The Section Of Barbadian Society That Suffers In Dignified Silence
Submitted by Yardbroom
The professionals, civil servants, those who have attended the right schools and know people of influence so that they can get a pick – employment – need not concern themselves…the living is easy, they have become satiated. It is true there is a black Government, media in the main, police force and a thick wedge of black middle class…of those I do not write. Their bread is well buttered and often-times they take a dollop of “cream” to underscore the point.
I speak of the many unemployed young men on the block and not only in the term of this Government, as this submission is “not party specific” as it includes the tenure of both major political parties who have held power. The single women, some with and without children who live in genuine fear that they might lose their little pick, the taxi and PSV drivers, hawkers, street vendors, domestics and others in the service sector. Those in agriculture and others too numerous to enumerate here. Whose wages are always just a few dollars short of what is required to manage adequately each week.
They have been marginalised and woefully neglected, because they are not in the top band of educated classes. They do not have the leverage to attain real independence which comes through employment. That avenue in reality is not open to them for reasons I have already stated. When some educated ones, who boast of their achievements eschew forth; I say “talent is nothing, the most important is moral greatness”. It is this we need to galvanize those who lead our people “all” of them.
Someone recently wrote: “everything in Barbados is fine only last night I passed Chefette and the place was full”. We are now reduced to measuring real success and prosperity by a plate of chicken wings and fries. With this thinking we will always be short of the mark.
The question is often asked, why can foreigners who come to Barbados be so successful; while Barbadians in the strata of which I write cannot attain. Are Barbadians lazy, lack motivation and the myriad of other epithets given, which contribute to a perceived inertia. No! The perception is that people of a specific class and social standing are not worthy of certain privileges and rights. They are mostly ignored…solicited only at general elections. Their aspirations for work and other opportunities are denied not on the basis of what they can do, but on criteria such as where they went to school, who their parents are, where they live and other irrelevance in ascertaining suitability.
Do I write an untruth? even people of proven worth and attainment are often told they only went to this or that school; not only as a social put-down but as an indicator that he/she is not worthy of an exalted position.
As a result we have governance of the many, by the few, for the few.
The mistake often made by some, is that black people in Barbados are a homogeneous group, with the same aspirations, opportunities and avenues to advancement as each other…that is a mistake of gigantic proportions.
Our view of each other has been inculcated, by a system of our own making influenced by the opinions of others, fostered on us. Therefore we speak to those we consider of a lower class with much hubris.
We should treat each other with respect and break free of the shackles circumscribed for a certain section of our society. There needs to be a serious “debate” as to if the disadvantaged in our society are given the opportunities they rightly deserve. My point is that the section of disadvantaged in our society is too large and the influence and wealth of a “few” clouds and superficially obscures their existence.
We need a plan – if there is one I see no evidence of it – a long term plan, of where we as a country need to be in fifty years time, and how we hope to get there. We are and should think of ourselves as one people, the silly class divisions, which we artificially construct are blown away in the dust when we leave the cocoon of Barbados and have to compete overseas. It is then perform or push off, class or school matters not “performance” does…it is as simple as that.
Part of the solution is to discard the dependency culture. We should not expect our elected representatives to get us a house. We should expect him/her to advance policies with an employment agenda so we can obtain work. I do not want to depend on him/her favours I want to be out of the dependency culture, I want to be an independent citizen. Enabled to plough my own furrow in the world. Thus ensuring I can be of benefit to my family who is “my” responsibility.
We should want our elected representatives not to ask which party we support or be expected to be told, but to see us as one of his constituents.
We have divided ourselves and we are the weaker for it, we have taken on the mantle of our previous oppressors and thus we have held our own people back from the mature development that comes to a free people. We must not only be free but be seen as free, from the invisible chains that shackle a large percentage of our indigenous people through divisions of class, sown in the past and now continued by “us” in the present.
Too large a percentage of poor black Barbadians are in a strata of society predisposed to drift and that is expected of them. A facade has been fabricated, when it is said that everything is fine because a few can dine on chicken wings and fries in the evenings at Chefette. I am forced to conclude we have lost our moral compass and do not fully understand the aspirations of a proud people.