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FIRING LINE: Three Barbadoses


Shantal Munro Knight

FIRING LINE: Three Barbadoses

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Congratulations to the Jamaicans.
It is so amazing how we think one Caribbean when it comes to sports. I saw a diehard Barbadian, who had just announced that he had travelled the world and while all of his friends had settled elsewhere, he came back home to this rock, point to the television in the midst of the Jamaican 4×100 interview and say: “Look how we have arrived.”
I think that Barbadians were just as elated at the victories of the Jamaicans as the Jamaicans themselves. From the smiles, high fives and BlackBerry messages, anyone looking from outside would have a right to be confused by the jubilation yet absence of the aquamarine and gold on the track. They would not understand that it is only a snapshot of the unrealized potential that is Caribbean integration.
To Bolt, continue to say that you are a legend a million times over. I sat through how many days of swimming when it was declared that Michael Phelps was the greatest Olympian, that he was the world’s best athlete and that his feats were incomparable. So why the proverbial “little black boy” who “come from a yard” cannot say that he is a legend? He has the goods to back it up.
The Caribbean’s got a legend; deal with it. Yam, dasheen, natural talent and faith in good home-grown structures were the early formulae for success for the Jamaicans.
There are a few lessons for Barbados. Where we dish out athletic scholarships to the United States at the first sign of talent, perhaps now some of those scholarships can stay in the region. Of course, I cannot but mention the victory of Kirani James for the Spice Isle – smiles for days. To Ryan Brathwaite, valiant attempt – thank you for the hope and the glimpse into the future.       
I must admit, however, that I have been a bit distracted from the Olympics. I have been inundated with calls for me to explain a particular circumstance. I have received several challenges to explain how Barbadians who cannot afford to pay for university education, secondary textbooks, child support or send their children to summer camps can find in excess of $700 to pay for a bikini and feathers to get on like they have no behaviour.
Listen, I admit I cannot explain it. I am struggling and in a bit of awe. Actually, as I have been struggling to come up with something, I have heard that apparently there are these all-inclusive fetes which cost sometimes in excess of $300 and there is a select group of people who pay thousands of dollars to have private areas in these fetes.   
That sort of living exists in the same Barbados where businesses are closing down left, right and centre. On top of that, you cannot even leave a crack in your car window or be too careful because a bunch of idiots who are either afraid of hard work or do not know the name of it try to take what you work hard for.  
Not making much sense to me – but I have a theory. I think that we are living in three Barbadoses. We have Barbados 1 –  I call it the real Barbados, where we have decent, hard-working people who are struggling to pay their bills and, yes would have a splurge which they have either saved for or found some extra money to do. They exist alongside a core of truly affluent people who have made their money from either family ties or business success.
The second – the camouflaged Barbados – a group who give off the appearance of wealth, the latest gadgets, are seen in all the right places, wear the right clothes but are actually up to their eyeballs in credit card debt and are living literally from payday to payday.
The third group is the reality TV show Barbados, people whose lifestyles make no sense. They have no problem paying $1 500 for a pair of shoes and are determined to get whatever they want at whatever expense.  
In which Barbados do you live?

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