If you listen to Caribbean music long enough, you will encounter fire.
It stretches across genres—soca, dancehall, reggae– and across decades. Deployed as a threat, a promise, an invocation, a reflection. At its heart, Isaiah 47:14, quoted and translated and repeated. Fire will bun them for so many values of them.
Old Testament in origin and targets and violence: loose women; children who don’t honour their parents; queer people and especially gay men.
Fire will bun them, the songs go, and no one ever really stops to ask who is doing the burning.
Music is powerful propaganda. Fire is indiscriminate once lit.
The world is indeed burning. And there are, as there always have been, those out there (and close by) blaming the people whose rights and relationships they want to destroy for the smoke.
Why challenge a status quo that has always served you?
Fire will bun them, too.
Let them not say: they did nothing.
We did not-enough.
Let them say, as they must say something:
A kerosene beauty.
Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.
— from Let Them Not Say by Jane Hirshfield