Our Caribbean neighbours deserve more respect
For most of my life, I had always used to hear some Bermudians using very derogatory and insulting language, and other negative expressions, to describe and define people who come from anywhere in the Caribbean. These negative expressions did not just come from the ordinary man in the street, but also some of our so-called political and business leaders as well.
One of the countries we took great pleasure in beating up on the most was Jamaica; Jamaicans were one of the main groups of people out of the West Indies that were most heavily scorned.
Mr Editor, up until today, I have never forgotten the types of name-calling that was imposed upon Jamaicans and other Caribbean people by Bermudians. Names such as “Jiggerfoot”, “Jump-up” and “Sabe-trash” — and on it went.
If it wasn’t bad enough to have some among the Bermudian community handling people in such a negative manner, to then hear it coming from some of our so-called leadership was most deplorable.
Mr Editor, I got so fed up with all this negative name-calling of West Indian people that I decided to pay a visit to those islands to our south for myself so that I could experience what life was really like on those islands.
Yes, Mr Editor, I found that some of the things that had been said were true, but there is a context in which those things have to be placed if one is to understand the facts taking place on those islands if one has never experienced life in the Caribbean.
Most of the islands that I had travelled to were islands that had once been British colonies and since which have become independent. As a visitor to these islands I have always tried my best to keep an open mind about each island that I visited for the first time; I had to put aside any negative thoughts planted in my head over the years as I prepared myself for what would be a new experience.
By having an open mind, Mr Editor, I met some of the most wonderful people in my life; some of the older ones have since passed away.
One of the most important things about the Caribbean for me was getting to know the people and especially the history of the place. Just about every island that I visited, I made it a point to buy some history books — about each island, as well as books that covered the whole of the Caribbean in general.
Since which, I have a large collection of Caribbean history books that make up my personal reference library. My library possesses literature from most of the English-speaking Caribbean and I can draw information whenever needed.
These books cover most of the major historical events that had taken place in the Caribbean over many centuries. Mr Editor, it was those many visits to the Caribbean that gave me a better insight into the realities of life in the islands. I have tasted the food and witnessed events of which I had never experienced before, and would never have had I had stayed in Bermuda listening to the foolishness that was being espoused about the Caribbean and its people.
We here in Bermuda pride ourselves in being a more developed society than those in the Caribbean, yet they have seen the need to secure their sovereignty and lay claim to their citizenship and birthright. Here we are bragging about being so developed, yet we seem so satisfied with simply being stateless subjects to a colonial master, fooling ourselves by following the illusion of a counterfeit nationalism.
What we need to do, Mr Editor, is to eliminate our fears and seek out the faith needed to energise our confidence.
To continue to base our fears on what’s going on in Jamaica or anywhere else in the world will only dilute who we are as a people, which in the end will take us absolutely nowhere.
E. McNEIL STOVELL
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