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I’m proud to be a roast breadfruit

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Editor: Ralph, as an erstwhile comrade, I was and still am quite reluctant to respond to the diet of derogatory comments and racial slurs that you dish out to the Vincentian populace on a daily basis. You remember referring to me, Matthew Thomas in the context of the Tobago Cays issue as a totally dishonest and malignant liar? In your latest barrage on the black skin of the leadership of the NDP, you said among other things:{{more}}

1. If President Bush is to see me, Ralph Gonsalves and Arnhim Eustace under the midday sun, he would not recognize Arnhim.

2. If President Bush is to see me, Ralph Gonsalves and Arnhim Eustace in the darkest night, he would not recognize Arnhim.

3. The members of the leadership of the NDP are like roast breadfruit.

4. Can you imagine Arnhim Eustace hugging up President Castro, President Chavez, President Bush, Prime Minister Blair or the Prime Minister of Japan?

These and many more are causing me to choke on my vomit. Hence I shall speak from the anguish of my heart.

Why can’t Arnhim be visible in your presence at any time of day when viewed by a white man? Why can’t one’s imagination afford him to see Arnhim hugging up the above mentioned leaders? Is it that it would not be picturesque to see this black boy hugging those white men? For the 17 years in which you opposed the leadership style of James Mitchell you never once referred to him in racial terms. James Mitchell is of Caucasian descent hence his colour of skin was never up for debate.

Breadfruit and saltfish were introduced as a cheap means of food into St. Vincent to feed our forefathers, the black slaves, and up to today people like you continue to describe black people in breadfruit terms only to remind us from whence we came. You remember James Mitchell describing us as a people with a breadfruit mentality? A sophisticated black man is described by his detractors and those who love to hate, as a roast breadfruit, i.e. he is only coloured black on the outside but on the inside his thoughts are white. That is to say he has the aspirations of a white man. As they would say in local parlance. “Way he a play? E only black outside but cut um e inside white.”

Ralph, you know that “roast breadfruit” is a demeaning racial slur, and no amount of explanation you give can ever erase from the minds of the conscious your obvious contempt for black people. You, being of Portuguese stock, continue to compound your folly by saying that you are the blackest politician St. Vincent has ever had. Are you not deliberately trying to con the minds of our less fortunate brothers and sisters only to get their votes? I was very amused by a caller on a radio programme who asked; “can you imagine Jesse Jackson calling himself America’s whitest President?”

What is wrong if a black man thinks like a white man? After all we did not set our own standards. Our system of education from kindergarten to university teaches that our aspirations and achievements must be like that of the white man, so that on achieving a “proper education,” one now has to acquire wealth and that wealth has to be symbolized. You must have a great house, swimming pool, well manicured lawn, two or three cars in the driveway, well attired servants in cap and apron, and the drinking of whiskey, champagne and fine wines in the company of family and friends.

Our black men and women attend the same universities like the whites. Therefore, in your eyes Ralph, it is okay after university life for the whites to move into the conditions as outlined above, but the blacks must go back to the gutters from whence they came; that is the same wattle and daub, or to hear every drop of rain falling on the little old galvanize and board house standing on stilts of jamanjo or coconut body..

To you, Arnhim Eustace has committed a crime because he is the son of a black man who once sold haberdashery. St. Claire Leacock is an upstart because he is the son of a coconut vendor. So now that he has acquired a university education he must go back to the bayside, and chop coconuts to sell to white tourists, while two dry bread, a fried fish and a ju-c is welcomed tea, breakfast and dinner. Linton Lewis is from Calliaqua. He holds a PHD; that is criminal. He must not own a decent car, he must still walk or scrunt a ride into Kingstown. Daniel Cummings is so great, you say, that he stoned God. But the white man, Fidel Castro who has murdered thousands, including three black journalists before a firing squad in April 2003, is your Lord and Master.

I know when you read this you will have to find new words to describe this rustic cocobread. But is it accidental that so many light/white skinned curly/straight haired people hold more than sixty percent of the senior executive positions in the general Public Service, the overseas missions and statutory co-operations? An attack on the pride and dignity of one black man by a Portuguese is an attack on all. By your utterances and practice, the black man serves two purposes, i.e. to vote and to keep you in power. Anything short of those makes him less than human, Ralph, to say the least you are a big, big disappointment.

Matthew Thomas

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