library & Resource Centre.

Mt. Zion Library Announces Name Change and Temporary Closure of General Library

The library becomes Grenada Community Library and moves to the Grenada National Museum building in an effort to continue offering services amidst fundraising challenges

St.George’s, Grenada – The Mt. Zion Library is beginning two major transitions. The first is a name change to Grenada Community Library & Resource Centre in an effort to express greater  inclusiveness about the work we do.  Secondly the library will move to the National Museum Building, in order to cut costs and work towards financial sustainability. In addition we will continue fundraising, while seeking sponsorships and grant opportunities. The General Library  will close temporarily at the end of April 2016 so the collection can be moved  to storage at the Museum. The temporary closure of the general collection allows the library team to reduce costs while it attempts to secure avenues of ongoing financial support. The Children’s collection and activity programs will remain open in current location and move to the Museum at the end of May 2016.

“This library began as a community effort and can only continue through that same spirit,” said Ayisha John, Co-Director of The Grenada Community Library. “We have seen an incredible demand for the resources, programmes and the supportive environment we provide to our members. Grenada needs more of these spaces for learning and creativity, but the only way we can continue to offer this is if we get the support we need to keep our doors open.” The reopening of the general collection will be possible if the library secures sustained funding for operational costs. You can support this effort by making a donation now. Don’t silence the library. You can make a difference by becoming a Friend of the Library, making a donation, hosting a fundraiser or sharing our project with those in your family, church, organization or business who are in a position to donate.

About Grenada Community Library (formally Mt. Zion Library): Grenada Community Library is a collective response to the ongoing closure of the Grenada National Library. Since our conception in 2013 we have been building community through literacy, love and collaboration. In 2014 we opened full time hours. Our focus is on introducing young people to the world of stories, knowledge and confidence building through participation, discussion and critical thinking. In addition, we serve the local business community by providing functional literacy and other basic skills to maximise the employment potential of individuals. Membership is free for all. To learn more visit www.mtzionlibrary.org soon to moving to www.grenadalibrary.org.

Contact us at our current location at the Arnold John Building, St.George’s Grenada
Email us at GrenadaLibrary@gmail.com
Kibi Dickson (473) 457-5725 or Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe (473) 410-5271

Reflections on the Grenadian Revolution: Memories & history, but according to whom?

:: by Kimalee Phillip ::

Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter
(Igbo, Nigeria)

One thing is clear; there are multiple stories about what happened and why, when reflecting on the Grenadian revolutionary period of March 13, 1979 to October 19, 1983. When assessing its ongoing impacts, it is evident that there remains a vast array of experiences, many similar, many contradictory and usually the focus centers on events that did and did not take place from October 19 – 25, 1983. The previous four years and more, of Grenadian mobilization and self-sovereignty is usually erased and/or significantly minimized.

The Grenadian Revolution has clearly left an indelible mark on the Grenadian, Caribbean, African and global psyche.  The diverse colours of those memories reflect a rainbow of diverse emotions and in some cases, facts.

The Grenada Country Conference took place from March 8-10, 2016 at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus at Marryshow House, St. George’s. The theme of this historic gathering was, “Perspectives on the Grenada Revolution 1979-83”. Thirty-seven (37) years after the overthrow of Sir Eric Gairy, scholars, activists and others who value social justice, continue to explore and document the “revo” and its ongoing impacts. Yet, the diversity of those narratives that speak to the learnings and trauma experienced during the “revo”, invasion and post-invasion, continue to be dominated by a singular story, “Thank God for U.S. and Caribbean Heroes of Freedom”; a message that is etched and continuously maintained, on a dilapidated building near the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Tempe, St. George’s.

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One of things that was made clear at the conference, was that we must remain cautious that many of these important conversations and reflections do not remain within silos of academic spaces, made almost inaccessible to the general public. Thousands of Grenadians were involved in and continue to be impacted by the Grenadian Revolution therefore, it is critical that they play a central role in these post-Revolution conversations.

