‘Tuff Love’ Needed Muslims or NOT!

… In the midst of a garbage crisis the SSA reports that there is an epidemic of illegal dumping of sheep offal in Barbados, the Police manage to apprehend a couple of the scofflaws who admitted to the dumping but declined to charge them because according to the SSA spokesman they were “cooperative”. I hope that next time someone is caught with a spliff or stealing a nail clip that they could “cooperate” their way out of charges. https://barbadostoday.bb/2019/08/14/not-rite/.

Sargeant posted as a comment.

A report in this week’s press highlighted the dumping of sheep entrails in the Atlantic Shores area. According to the report the two offenders were not prosecuted although found to have  contravened the Nuisance Regulation 1969, Collection and Disposal of Refuse 1975, Rodent Regulations of 1969. They escaped with a caution because they cooperated with authorities..

The report piqued the blogmaster’s interest because the dumping of the entrails has occurred at a time Barbados is battling a garbage collection pileup across the island. Also an illegal dumping of waste in gullies, side roads etc. In the opinion of the blogmaster an opportunity was missed to send an unequivocal message to the wider society that we must do better. The report made mention the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) has receiveda number of reports that because of the festival that is being held in celebration of the Muslim belief, there is an increase of the illegal dumping of the entrails of the ram.

At some point the authorities must change gears. Illegal dumping is a big problem. If we do nothing, it will continue and become ensconced in the way we dispose waste if isn’t already.  The scenario playing out is reminiscent to when former Attorney General Maurice King assured the country there were no gangs. Another example is the continuing mismanagement of the PSV sector.

In 2016 there was a report attributed to former Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe declaring that Bridgetown was generally a clean area. Lowe had also promised to give greater authority to environmental officers by amending the law to prosecute people caught dumping illegally.

The time has come and gone to enforce laws on the books. The government as recent as yesterday in a press conference confirmed it is committed to working with citizens to rebuild the society. It is time for some “tuff love” to be administered if we are serious about turning things around. The blogmaster understands that authorities probably exercised discretion given sensibilities at play. Administering the law requires one to be ‘colour blind’.




  • @ Hal

    I don’t agree that we are risk averse at all. These statements must be seen in a broader context. The majority of successful Black business people did not inherit wealth. Many risked very scarce resources. The small food vendor who takes up money and try to get a van to sell food is taking a very big risk. Risk is relative. If one inherits $200 000 and buys a van for $ 60 000 is that risk the same as a small business person who wipes out $5000 saved over ten years , to purchase stock to put in a small mini mart that could easily fold if sales are not materialized.
    We have to realize that it’s virtually impossible for any black business person to find a couple of million to invest in manufacturing etc.
    I certainly am not making excuses but the way that our country is set up, it is easy to stay on the sidelines , and lament what we don’t do but I know dozens have tried , some have been downright ill disciplined but others were destroyed overnight by the traditional sector and hostile banks. Discrimination , racial and economic also played a role. Of course ,as you stated, the pure stupidity of the predominantly black political class , is a powerful factor contributing to this failure as well.
    Let’s face it, this myth about Indians starting from scratch needs to be debunked. They get great financial assistance from within their own community because they have millions of dollars in cash on hand. I have been involved in more than one black business association going back forty years. I have first hand knowledge of the landscape and know what goes on. We try to fool ourselves that the playing field is level. That’s why you have the uninformed talking about free enterprise and castigating all blacks that fail. The more I think about it, the more I realize , that the weapon of divide and rule is used more effectively now than at at any period in our history.
    Up to a most recent period, the then Barbados Mutual, now SAGICOR was engaging in blatant racism within its corporate culture. And this is a company that was considered our gold standard.
    Times may be changing and they have been changes but the race is FAR from over.
    One of the reasons, I presume, you call Barbados a failed state is that you , whom I know yo be a progressive thinker , are appalled that the dominant black political class , has miserably failed to complete the independence experiment , which was supposed to dismantle what went before. To put it directly: they failed to radically address the need for true economic enfranchisement.

