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June 14, 2007


drew Roberts

"Utter nonsense, of course, but powerful anyway."

And what precedes it...

This is a crude stating of a potentially much more nuanced argument. Should you wish to discuss this further, let me know.

On slavery in general. I think it might be helpful to consider the practice of slavery further back and compare it to the slavery which we mostly refer to when we speak of slavery in this part of the world.

It might also help to consider serfdom and even indentured servitude.

This world has some seriously nasty stuff in its past. (Let's not forget the present though.)

I am not sure that the past really is something that we have to come to grips with though. If we can get the present palatable.

How far back do we need to go in trying to correct the past to fix the present?

all the best,



"There's an article that I relished teaching to students when I was a lecturer at the College of The Bahamas."

Show us the article.


I agree with drew that there are some really messed up things in our present that need to be dealt with ASAP

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Black culture beyond hip-hop

I can't shake this feeling that there is some connection between the issues covered in that article and the fact that ZERO of the young men in this years graduating class of R.M. Bailey participated in the singing of the class song.
s it not "Black" or too "not ghetto" for a young black man to be singing a hymn with his classmates 2 minutes before receiving his highschool diploma?


Drew, if the things I'm talking about in this article were part of the past, I would agree with you. But they are not. The image of the "savage" pervades all our discussions about race, even those which attempt to correct "past" wrongs.

I will probably one day look at institution of slavery in a global and panhistorical fashion. In the meantime, though, the institution of slavery that affected us most here in the new world was a slavery that was fundamentally different from the slavery that existed in the ancient world. While that had a place within the societies that practised it -- slaves were got through conquest or debt or some other process that was shared by the dominant society, and every member of the society, if they were unlucky, ran the risk of being enslaved as a result of war or misfortune -- TransAtlantic slavery involved the enslavement of other people far away from the societies of the enslavers, and enabled otherwise decent people to be complicit in a huge dehumanizing effort. What was not permissible in Europe was perfectly fine when practised on other people. In the words of "Rule Britannia": "Britons never, never, never shall be slaves"; but until 1834 people of other "races" could be, and were.

In order to justify the enslavement of other human beings in a society that was engaging in discusions of humanity and civilization and progress, a distinction had to be made between types of human beings. While the institutions that that distinction created have been officially dismantled, and while their legacies are being challenged today, the psychic residue of those instituions has not even begun to be addressed.

I would argue that the current "gangsta" culture of the Black Americas -- which calls upon and embodies much of the worst of the imagery of savagery that was developed to describe people of colour -- is a playing out, an internalization, of those ideas of savagery that were used to justify the enslaving of Africans, the indentureship of Asians, and the subordination of mestizos and mulattos throughout the Americas. The word we use to describe our own ghetto young women -- jungless -- is derived, whether we admit or not, directly from that whole battery of images of animality, brute force, and stupidity that were projected upon the so-called "lesser races" during the enslavement, forced migration, and subordination of the people who were used to build the American colonies. And the battle is on many fronts. The worst of these ideas come from outside our borders as well as from within us.

We haven't even begin to make the present palatable on any level beyond the political and the material. And as both of those levels are ripe for coopting by the larger dehumanizing activities currently being carried out by global conglomerates like Hollywood and BET, we are fighting a losing battle unless we can understand what we are really up against. The fact that young men refuse to participate in something that is designed to be a marker of pride in themselves and their school is an indication, to my mind, that the present is nowhere near "palatable" for far too many of us.

As for the article, Moar, you can find it yourself in the book "Yinna: Journal of the Bahamas Association of Cultural Studies". Go look it up.




in relation to that other link
some people said its how RM was back in like the 90's or something.

drew Roberts


great response in many ways. I think you hit the mark when you bring the distinction between the slavery we normally refer to and earlier slavery.

It is one of the most nasty parts of the whole business. The lies that had to be told to all in order to, for instance, explain how all men are created equal and with unalienable Rights:


" We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

and then to turn around and deny liberty to some.

And no, I was not suggesting that the present was palatable, just that perhaps we could get there without actually solving all of the past.

England still has that old Saxon and Norman issue from 1066 which is likely still not dealt with.

Are we to all clear out of the Bahamas and leave them uninhabited, waiting if per chance a new wave of american indians should sweep north again?

Much of the ills we face are inner ills.

I don't know if I have told this story before in this forum, but my father was asked what he wanted what he wanted for his eigth birthday. His choice was a can of vegetable soup that he could eat himself and not have to share with his siblings. How many Bahamians have so little materially today that they would aspire to such a gift.

Inner ills are no less serious though. I do know that.

People are people. We need to come to grips with that. We need to see ourselves as having the same worth as people as every other person.

But... the world is not fair. Others will not value us this way. They will see beauty or brains or athletic ability or artistic ability and move us up or down the value scale accordingly.

We need to fight being valued this way in our own selves though.

More later - gotta run.


Bloggy Boyz

I find myself agreeing with Drew. Folks are folks. I cannot relate to African culture or to slavery -- it is either foreign to me or dead and gone. I am a Bahamian -- living today, with today's issues. I have no self loathing as a black. I have no white envy. Race is just another attribute, just like height. This navel-gazing about race isn't relevant to me.

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