The other obvious reminder of the Grenadian Revolution is one that usually goes unnoticed in the Grenadian imaginary on a daily basis – those two large white arches near our International Airport which remains one of the longstanding achievements of the “revo”. Though facts state otherwise, the Airport was framed as a military base for communist mobilization and thus used by former US President Ronald Reagan as one of the reasons to “intervene”. The placement of those arches near what has been renamed the Maurice Bishop International Airport, can only be described according to David Scott as, “on the one side, the mocking cynicism of imperial power; on the other, the limp prostration of the absolute defeat of spirit. It is empire’s sneering reward for a people’s audacity” (Scott 2010).

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The final marker that I would like to reflect on is our “Thanksgiving” celebrations on October 25. The purpose of this national public holiday is to mirror the invasion of 1983. “

Bloody Sunday”, “Bloody Monday”, March 13, October 19 and other key historical dates are barely recognized by the state, much less given public holiday status. What message is the government sending to the populace when it chooses to erase the significance of the days aforementioned, days upon which the people of Grenada decided to take change into their own hands and the state chose to respond in violent and repressive ways such as the killing of Maurice Bishop’s father on “Bloody Monday” and the shooting at and beating of Bishop, Unison Whiteman and Selwyn Strachan just one day prior, on “Bloody Sunday”?

What is allowed to remain, how it is remembered and the placement of sites of memory is important in understanding the intended purpose of a monument, piece of art, plaque or any other tangible embodiment of memory.

How is it that such a diversity of complementary and contradicting stories surrounding the Grenadian Revolution, have become sanitized and reduced to mainly one, further instilled by the national holiday on October 25 –  “Papa Reagan” and other invading forces, have come to save the day! This truly begs the question, whose memories are we remembering and for what purpose?

Remembering i.e. memory and its representation as illustrated by Edward Said, “touch significantly upon questions of identity, of nationalism, of power and authority. Far from being a neutral exercise in facts and basic truths, the study of history, which is the underpinning of memory, both in school and university, is to some considerable extent a nationalist effort premised on the need to construct a desirable loyalty to and insider’s understanding of one’s country, tradition, and faith” (Said 2000, 176). Therefore, examples such as the selected CXC curriculum that reduces the “revo” and the US invasion to “The US in the Caribbean” and the language, narratives and representation of the “revo” and subsequent invasion/ ‘intervention’ are made obvious. The shaping of memories are very much a part of how we see ourselves as it is a part of how we are seen by others.

We should be proud of our history! We are not the first set of people to make mistakes when attempting to engage in transformative change, particularly when that change attacks the longstanding foothold of global systems of power such as capitalism, colonialism and white supremacy. However, we are definitely the first anglo-speaking, predominantly African-Caribbean nation to decide that only we, can change our fate and we did. We are admired and if not admired, at the very least researched, by so many Caribbean and other non-Grenadian people; why do we not feel that pride?

We must also learn to deal with dissent. If one thing is clear, as humans we struggle with power and dissent and end up marginalizing the very people that we claim to love and to be fighting for. We must find healthy and accountable ways of respecting and integrating difference otherwise we run the risk of turning real and metaphorical guns against the people.

Dr. The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves in the Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation (GREMFO) and Groundation Grenada’s annual March 13th Lecture, spoke to a packed audience at the Trade Centre. He left us with a few questions, one of which asked us to reflect on the types of political and economic systems that would be appropriate for the Caribbean context. One thing is clear from the Grenadian Revolution and I would also argue, from current day happenings, is that we need to be cautious in adapting political and economic systems, not created by us and the essence of which, is actually to ensure our continued demise. Is capitalism ours? Is socialism ours? Is communism ours? What can a Grenadian-responsive system of economic and political transformation look like? In the words of poet June Jordan, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for, but to secure change, we must believe that and move beyond what we’ve become so used to.

