Be Careful What You Wish For is obviously "political," but there is another, perhaps unconscious, motif: a close-minded conservatism steeped in misanthropy and misogyny. It's visible in the inciting event/metaphor: domestic violence, being used as a warning to women to stay in relation- ships no matter what: "Better keep your bird in hand / Than pursue your heart's desire." If we hold the metaphor accountable-if women stay with/ in a PNM-type husband/relationship-what do they have? What does PNM-Carnival culture espouse? Not infanticide, but child abuse. Not bad marriage, but child-fadder scrambling. Domestic abuse remains, but perhaps gentler? The motif suggests further that things like "hearts' desire" (romance, sentience) are non-operational in that worldview. Forget about love, doh leave de man, your baby will be killed (by Guyanese Indians). But perhaps the metaphor cannot be held accountable-perhaps the analogy merely signifies of a deep individual hatred of the PP/ Indians? Equating an ethnic group to a child killer is serious. Where did it come from? How? Why?
It could be that Karen Asche is a ventriloquist's puppet here, transmitting a discourse she has (perhaps unconsciously) internalised, whose genealogy is traceable. "Wish" descends from Singing Sandra's song, Genocide, of 2007. (I understand Sandra is Ms Asche's mentor.) In Genocide, Sandra reported that doctors with names like "Sarwan" were performing unauthorised hysterectomies on African women. (The "Guyanese" factor is common, as is the reproductive trope-hysterectomy, infanticide.) The hysterectomy story was part of the racial paranoia injected into the mainstream by Sewlyn Cudjoe in the Express (March 28, 1999)-his editor was that great PNM journalist/ob-gyn, Maxie Cuffie. Between 2002 and 2007, I heard songs reiterating the general paranoia in calypso tents like the Klassic Ruso, the Revue, in Skatie's and Cro Cro's Dimanche Gras songs, and elsewhere. The songs were not many, but the sentiments were supplemented by talk radio where you heard, daily, for hours: Indians were liars, thieves, not Trinidadians, and generally "vomit." (All allowable: "press freedom.")
Ms Asche is 24; she was nine in 1996, when the UNC came in. So from age 10, she was exposed to a ubiquitous stream of racial hatred that lasted a decade (via talk radio and calypso). Many people, especially the guilty, are making like this never happened, but what "Wish" shows is what these sentiments did. The education the children of Ms Asche's generation got contained nothing to counteract what they were living through. Nothing about love, women's and children's rights, "romance" and "idealism." And stop for a moment and think what Indian children of the same age would have gone through, hearing every day for years that they and their parents were thieves, liars and should be kidnapped, and what those consequences will be. (White Oak and water, anyone?) To any student of the humanities, what happened and how are not mysteries. In The Republic, Plato warned about controlling the music and games children played to control their social formation. Aldous Huxley's classic novel, Brave New World, described a technique of socialisation-constant repetition of slogans to children, reinforced by rewards and sanctions-which cultural psychology and media theory have confirmed.
But it's not just behaviour. The German sociologist Maurice Halbwachs in his classic work, Collective Memory, established that memory is a collective phenomenon-created by societies and groups, rather than being "recorded" mental data.
Media scholar Alison Landsberg, in her book, Prosthetic Memory, describes how, in the electronic age memories can be created by mass media-embedding in consciousness events which never actually happened, but which are felt in the same way as actual events. And everything in the media and "culture" from 1997-2007 was steeped in poisonous race hatred. What is really astonishing is that no one today-academics, politicians, journalists-seems to even acknowledge what was happening via talk radio, mass culture, and state policy in that decade, so the act has slipped from consciousness, but its effects persist. (The dolts at UWI should get someone to read (and explain) Paul Ricoeur's Memory, History and Forgetting to them, for a description of "forced forgetting.") I see the resultant epistemology in responses to these columns. "Wish's" lyrics are ok, but pointing out their characteristics is "racial." Some people try to steer the discourse into the direction of "well talk 'bout White Oak and water, nah" or it being just another ploy to protect the PP.
But to get back to education: Ms Asche is an emblem of a generation of young adults who grew up hearing the vilest racial incitements every day, which included that crime was a legitimate means to "equalise the economy"-remember Cro Cro's Face Reality (aka "Kidnap Dem")?These sentiments have never been repudiated, or even acknowledged, but we live with their consequences every day, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Ever wonder why the crime rate spiked in 2002 and refuses to drop? Ms Asche deserves recognition for displaying so clearly the consequences of political psychological abuse on the memories and imaginations of a generation of children, and the impotence of the educational system to counter them. But neither she nor this sorry excuse for a calypso deserved $2 million. The Government deserves a solid kick in the a-- for encouraging this sick stupidity. The millions it gave to the song competi- tions could have been used to get real sociologists and psychologists (not UWI foolers) to study the effects I've described here.