In Defense of Javed Jaghai

Photo of Javed Jaghai by Randy Risling of the Toronto Star “In Defense of Javed Jaghai” I am most ashamed of my Jamaican heritage as, on my sister’s birthday, August 30th, I read that Javed Jaghai has withdrew his legal challenge to overturn the anti-buggery or anti-sodomy laws of Jamaica. This is an absolute disgrace. Javed’s decision to do so is only a result of the colonial legacy which is a climate of fear and ignorance promulgated by Christian fundamentalism which flooded Jamaica in the 1980s. Where were these church leaders, who are able to rally hundreds, when Robert Pickersgill, the Minister of Government responsible for Water, Land, and Climate Change decided to sell thousands of Jamaican acres to China, instead of to local Jamaican business on August 6th? The date of so-called Jamaican independence? What were these church leaders doing when Jamaicans For Justice issued a report teaching about sexuality and the contraction of AIDS that was branded by Youth Minister and the Jamaica Gleaner as “controversial”? Why is teaching our youth basic facts about our sexuality considered “controversial”? Why do church and government leaders of Jamaica depend so heavily on an ignorant population? Compared to Cuba and Grenada, Jamaica apparently has light years to go in being truly independent from European rule. To be truly independent means rejecting the homophobic colonial laws that forbid sodomy and by understanding that Jamaica’s moral crisis is NOT the danger of homosexuality but the complete independence from English colonial laws. Jamaicans who castigate Javed Jaghai because of his sexuality suffer from what Frantz Fanon calls a “colonized mentality.” These are opponents to the true political, economic, and psychological liberation of the Jamaican people. They are colonized by Western society that teaches the most important priority of every individual man is to live only in a heterosexual partnership because that is the only kind of partnership that will procreate. According to the King James Bible, Jesus Christ himself did not procreate. Because of religious fundamentalism, the Jamaican mass has been deceived into thinking, like American conservative Christians, that our biggest moral crisis is stemming the spread of homosexuality. This is a farce that has been promulgated since the Cuban revolution as another Trojan horse the West uses to discourage nations from adopting Communism. Since the Cuban Revolution, American evangelicalism is America’s worst and most destructive psychological export. It is destructive because it teaches citizens of color to see themselves as souls to be saved for a Christ that serves ultimately Western capital. As James Baldwin said, “the people who call themselves ‘born again’ today have simply become members of the richest, most exclusive private club in the world, a club that the man from Galilee could not possibly hope—or wish—to enter.” Evidence in many of these churches of a so-called “blessing from God,” is conceived as a job or a house with some tie to Western capital that is systemically tied to denying ownership of resources to countries with majorities of color. I critique the Jamaican church movement in support of buggery laws as a Christian myself. I am critiquing the apparent vacuum in political education that these church leaders have about the legacy of English colonialism that encourages a young man to fight for a repeal of a colonial law meant to do two things: one, subjugate Black people, and two, procreate purely for the interest of wealth creation. Conservative Christians in Jamaica should understand that these laws were created in order to control and contain Black bodies more than they were to “save souls.” I have not seen a better form of protest against this colonial relationship than the Smith College students’ protest against IMF chair Christine Lagarde. I am hoping I will live long enough to see masses of Jamaicans protest for the same reason these Smith College students protested Christine Lagarde. But decades of Jamaican colonial leadership by the likes of Norman Manley who demanded that Black Power activist Walter Rodney be deported, and by Edward Seaga who encourages IMF dependence, has for over four decades now created a climate of thousands of people who believe, tragically, that their peaceful future is tied up in the hands of benevolent white men with money who will give that money based on how many “souls they save” or on how “well” they adopt a heteronormative religion rooted in white supremacy. This self-hating behavior needs to stop. I am so sorry for my friend, Javed, that he has to live in a society drowned in ignorance and fear that has grown because of the power of a “colonized bourgeoisie” that bases their own personal beliefs on a set of people who not only don’t practice what they preach, but who do so with the primary purpose of colonial subjugation. I consider Javed a visionary like Marcus Garvey who conceived of a new world. Garvey conceived a world where conscious Black men and women would own and control their own land and resources for the benefit of Black people. Sadly, he was ridiculed by his own ignorant Jamaican people. Their folly was exposed to the world when were blessed with the philosophy of Malcolm X as a result of the Garveyism practiced by his father. His philosophy effectively inspired independence movements all over Africa and the Caribbean. The King James Bible in Mark chapter 4 verse 6 says that “a prophet is not without honor except in his own country.” Garvey was absolutely a prophet without honor in Jamaica. Garvey helped inspire the twentieth century revolutions in Africa and the Caribbean, because of his vision of a society that is not entirely economically controlled by white supremacist capitalists. And today in 2014, Javed Jaghai is a prophet without honor in Jamaica, for daring to conceive of a nation that does not conceive of homosexuals as criminals; a nation trying to shake off all its colonial laws. Jamaica has a long way to go once its people make a concerted effort to celebrate and not castigate the visions of their prophets that will only propel the nation forward.

Author: Dr. Rhone Fraser

Dr. Rhone Fraser is an independent writer and journalist born of Jamaican immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, on October 12, 1979. He moved to Florida in 1989 and graduated from Zephyrhills (FL) High School in 1997. He graduated from Yale University in 2001, after which time he taught in the public school systems in New Haven (CT) and the Bronx for three years. He then began writing independently and finished a documentary play on the life of Fannie Lou Hamer entitled, "Living Sacrifice," for which he still seeks publication. He earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple as of August 31, 2012. His dissertation was a literary and historical analysis of Pauline Hopkins, A. Philip Randolph and Paul Robeson. He also is a freelance editor and radio producer, and is currently producer of WPEB's Freedom Readers on 88.1 FM in Philadelphia.

One thought on “In Defense of Javed Jaghai”

  1. The way a Jamaican friend of mine who is extremely poor is being treated by the medical profession and police in Jamaica is a disgrace to the Island nation. (Yes, the United States has much to answer for, but that involves comments many books long.) He was actually put in jail because he could not pay the amount they demanded of him monthly for surgery that saved his life. If they had set the amount lower, he would have been able to pay it, but they didn't consider his economic situation.

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