Racism still prevalent, warns Pan-Africanists

A prominent Pan-Africanist is calling on authorities to give the same type of attention to all missing persons, regardless of colour, as was given to the effort to find missing Caucasian woman Karen Harris last weekend.

David Comissiong, founder of the Clement Payne Movement, said the effort to locate the Rowans, St George resident was “impressive and it is the type of effort that should be made whenever a person is reported missing in Barbados”.

But he argued, as did fellow Pan-Africanist Trevor Prescod, that in such a race and class driven society, such a fuss would not be made of a missing black, working-class individual.

Several agencies, civilian groups and friends of the Harris family took part in the search that ended after about 24 hours later when the married mother was found unharmed.

President of the Clement Payne Movement, David Comissiong, addressing the tribute to Kamau Brathwaite concert.
President of the Clement Payne Movement, David Comissiong.

“We all know that that kind of effort is reserved for a person of Harris’ race and status in this country. The police authorities can talk what they like, the Barbadian people know that a black working class missing person does not receive that kind of attention and assistance. This is regrettable. I would like to say that the same concern and the same effort that was made in relation to Harris should be extended to every resident of Barbados, regardless of race or class,” Comissiong said.

“Adonijah was right when he said that there are two Barbadoses,” he added, referring to the veteran calypsonian’s Two Barbadoses.

“That clearly is a hold-over from our slavery and colonial past. But we will soon be celebrating 50 years as an independent nation and so it is high time that we no longer have a situation of two Barbadoses. We must ensure we have one Barbados in which there are equal rights for every citizen,” Comissiong added.

He added that it was regrettable that 50 years into Independence, people were still forced to make a case that “black lives should matter and do matter”.

Comissiong said the response of government agencies and the white minority should be a wake-up call to black Barbadians.

“Let it be a wake-up call and insist from here onwards that there will no longer be two sets of responses where a person is reported missing. One type of response where the person is Caucasian and of middle or upper-class status, and another response where the person is African and of working-class status,” he contended.

Meantime, Prescod said he was not surprised at the mass response of the white community to the news that Harris was missing.

He said Barbadians should have expected that, given the country’s history.

“I know how other races normally respond to their own interests. I believe that the action taken by the white people in response to the missing white woman is the way ordinary people ought to behave in general. All races ought to protect the interests of their own,” he said.

“The reality is that when it comes to the black race, nobody seems to recognize their presence here on earth. Even the Royal Barbados Police Force normally responds to what they perceive as the status quo in the country. The Force too would respond positively to the issue of the missing Caucasian woman.”

Prescod also lamented that Barbadians continued to deny the existence of residual racism in Barbados.

The former Minister of Social Transformation in a Barbados Labour Party administration insisted that there were major class and racial divisions in Barbados.

And he argued that this past weekend’s events demonstrated the need for re-education.

“It is about our consciousness and how we feel about ourselves. Do we put the same value on ourselves as we put on other people who do not look like us? You can only feel a sense of pride if you believe that you came from somewhere and that you have made a meaningful contribution over the years to world civilization,” Prescod said.

“Black people have . . . fallen victim to the teachings that they are inferior people and because of this respond to each other in a very negative manner. We need to go through a reconstruction process in our society.”

However, Prescod argued that in spite of the current heated race discussion, the matter would soon be forgotten and people would become preoccupied by other non-issues.

24 Responses to Racism still prevalent, warns Pan-Africanists

  1. Matthew Greaves
    Matthew Greaves March 3, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    He is very much on point this time waiting to see who will cry him down for speaking the truth

  2. Mark King
    Mark King March 4, 2015 at 12:03 am

    My friend know the facts before making those comments about the police . They got involved after a search was in progress by family and friends of the lost individual. If more people would do the same instead of calling police and leaving it in their hands. Reach out to friends and family like the Harris family did. Please don’t condone people that continue preach racial hate in this country .

  3. Stephen D Stewart
    Stephen D Stewart March 4, 2015 at 12:04 am

    people looking for a missing person and making sure the authorities are involved….what has this got to do with race…..I’m sure if any group of people get together to look for a missing person, the authorities will have to take it seriously….storm in a tea cup……using race as a teaspoon….

    • Sharon Woolley
      Sharon Woolley March 4, 2015 at 3:56 am

      We all know this was written by the biggest racist around ! how many people just stay at home and hope the cops find someone that’s missing, how often do the cops announce a person is missing yet rarely have a photo to show what they look like, just some bizarre description of them. When cats and dogs go missing in the UK there are pics on every tree and lamp post, No one should care what colour a person is, it’s all about help and joining together for one reason and one reason onl,y finding that missing child or person fast.

