Why #Black Lives Matter in SVG
EDITOR: Let’s begin here: Many black Vincentians resent being referred to as black. Many of us do not want our black children to be termed black. Why is this so? Our mother tongue, the language which we use to shape our thoughts, very often debases all that is black.
The English Language which we use to elevate ourselves is packed with cultural norms which stigmatize non-white concepts.
This English Language read the white Jesus of Christianity to us and promised to make us as white as snow. This English Language taught us about the white man’s burden of civilizing us and saving us from the barbarity of black Africa through colonialism. How then could we be black?
We shouted “Black Power” in the 70s, but as it is today, we prefer the shades of pigmentocracy which move us as far away from black hues as possible. This is our reality. We are “brown”, “light brown “, “brownish”, “fair skinned”; we cannot be black because in our parlance that word goes with ugly. Shades of brown allow us to feel “good looking”, the term “black” would remove our local privileges, move us down the hierarchy of respectability in our own eyes.
Doesn’t this reality allow us to recognize that we see our black selves through white eyes? Don’t we recognize that the master’s gaze has become our own baleful look at ourselves? Didn’t we see that Candace Owens’s self-righteous self-loathing equates her with the very black-on-black violence that she condemns in Chicago?
#BlackLivesMatter to us in SVG because the pigmentocracy which enslaves us is a by-product of racism. Racism directed towards us has taught us to hate ourselves. We have to free ourselves of this. We refuse to see the George Floyd in each of us until we encounter the white jumbie on any corner of this world outside of SVG. That jumbie doesn’t see a brown-skinned Vincy; that jumbie sees a black neck that’s inhuman. That jumbie also sees a threat which it must extinguish. The terminology used here (extinguish) is not too strong for the context because we are facing life and death issues.
We need to recognize that our solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter is a means of protecting our own lives from the inside out.