|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 48 - Friday September 12, 2003
|Classism and Racism Still Rampant in Dominica |
I've just finished reading Aicha's piece on racial identity and felt compelled to respond. I was born and raised on the island of Dominica until my teens. I remained unaware of the depths of racism flooding this tiny island until I returned on holiday with my then Italian boyfriend and my mother.
I mention the Italian first because his presence was as that of a visiting dignitary. My mother was insulted that our relatives treated this white man far better than they treated her. She made mention of it-not jokingly.
One afternoon as the dark skinned young black maid washed up after yet another lavish lunch (her position-that of slave), I noticed that her feet appeared to be close to my size 8. I asked what size she was and as she was my size I told her that I had a pair of sandals I wished to give away and that she was welcome to them if she so desired.
She accepted the sandals and after I gave them to her, I was taken aside and admonished by the Matriarch: “You know you should not give these people things”. I was shocked as I realized that the message was rather loud and clear. We, the people of the island had been so brainwashed or misinformed.
Many remain in a state of denial regarding the discrimination which exists. Classicism is certainly rampant. Racism is so entrenched that it appears normal, which to me is quite horrifying.
My grandma is much darker than I am but when I was much younger she repeatedly told me in patois in a very Dominican way-three times: that I was black! black! black like tar! That was supposed to have been an insult. The darker ones, like me were regarded as ugly, stupid, undesirable. Why would my granny say such things-especially as she was indeed darker?
This internalized self loathing was what caused us, all the blacks, the Africans hating ourselves and each other even as we were taught to love the lighter-skinned Dominicans, such as the Arabs, mixed raced Dominican! Basically, anyone who was not black, black, black was of value.
Dominica is supposed to be a wonderful island paradise where the beautiful people are most hospitable, so it is a dreadful pity that Dominicans are so filled with self loathing. The first step is acknowledging that this exists. Loving one’s self is next. It took me many years to undo the damage done by all of the brainwashing.
I've learned to focus on my own fabulousness instead of dwelling in the cesspool reserved for me by those lighter skinned persons who do not realize or acknowledge that racism is the root of most of our societal problems. Even as they divide so too do they continue to conquer, and the black family-broken, displaced, fragmented and mixed-up is a casualty of this evil.