We need to erect spaces, monuments and visuals such as billboards etc. and write our own truths to power in ways that reflect our own stories, experiences and memories. We must be the ones to narrate those reflections, criticisms and affirmations. To those who fought, sacrificed and died for what they imagined to be a better Grenada, we thank you, we see and we will remember always. Forward ever, backward never! Long live the spirit of Grenadians and the Grenadian Revolution!

“I feel my ancestors in my blood.I am a body of people who are asking not to be forgotten” 

– @beingupile

 


Kimalee Phillip Groundation Grenada Editor & Project Coordinator Kimalee Phillip
Co-Director & Project Coordinator

Kimalee Phillip is African-Grenadian women currently based out of Toronto. She is an educator, organizer, consultant and writer who specializes in the fields of legal studies, workers’ rights, gender-based and sexualized violence, anti-colonial, anti-racist pedagogies and organizational development. She has conducted qualitative and participatory research and has created and facilitated various workshops, curriculum and learning spaces across Canada, Ghana, Jamaica and Grenada. She holds an MA in Legal Studies from Carleton University and is completing a certificate in Nonprofit Voluntary Sector Management at Ryerson University. Twitter @KimaleePhillip

[Audio] Dr. Ralph Gonsalves ‘March 13th’ Lecture Grenada

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Audio Recording
by Grenada Broadcast

Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves’ public lecture on the Grenada Revolution at Grenada Trade Centre March 14th 2016. The recording begins with an opening by Dr. Nicole Phillip-Dowe and remarks by the two host organizations, Ruggles Ferguson for Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation and Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe for Groundation Grenada.

Dr Ralph Gonsalves to deliver Public Talk – Monday 14th

Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent & the Grenadines, will deliver the Second (2nd)  Annual March 13 Lecture at the Grenada Trade Centre on Monday, March 14th, 2016 starting at 6.30pm. The topic for this year’s lecture is “The Grenada Revolution: Historical Context, Impact and Continuing Significance”.

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View & Download Event Poster

Prime Minister Gonsalves  is the second OECS Prime Minister to deliver the March 13th Lecture, launched in 2015 by the Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation (GREMFO) in collaboration with Groundation Grenada.  The inaugural lecture was delivered in 2015 by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

GREMFO is a non-profit company whose objectives include working towards the achievement of a fair and balanced assessment of the impact of the Revolution on Grenada and  the wider Caribbean;  preserving  the positive memories of the Revolution;  and fostering a spirit of reconciliation among persons affected by the Revolution and its demise.

Groundation Grenada is an organization  comprised of young Grenadians working to raise critical awareness on social justice issues.  In pursuit of its project FORGETTING IS NOT AN OPTION, Groundation Grenada  is committed to preserving and embracing the history of Grenada including the period  of the Grenada Revolution.

March 13th, 2016 marks the 37th Anniversary of the Grenada Revolution.  Students of history are especially encouraged to attend the upcoming  lecture which focuses on a critical period  of Grenada’s  development.

An articulate and persuasive speaker, Dr Gonsalves is a seasoned politician, historian and Attorney-at-Law. He holds a BSc in Economics, and  an MSc and PHd  in Government.  He has authored several  books and pamphlets touching and concerning history, politics and developmental issues.

The Inaugural lecture in 2015, delivered by  Prime Minister Skeritt, focused on   “The Grenada Revolution and the Current Foreign Policy Challenges of Small Island States”.

CONTACT :
Ruggles Ferguson
President, GREMFO (1 473 440 2707)


forgettinglogoThis collaboration is part of Groundation Grenada’s ongoing cultural memory project Forgetting is Not an Option, which seeks to engage with the Grenada Revolution as a launchpad for envisioning social change within a contemporary context.


cropped-cropped-cropped-realgroundationlogo1.jpgGroundation Grenada is a social action collective which focuses on the use of creative media to assess the needs of our communities, raise consciousness and act to create positive radical growth. Our mission is to provide active safe spaces to incubate new modes of resistance, building from the local to affect regional and international solidarity and change. We pursue our mission online, through our website and social media, and also through live events and special projects in collaboration with local, regional and international artists, activists and institutions. Groundation Grenada’s website supports both local and diasporic voices, acting as an interface to connect people who are hungry for innovative change. We are a co-founder of Mt Zion Library & Resource Centre.

