As Barbadian motoring enthusiasts prepare to welcome BBC’s Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson to the island for the Top Gear Barbados Festival this weekend, they’re still divided over comments that have put him in the hot seat. Clarkson has upset many people because of a racial slur captured on video, with some calling for him to be prevented from coming to Barbados. After local businesswoman Shelly Williams came to Clarkson’s defence, many of our Facebook and website visitors had their say on her letter and their feelings about the issue.
Michelle Carter: Barbadians continue to amaze me. Many of us have something negative to say about Jeremy Clarkson’s use of the N-word. Maybe it is just me, but I cannot understand why. Get on a bus with schoolchildren, lime on any block, and I am sure that you will hear the N-word being used like some sort of endearment.
Yes, we as black people have a long history of being victimized because of this thing called racism. We were mentally and physically enslaved for many years, but freedom was won.
If Jeremy Clarkson or anyone else chooses to label us, so what? Let us continue to celebrate the achievements of our black people and the marks we continue to write on history’s page. Let us rise above the stupidity of the racists and show them that despite being under their boots, we have risen and continue to rise.
Many of the racists of yesteryear never expected to see a black president of the United States, but we have lived to see it. We are making significant strides every day; so let the racists continue to use their stereotypes.To quote Martin Luther King, Jr, “change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent”.
We have won our freedom but some of us still have our backs bent and live in mental slavery. We judge each other and try to pull down one another daily. We see our neighbours suffering and turn a blind eye.
Frank Fowler: She benefits from him. So what else you expect her to say?
Sheldon Shepherd: If you are easily oppressed by words which we have given meaning and importance, you can choose to be offended, or move and keep moving – plain and simple. If the word has no meaning, nor describes you in any way, then said word or words have no power over you. Open your mind and free yourself from hate.
David Denny: I do not accept your statement, Shelly Williams. Clarkson is a racist and our black brothers and sisters in England continue to explain what kind of man he is. Why are you not defending your black brothers and sisters from Jamaica and Guyana who get treated like dogs at our airport in Barbados? It’s time you stand up and defend your black family.
Andrew Connell: People speak about dignity . . . . It really makes me wonder. I have no prior knowledge of the present situation; but why can’t we just look at what both individuals have said and make our call. To my mind, I will have to go along with Ms Williams because she has been very comprehensive in her submissions and unless any of the naysayers can prove otherwise with facts, they should shut up.
We complain about the N-word, but it is used like water here in our country with no remorse. We go to the United States every year, and to me that’s the capital of the N-word; but we continue to go and support their economy. Ms Shelly Williams, I support your article 100 per cent and encourage you to give of your best service through your company that sells Barbados for some very positive reasons to be the destination of choice . . . .
Lord knows we need it!!!!
Julie Leenders: Brilliant! Shelly say it as it is!
Craig L. Carter: We are an ignorant race of people who will never be united. If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything . . . .
Sandra Browne Sampson: Very good of you. It takes a strong person, regardless, of colour, class or creed to be comfortable in their own self. And this is a successful business because of being a strong, good person. For all the pretenders out there, I hear that word all over Bridgetown and all over Barbados, and no one is being banned.
And it’s not coming from me.
The controversy over a taped conversation and broadcasted over the Internet has sparked certain people who critique others to jump to the forefront.
Cessj: I’m Bajan-born, but raised in [Britain] and since January, now back living in Barbados for an extended period. As someone who lived in [Britain], and experienced some of the vilest racism, it bothers me when I hear Bajans dismiss Clarkson – and racism in general – as media agitating.
Anyone with any sense or knowledge of the workings of the British media knows that the majority of the British media has no interest in agitating on behalf of non-white people – to the contrary.
Clarkson used a term that many black people find offensive for very good reasons. This is not the first time he has made such nasty comments, and it probably will not be the last. Do you really think that because he chooses to holiday in Barbados that it means he cannot be racist? That is an absurdly reductionist argument.
You might as well say that Western colonialists so much liked Africans that they brought us to the colonies and enslaved us here. We Bajan Brits and other black British African Caribbean people have fought long struggles against the kind of nasty racism held by people like Clarkson, and it saddens and angers me when I hear black people denying or dismissing his words as meaningless.
I suspect that the letter-writer is motivated more by profit motive than by any real understanding of Clarkson’s casual and micro-aggressive racism.
Mark Blenmen: This is a non-issue. Welcome to Barbados, Top Gear. Welcome back, Jeremey Clarkson.
David E. Hall: He has enough wealth to be able to take his family on holiday anywhere in the world, yet for years he has chosen Barbados for his family holidays. May I ask why a man who some are saying should be banned from Barbados because he is a racist would choose to be met by my all-black staff every time he lands here?
And why would he choose Barbados whose population is 90 per cent black if he dislikes black people? But that is precisely the point. Because he has so much money, according to you, he chooses places where there are a majority of blacks so that he can lord it over them. Money Talks!!