THE LOWDOWN: The B side
SOMEONE ONCE WROTE: “When you say A, you got to say B, only then will you get to see…” Couldn’t have put it better myself!
Now a fellow may say A and not say B because he doesn’t know. We call that “innocent ignorance”. If he knows the B side but doesn’t mention it, that is “intellectual dishonesty”.
Unless he is a historian. E.H. Carr writes: “It used to be said that the facts speak for themselves. This is, of course, untrue. The facts speak only when the historian calls on them: it is he who decides to which facts to give the floor and in what order or context. The historian is . . . selective”. He is under no compulsion to tell the whole truth. Only what suits his agenda.
We investigated journalists don’t judge motive. That gets you sued. But we try to get at the balanced picture.
Carl Moore, for instance, recently mentioned Luther who got the cat and boys at school being flogged. This convinced him of the “cruelty – and the futility – of flogging”. “Futility”, Carl? What about the B side? Did Luther ever transgress again? How many women weren’t raped, or elderly couples battered, because would-be transgressors feared Luther’s fate?
Recently BBC told of the rampant violence and indiscipline in English schools, teachers living in fear. Apparently kicking the teacher is a common pastime. I don’t know if a boy ever kicked a teacher at Rudder’s School. But I would wager he was the last to do so.
That same night they described the return of Sharia law in northern Nigeria. A visitor was pleasantly surprised. He felt safe. And saw no one-hand people walking around.
What happened was, Buba Jangebe stole a bull. They cut off his hand. And when the criminals realised effective punishment was a reality, foolishness done. A tempter might ask a yute, “Psssst, you want a bull?” He would reply: “You mekkin’ sport?” Bulls, cows, oxes and asses were safe thereafter.
And then we have UWI lecturer Marsha Hinds-Layne lambasting Bajan “Whites”: “The black people in Barbados who have managed to survive first and then to excel next have done so in spite of the oppression of the Whites they shared the island with and not at all with their assistance . . . what are Whites now willing to give back to Barbados after all their gain?”
In my day, the young lady would’ve been asked to define her terms. In Trinidad, I am told, this was no problem. The doorman at the Country Club had a light-brown paper bag as his reference point: “Good evening, sir”, he would say to a patron while glancing at the bag, “glad you could join us!” Next patron: “Sorry, pardner, keep out de sun and try again in two weeks!”
It must be of concern that someone entrusted with influencing young minds should spew such simplistic inexactitude. Had she read White Rebel, she would know that Bajan Whites fell into four groups: the white planters, comprising 30 elite families who owned almost 80 per cent of the land, controlled the House of Assembly and Legislative Council; the Bridgetown merchant class; the low income Whites who had no land and could not vote; and finally the totally marginalised “poor Whites” who were “fishermen, estate workers or beggars”.
Let Marsha read of the plight of Bridgetown clerks, of plantation overseers. Nine hours a day, one day off a month, half your meagre earnings paid to the manager’s wife for your food, protest and lose your job. Most Bajan Whites are descended from ancestors who worked their tails off, exploited no one.
Even in today’s Barbados, middle-class Whites are more vulnerable than black counterparts. No white Bajan woman would have dared challenge a hotel manager who disapproved of her hair-style. Those with families and mortgages stomach unfairness and abuse, even improper sexual advances, knowing that they will be fired and white-listed if they take a stand.
So are all Bajan Whites to be tarred with the same brush? Which “gain” are you talking about, Marsha?
Barbados has changed. Blacks now own and occupy plantation great houses. Mixed couples excite no comments. My three daughters have black partners. My four grandchildren are Comissiong-coloured, although he has better hair.
The racial dividers don’t want to hear that. The B side is their nightmare.
Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator. Email [email protected]