Barbadian Slaves, Masters And The Atlantic Journey: People In A Ship

Submitted by Yardbroom

Recently a Barbados Government Official said that slaves and their masters travelled the Atlantic to Barbados on the same ship – or words to that effect – in essence they had the same experience; he was castigated…some would say with good reason. I understood what the official wanted to say, but he put it so clumsily that the message was lost.  There was interference in transmission; as a result the message’s deeper meaning was sidelined into a tributary of sand.

That we – whites and blacks – came from different lands and have found ourselves on the same rock is true.  That we should try to accommodate each other, and try as best as we can to make Barbados a better place in the 21st century is also true.  That we should be able to debate or discuss slavery without seeing a slave master in every white face is also true.  However, it should also be true that the interaction between whites and blacks in Barbados should not be a few rounds above a slavery relationship; and blacks should not be seen as slaves in remission.

Slavery should not be an unmentionable word; we will only have put the demon of slavery to rest when the issue can be freely discussed.  You cannot dismiss “history” as if it never happened, there is no reason to be uncomfortable about it.  One of the reasons why slavery is not openly discussed in Barbados is simply because some of us have not mentally adjusted to the transition.  We like to think we have, but honestly we have not.

Some white Barbadians often say, “why have we got to harp back to slavery, why can’t we move on?”  Some black Barbadians do not want to be reminded that their foreparents were slaves; the memories are still raw and do not sit comfortable with the middle class professional status, and in some cases wealth.

You can acknowledge the elephant in the room or pretend it is not there, but ever so often it will trumpet and you have to notice its presence…perhaps at an inconvenient time.  Or you can acknowledge its presence even feed it a few green leaves, and there will be harmony of mind and body.

I find it rather surprising that some religious black Barbadians say they don’t want to be “reminded” of slavery because of the suffering of black people; and yet they do not mind being constantly “reminded” of the crucifixion of Christ on the cross, because his suffering, strengthens their faith.  Remembrance has not always got to be painful, it can give cause for “reflection” and strengthen us mentally.

Now the Government official again, it would be arrogant of me to suggest that he did not know what he was talking about…he surely did, perhaps the message was not quite clear.  The people who travelled to Barbados in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were in different categories.  There were a few who did not even travel, they allowed agents to do that but their fingers were still in the pie; as many grand country houses in England can testify.  They were investors, looking for a good return on their capital investment.  Then there were landowners, planters, indentured labourers/servants, slaves, Christians and many others too numerous to mention here.  The only method of transport was by ship and thus so they came.

Of the above-mentioned groups the slaves had no choice, they were also seen as not “quite human”.  For those who seek to refute the above and try to equate indentured labourers/servants with slaves that is a non-starter.  Brevity limits further exposition here.

Slavery is as much a part of who we are as any culture we seek to associate with in Africa.  Slavery was with us in the plantations of Barbados, perhaps some of us do not want to be reminded of the elephant in the room, but it is sitting there, regardless of if we like it or not, and we cannot wish it away.

We should be proud Barbadians, confident of who we are, know our past and history and be able to take our place among other nationalities.  It is by understanding that and looking at what we have achieved and hope to achieve in the future we can be a proud people, “all” of us.

I will leave the final word to the Government official perhaps he meant… we should be able to successfully accommodate Barbadians of all shades in Barbados, from the very black to those who are white – and the shades in between – without advantage or handicap, because that is not our history, but it is our “future”, it is who we are.

209 thoughts on “Barbadian Slaves, Masters And The Atlantic Journey: People In A Ship

  1. ROK
    Man I proud of you. Today’s White people are guilty of standing too close to the trees.

    There is a forest of history out there…

  2. @ John

    I trying to get the parable. You know what they say when you getting old?

    Have to admit that you are making some serious points. I am still checking for Haiti. That is probably the most Independent of all CARICOM States. Wonder why the white supremists have such interest?

    Can’t be illegal immigrants from Haiti ’cause them is illegal immigrants themselves. What it is that Haiti got? Oil? Land? Oh! Strategic position?

    Like this comment John but you have to explain it:

    “Virginity is not a disease with which any of the Chiefs here in the Caribbean can claim to have been afflicted.”

    So what you saying is that they were not even born with it?

  3. ROK,

    You may already be aware of this, but that post by WTF! is NOT a “defence speech” made by Michael Richards… in fact he was never charged with anything, and there was never any court trial. This racist rant has been around on white supremacy sites long before “Kramer” made his infamous performance… you can read more about it here:

  4. Deng Xiaping,
    NBC covering the Olympics say dat Han Chinese don’ like ugly people… thank God I ain’ ugly ’cause you could be a Han.

  5. Micro Mock Engineer

    Thanks! Trust Snopes. It was a pleasure to respond to it, although with careful study the response could have been better.

  6. and also if it was not for white people .who by the way invented everything you use.
    why not boycott all things invented by the white man.
    i guess you wouldn’t be able to reply then .oops

  7. In the British West Indies, plantation slavery was instituted as early as 1627. In Barbados by the 1640s there were an estimated 25,000 slaves, of whom 21,700 Were White. [22] It is worth noting that while White Slaves Were Worked to Death in Barbados, there were Caribbean Indians brought from Guiana to help propagate native foodstuffs who were well‑treated and received as free persons by the wealthy planters. “…White Indentured Servants Were Employed and Treated, Incidentally, Exactly like Slaves…” [23]
    white slaves were in Barbados 25 years before any black slaves were here.
    think on that.!we was first not wunna

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