      • Olutoye Walrond March 4, 2015 at 3:51 pm

        Ms. Wooley, if you think speaking about racial issues is racism you don’t know aht racism is.

  4. Ryan Williams
    Ryan Williams March 4, 2015 at 12:37 am

    He is on point on what exactly, matthew? I just lost 100 dollars because i bet a friend he will grandstand with his usual anger inducing diatribe the sunday- money dead- Racism may still be prevalent, but unlike the ill-informed Mr. “Commissioner”, i know that you can’t be racist for joining together and looking for a loved one- yes, matthew, You can only be classified as a racist, or something can only be deemed racially charged, if it is tantamount to the definition of racism. Now, what was racist about a group of people coming together and searching for their friends and loved one? How they walked? How they looked in the canefields, how they used their resources? Now if we wish to state that the employment of resources from our local constabulary was also racially charge, tell me which part was- How can you be racist for getting help from local authorities? I don’t think this article is winning any points yet but let me continue- Now, i think Mr. Commissioner has misconstrued racism with “having resources”- you can’t be racist for being privileged with resources, the most prevalent resource being people who care and love you. Also, the bulk of the search was done by people who had a vested interest in finding the missing woman, so it’s unfair to blame them for the inactivity and nonchalant demeanor of other bajan families. Racism was not evident in this situation- if anything, it was the “black community” who displayed prejudice with their bandwagon type comments and woefully misdirected anger. Please don’t mix up racism with classism also……If Mr. Commissioner wants to castigate anyone, he can address his idiosyncratic filth to the thousands of bajans who never lifted a finger to share a missing persons report, stuck a poster on a pole, vociferously appealed to lawmen, got off their asses and searched, but sat on their tails and vilified a set of people simply because they felt ashamed.

    • gary March 4, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Ryan you are so right but he is not wrong that racism is still prevalent in this small country however a large part of it is directed the other way and before people wake up and realise that they are bigoted small mind folks and start treating each others the way they want to be treated they are enraging others at total BS as he said 50 years independence
      So what does 50 years independence have to do with

      By 1834 slavery was abolished in all the territories of British rule. This was mainly due to the Consolidated Slave Law (The Emancipation Act) and (3) major uprisings; Bussa Rebellion (Barbados – 1816) / Demerara Revolt (now Guyana – 1823) / Jamaica Revolt (1832). Because of the instability within the Caribbean, the British Parliament was forced to emancipate over 80,000 slaves at this time.

      Apprenticeships for freed slaves were then introduced under labour contracts as indentured servants. In Barbados Indentured Servants could not join the islands educational systems, and labour contracts were for (12) years, making it the longest in the Caribbean, as well as being paid the lowest wages in the region. Some worked (45) hour weeks without pay in exchange for accommodations in tiny huts.

      In 1838 the Masters and Servant Act (Contract Law) made discrimination against persons of colour in Barbados illegal.

      But discrimination against whites because our ancestry were slave owners is the cultural norm of today and get it very straight i hate when my fellow bajans instead of seeing me as human just like them only see the color of my skin i hope and pray that if i am blessed with a child that they do not have to experience this backward thinking attitude of my fellow islanders but most likely they would as i personally will more than likely end up with a person of darker complexion than myself and its still a crime in many peoples eyes to be of mix race and to this point i say there is only on race the human race wake up barbados and wake up world

  5. Robert Holloway
    Robert Holloway March 4, 2015 at 12:58 am

    This FB Group has now been put together to help find all future lost folks , lessons learned, Please share and help as needed https://www.facebook.com/amberalertbarbados?fref=ts

  6. Rob March 4, 2015 at 1:07 am

    Well said Mark King..
    If people look at the pictures , all Barbadians were involved as they were asked or heard and responded. The Police coordinated and did say a 24 hour rule did not exist. The power of social media and folks getting in front worked,.. What a great lesson to see powerful good can be done by so many .
    Well done all Barbadians
    Here is a new social media Facebook group that has now been put together to make know future missing people and foster working together. It is similar to Amber Alert groups practiced in many countries to get information out fast
    Please share and like

  7. Buddy Love
    Buddy Love March 4, 2015 at 4:38 am

    What this highlights is most black people are thier own slave masters.

  8. Mark Walkes March 4, 2015 at 5:07 am

    It is comments by people such as David Comissiong that further drive the supposedly racial divide. Did he volunteer himself to assist in the search? I bet not, and on what grounds? Was it because it was a white person? if this was his reason, isn’t that racism as well? Come on David, it’s time you recognise there are a multitude of black bajans who are intelligent enough to make their own minds up on any given situation.

    Your approach in my eyes, is that of someone who thinks he is the mouth-piece of the down-trodden and the underdog. That may work in some illiterate society, but please don’t insult Bajans the way you continue to do and more so as your comments are viewed the world over, it only further make you sound very silly indeed.