Why We Need Student Loan Answers in the Caribbean + The Workshop You Need To Attend

:: Melisa Boutin ::

Education is highly valued in the Caribbean region, so much so, that many of us have shared childhood stories of parents, guardians and other society members drilling us to do well in school; read our school books; and aim for high academic achievement. This has been aptly parodied in Toni “Bella” Blair’s Things Jamaican Mothers Say  Youtube video, that opens with the Jamaican mother saying “You take up you book from morning?” This value system, coupled with an increased access to higher education, through the availability of student loans; accessibility of online and distance learning degree programs; and a demand for students from overseas universities, has made the Caribbean Millennial generation the most poised to take advantage the opportunity to enroll and complete university level education. A prospect that had not been as widely available to their parents, so how could we not jump at the chance?

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Upon completing high school, as one of the Millennial Class of graduates from the Basseterre High School in St. Kitts, I had already decided on civil engineering as my major for my undergraduate studies, and like most of my peers who were on that path to higher education, I signed up for a student loan to fund my undergraduate studies from Development Bank of St. Kitts.-Nevis. This loan represented the first financial commitment I made for my future earnings, as a 17 year old teen. I had a general understanding about how a student loan worked, but it is only after completing my undergraduate degree and started repaying my student loan, that I would learn about other aspects of the agreement, of which I had no clue.

  • 9% interest is a hefty interest rate for a 5-figure debt.
  • A $900 EC monthly payment sizable portion of my monthly earnings, especially when I had to service U.S. Student Loans too.
  • $0.00 dollars of my first two years of repayments would go to my student loan principal balance, which I only realized last year (2015).
  • 100’s of US dollars would have to be spent calling the Development Bank to keep track of my student loan payments.
  • There would times when I would not receive account statements; and that there was no easy way for overseas borrowers to access their account information.
  • Other borrowers have had the similar challenges.
  • That this experience would lead me to want to help others to understand their student loan and avoid challenges I had to face.

 

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Student Loan Answers Workshop + Forum at UWI Open Campus – Grenada
TA Marryshow House, H.A. Blaize Street
January, 28th at 5:30 pm (Local Time).

Not in Grenada? You can view the live broadcast and post questions too.

Just sign up to attend by clicking this link: bit.ly/studentloananswers.

A student loan borrower should have all the pertinent information needed to properly manage that debt. And, this is why we need #studentloananswers in the Caribbean.

If you are considering funding your studies from a Caribbean Bank or, you already have a loan from a Caribbean Bank, learn what you need to know to effectively manage your loan.

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The forum portion of the event will facilitate an open discussion for you to share your #studentloangripe; discuss any challenges you have experienced with your student loan; and any changes you would like to see implemented by student loan servicers in the Caribbean. Don’t forget to RSVP here: bit.ly/studentloananswers or send a Whatsapp message to 646-801-8217 for more information.

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Melisa

Melisa Boutin is a Kittitian Millennial who is passionate about helping other Caribbean Millennials dominate their student loan debt and master their money. In December 2015 , Melisa made her final student loan payment to the Development Bank of St. Kitts -Nevis and has been assisting her peers analyze their student loan account statements; navigate the repayment process and develop plans to effectively pay off their student loan debt serviced by Caribbean Banks. Melisa plans to establish a platform to educate those with student loans throughout the Eastern Caribbean and the North American Caribbean Diaspora; and facilitate the collaborations needed to effect long overdue changes to the student loan system in the Eastern Caribbean. You can connect with Melisa on Instagram/Twitter/Periscope via @Melibisous.

