HILD 12: Medium Post #1
In “Bigger than the Sound: The Jamaican Chinese Infrastructures of Reggae ‘’ written by Tao Leigh Goffe, we were introduced to how the sound system connected Jamaican and Chinese and how this relationship got broken. This whole process has shown us how capitalism and colonialism work and influence people in a relatively small society. It helped us understand how cultural differences, self-identity, and capitalism get involved in the relationship between two different ethnicities.
Some European countries first got into Jamaica and colonized there. This made the society divided into two classes — white elites and black laborers. When it came to the 1940s and 1950s, some Chinese immigrants came to Jamaica and started to run grocery stores for a living. By operating their business, the Chinese formed a middle class between the original two classes. This has shown us the typical way capitalism functions in society — personal business causes the local social class to change.
The sound system in Jamaica was brought by colonialism in the beginning. Military people who worked for the colonial nation had the opportunity to become experienced with those technologies which eventually became a part of the sound system. In this way, colonialism actually brought the local people the chance to develop Reggae, as a music style.
After Chinese grocery stores started to have those sound systems, the Jamaicans who are interested in it have come to the stores more frequently. This made the two groups of people with different ethnicities, Chinese and Jamaican, form a new community together. The sound system became the string to connect these two groups of people. And the connection is also due to the capitalism that the grocery stores run by the Chinese and the trade of private property are representations of capitalism. Capitalism with the tool of the sound system brought Chinese and Jamaican together in Jamaica.
After a while, rumors about Chinese grocery stores started to be spread and this breaks the bond formed between Jamaicans and Chinese. It ruined the relationship between them. It is also because of the discrimination between Jamaican and Chinese which exists at the first, which is caused by colonialism. People realized the importance of their self-identification as Chinese and Jamaican, which was kind of blurred when they were in that good relationship. As a result, society became segregated.
With the rumor, the friendly relationship under capitalism breaks, and we all see how close these two groups were before. I believe that it is necessary for us to view historical events and how people acted considering the historical background. Although colonialism had made great damage to the colonies and those native peoples, it also brought new technology to that place and make people have the opportunity to develop a new culture, like Reggae. The friendship between Jamaicans and Chinese was also due to the immigration after colonialism. And of course, capitalism helped them to produce music together with the Soundsystem in grocery stores. The Soundsystem was the thing that brought two different cultures together to form a larger community. With colonialism, capitalism, and self-identification, people were able to make friends with each other but also ruin such friendships. It is hard to say what capitalism really did to the story since I had that feeling that what really matter was the thing people thought and did base on the environment and all these social factors.