    As you portray yourself as the champion of the black working class (NOT), I hope to see you participate in any future searches and rather than spout about inequality, try to galvanise all classes and colours to work for a united Barbados. That would be more endearing that the stupid comments.

  9. jr smith March 4, 2015 at 6:11 am

    What do black people expect, for three centuries , was slavery, blacks had no one to turn to, why are you expecting something to happen now.
    black people are to blame for prolong racism, our women bleaching themselves , they don’t want to be black anymore, black men as they make a bit of progress they turn to the white women. Check the black footballers in the UK.

  10. Alex Alleyne March 4, 2015 at 6:11 am

    Why all the crying , this is Barbados, were all of you asleep and now woke up . Just check out the COURT system and who you see …..”just us” .

  11. L.Allan Wilkie
    L.Allan Wilkie March 4, 2015 at 6:20 am

    I think that as usual David is seeking attention!

  12. bernard and india walker March 4, 2015 at 8:59 am

    If when something goes wrong . You see color it’s too late . When you wake up . Stop seeing color then. Not cry because you see police

  13. Tony Webster March 4, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Racism etresides in some bosoms, but Ifor one, cannot agree that it is “prevalent”For sure,it doan “prevail” over me.
    Also with certainty, I know that class-consiousness remains part of the daily life hereabouts- as it does in Port-of-Spain…and Miami, and London. As does wufflessness, womanising, and politicking. Especially those who seize gleefully upon any thorn, with which to drive wedges betwixt and betwen us all.
    My hope, and advice: beware of prophets, ,especially those whose fruits are well-known.
    Make sure you know where you came from, by occasional glances backwards, but critically, confirm that you are on a positive, forward path. Choose your own path ahead, rather than following anyone else’s path.
    Choose wisely and well.
    Pray Always.

  14. seagul March 4, 2015 at 9:29 am

    What this…….slave masters….Words of an apologist for slavery!
    Emancipate yourself and spread true love, Rastafari live.

  15. Adrian Hinds March 4, 2015 at 11:08 am

    The majority of Barbadians see it the way Commissiong sees it. Majority of Barbadians knows it the way Tony Waterman described it.

    We saw that massive response to that particular missing persons report because it was assume that there was a possibility that something that that community fears, and talks about, might have just taken place. If there is a divide in Barbados, it permanently exist in this community’s collective mind primarily due to their wealth and numbers. Yet most Bajans only care to dwell on it when their privilege status is nakedly exercise. Such as in the response to that situation.

  16. seagul March 4, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Under a system shaped by greedy US & UK corporate interest and lobbies racism is no surprise. Whoever wins the hundred dollar-bill elections will still be beholden to them. It is almost impossible in our market driven plantation tourist society to understand what can be done to fight this colonial economic. We need a Bajan born Marcus Garvey towards a one-love emancipation.

  17. Alex Alleyne March 4, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    In another 50 yeas as someone listed what will BDS be like ? . With the influx of “Long-pretty-hair” women and the “inbreeding” the “BLACK MAN” will be pushed deeper in the hole down and under . The “mixed-breed” will finally take over BDS . T&T buying up everything with the help of their so called white friend here in BDS who just wont sell a Black Man 2 dead flies if he think he will make a profit from it . He will gladly sell him a CAR which go down in value at the drop of a hat .

  18. David March 4, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    White Barbadians do not need to defend themselves on any issue in Barbados whatsoever,We Black Barbadians do that job for them perfectly.
    It is incredible that Black Barbadians are of the belief that there were no racial considerations in the efforts of that search.
    It is a well known fact that White people in Barbados as a rule do not really want to mix with Black Barbadians.There are very few cases where some decent White Barbadians are not prejudice.A few indeed!However,the vast majority does not want to mix.
    When will Black Barbadians recognize that Barbados is a very racist,segregated country.

  19. Alex Alleyne March 4, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    The large amount of “pretty-long-hair ” women in BDS coming from T&T and GT is a well thought out and planned process. Its the “off spring” that going to do the damsge in years to come . they will not see themselves as BLACK even tho their dad is Black BAJAN .

  20. Bobo March 4, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Talk -Talk- vacuum -vacuum blowing in the southern winds– the Black Civilization from Africa to the Caribbean -Americas -Europe, continued to be their worst enemy and critic, none want to experience the facts of life– To be a ”human” and act like one —

    Our ”Creator” created planet earth in my shades of colors, and its time the Black civilizations realize they are part of the colorful creations, Racism is like sex its here to stay– why join the negative crowd –when on the other side its deliciously colorful and mesmerizing– Long live the beauty of planet earth– Colorful.


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