    Watch yuh head and belly bro’.

    Liked by 1 person

  • When ninety percent of the population remain as casual bystanders whilst their government refuses to enforce laws against minority groups (this includes the black elite/politician) then they – the majority black population – have effectively disenfranchised themselves at all levels: socially, politically and economically.

    I would advise the majority black population in Barbados to provide their own self-government. Establish autonomous bodies that monitors their catchment areas and acts when it is clear that certain groups are transgressing the laws. For example we know which group is involved in the dumping of animal entrails. Set them an ultimatum. They are not above the law. Nor is their religion. Make it clear to them that there are consequences when laws are broken in a supposedly sovereign country.

    If our government is too timid to enforce our country’s laws against minority groups then they have no legitimacy. Even a blind man can see this.


  • @William

    Your prolix is a narrow definition of what is commonly referred to as Barbadians being risk averse.


  • @ David
    I try to refrain from the popular catch phrases of the day. There seems to be a Barbados that is only known to a few. There is a futile attempt, more like make believe, to pretend that all the problems black Barbadians face are of their own making. Unfortunately, we still believe in foolishly trying to sweep matters of socio economic importance under the carpet.
    We have reached the stage here on BU , where some are comparing Jews who arrived in America essentially as political refugees with slaves who arrived here on slave boats with nothing. That is pure intellectual fraud.


  • @William

    What we need to do is identify the triggers we need to disrupt a comfortable way of thinking. We may not be as entrepreneurial inclined in our thinking as others in every sphere, how do we rear our children at home and school to adapt for the world ahead. It is a brave new world, our responsibility as seniors is to show the way even if f it means dismantling obstacles in the way. This means not getting sidetracked by nostalgia and sentimental positions. Pragmatism must be the order of the day.


  • @ William

    You say that Indians have no problem because they can raise money quickly from other Indians. Would those they borrow from then not had to make the money first? The majority of the Indian community started poor in areas like Fontabelle, Whitepark etc.

    Now if you want to say they are more helpful to their own than other people are I agree with you.

    We can continue to blame the past or we can take control of our future it’s our decision to make.


  • The Indians have their issues with rogue players, it is how they deal with it that protects the culture they have of community financing. Bear in mind these minority groups have a social routine that is anchored to work and mosque. The culture from the home country is paramount. What do we have to compare?


  • @ John A

    We have thousands of children who sat in classrooms , never were taught anything about their past and we see the results daily.
    What you and others fail to realize that within that so-called poor Fontabelle area , there were relatively well off Indians . That is why they were able to purchase a lot of real estate in Belleville when it came on the market. They were / are Indians living in the same Fontabelle who owned houses in the heights and terraces and were landlords even in Broad Street! In recent times they owned several minibuses and rental car dealerships. As you have said that branched into the car parts business.
    Obviously you have brought into the myth about starting poor in Fontabelle. There is always the inconspicuous millionaire, who never shows off his wealth. Don’t be fooled by what you see or have been made to believe.
    @ David
    Yours was a reasoned comment.


  • @ David

    My theory is that we don’t embed in our children the value of money the way the Indian and other races do. Let me explain what I mean.

    In the summer for instance if a young Indian boy wants spending money he must work for it. He has to either work in the family business, or go and work in another business if the family don’t have one. So from early he equates $50 say with unpacking boxes for 4 hours. Other kids just say ” mummy I want $50.” So which child you think will grown up with the greatest value for money and work ethic?


  • @ William

    You have just confirmed my point in that they have worked hard and practiced financial discipline. They reinvested what they made wisely while maintaining a humble life style.

    They built houses in the heights for others to rent while being quite willing to stay in Fontabelle. They did not rush and buy a $200,000 car but chose to put that in a minibus instead.

    It is not that they had any great wealth to start with, it is that they did not squander money when they started making it. Financial discipline is also at the core of their success along with a different value system.

