A powerful article by Terence Blackett at Barbados Underground
In George Lamming’s debut novel – In the Castle of My Skin (1953), this famous Bajan son of the soil describe the psychic scars of racism in direct and powerful terms. In The Castle of My Skin he wrote, “No Black boy wanted to be white, but it was also true that no Black boy liked the idea of being Black. Brown skin was a satisfactory compromise, and Brown skin meant a mixture of white and Black… There was a famous family on the island which could boast of the prettiest daughters. Their father was an old Scottish planter who had lived from time to time with some of the labourers on the sugar estate. The daughters were ravishing, and one was known throughout the island as the crystal sugar cake.”
Grantley Adams, a British educated lawyer – who later rose to political prominence as the first Black Prime Minister of Barbados – had an English wife. ‘At that time’ Neville recalled, she was a member of the Aquatic Club in Bay Street and Grantley was not a member, he was a Black man, he wasn’t a member, but she… had that privilege as a white woman to be a member of the Aquatic. And Grantley would carry her to the Aquatic Club, drop her there and turnaround and come back down the road [laughs]. Tell me when you’re ready and I’ll come back and pick you up when you ready to go… He dropped her there. That is your thing. You belong to that club. I’ll put you there, you come back when you’re ready to come, call me and I’ll come back and pick you up.’
It is now 177 years since the Wilberforce Abolition Act of 1833; 147 years since the American Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the 44th years of Barbados’ Independence from British rule and sovereignty since 1966.
A whole new generation has grown up across the geographical, geopolitical divide where overt acts of racism are outlawed and where the geo-spatial markers of segregation are now less obviously recognizable.
In Rajen Persaud’s book, ‘Why Black Men Love White Women: Going Beyond Sexual Politics to the Heart of the Matter’ is a fascinatingly funny, yet illuminating discourse on this critical issue of interracial dating and the identity politics which challenges our notions of “RACE” and it effects on the Black psyche today. We are forced to look at ourselves and our cultural intonations pondering matters of how celebrities from Michael Jordan to Bryant Gumbel to Tiger Woods – high-profile interracial affairs and marriages with no shortage of theatre, intrigue and controversy has played upon us as men. We must ask: Are Black men choosing white women – or rejecting Black women because of SEX? Does the issue of “Race” affect how white male insecurity is the key and at the heart of our understanding of structural as well as institutional racism? Is it more than love that brings interracial couples together? How is fear used to gain power, from sexual politics to global war? And finally, how movies and television keep Black men running to white women through the cultural machinations of the media?
Susan Crain Bakos in a NYPress article – ‘A White Woman Explains Why She Prefers Black Men’… begs the question: “How many white men can treat a woman like a lady and ravish her” all at the same time? She forcefully opines, “Black skin is thick and lush, sensuous to the touch, like satin and velvet made flesh. There’s only one patch of skin on a white man’s body that remotely compares to nearly every inch of a Black man’s skin. The first time I caressed Black skin, it felt like a luxury I shouldn’t be able to afford. I craved it more strongly than Carrie Bradshaw craved Manolo Blahnik shoes. That phrase, “Once you go Black, you never go back” is all about the feeling of the skin.”
She further contends that “I want Black men. They want me. We look at one another and exchange a visible frisson of sexual energy in the lingering glances. And our attraction is based first on race… that deliberate seeking of the specific other makes some people, especially Black women, damned mad… We are what they denigrate and castigate: white women and Black men who choose one another because of our racial differences. They resent our taking their men. Black men are two and a half times more likely to marry a white woman than a Black woman is to marry a white man. Black women can point to that statistic in justifying their wrath. But in truth, Black sisters, we’re after the sex, not the ring and these guys aren’t the marrying kind anyway. Yes, the sex!” Continue reading