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Jamaican American Club Newsletter www.JamaicanAmericanClub.org
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I was reading Deborah Gabriel’s book “Layers of Blackness” – Colourism in the African Diaspora, and the first thing that came to mind as I read, was does colourism really exist today? Deborah Gabriel, apart from being the
Trivia: Name these Jamaican fruits Answer is on page 6
author of ‘Layers of Blackness’ is a teaching professional and a journalist: The book was inspired by a feature Deborah wrote about skin bleaching in 2005, which followed a documentary about skin bleaching by a black female filmmaker and by the failure of mainstream writers to discuss the psychological and historical factors associated with skin bleaching. The primary aim of her book, despite its connotations of shades of colour is, she says: “to unite, not divide people of African descent”. The thing is, from my perspective, the word ‘colourism’ is a divisive word. For those
of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it is, in blunt terms, when someone says “no badda tawk to him – him too black” or, “don’t go out into the sun my dear, you will get too dark!” Colourism (according to Wikipedia) is a form of discrimination in which human beings are afforded differing social treatment based on skin colour. The preference often gets translated into economic status because of opportunities at work. Colourism can be found across the world and the term is generally used for the phenomenon of non-white people discriminating within their own ethnic group! Continue on pg 2
Table of Contents
Colorism Page 1
Trivia Page 1
Tirade on economy, market and crime Page 3
Caribbean Union Creation - CU page 8
Continued from page 1 Yes, in plain talking it means blacks discriminating against blacks because of their colour, which is why many of the darker-skinned people have opted for bleaching creams to make their complexions lighter. I read on the website that in India, Fair & Lovely, which is a bleaching cream, have cornered 70% of the bleaching cream market! And there is a video on the internet made in Egypt which claims “if you want to be successful and attractive, bleach your skin white”. It is this kind of misrepresentation that gave rise to many tragic mulattos in the early 1900s. How many of you saw “Imitation of Life” by Fredi
Washington who played Peola, a tortured self-hating bi-racial girl who said to her Negro mother: “Don’t come for me. If you see me in the street, don’t speak to me. From this moment on I am white, not coloured. You have to give me up!” Wanting to live as white because she was tired of being treated as a second class citizen ‘that is being treated like a 1930s black American’. She passed as white and begged her mother to understand, which along with the 20th century advert cited above, implies that success comes with skin colour. So in answer to my initial question, does colourism still exist to-
In order to understand the present, we need to refer to the past, so let’s have a look at the possible reasons for colourism. Most of us know that light skinned Negroes were the ones kept in the house, while dark skinned Negroes were made to work in the fields. Did this imply that the light-skinned slaves were more superior to the dark-skinned or was it because the mulattos (as mixed-race were called back then) were the product of rape and therefore the slave masters felt some paternal loyalty
to their offspring? Did the perceived preferential treatment adversely affect dark-skinned female slaves, or could it be that because the light-skinned slaves were remnants of their offspring,, they were happy to see them being given an opportunity to enjoy a marginally better lifestyle? We will never know. All we know is how it has been translated to us through the centuries, that lighter is brighter and blacker is slacker – but is that true?
There is an argument in the United States that on average, AfricanAmericans score 7 to 15 points lower than European-Americans on IQ tests. Many conservatives believe this is because blacks are genetically inferior to whites. But liberals believe that the IQ gap is the result of nearly three centuries of slavery and yet another 130 years of segregation and institutional-
ized racism. Hume, Krieger, Sidney & Coakley and many others have tried to state that the lighter you are, the higher your IQ level. Have you ever heard such a load of tosh!? If that is the case, why is Professor Geoffrey Palmer, DSc, OBE whose skin tone is dark, one of three people in the UK who has a Doctor of Science? A Doctor of Science (DSc) for those of you who do not know,
day – yes, sadly it seems that it does!
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“In order to understand the present, we need to refer to the past, so let’s have a look at the possible reasons for colourism. “
is conferred on a member of the university who has a proven record of internationally recognized scholarship. Professor Geoffrey Palmer OBE is such a member and as such, was required to submit a selection of his publications on Grain Science, to the board of his faculty, which decided that he merited this accolade, along with Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a white Scientist and radio
Jamaican American Club Newsletter
astronomer who discovered what turned out to be neutron stars, also called pulsars. When I interviewed Professor Geoffrey Palmer who is the author of â€œThe Enlightened Abolishedâ€? on my radio show in March of this year, he told me that the reason he accepted the OBE the day before his mother died (apart from his mother telling him he should) was to show that he was as competent and as intelligent as anyone else on the planet, and that is of course regardless of colour (shade or otherwise)! So letâ€™s put this colourism to bed
and end it with the famous words of Marcus Garvey: The appeal I now make is: "For God's sake, you men and women who have been keeping yourselves away from the people of your own African race, cease the ignorance; unite your hands and hearts with the people Africa, and let us reach out to the highest idealism that there is in living, thereby demonstrating to others, not of our race, that we are ambitious, virtuous, noble, and proud of the classification of race.
