The case of Ms. Felisha Holder young mother charged with reckless driving leading to the death of her son 3yrs ago has reopened the conversation of race, racism and white supremacy in Barbados. Ms. Mia Mottley leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has been asking the question for some years now, why is Mr. Mark Maloney not forced to comply with mandates given to him by Town and Country Planning to remove two structures (maybe more) he has constructed illegally? I am sure most African descended Barbadians would love to know.
I always thought that the same BLP that is now asking a question that is founded in white or maybe class privilege, was a roast breadfruit administration. Thus I am watching very carefully how the case of Ms. Felisha Holder will evolve.
Many people have told me that the system of apartheid was first developed in Barbados. Truthfully I have never come across that information for myself in my research, although I am inclined to trust the people who would have told me this. I can clearly see a segregated society where one law is ascribed to black people and another to white. In Barbados only black people engage in what I call menial labour. We have this big hotel industry where only black people make up jobs in the lines of cleaning, gardening, clerical people. But ask how many black Barbadians own hotels or have shares in these hotels, we will find very little do. How many white Barbadians are incarcerated? I will leave that for you to take a guess. I wonder if it is because they are more law abiding than the black Barbadians.
I came across this article written some years ago about Barbados and its apparent apartheid state by a Dominican sister. Her name is Rebecca Theodore. I thought to myself, is this really how Barbados is seen through the eyes of our Caribbean neighbours? Just today I was talking to an engineer that works with the Ministry of Transport and Works and the sewage situation on the coast came up. He said that he had removed himself from meetings dealing with the sewage problem because the main interest of the people seeking solutions to the problem were the tourist and how the situation affected them. Not the workers that would have to be in the sewage doing the work or the Barbadians using that area. He was saying they wanted to construct Jersey Bars to prevent tourist from being splashed by the sewage. So when I read the article below I said to myself I have to share it with you.
Maybe if in 1966 when we became independent and free schooling was introduced we should have had been more educated on the African liberation struggle on the continent and in the diaspora we would not be facing this issue today. If we were taught about people like Marcus Garvey, Walter Rodney and the host of women and men that fought so we would not have to go through what we are facing today, Ms. Holder’s son would be alive as white privilege would not have allowed that structure to remain. How disappointed in us they must be. Let us never forget that it was reported to Winston Churchill, the Secretary of War, “unfortunately there are other and graver causes of
unrest.” Referring to UNIA, he decried “the movement which is taking place among all the coloured races, and in particular of the organized effort to stir up racial feeling in the coloured populations of the U.S. of America. It is understood that several W.I. negroes are among the organizers of the movement in the U.S., and there is evidence that they are making efforts to extend it to the colonies whence they came.” The political appeal of UNIA and other pan-African groups was serving as a powerful uniting force for black West Indians, as the ideology of black internationalism seemed to offer a more promising alternative for black advancement than blind British loyalty. West Indian unrest, had become about “their race and colour” and “it can but be feared that their presence will make any W. Indian riot of the future far more formidable” than in the past. sadly pan Africanism is not the formidable force in Barbados it should be.
The surfeit of the dueling public and the storm of accusations about Barbadians’ poor treatment of visitors that are not tourists or others of European descent, continue to highlight a fundamental split in the Caribbean.
Although recent developments in the world at large mark the end of legislated apartheid, it seems that its entrenched social and economic effect operates covertly on Barbadian shores. Thus, political, social and cultural ambitions differ tremendously from the glorious morn of West Indian federation, and in its wake the very fabric of national self-determination is destroyed amidst the silence of the masses.
Common sense is no longer the given, but a corrupted oppressive factor in whose reign the seed of distorted perception finds new meaning in a glowing age of literacy.
While opponents consider the analogy of apartheid defamatory and reflecting a double standard when applied to Barbados, it cannot be denied that in light of recent discriminatory practices towards their own Caribbean brothers and sisters, apartheid is practiced both internally and externally in Barbados. It is true that Barbadians have protected themselves with an aggressive nationalism, but sadly enough in the hierarchy of rights; it is not a fair nationalism.
The many xenophobic impulses released in the name of nationalism endanger the future sovereignty of Barbados because it is not a nationalism that speaks of the rights of minorities. Moreover, if the Hegelian dialectic of synthesis lists high autonomy as one of those preconditions that create powerful common mythologies in the art of nation building, then nations are formed through the inclusion of the whole populace and not just the voices of the elites or of the ruling class.
In Barbados’s struggle to present to the rest of the Caribbean the picture of a perfect society or the Utopian dream, covert segregation among its own people prevails, denying the ordinary working class the historical legacies that they had overcome since the days of slavery to their present day liberation.
Unlike other Caribbean islands, where private interest is fiercely protected and states cater to their own people before tourism, supermarkets in Barbados only cater for tourists — another exchange that deliberately conceals the truth that Barbadians are treated unfairly on their own shores by the white bureaucracy — an exchange that prompted local calypsonian Gabby to reclaim Barbadian heritage for all in song and poetry. Hence, the Marxist theory that ideologies are conceived from the productive forces existing within the bowels of society holds true in Barbados.