Pop culture icon and philanthropist Dancehall Queen Carlene Smith is clapping back at trolls over her celebration of American Thanksgiving.
The ‘Butterfly’ dance creator uploaded a video of her Thanksgiving dinner to Instagram on Friday, which included pineapple and cherry-garnished shrimp, turkey, sweet potato salad, sweet plantains with marshmallow and raisins, and mac and cheese.
While her caption declared that she has much to be thankful for, folks were busy tussling in the comments over the appearance of her food, and her celebration of the holiday.
“What is marshmallows with raisins?” one user asked. “No, thank you.”
“That doesn’t look good,” added someone else. “It’s too many flavors in all your dishes. You would have my taste buds confused.”
“We don’t have Thanksgiving in Jamaica,” another definitively wrote.
“Just stop, go research the origin of what you are celebrating death.”
The family-centered and turkey-indulging holiday is scorned upon by some who regard it as a celebration of the colonisation of Native Americans. Smith defended her acknowledgment of the holiday in a live video over the weekend.
“Thanksgiving means a lot to me,” she said. “I don’t care about what the meaning of it is. We celebrate independence as a country and we’re not independent. Do we stop to worry about that? What history did helps to form how we go on, but history means the past. I don’t have to relive the past, and some of it, I wasn’t even there…”
She added that she’s been hosting Thanksgiving dinners for loved ones for several years, as well as other food-centered gatherings.
“I also do Emancipation, I also do Easter, I do New Year’s, I do Mother’s Day, I do anything that’s there for me to celebrate…” she shared. “I understand some people’s views, I just don’t understand why they’re giving it to me and mostly in a negative form. I have a lot to be thankful for. I’ve been through a lot.”
The face of MECA nightclub buried her sister and fellow dancehall innovator Doreen ‘Pinky’ Prendergast in September, following the latter’s long-standing battle with cancer.
Smith, who also has her own sweet potato pudding brand, clapped back at those critiquing her culinary skills.
“I’ve won several cooking competitions, the last one being Bubble the Pot in Half-Way Tree Square… There’s some things people can do and there are some things they can’t, and one of them I can (do is) cook. I don’t need any public person who I don’t know, never met, never had something from me to eat, tell me if I can or can’t… It was not a food-tasting critique dinner. Again, this was done for my family and friends who, by the way, enjoyed it immensely.”
She further pointed to an erroneous perception that her evolved body image was due to excess eating versus the truth of gaining weight after being placed on steroids following a car accident in 1999.
“It (food) is important to me and the people who know me personally will tell you as fat as mi be, mi not even a foodie,” she said. “I like to have it so if anybody ever came, they can have a meal, they can get something to eat cause I was brought up that way. My mother was a giver and my mother was a Jamaican-American… I’m from a large family that gathers and knows how to mek food be a part of our happy place.”
Smith is currently promoting the innovative Dancehall Road March which was originally slated for 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic. Conceptualised by her management team, Whirlwind International Group, the event will unfold in Kingston on Boxing Day, December 26, featuring musical and fashion performances.