Food for the Mind and Soul – The Library’s 1st Annual Gala

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The Mt. Zion Public Library and Resource Centre is the only public library in St. Georges. The team of librarians and volunteers have been building and supporting a growing community of readers since 2014. They announce the launch of their “Friends of the Library” initiative, inviting anyone who believes in the power of a free public library in national development, to join. By becoming a Friend of the Library you are committing to support Mt Zion Public Library’s book collection, literacy, and educational offerings to over 1300 members (70% teens & children). By making your first annual donation you will become a “Friend of the Library”, help keep the library open & accessible, and sponsor two members for a year. This free resource for the whole community is seeking support from all sectors to remain open.

The library’s first Anniversary Gala: Food for the Mind and Soul on December 5th, 2015, 7pm at True Blue Bay Resort, makes this an excellent time to support literacy and education in Grenada. Tickets cost US$70 or EC$180.00. For this donation, patrons will become an official “Friend of the Library” plus enjoy a gourmet three course meal, which includes favorite dishes of Grenada’s celebrities and literary stars as well as lively readings, music and entertainment by Crème de la Crème and FLOM. Tickets are available at True Blue Bay resort, Mitchell’s Pharmacy, Duty Free Caribbean, L.L. Ramdhanny in Grenville, The Wine Shop and at the Mt. Zion Library upstairs Digicel, St. George’s.

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A grand raffle will be held at the gala, prizes include: a three night stay in Lance aux Epines Cottages for a maximum of 4 persons, Yoga for two for a month at Spice Harmony Yoga, a Balinese massage at Laluna, a facial at Spice Island Retreat Unisex Salon, three bottles of wine and a bucket from North South Trading, and a trip for two to the sculpture park on the S&S glass- bottom Kayak.

Get your tickets today for the Mt. Zion Public Library’s first Anniversary Gala at True Blue Bay Resort, December 5th from 7pm – and support a growing community of readers in St George’s!

Friends of the Library Dec 5th flyer

Contact:
Email: info@mtzionlibrary.org
Web: www.mtzionlibrary.org
Tel: 420 7616
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/mtzionlibraryhrc
Opening hours: 10am-6pm on weekdays and 9am-3pm on Saturdays.

 


 

cropped-cropped-cropped-realgroundationlogo1.jpgGroundation Grenada is a social action collective which focuses on the use of creative media to assess the needs of our communities, raise consciousness and act to create positive radical growth. Our mission is to provide active safe spaces to incubate new modes of resistance, building from the local to affect regional and international solidarity and change. We pursue our mission online, through our website and social media, and also through live events and special projects in collaboration with local, regional and international artists, activists and institutions. Groundation Grenada’s website supports both local and diasporic voices, acting as an interface to connect people who are hungry for innovative change. We are a co-founder of Mt Zion Library & Resource Centre.

Grenada Going Places on LGBTI Human Rights

:: by Maurice Tomlinson ::

The island of Grenada is probably best known for the 1983 US-led invasion.  However this beautiful tropical paradise also called the “Spice Isle” for the abundant nutmeg trees, as well as the exotic feel of the country, may soon achieve a much more enviable reputation as one of the Anglo-phone Caribbean nations that is working assiduously to achieve full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and intersex (LGBTI) citizens. 

Although gay cruises have visited Grenada, the country is one of 11 former British colonies in the region that still retains a colonially-imposed ban on same-gender intimacy.  Section 431 of the island’s criminal code deems even consensual anal intercourse as “unnatural connexion” punishable with up to 10 years in prison.  This law is rarely enforced and the last reported prosecution in 2011 of a 41 year-old man for consensual sex with a 17 year-old male was terminated before the matter went to trial.  The accused eventually withdrew a constitutional challenge to the anti-sodomy law and so prevented a much needed court determination of the statute’s validity. Despite minimal enforcement, there is evidence that the existence of the law contributes to and provides licence for a climate of hostility towards LGBTI Grenadians.

