I was there to raise the flag in 1966, I did not see you there. Why?

Mr Richard Hoad has valiantly attempted to prove that Bajan - Whites did not run from Barbados after November 1966, were well represented at the first Independence flag raising ceremony and were patriotic, both at home (with the Merry Men) and overseas (Miss Frances Roach in Trinidad).

Unfortunately, in his attempt to prove this, Mr Hoad has misled the public. He has over - personalised the issue of Bajan - Whites and their relations with Black Bajans before and since November 1966. Thus, while he eloquently defended the Hoad family, he ignored the overwhelming evidence of undiminished power, privilege and prestige held by Bajan - Whites in general over this period. He clearly missed the opportunity to reveal to us that the Vaucluse plantation management did nothing after 1966 to reduce the deplorable physical suffering of tenantry laborers in their hovels and chattel shacks, with no electricity, running water or all - weather roads. We waited in vain to hear from him what those Whites who lived in Ladymeade Gardens did in 1966 and afterwards to provide safe passage for Blacks through Belleville, Strathcylyde, Balmoral Gap and Hastings Rock.

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Mr. Hoad could have told us what such White - Bajans did to stop the South Coast and West Coast hotel owners from banning Blacks from their properties unless they were menial, manual workers. Did they fight to bring Staycations to Black Bajans before 2007? Did they denounce the practices of Whites only sports clubs, the recruitment of only white girls as the Cockspur Majorettes, or the BLUE BOX CART BAND, who insiststed every year on parading first at Grand Kadooment? Of course the Ladymeade people fought against the Yacht Club, Carlise Club and Aquatic Club's segregationist policies, but Mr. Hoad could have revealed his own campaign against the Work Permit advertisements, which have been part of the business culture since 1966 in the freest black country in the world.

Nevertheless, Mr Hoad has encouraged me to recommend that a scholarship be given for a young UWI student to research the following topic for a PHd in Social History: RACE RELATIONS BEFORE AND AFTER INDEPENDENCE, 1956 to 1986. Some of the chapter headings could be: (a) White Planters and Black laborers (b) The Bridgetown Club and the dynamics of city business (c) White hotel ownership and Black labor (d) private Schools Culture in Barbados (e) The " Color Bar" and "Ethnic Spaces" in Barbados and (f) Was Barbados de segregated by 1986?

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Incidently, Mr Hoad should note that Codrington High School, founded in 1917 as a girl's school, accepted its first  Black Bajan female students after 46 years in 1963. Among them was Betty Glasgow, daughter of Mr. Earl Glasgow, a teacher at the Lodge school. During the early 1960's, girls from Three Houses plantation attended that school, but the Ladymeade people said and did nothing about it.

Further , for Mr. Hoad's information, on November 29th, 1966, Corporal Trevor G. Marshall a 'little' 18yr old, Upper 6th Form student at the Lodge school, was one of the 120 cadets from Harrison College, Combermere and Lodge itself, who participated in the flag-raising ceremony at the Garrison.

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Finally, the factoid about the small number of Bajan-Whites at the same ceremony came from retired Royal Barbados Police Force detectives, whose tasks on that night included checking on the "UNDER-FORTIES" (anti-independence group) and the numbers of NON- BLACKS for possible disruption of that massive outdoor event which involved the entire Legislative, the Royal representatives and other dignitaries.

Written by Mr. Trevor G Marshall - Barbadian Scholar, Historian and Pan African activist