    That is a blatant fact whether we want to accept it or not. David’s point about their social upbringing is also a valid point.


  • @John A

    This is correct but we should do it our way. Different roads lead to success. The groups we are discussing represent a minority element, they rely on cultural norms to protect it; to survive. We are the majority. What do we need to do?

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ David
    @ John

    How ironic! We praise other cultures for reaping perpetual benefits because they teach their children and adhere to their culture.
    We denounce ours as the past to be avoided. We come from Africa the cradle of civilization and commerce but we are to deny the atrocities against us and bury our past.
    Always the same old tired defense of discrimination and white rule.


  • @ William

    Let me share this with you and it will bring home the point clear as glass as I do business with some of them.

    I know of one guy who in the back of his humble home has a bond. His office is also in his backyard. One day I was in by him and notice a row of ledger type books with numbers on them so I asked what were they.

    He said they are all the guys on a weekend you see driving around selling. He basically gives them the stock at no cost and they sell and then bring him the money on Monday. So by this move he has his own distribution system while at the same time creating self employment for others. I asked him so what happens if one of these guys don’t pay? He just smiled and said he would be shunned by all.

    You see the difference now? Here is a business plan based on trust and good name backed by a whole community and it’s value system.

    Not to say they don’t have problem persons too, but they are quietly dealt with from within the community.


  • @ William.

    No one said to forget the past. We have to however move on. Neither this generation or their parents came here on a slave ship. We can’t sit here 300 years later and blame what happened then on our situation. We need to instill values and create a culture of growth by trusting each other.

    If this isn’t done 300 years from now black Barbadians will be in the same place blaming slavery for their demise.

    Of course that is just my view and you are entitled to yours as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ William Skinner at 1:24 AM

    One of the finest piece of analysis that I have read from you for a long time. These things need to be said. You have keyboarded them. I concur.

    @ David Bu at 8 :50 AM

    I concur. We need to do it our way. Our culture and our experiences suggest that the right way for us need not mimic others. Ours is just as valid and satisfies our innermost being. But we need to constantly reexamine our selves and ask : “Whose destiny are we fulfilling?”.


  • My view is that we should mimic no one. What we should however do is examine all and take the positive from each group and take note of it, while holding on to our own.

    The sad thing is we did in the past with the extended family and the elders being respected and handing down their wisdom. Maybe I am old and just remenissimg, but it seems as a people we were closer knit years ago than today. Maybe it’s progress, maybe we are all busier now, or maybe i just miss the old days, who knows. I mean i notice now even kids in the same house today prefer to sit in different rooms and text each other as opposed to sitting in the same room and talking face to face. Then again I from the days of rotary phone when your number was just 5 digits! Lol

    I still feel we have it in us to do better in many areas, starting with those we elected and coming down.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ John
    Has celebrating and embracing their past stopped any other group from economic prosperity ?
    Barbados is perhaps the least Afrocentric of all Caribbean English speaking countries. Hal Austin will tell you that even radical and progressive thinkers are quickly marginalized in our country.
    You seem to think that embracing ones culture and historical past is the reason for blacks ,as you say ,being in the same position we have been.
    Don’t you know that donkey years ago, rural black shop keepers used to extend credit from the time the crop season was done until it begun again.
    Don’t you know the role played by the extended family in our journey; don’t you know if blacks had not looked after each other in the villages that we would have been doomed. This belief that we have been nothing more than disunited and untrusting toward each other is another myth that must be debunked.
    @ Vincent Codrington
    Thanks for your comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @William

    Do not go overboard in response to the critique about the danger in romanticizing our past. These minorities come from old entrenched cultures, ours is relatively young which is why assimilation is a path many prefer to take. We need to strategize to decide how we will correct. Easier said than done.


