The image anchoring this text is a photo of a John Crow Blow Nose or Basket Stinkhorn Fungus taken by the ceramicist David Pinto. Its hideous beauty perfectly symbolizes the raw and smelly wound of systematic racial and class discrimination still haunting the Caribbean. It’s an unpleasant thing to face down but face it we must.
In the middle of the Black Lives Matter marches, on one such night, she asked me, “Mummy, do you wish you could be White?” She wanted to know if only White people were allowed to go to America. Her nine-year-old antennae had picked up news of protests, and she was struggling to understand the rules that had been broken.
If we dreamed when we were young, we wanted to be lucky enough to be part of that Great House. The light skinned imagined themselves as owners; the dark- skinned aspired no further than imagining that somehow our ancestor was lucky enough to have been in the House.
As I reflect on race and racism the Caribbean, as I think about the politics of hate in the Caribbean, and as I question decolonial thinking in this region, I cannot help but think of Rodney.
I do not understand how we continue to locate racism as something that happens over there – way over there – in America. I do not understand why we wouldn’t take this moment to reflect on how these things operate in our own world. It is obvious that the outcomes of racist ideology are often lethal in America – but we are not simply protesting the outcomes. We are protesting the mindsets that make such outcomes possible.
In truth, the so-called “1%” has become a racial slur against all Middle Eastern people on the island, but each race has a 1% within it, and the rest in that ethnicity occupy lower economic echelons, subject to the same unspoken condescension of those at the top of their own ethnicities.
For myself, I’m trying to listen, to learn, to read, and to realize not just in my head but in my heart that my own discomfort, even hurt, is infinitesimal compared to the hurt and threat and violence experienced in black lives, here and elsewhere.
I tried to talk about how shadism was racism by another name. I was accused of denigrating the memory of my grandparents.
…it was my Indian woman’s responsibility to carry the filled brass lota of my Indianness forward into future generations, ideally birthed from my hips via the incursion of an Indian husband.
I see my privilege. I saw it at 8. I handed it back over and over again. I try to do my best with it. I know my darker sisters have a different life.
I believe that to write about race, you must first locate yourself within the conversation. I am mixed-race, but I enjoy white privilege.
All Lives Matter is the slogan of a refusal to live without Privilege. Black Lives Matter is the chant of a refusal to live without humane and just treatment.
I have never known what prejudice feels like because I was born into white privilege; however, I know racism is alive and well in Jamaica.
ABOUT PREE VIEWS
PREE Views is a new section in which we periodically feature short texts and commentaries on issues that are in the news or in the public sphere.
Image credit: Heather Gallimore
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