In May 2013, the president of the country’s Senate called for the island to reconsider its ban on same-gender sexual relationships and said that “the day is fast approaching” for Grenada and other Caribbean countries to repeal their anti-sodomy laws. At a town hall meeting in Brooklyn, New York on Sunday September 27, 2015 Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell also invoked Pope Francis’ “who am I to judge” statement to call for tolerance towards the LGBTI community in Grenada.

Civil society organizations on the island have also been taking concrete steps to end homophobic discrimination.  Groups such as GrenCHAP and Groundation Grenada have prepared and presented multiple international and regional reports on the level of homophobia, and have repeatedly used national dialogues to call for full inclusion of LGBTI citizens.  For example, during a public consultation on the proposed constitution held on October 15, 2014 Groundation and GrenCHAP called for sexual orientation to be listed as a ground for non-discrimination in the bill of rights.  The proposal was met with jeers from the audience, but the group was able to complete their submission with the full support of the moderator.  A skilful appeal by the presenters to the shared history of marginalization and discrimination faced by many Grenadians was also effective at blunting the homophobic rhetoric that some audience members started to spew. 

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Photographs from recent LGBTI Training for Grenadian Police Officers (Nov 2th-5th 2015)

On November 24, 2013 a few members of GrenCHAP also bravely carried out a guerilla counter-protest of an anti-gay march led by the influential Seventh Day Adventist Church. Chanting: “man to man is so unjust; woman to woman is even worse” the fundamentalists sought to demean same-gender relations and then claimed on national television that this was not their intent.  However, in what can only be described as a stroke of genius, the small GrenCHAP contingent not only recorded the march, they also joined in with rainbow flags. 

On October 19, 2015 petitioners from GrenCHAP and Groundation Grenada argued before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that the anti-sodomy law continues to be used as grounds for blatant discrimination against homosexual individuals. According to the petitioners, section 431 of the criminal code conflicts with human rights guaranteed by international law, including rights enshrined in the American Convention, namely, the rights to: dignity and privacy; equal protection under the law and non-discrimination; health; and freedom of expression. 

Further, the petitioners contended that the law creates social stigma, condones family and community violence, and prevents homosexuals from accessing counseling and testing for services for HIV and AIDS. The petitioners referenced a United Nations poll data from 2014 which showed that 38% of participants in Grenada reported being homophobic, 52% indicated that they would not “hang out” with someone who is gay, and 57% were not in favor of equal rights for gay, lesbian and bi-sexual populations.

It is accepted by most regional activists that although Caribbean politicians may personally support repealing the outdated anti-sodomy laws, elected officials are stymied by fear of the vocal churches that wield significant political clout in the very religious and close-knit societies.  Therefore regional and international lawyers joined activists representing the rights of Caribbean LGBTI people for a meeting in Grenada from September 21–23, 2015.  The aim of this assembly was to assess whether litigation around the criminalisation and lack of recognition of the human rights of queer people was possible in the countries of the Eastern Caribbean. 

At the end of the litigation workshop a group of attendees mounted the first-ever Stand for Equality in the capital parish of St. George.  There was also dialogue with the police high command about the possibility of a LGBTI awareness training for police and other community stakeholders and this training was successfully delivered on Nov. 2-5.

The awareness building exercise was supported by the Royal Grenada Police Force, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, GrenCHAP, United & Strong INC., and CariFLAGS.  Forty-two uniformed officers drawn from the police, immigration, fire, customs, prisons, and ports services were joined by 8 civil society representatives from the Grenada Family Planning Association, the Grenada Human Rights Organization, GrenCHAP and their sister group United and Strong of St. Lucia.  This innovative programme was first brought to the Caribbean by AIDS-Free World and has so far been delivered in Suriname, Barbados, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts. Modules on community policing, human rights, professionalism, ethics, an introduction to LGBTI issues, and how to police hate crimes were delivered in two sessions of two days each.  The small size of each group (no more than 25 persons) allowed for frank discussions on the very challenging but critical issues. 