Tirade economies, markets and crime Crime blooms where there is a vacuum in law and order. This space is filled by the informal organizations known as gangs. These gangs do not exist because of poverty but as a power structure to control resources. Poverty does not cause crime but the lack of law and order coupled with poor management of economies. Markets it must be noted cannot be controlled due to the many variables that encompass it both internally and externally hence government can fix economies not markets. Thus with strong economies the pressures of the market can be statically forecasted which will
As our garrisons in Jamaica has become disenfranchised the government past and present has allowed the financial sector to black list these areas.
Carol Lawton lead to complex derivatives and commodities futures. Derivatives are really just complex futures as well. These futures markets becoming planning tools that can change the policy of any nation hence the market control the policies, the policies control the economy and the economy is controlled by private and public sector. If a gap
develops in this, entire population will be disenfranchised as is the case in inner cities around the world and especially here in Jamaica . As the flight of capital retreats from areas because the policy for these areas are not realistic for the development growth of formal markets, public and private sectors will also retreat as any investment must show a return on investment (ROI).
This ROI can be tangible or intangible return but a positive return none the less.As our garrisons in Jamaica has become disenfranchised the government past and present has allowed the financial sector to black list these areas. Continue on page 8
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Caribbean Union Creation - CU Cheers went up when it was reported that Haiti would be allowed to join the African Union. However, a few weeks went by when The African Union (AU) stated that Haiti will be denied associate member status on May 17th. According to article 29.1 of their AU constitution, only African countries can have membership. These African countries will Buk dance for their former colonial masters and coon for the Chinese but deny the 1st Black county, who threw off the shackles of slavery, recognition and membership. Is the African Union (AU) the White man’s #1 pet and fetch boy? The African way, according the African Union, is that Europeans and the Chinese everywhere are welcome to join. However Black people especially Haiti need not apply. Haiti, don’t allow anyone to disrespect you! This is an example on why Caribbean counties should form the Caribbean Union – CU. Federations with various islands were formed in the past and did not last. However, they are many more things that bind Caribbean than divides the islands. Multinational corporations do not care where they set up sweat shops or call centers. By uniting, the exploitation and marginalization can be minimized. To be competitive one has to have marketable skills or your country will become irrelevant. Caribbean nations must understand that our location and character of each island is an asset, if marketed correctly. It is time to reexamine a new Caribbean Federation and create The Caribbean Union. The Caribbean region is too small of an area to be so fragmented. I.e. Cuba has a stronger relationship with Russia than it does with its neighbors. The Arab league, NATO, and even OPEC are examples of how powerful community of nations can be forged. One can only wonder if the AU would have responded in the same way or be effectively willing to shift position if a more prosperous nation, say Brazil, had demonstrated similar interest in joining the AU. Don’t go where you are not wanted. Leave with dignity and create your own union with other Caribbean nations.
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Continue from page 3 This is not a unique anomaly for Jamaica but the norm around the world especially third world where informal settlement ie squatting communities exist. Crime exists because the people here are at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid. The social and economic fabric of communities are gone hence a battle for scarce resource which most times are controlled by political and criminal forces. The government has the ability to end this blacklisting and informal settlement by using the full force of the state to enforce law and order. It has the ability to ensure that a titled property in the inner city is considered an asset vs a liability by banks, insurance companies and the owners of property themselves. It has the power to define
clearly land ownership whereby a person can not be force out of their capital because of criminal elements as this is duress. The rule of law and not politics or fear should apply. If land owners consider these properties as valuable assets which the capital market recognizes as assets then a move to destroy the garrisons can begin. But when a free for all is allowed to operate with this basic resource informal organizations are cultivated as a means of self preservation hence the ultimate pariah for a government to control is born and that is the informal economy which policy cannot control or direct thus giving power to the informal organization as a revenue generator is in place to fund their activities with no regard to law and order.
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