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This article has 8 Comments

  1. Karl Watson
    This missive needs to be carefully deconstructed, analysed within the shifting contexts of the time period and some of its truths supported and some of its generalizations challenged. As always, poor whites are omitted from the equation…simply because they do not fit into the oppositional discourse, they contradict it so must be ignored. No doubt about it…..race in Barbados of the 1950’s was a vastly different scenario to what operates today. The power that some whites exercised then was real and palpable. There was obvious discrimination in many spheres of life. But Trevor Marshall could have included the plight of the dispossed poor whites. Many whites also lived in hovels or chattel houses and had to collect water from stand pipes and use pit toilets and home sweet home lamps. But as I pointed they contradict the narrative and so are conveniently erased from the historical record. Thus, no poor whites could walk on the Yacht club beach. No poor white girl could ever dream of being admitted to Codrington High School. Class was a spectre that hung over everything. Just as Spartan excluded, so too did Wanderers. Some points he makes are exaggerations. I went to primary school in Belleville in the 1950’s. Black families lived in Belleville then and black people walked freely up and down Pine Road, George Street and the connecting avenues. So this idea perpetuated of a whites only ghetto protected by force is quite erroneous. I too was an eyewitness at independence..in fact I had a front row seat as I was an official interpreter. There were many officialy invited white Barbadians present. I can’t speak to the night time composition of the crowds around the savannah but I don’t think Trevor can either. I take his story of detectives looking out for would be white terrorists or disrupters with a grain of salt. However, I certainly agree with him that if you were white in the 1950’s and had the right surname and came from the right class and lived in the requisite big wall house, you enjoyed considerable privilege. But the winds of change have blown hard since those times. Any residual power that whites have today is but a mere fragment of what they once had, things have changed so drastically. This had to have happened and so it did. The only constant in life is change.

  2. Thank you all for the comments. Of course I was personally to young to have been at the flag raising and have no experience of being restricted because I am Black to any area. But, the main image of the article shows what seemed to be a demonstration against again what seemed to be opposition to Barbados Independence. I wonder if someone could speak to this and tell of any Independence resistance by the White Barbadians. My father was a minister and I came to Barbados at the age of 14 and lived in Pine Gardens. Of course at that time anyone could live and walk freely through there. But I have heard many stories from my elders of not being able to walk through areas such as where I lived and areas mentioned before. Also when Whites are referred to I am of the opinion it speaks of the Plantocracy and the White elites at the time, not the poor White whose living conditions were not any better the poor Blacks or Blacks at the time and still. As we all know racism is related to power. Prejudice has noting to do with power. Barbados becoming independent was or is seen as a move away from colonialism, a system founded in racism. Besides a flag and an anthem what power structures (economic and otherwise) were constructed to facilitate this independence or was this a mere symbolic act? In an article written by written by RAMÓN GROSFOGUEL, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, he says ” One of the most powerful myths of the twentieth century was the notion that the elimination of colonial administrations amounted to the decolonization of the world. This led to the myth of a “postcolonial” world. The heterogeneous and multiple global structures put in place over a period of 450 years did not evaporate with the juridical-political decolonization of the periphery over the past 50 years. We continue to live under the same “colonial power matrix.” With juridical-political decolonization, we moved from a period of “global colonialism” to the current period of “global coloniality.” Living in the present and critically analyzing the Barbados we live in it can easily be seen that what Grosfoguel writes is applicable to Barbados if we take a good look at racial hierarchy here. Remember I am not speaking of racial prejudice.

  3. Orley Harewood
    I know that shortly before I left the UN, the Organization was getting ready to cite Barbados for racial discrimination. Discrimination against whites. It was pointed out that the Government of Barbados apparently had no plans for absorbing the minority white population in their lofty plans. I don’t know how Barbados wriggled out. Is there still just ONE white fellow in the Police Force?

  4. Sandra Eaddy
    My father was born in the city. He told
    me of the Strathclyde policy. I have a friend who was raised there and he vowed and kept his promise to build there when he grew up. He was motivated by the racists/classist nature of childhood experience there. The systems of segregation were (are) so entrenched that many ‘whites’ expect to lead and Afro Bajans self-police based on traditional practices of segregation. The Tubby De Guard GIS piece speaks to that in the Hotel arena today!!.

  5. Unfortunately, racism will always remain a continuous problem for blacks. What one must seek is independence and recognize that racism was present from our first captivity in Egypt. We are a peculiar people no one else look like us so hatred will always remain in the hearts of other nations God said it first. The real problem is that our focus is one these nations when it should be our ourselves.

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