Barbados Labour Party backbench parliamentarian Dr Sonia Browne accused Barbadians of jumping on the ”bandwagon” of the Black Lives Matter protests while showing liitle love or respect for those of their own race in daily life.
In a debate triggered by the movement which has renewed impetus following the video-recorded slaying of an unarmed African-American man by a white police officer in the US, Dr Browne repeated on the floor of the House themes of self-hatred and self-denial by black Barbadians.
She first declared that the initial protest at the United States Embassy was not meaningful enough. The protest was thwarted by police as the numbers of protestors exceeded limits allowed under the COVID-19 restrictions.
The general practitioner and first-time MP said: “I empathise with the march held outside the US Embassy recently, but maybe it should have been done on a workday when people were in office.
“It should have addressed the problems Barbadians and other Caribbean people face when they go to that Embassy to get their visas. Some of them spend lots of money to get here, and if they are rejected they do not get any refunds.”
She suggested that while racism in Barbados did not seem to be as open as it is in other countries, it is quite common. Citing examples, she said: “A black woman who was working at a white person’s home as the housekeeper once decided to take a dip in the swimming pool, and the next day the owner drained the water. I have seen white guests at restaurants use racial slurs when speaking to black waiters.
“I have a patient who grew up in the plantocracy who has two sons and she favoured the lighter-skinned one, saying he was more handsome. We also have a situation where farmers in St. Philip have to deal with a white landowner who dammed a stream in violation of the law to have a recreational lake, depriving the farmers of their water supply.”
But her main concern was the fact that black people remained subservient to people of other races and did very little to support each other.
Dr Browne said: “Many small farmers have problems with praedial larceny, the thieves look like us. Black lives matter to whom? When I was building my house I went to buy tiles. I walked all over the store, no one came to my assistance, but then a white woman came in and the attendants rushed towards her. Black lives matter to whom?
“We have black people who break into houses to kill people that look like them. Black lives matter to whom? We have 6,500 students lacking IT equipment for school; how many of those are black? Black people don’t support their businesses – black lives matter to whom? At school we work hard while white children “play the fool”; we go onto university, but when we come back we find ourselves working for these same white people who may be less qualified than we are, but they are the managers because their families own the company. Where are our black-owned businesses?
“We have establishments that treat black staff badly. How can you prefer, in good conscience, to throw away good food at the end of the day rather than giving a single mother the leftovers? I know people that got fired for this.
“I run a breakfast programme five days a week. I reached out to the black business owners, but I got a response from only one black business person. I cannot get donations from my own black people to help feed black children – black lives matter to whom if we don’t respect our own?”
The St Philip North MP also stated that Barbadians need to “make our own culture, to understand what black people went through and what we have to face. Don’t tell me we can’t own businesses when we are the majority. We are being brought up to work for somebody else; we can do a lot better than that. Black lives have to matter to us; each person is a unique expression of God, each person is sacred and worthy and worth it.”
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