Updated: Dec 21, 2019
2019 has been an incredible year for Check the Vibes Magazine, but it got even better when November arrived. The Miami Book Fair circled back around to the city and it was the best one yet! Why do we feel this way? Well, for one, THE Cedella Marley was present and full of light. We had the honor of speaking with her regarding her new book Get Up, Stand Up. It's a children's book that was inspired by her father, Bob Marley's lyrics. Bob Marley made a point to spread the love, peace and truth during his career. His first born, Cedella Marley, is making sure his message is still being heard today.
It was time to get the conversation surrounding this book started, but, we were in for a surprise! Cedella had brought some of her family along with her, in good ol' Marley fashion. If you know anything about them, it's that they're aware of the importance of family values. When Cedella and crew walked in, it was just another reminder of how she continues to embody her father's message. With nieces and nephews smiling from ear to ear proudly beside her, we couldn't help but feel their light from across the room. It's amazing how our loved ones continue to take shape in us, even after they're gone physically.
After Cedella and crew got settled, we began talking about the meaning behind the origin of her dad's song.
Check the Vibes: The meaning of Get Up, Stand Up is more important than ever before. Was the current climate of how young black boys and girls are viewed today the reason behind writing your third children's book?
Cedella Marley: The message is all inclusive, you know? My family, we're a rainbow, so, it's for every child. For me, growing up in a Rastafarian household, we had to deal with "classism." I remember times when parents wouldn't send their children to our home because we were Rastafarian. To them, Rastafarian meant that our home was dirty or that there was marijuana everywhere. Our home was nothing like that. It was joyful and filled with love, but that isn't something that one would know looking from the outside in.
In recent years, I have found that bullying has become an epidemic. There have been many instances in my life where I have had to stand up to bullies as a girl and as a woman, but when it started to happen to one of my children, I realized that I had to do something. We, as parents, have to do more. Anytime a child harms him or herself because of bullying, it's time to have stronger conversations with our children. We need to be consistent advocates of empathy and compassion - and, to lead by example and stand up for what is right. I have many nieces and nephews, and I wanted them to grow up a little differently. I wanted them to know that they have a voice, and more importantly, that they have people who will listen. So, that was why this was so important, especially for this title, to become my anti-bullying campaign.
CTV: Wow, amazing! So, you're very well rounded, and you not only write books, but plays as well. On top of that, you're a designer and a business woman, and you strive to keep your father's legacy alive in almost everything you do. When did you know you had that light in you, the same way your father had in him when he first performed this particular song that talks about speaking out against injustice?
CM: The funny thing is, we all have the light! I'm no more special than you are. We all have - I call it the "spidey senses," where you can feel when something isn't right. We have to teach our kids now to say something. There are times when I go to bed, and I say my prayer, and I think about the little kids who have decided that they no longer want to wake up the next day, because someone has treated them bad. That hurts me, just seeing it on the news. It's an epidemic, and I think we have to pay attention to it! So, when I did Get Up, Stand Up, I'm not only talking to our children. I'm trying to get the adults to also realize, 'each one, teach one.'
CTV: Did the song Get Up, Stand Up have a huge impact on how you taught your three sons to overcome adversity when they were young?
CM: Standing up for yourself, standing up for others, and standing up for what is right are three very important values my parents instilled in my siblings and me when we were growing up. As a mom, it was important that I pass that same message on to my sons.
CTV: What advice would you give young kids about finding their voice if they come across situations presented in this book?
Cedella turns and asks her niece, Jade, about what she would do if someone was bullying her. Jade responded, "I'd stand up for myself! I'd probably tell my mom, as well as my teacher."
CM: Exactly. You have to say something and speak up! Injustice seems rampant in the world today. I've discussed all types of injustice with my children - from racism to classism to bullying acts of violence - because we see it everyday. I really started talking to them, though, when they started using social media. I just find the bullying that happens there to be so destructive, and, yet, children - and adults, too - are seemingly becoming desensitized to the act of it. I'm trying to teach my boys to positively use social media and to say something when they see instances of cyber-bullying.
CTV: You once said that passion, skill and talent are not gender specific. How can this book help younger generations in the LGBTQ+ community speak up about the struggles they may be going through? On top of "normal" bullying, they experience this at a heightened level.
CM: You know, we have to teach our children that they have the power to actually change these things. It's beyond us now. They really have the power to do something differently. We all just have to know how to treat each other with compassion and kindness. We're all different in some way, but those differences make us so much alike!
CTV: Is there a favorite song of yours by your father, Bob Marley? If so, what is it and why?
CM: My favorite song is actually Nice Time. That was the song he wrote for me, and that's my nickname! I don't know when I'll turn that into a book.
CTV: Would you want to?
CM: It's funny, because I'm thinking about doing a series called, "Marley." She's a little girl who is mischievous. She's a good girl, but she still has some quirks she has to work through. So, I think maybe through that book, I'll introduce Nice Time, as well as In-Zane In the Membrane. Haha!
CTV: Do you have any other projects as of right now or in the immediate future that you'd like to work towards?
CM: Is This Love is another picture book, and it'll be coming out in Fall of 2022. Plus, my dad's 75th birthday is in February. I have a pocket-book collection, and since his song Redemption was released 40 years ago, the whole theme of his 75th will be redemption. I think his message still resonates today, and redemption is important. We can't go into 2020 trying to redeem ourselves. We should be helping others, and I think we're a step closer to making this world a better place.
CTV: Going through your creative process, how much have you been able to teach your kids, nieces and nephews about how you put your art out into the world?
CM: These guys are normally around when I'm doing my books and a lot of my business creations.
Cedella jokingly turns around to them and asks, "I'm your favorite auntie, right?" We all laugh when they answered!
We have meaningful conversations, and I think we all need to have these kinds of conversations with our children. Whether it's about creativity, what's going on in their lives at school, bullying or just anything, we need to be able to have these talks with them.
What Cedella said about recognizing these trends in our kids and also allowing them to express it is such an important message, and we are thankful she was able to share some insight with us. On top of Get Up, Stand Up being the beginning of her anti-bullying campaign, she's also partnered with an outstanding organization.
No Bullying is an organization that has been in schools and spreading this message of love for over a decade. Their new campaign is called Step In, and it teaches youth that when they see something happening, they should STEP IN! They have reached millions of people through the global impact campaigns, where they combined forces with leading organizations such as ESPN, Hasbro, Major League Baseball, and Burger King just to name a few. They're continuously developing new and creative strategies to bring more awareness to the bullying epidemic, and Cedella's partnership with them aims to help continue to spread awareness.
Plus, Stephen, Damian and Julian Marley started an anti-bullying campaign of their own! The Ghetto Youths Foundation Limited Edition PIC LOVE Jewelry Collection has such a huge meaning behind it, and it's proceeds benefit anti-bullying programs for young people. Their first stop on this national campaign? Miami-Dade County Public Schools jumped on board with them in order to bring the spirit of acceptance, inclusion and LOVE into classrooms across Miami. Endorsed by Alberto Carvalho, together, the Marley's plan to do their best to stop bullying once and for all.