The course curriculum was written by Tom Decker who served as the LGBTI liaison officer for the Toronto Police Service (TPS).  While at the TPS, Tom created the award-winning Report Homophobic Violence Period (RVHP) programme.  Tom’s partner, Maurice, who is a Jamaican lawyer, long time LGBTI and HIV activist, and senior policy analyst with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, also contributed to the human rights and Caribbean specific sections of the training manual.  Tom and Maurice serve as training facilitators for the course.

As usual, day two of the training in Grenada was difficult for most participants because that was when they were introduced (some for the first time) to specific LGBTI issues.  A few very vocal participants wanted to focus exclusively on religious (Christian) interpretations that condemn homosexuality and there were some vigorous exchanges on the extent to which professional policing accommodated religious ideology. 

At the end of the sessions most participants expressed that there was need for more than two days for these exercises.  Many felt that the religious discussions were not fully entertained.  However the facilitators surmised that there was the real risk that more time would simply allow for “Bible ping-pong” or trading of interpretations on biblical passages on homosexuality.  This would detract from the central focus of the training which is to create an understanding about the human rights of LGBTI people and how combatting homophobia is central to reducing the Caribbean’s HIV burden.

While some participants expressed stereotypically conservative views against the human rights of homosexuals, there were also several moments of growth and personal learning.  For example, there was the realization by the left-handed attendees that they too were once stigmatized and abused for who they are because of religious doctrine.  Participants with LGBTI family members also shared their fears for the security of their family in Grenada. While Grenada is not known for a high number of anti-gay attacks, members of GrenCHAP who were in attendance revealed that they had received reports of homophobic discrimination in employment, housing and healthcare as well as verbal and physical assaults.  However, the level of homophobia and unfamiliarity with the system of reporting abuse discouraged persons who had experienced victimization from coming forward to the police. 

The sessions ended with participants undertaking to provide professional police service to all citizens of Grenada, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or other status.

The local broadcast media also reported on the trainings and it is hoped that this coverage will provide LGBTI Grenadians with evidence that officers are being provided with diversity training.  This assurance should hopefully encourage those who have suffered homophobic assaults to come forward with confidence to make reports to the police.  Such reporting is vital to ensure that effective interventions can be developed to address these hate crimes, and also guarantee LGBTI people a sense of security so that they can access critical HIV interventions.

Copies of the course manuals were delivered to the commander in charge of the police training school in order to ensure sustainable and ongoing instruction in the areas that were covered.  The two Canada-based facilitators will also act as resource personnel and provide ongoing support for local trainers.


Maurice_HG11-700x336Maurice Tomlinson is a Jamaican lawyer, LGBTI activist, and educator. For nearly twenty years, he has been working with a variety of local and international agencies to combat homophobia and HIV across the Caribbean. As part of the Legal Network’s Research and Policy team, Maurice continues his deep and fruitful partnerships with various national and regional stakeholders to promote and protect the human rights of Caribbean LGBTI people.

In 2012, Maurice received the inaugural David Kato Vision and Voice Award, which recognizes individuals who defend human rights and the dignity of LGBTI people around the world.

Maurice holds a B.A. in History (honours) from the University of the West Indies, an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurial Studies from the University of Calgary, an LL.B. (honours) from the University of the West Indies, an LL.M. in Intellectual Property Law from the University of Turin (cum laude), and a Certificate of Legal Education form the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica. Maurice was called to the Jamaican Bar in 2006.

The Right to Live and Love Without Fear of Discrimination

:: by Kimani Parke ::

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Photo Source: Tumblr

What is it to love without fear? How does it feel to love without prejudice? The sad and unfortunate reality is that many LGBT persons living in Grenada have no idea what this feels like. Let us be abundantly clear, this is not an issue of gay rights, as no such thing exists; this is an issue of fundamental HUMAN rights — the right to live and love without fear of discrimination.

The Grenadian public has this perceived threat of gays/lesbians, which is nothing short of ludicrous. If a same-sex relationship is somehow affecting yours, then you need to re-evaluate your union. Ultimately, all we want is to have our basic rights observed, respected and protected.

