Frequently Heard Claim: “Conversations about race in Barbados are divisive and stir up hatred which will lead to violence…”
A section of “Becoming Anti-Racist in Barbados: Q&A”, a resource list for ALL white or ‘pass-fuh-white’ Bajans, and other white people living in Barbados.
“If people stir up these conversations about race it is a slippery slope. This focus on the negative just creates divisions which stir up hatred and will lead to violence/revenge. Just look at Mugabe’s Zimbabwe etc…”
It is extremely important for white Bajans to recognize that fear has always been one of the main mechanisms of racism.
From as early as the 1660s fear of rebellion and revenge from a growing population of enslaved African people was a driving factor leading to the development of the racial ideologies we have inherited aspects of today. The racist idea that Black people are particularly violent and dangerous in nature and needed to be strictly controlled and subdued was cultivated at this time, along with an intentional effort to unify all Europeans regardless of nationality or class as ‘White people’, while giving them legal protection and enlisting their help to ‘control’ the enslaved population.
This fear of Black violence and retribution has consistently been used to shut down conversations and slow the progress of anti-racist movements, including but not limited to the abolishionist movement.
Fear, even when it’s overblown or unwarranted, has been a powerful component of racism because it is both contagious and anti-logical.
Fear literally short-circuits our brains. Normally, neutral information takes a long, leisurely route through our prefrontal cortex, where it is evaluated. Logical, abstract, moral, and creative thinking all happen here. Fear however, causes our brains to turn straight to our emotional, instinctive center: the amygdala. Here we process information hastily, making reactive and emotional decisions usually falling prey to extreme ‘all or nothing’ or, pardon the pun ‘black and white’ thinking.
We have to actively and consciously engage the analytical parts of our brain if fear of any kind has been engaged.
This is why it is so important to be proactively ‘anti-racist’, rather than passively assuming that just being ‘not racist’ is enough. We have to be critical of the fear we’ve been taught and actively examine the claims and assumptions we have been making as white people in Barbados…
Conflating demands for equality with demands for revenge is a racist fallacy that has been used to shut down conversations and movements for equality in society for centuries.
Even if Barbadians took action and decided to forcibly remove a bronze statue of Nelson for example, it does not logically follow that you as a person would be next.
This is a slippery slope fallacy rooted in fear driven by racist concepts.
Let’s be logical:
Why would we ignore the plentiful examples of relatively peaceful constructive progress across modern societies?
While there are of course, examples of violent movements that exist and can be construed as ominous warnings (white people’s own behaviour not least among these examples), what makes us think that Barbadians are likely to follow anything resembling that path when we have countless examples of non-violent, or minimally violent, diplomatic, socially conscience movements for equality and justice by a majority of the Black population historically and internationally?
Who exactly are you talking about?
When you fear this imagined violence or revenge against white people in Barbados, do you really believe many of your Black friends and relatives would support it? Would any at all? If not, perhaps you need to examine why you believe that they are the exception and that the rest of Barbados is particularly violent or amoral?
Does it make sense?
If, as most white Bajan’s tend to claim, racism today isn’t really a big problem, why would Black people look to exact revenge on people who weren’t even alive during the time of slavery? Are they particularly violent, illogical or amoral ?
Would the mere discussion and reckoning of our past and current issues so easily launch our society into such a drastic reaction?
Conversely, if the effects of racism currently are actually so bad that it warrants a violent reaction from Barbadians, then why aren’t you doing your part to actively dismantle it before it gets to that point rather seeking to quiet discussions and let the issues continue and simmer in society like a pressure pot?
As white Bajans we can’t allow the fear of an unfounded hypothetical future cause us to ignore the realities of our present society and try to silence discussions seeking to fully recognize and reckon with the repercussions of our collective past.
While it is tempting to try to simply ‘not see colour’ or just focus on positivity, when there are underlying issues hurting people in our society positive thinking alone will not lead to tangible positive progress.
Racist ideologies are destructive and ultimately harm all of us. We must do our best to honestly examine our assumptions and evaluate the beliefs that underpin our attitudes and behaviors if we are to work together towards a better future for everyone in Barbados.
Frequently Heard Claims
- “Racism is more of an American issue…”
- “I’m white and I’m not wealthy, I don’t have white privilege…”
- “Slavery happened years ago, why can’t people get over it?”
- “I have Black family and friends etc. I’m not racist…”
- “As a ‘white minority’ I’ve experienced more racism than Black people…”
- “I don’t see colour… Why don’t we just spread positivity?”
- “It’s not about race, it’s about class issue etc.”
- “Indentured servants were slaves too!”
- “Black workers are lazy.”
- “My Black friends & family agree with me on this…”
- “Every race segregate and hire their relatives and friends, not just White people”
- “There are many Black people who have done very well for themselves”
- “All Lives Matter”
- “The Nelson Statue should stay, we can’t change history!”
- “ Having conversations about race in Barbados is divisive and will only stir up hatred and violence…”
- “I don’t like the tones of these conversations when they become angry and extreme!”
- “Black people sold others into slavery; other cultures enslaved people throughout history”
- “Some Black people were treated well under slavery”
- “I’m not a fan of Blackout Tuesday. What does it accomplish?”
- “Changing all of these brand names is foolishness”