Tue | Nov 30, 2021

Don’t present COVID-19 as Chinese virus, says Tufton - Musicians urged to spread awareness and not discriminate against people through their work

Published:Sunday | March 22, 2020 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of health and wellness, addresses the media at a COVID-19 press briefing at the Jamaica House banquet hall last Wednesday.
Supa Dups

As officials work to contain the virus that the World Health Organization has labelled a global public-health emergency, anti-Chinese and discriminatory messages have continued unabated. COVID-19 and news surrounding its outbreak have sparked lyrics in several reggae and dancehall productions, warning persons against being in contact with and using products made by Chinese people.

However, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has advised that Jamaicans should not take on that attitude.

Speaking to The Sunday Gleaner, Tufton said, “We have never approached this virus as a ‘Chinese virus’ and encourage persons not to.” He said that infectious diseases have their origins in various circumstances and can start from anywhere in the world.

Some of the songs that make mention of the virus and the Chinese include Nothing fi di Chinese Dung Yah by Dip Dip, and Corona (COVID-19) by Jahsent, recorded on the Aircraft Riddim.

As a people, “our focus must be to understand it when it happens and work together to overcome,” Tufton said of the messages that should be present in our music at this time.

Lack of creativity

Award-winning producers Ainsley Morris and Dwayne Chin-Quee, popularly known as Notnice and Supa Dups, respectively, are unimpressed by the lack of creativity in some of the music encapsulating the global pandemic.

“I can’t say that I have really concentrated on the coronavirus tracks, but the recording artistes discriminating against Chinese in their lyrics should really reflect on the message them sending,” Not Nice recommended.

“Instead of rolling with a hype by bashing Chinese, then don’t travel pon the toll road, and I say this to say there are many things the Chinese brought here, and the virus is not one of them. It may have originated from Wuhan, but the person who brought it to Jamaica or was Patient Zero wasn’t of Asian descent or was not coming from China. No Chinese has brought it here, so why discriminate? The artistes need to spend adequate time educating themselves on the virus,” he added.

Supa Dups added: “Stop looking a forward with racial slurs. We could be more creative to spread awareness even more so than in the music. But persons in the music industry who are of greater influence need to get educated and put the word out to those who are lesser known. I completely agree with Notnice. It is a thing where we need to be more aware. It spread in Jamaica because there is constant movement of people in and out of the country.”

Pointing out that he is of Chinese descent, the Grammy Award-winning producer pointed out that the virus is anti-racial and colour blind.

“No matter what colour you are, whether you are poor or rich, whether you are Chinese, black, or blue, as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t mean I am more susceptible because there is no colour, just human beings,” said Supa Dups, founding member of the Miami-based sound system Black Chiney.

“It is not uncommon in a crisis for recording artistes to make light of situations, and sometimes it’s better to take it with a grain of salt, like in 2002 when Elephant Man released a song after 9/11 that said, “Nuh trust nuh wraphead coolie in a silk or satin” and may not have intentionally meant to discriminate, but music is forever, and the message is important. The focus should be on spreading awareness with facts and take care of our families.”