RASTAFARI BRETHREN CIRLCE

By J.J. Colagrande

01_thelonious-horowitz11THELONIOUS HOROWITZ

A big hole in Rasta ideology is Haile Selassie. How can anyone make a man divine in the sense of a black liberator who first of all never claimed to be one, and secondly, who sought exile in a white land. For a brief period of time Ethiopia was colonized by Mussolini and the Fascist Italians, at which point Selassie fled in exile. Where did Selassie flee? Great Britain. He stayed there four years until with the help of the British he returned from exile and regained the thrown of Ethiopia until he was booted in 1974, when he was allegedly arrested and taken away in the back of a VW like a peasant, never to be seen again in public. Selassie was no hero and no martyr.

SHORE MORRIS

You are right. His exile is frowned upon. Ethiopian rulers are historically known as warriors who would die in battle before fleeing. It seems he would’ve been more of a martyr if he indeed went down for his country in its defense rather than to have fled into the white world. Still, Rastas have always been the poorest and lowest in the Jamaican social hierarchy. They didn’t have access to information like we have today. Shit. They didn’t have electricity. The fact that Jamaica was a British colony and Tafari went to 10_shore-morrisEngland in exile is a coincidence that may have something to do with why he was anointed. Remember. There are two very interesting things about Ethiopia. One, historically, the majority of religion in Ethiopia has always been Christian, this in a part of the world dominated by Muslims. And two, Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that, for the most part, avoided European colonization. Ethiopia held its own. Ethiopia was a land of black pride. In 1930 it was a big deal when an African prince who claimed to be of a direct descent from the union of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba was crowned king and emperor of the only Christian and un-colonized country in Africa. This was a legitimate black king of a Holy Land in a world that if you were black, looked whiter and whiter. So, yeah, Rasta took the crowning of Haile Selassie as a divine thing.

THELONIOUS HOROWITZ

So why is this obscure Caribbean cult embedded in a counterculture of middle white America?

SHORE MORRIS

The folk roots are appealing, and the rebellious nature of Rastas draw empathy from the American counterculture.

THELONIOUS HOROWITZ

But you have fifteen-year old white kids blazing joints listening to Marley growing dreads and it’s like what’s up. When you know what Rasta is about it’s not supposed to include 15 year-old white kids from the suburbs.

MELODY RAIN07_melody-rain3

You down with Rasta you down, you down with the under dog, you keep it real, you don’t sell out, Rasta is about keeping it real. The Rasta stand against authority is the exact spirit that a middle class American teen or young adult would elevate, especially if Rasta in trouble over the ganja. Rasta to me is not about Haile Selassie. I don’t believe he is divine in any way. Rasta to me is about the concept of oneness. I & I, man. Jah love. One love. All peoples.

TEFLON JONES

02_teflon-jonesRasta is a black thing. It’s spiritual but it’s a black thing. Marcus Garvey is worth idolizing more than Haile Selassie. Remember Marcus Garvey’s four main principles: one, Africa for Africa—there should be no colonization or religious rule, two, unity amongst all blacks, three, self-reliance, and four, look the white man in the eye. Garvey said that a black people’s God must be black because they’re created in his image. Garvey said economic strength is the only way to political power and if there is any justice in the world then the richest continent on the planet, Africa, will one day gain the power and glory it deserves rather than the suffering and gutted manipulation it has received. There may be no justice on this planet but there is irony. Irony may be the ultimate judge. Isn’t it ironic that the richest continent in the world is the poorest? But wouldn’t it also be ironic if the poorest and most abused people were one day to become the most powerful? You have to flip the script. Talk about suffering. The black race will always have a delegate or three at any American round table on suffering, a table chaired by an Indian chief, and void of whites other than women and the occasional suffering poet. Rasta understands this. Rasta has suffered.

SHORE MORRIS

Ethiopia is a black thing and all the power to that. But Rasta is not a black and white thing. Maybe it is a rich and poor thing, but not a black and white thing. It’s a Zion vs. Babylon thing. And Babylon is more a mental concept than a physical place. Babylon deals more with any frame of thought or reference outside the thinking of Rasta. And Rasta thinking is one. Depending on one’s own relationship with the other one, the one creator. To me Rasta thinking is anti-repression, anti-aristocratic, anti-system, pro-individual, pro-positivity, not necessarily pro-black.

TEFLON JONES

At the end of the day, it will always fall on the individual to decide what to believe and where to put their faith.

SHORE MORRIS

Rasta’s have headie values. Rasta’s live different lifestyles than the mainstream; they smoke ganja and wear dreadlocks; they have their belief system but don’t push it on people; they eat healthy, for the most part vegetarian; they love and respect the Earth; they look out for their brethren. This is why heads are down with Rastafari.

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