Once Upon A Time In Barbados.

Once upon a time, there was a deeply racist society called Barbados. In this society expertly masked racism saturates all public agencies. This is a generally nice place where the occasional nasty individual spoils things and brings the true nature of the island to public light. Instances like the case of a white man who shot his son, left the island and returned without seeing a day in prison come to mind when we refer to the occasional nasty individual that spoils the peace of white supremacy in Barbados.

This is a society were racism leaves its imprint on virtually every aspect of life, from birth to death (and everything in between). We would be able to see this clearly if we were not so distracted by the rum and partying coupled with an education system that ensures hardly any critical thinking in the evaluation of the positions of African descended people living on the island.

Now, of course, even in a society so deeply patterned by masked racism not everything is as easy as Sunday morning. It is said, you can fool some people sometimes, you can even fool some people all the time but you can never fool all the people all the time. Everyone won't simply accept subjugation no matter how long it has been practised and how well it is being done. There will always arise continual points of conflict and resistance, but most of the time these are kept in check and barely register on the ‘mainstream’ consciousness.

Once upon a time 2

Consequently, the dominant group, who in Barbados make up 3% of the population of 300,000 people, is able to sustain its preferred fiction; that the despised 97% of the population only have themselves to blame for their misfortune. In many ways, this writer and revolutionary agrees with this sentiment. This is possible because in Barbados racism is hidden, but very present throughout every major part of the society.

All of a sudden something goes wrong. One day it is discovered that, despite all the odds, the despised group comprising the masses is excelling in creating a nation of conscience where the hidden establishments of racism are being exposed. Totally contrary to the dominant group’s view of how things should be, it emerges that the despised group is not as unaware of its subjugation and not as willing to accept the status quo as once thought.

Once upon a time 1

To make matters worse, this is not something that can be dismissed as frivolous or entertaining: like being good dancers, musicians, athletes or academics. It emerges that the despised group is growing in a social racial consciousness that will free the people of their invisible mental chains. This thinking is not yet dominating the entire educational system, but it is becoming clear that what was hidden in the dark is now coming quickly to light.

Peggy McIntosh famously listed 50 privileges that accrue from being identified as white, ranging from the ability to shop without the threat of being followed by security personnel, to the possibility of living free from harassment and the option to act however you choose without being seen, as emblematic of an entire racial group.

Once upon a time 3

Writing about the privilege of whiteness is increasingly fashionable, but serious, critical engagement with the structures of racial domination remains mostly a minority pastime in every sense of the phrase. As Peter McLaren notes, “The logics of empire are still with us, bound to the fabric of our daily being-in-the-world; woven into our posture toward others; connected to the muscles of our eyes; dipped in the chemical relations that excite and calm us; structured into the language of our perceptions. We cannot will our racist logics away. We need to work hard to eradicate them. We need to struggle with a formidable resolve in order to overcome that which we are afraid to confirm exists let alone confront in the battleground of our souls."

Understanding the processes through which white racial hegemony is structured and maintained is more than a rational exercise of the mind. These issues touch upon deeply ingrained, often visceral aspects of our ‘daily being-in-the-world’. In this article, I have adopted a position informed by my ongoing attempt to apply critical race theory to an analysis of race inequality in Barbados that will open the door for the solutions that will ensure that in the future writers of such articles can truly start them saying "Once Upon A Time."


Sources.  Rethinking White Supremacy David Gillborn,




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *