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TONI THORNE: We must do better by race relations


TONI THORNE

TONI THORNE: We must do better by race relations

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WHILST ON ARIAPITA AVENUE on Carnival Monday, I was discussing race relations with a very interesting and witty Caucasian Bahamian.

In the midst of a point I was making, a mutual friend turned to me and joked that I have issues with white people. I was dumbfounded and confused. I angrily said, “Me? Issues with white people? Where and when?”

This experience, in addition to the many conversations I have had on race relations over the last week, (charged by the entire Monkey Nutts issue) caused me to address some pertinent issues in this article which our society refuses to address.

I abhor the fact that people still cringe whenever someone has to discuss race matters. Three hundred years after slavery I understand that race is still a very sensitive topic. However, if we refuse to discuss certain key elements, how shall we ever surpass certain hurdles? How will the shackles many of us are wearing around our brains be unlocked?

I dislike the fact that whenever we have to celebrate black power, being black or any part of the black experience we have to issue a disclaimer that we are not racist. This is because many of us are very ignorant about race theories and we automatically label anyone who celebrates his or her race as being condescending to other races. The celebration of black power is not the desired oppression of another race. Neither is it a want for only black people to rule the world, as I have disappointingly heard some state as their impression.

Equality

Black power is about black people learning to love ad appreciate themselves. It is about confidence and acceptance – the need for black people to understand that we are not inferior. It is about not having a mentality which tells us that certain sports, places, experiences are “too good” or “too white” for us. It is also about equality. Equality cannot be achieved if people do not believe they have power.

On this note, I wish that we would cease trying to allude to the fact that Black Panthers were racists. The Black Panthers actually aimed to fight for equality and worked with white revolutionary groups. We need to do research and stop letting fear and ignorance constantly cloud our judgement.

I detest when people are “called out” on actions which are politically incorrect or can be deemed as racist, they reference the fact that they have friends of other races as a defence. Just because a man has friends which could liken a Benetton advertisement does not excuse him from being racist.

I particularly am disappointed when people of other races see black and white issues as nothing to do with them. I was once in a discussion with a group of associates about race relations in Barbados and their response to me was “Wunna blacks and whites need to deal with y’all issues! We ain getting in that!” Well, friends, because you feel it does not directly affect you it does not mean it won’t. Barbados is a small community. More importantly, what world are our children going to inherit if we continue to adopt a “not my monkeys, not my circus” mentality?

I hope that this article provides some food for thought for all of us. I would like to send a word of encouragement to Monkey Nutts Club. I am glad you removed the images. I would also like to point out that the fact that an entire launch was executed without anyone suggesting that one should not place monkey faces on bodies simply shows how ignorant our society is about the operation of the vehicle of race relations. We must do better!

Toni Thorne is a fashion entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. 

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