Imagine everyday waking up being faced with two choices: be who you are and subject yourself to violence and discernment; or put on a mask, play a part and suffer in silence. As an independent nation, no government or church should have jurisdiction over the personal lives of its citizens. Rallying to deny LGBT persons their human rights is in fact a hate rally; what that promotes is exclusion, fear and further prejudice.

How difficult is it to live and let live? How difficult is it to stay out of people’s bedrooms? How difficult is it to basically mind your own business? Christians, stop selecting passages in the Bible that is convenient to your cause and government. Stop using a dormant and inhumane law to threaten the livelihoods of your LGBT citizens. Love is a basic right. Love is a human right. Love is my right and I choose to do it without fear.

Part 1 of the “Love Without Fear” Campaign article series
by GrenCHAP in collaboration with GrenAIDS.

Love Without FearWatch “Love Without Fear” on GrenCHAP’s Youtube Channel!

 


IMG_20150218_102623-1Kimani Parke is a human rights activist and current member of the Non-Governmental Organization GrenCHAP. In 2009 she represented Grenada at the 39th OAS General Assembly held in San Pedro Sula Honduras. She has since written various articles advocating for the rights of LGBT persons in Grenada; she has also been interviewed by local media houses since the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. Though she currently resides in the United States she frequently visits Grenada and is very active in the LGBT community.

CariFLAGS network pays tribute to Zenita’s legacy

The Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS) joins in expressing shock and deep sadness at the news of the untimely death of our colleague, LGBTI, HIV and Human Rights Advocate Zenita Nicholson. Zenita was a Board Member of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), country coordinator of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, an ally and supporter of a range of Guyanese NGOs, and a friend to many.

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Dane Lewis of Co-Chair of CariFLAGS says “Zenita’s passion for the rights of LGBT people saw her demonstrating her agency as a strong ally voice for the LGBT movement in the region which has always meant a great deal to those of us who haven’t been able to be on the front line and be present in the ways she had been. Her energy and passion will be greatly missed.”

CariFLAGS stands in solidarity with Zenita’s family, friends and our colleagues at all the NGOs and coalitions Zenita worked with in Guyana and regionally. We send our deepest condolences as we stand by each other in this difficult time.

To us in CariFLAGS, Zenita was a strong Caribbean woman, a respected advocate, a radical movement shaker, a person of courage, and a champion of human rights. An outgoing person, she always had a smile. Her passion, commitment and understanding of the issues affecting our communities will forever be remembered. Her absence is a huge loss for national, regional and international advocacy.

“It is very hard for me to deal with this tragedy. She is gone but will not be forgotten. Her death proved for me again that we need to work harder to fight domestic violence and spend more time looking after each other”, says Tieneke Sumter, Executive Director of WomanSway of Suriname and Co-Chair of CariFLAGS.

She partnered in our work in many ways at the local, regional and international levels and, dressed in an unforgettably pink jacket, was a leading part of our 2013 delegation to the Organisation of American States (OAS) General Assembly in Guatemala. A vibrant and visible individual, Zenita’s infectious laugher, charming personality, passion, work on human rights and justice will live on even though she is no longer with us physically.

ASA/RevASA, CAISO, Groundation Grenada, J-FLAG, UNIBAM, United and Strong and the region-wide CariFLAGS network join in paying tribute to Zenita’s legacy and offering sincere regrets at her loss to her extended family of kin, colleagues and friends.

 


RealGroundationLogo_TransparentGroundation Grenada is a social action collective which focuses on the use of creative media to assess the needs of our communities, raise consciousness and act to create positive radical growth. Our mission is to provide active safe spaces to incubate new modes of resistance, building from the local to affect regional and international solidarity and change. We pursue our mission online, through our website and social media, and also through live events and special projects in collaboration with local, regional and international artists, activists and institutions. Groundation Grenada’s website supports both local and diasporic voices, acting as an interface to connect people who are hungry for innovative change.