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APPROXIMATELY a year ago, Ralph “Bizzy” Williams wrote a letter to The NATION stating that races in Barbados mixed but didn’t socialise. Quite true. One year on has anything changed? Probably not!
By now Bizzy has probably discovered who are true friends and who are sycophants. However, in his letter, I believe that Bizzy omitted three words which would explain why Bajans mix but do not socialise.
Those three words are – caste, class and politician.There is a caste system within the class hierarchy in Barbados. This is a class within a class, the caste being by occupation or profession. Caste can be defined as a combined social system of occupation, endogamy, culture, social class and political power.
It is not to be confused with class. You only have to go to a leading secondary school’s old boys association meeting, I mean, old scholars, to see the class hierarchy at work or play.
The class hierarchy in Barbados is a very complex social hierarchy and is very difficult to describe. The education system plays a very important part in the class structure today. In the 1960s education was made free.
This opened doors to the masses. In the 1970s to 1980s, education became co-educational, which has made a significant impact within the classes. The third move is zoning, which if made mandatory will have disastrous consequences on the social order.
It will create teenage gangs within the school system where at the present moment the 11-Plus exam breaks that gang up. It will also cause wealthier parents to buy houses in the school district of their choice.
The very people who advocate the break-up of the class structure also perpetuate the class structure through the Honours System, rewards offered or given to followers, yardfowls, and so on.