PEP COLUMN: The real race issues in this nation
The issue of race is ever present in Barbados and surely underlies the amazing and, in many ways, pathetic public furore that arose over Sir Roy Trotman’s chastisement of an errant businessman.
And so, this week, we take the opportunity to revisit the issue of racism in Barbados and to share with the public a number of pertinent questions that Mr David Comissiong, president of the People’s Empowerment Party, posed to the Government-appointed Committee On National Reconciliation way back in the year 1999.
These questions – as relevant today as they were a decade ago – were as follows:
(1) To what extent does the false notion of black or African inferiority still infect black, white, coloured and Asiatic Barbadians? If this is the case, how do we correct this state of affairs?
(2) Are there churches, religious practices and theologies in Barbados which foster and/or perpetuate the false and discredited notions of black inferiority, and dependence on non-Blacks?
(3) To what extent is the distribution of land in Barbados racially skewed and inequitable? If this is so, are specific governmental corrective measures required? Is there a need for “Alien Landholdings legislation”?
(4) Is the education system doing an adequate job of imparting to our students information about the history and achievements of the various racial and ethnic groups which make up our population? Is the news media of Barbados doing an adequate job of providing the majority black population with news and information about Africa and peoples of African descent?
(5) To what extent are there racially segregationist regulations and/or practices in place in the clubs, beaches, hotels and social institutions of Barbados? Are governmental corrective measures required?
(6) To what extent do businesses in Barbados indulge in racial discrimination in their employment and procurement policies and practices? To what extent is there evidence of race-based business monopolies and unfair race-based business practices designed to eliminate competition?
(7) What is the precise state of the distribution of wealth in Barbados across race and class lines? Is there a need for new redistributive policies?
(8) To what extent is there evidence that the lending policies of banks and other financial institutions are based on racial considerations? Is there a need for governmental intervention?
(9) To what extent do the major secular institutions of Barbados – the law courts, police force, monarchy, and so on – still retain elements of an institutional culture that is alienating to the black working class?
(10) To what extent are the foreign films, videos and music coming into Barbados propagating racially demeaning notions and sensibilities?
(11) To what extent is the racist tradition of criminalization of the business activities of small black business persons still in evidence?
(12) To what extent do we have a sense of consciousness of the great moral wrong of slavery and of the cruelties that were inflicted upon black people? Are we prepared to support a campaign for reparations?
If the current storm in a teacup motivates us to address our minds to these vexed, yet very relevant questions, then something positive would have been achieved!