There is a truly enchanting side to the Caribbean. Palm trees, lush mountain landscapes, pretty women delivering fruity cocktails … sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? And maybe it is, on the front side. But just like America, and England and Canada and every other conglomerate of states, there is a dark underbelly that no one wants to show. For us, it is the racist and class divide that permeates every Caribbean community. Some of us deny that it exists, but it does, both in the way we think of ourselves and in the way we portray ourselves to the world. Look at any television commercial advertising a Caribbean vacation and I dare you to find one where the person serving chilled beverages to the white couple on the warm sandy beach is not dark skinned. I dare you. That’s how we put ourselves out to the international public.
In our own ranks, it’s a similar scenario. Unless it is clear that the dark skinned person has more money or greater status, he or she will always be treated as lesser than the lighter skinned person. The kids with the “good Indian hair” are treated like they are more special than the kinky haired kids both by their peers and by adults. We know this is a common assault in some countries where blacks are in the minority, but in the Caribbean where people of color are the vast majority, this type of behavior doesn’t make any sense.
It doesn’t make sense to me, why, when we see a black man at the helm of the most ethnically diverse nation on earth, we don’t demand better of ourselves. Instead of being intolerant and judgmental of one another, we need to tell our children and ourselves that we are exceptional, that the diversity of our color, culture and means does not give us reason to bicker amongst ourselves about who is better than whom. Most of all, because we represent every color and every class, we have access to everything at every level. That makes us stronger together than we could ever be apart.
To watch the extended perspective and much more on Caribbean America, set your DVR or tune in to each Sunday’s episode of The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly on SFL / The CW Network (Ch 39 / Comcast 11). Catch replays on the website at www.thecaribbeandiaspora.tv. Calibe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.