  • @ William

    We are dealing with two basic issues: one of ideas; and the other of funding. I will deal with ideas first. When I was a little boy, we used to get conkies on November 5, Guy’s Fawkes Day. A few years ago I was in Barbados on November 5 and thought it a good idea to get some conkies.
    I went to every supermarket on the south coast asking for conkies and was told they had none; at one supermarket the lady I spoke to took great pride in telling me to come back on Independence Day, I was too early.
    Soon after that, I was giving a speech at the high commission in London and mentioned that case. My argument then was that if there was a market then the bakeries should meet that demand. I said if they did not, some enterprising person would come in and meet the demand. I am pleased to say now that conkies are available apart from Independence Day – not that my observation and that change were connected.
    The other example, by far more important was that of motor insurance. Some time ago I was invited to a meeting of the ZR owners association. During the conversation it was mentioned that motor insurance was prohibitive. suggested to them that they should self-insure or negotiate a better deal by going collectively to an existing insurer and offer them a collective deal.
    With self-insurance suggested they could re-insure for third party, fire and theft, and either establish their own vehicle repairs garage, or, better, enter s contract with an existing business for motor repairs. In the meantime, members will continue paying the motor insurance they pad the more commercial firms.
    This elderly returnee guy, some government employee, went in to a panic: you can’t do that , man, he screamed, without saying why not. The ZR owners did not self-insure because they were afraid of the unknown. Two examples of the poverty of ideas.
    The other is funding; I won’t go in to details, but we can fund small business by the government putting proper fiscal instruments in place, by-passing the foreign-owned banks.
    @William I am willing to discuss all these ideas with interested parties..


  • Vincent Codrington

    @ John at 9 :34 AM

    We must hold those that we elected feet to the fire. I think you are doing a good job .
    No harm in reminiscing on the good we did in the past. If we did it then, in an hostile environment, we can do much better in a lest hostile present environment.
    In the past,the game was to divide and rule. Is this not the same strategy that is being employed today? Are we not cooperating with it?
    We need to trust; but also to verify . This is something I learnt many years ago as a new member of the Auditor Generals Dept.. And before I went off to improve my skill set.

    There is a real danger that we are sending the wrong signals to those who are conscientiously breaking the law.


  • @ Vincent.

    That is my point about the bigger picture. We come down on the squatters which started as 1 and now are over 300, but what have they done that Maloney didn’t do with his cement bond or round about at Lears?

    I am not saying squatters are right, far from it but why didn’t we move on house number 1? Why was Maloney allowed to complete a building when it should of been stopped at floor level?

    I am not making excuses for Bajans but my point is where is enforcement and structure in our policies? Ok so Bajans may not be risk takers as Hal says, but what are we doing in our educational system to change that?

    We have bright local minds academically but our system has trained them to work for others as opposed to themselves. That needs to change and it needs to happen from the bottom up, seeing that we currently don’t have many with that outlook. Can we change our history, of course not but we can change our future. That is the point I was trying to make to William.


  • @ John
    We are not that far apart. We are simply looking at ideas and so on as Hal says. Like you I firmly believe that we don’t have the educational system to address our socio economic problems. David will tell you that I have always blamed the system of education for many of our maladies.


  • @ John A August 18, 2019 9:34 AM
    “My view is that we should mimic no one. What we should however do is examine all and take the positive from each group and take note of it, while holding on to our own.”

    Why do you think that ‘business people’ of East Indian descent are far more successful than those of recent African origin except in the arenas of sports, music and entertainment?

    Don’t you realize that wherever you go black people are always at the bottom of the economic ownership and control greasy pole?

    How else can you explain the ghastly sight of East Indian immigrants being the employers of Bajans of West African descent whose ancestor went through the harrowing experience of chattel slavery arising from European domination and colonial control?

    FYI, East Indians (and others) have their own set of gods as idols to facilitate them in their ‘business’ dealings.

    Do black people have theirs? Don’t they talk about other people’s gods other than the One who gave them their ‘black’ skin?

    Blacks -in their own immutably imitable way- will always be hewers of wood and drawers of water to their ‘lighter skin’ brothers and sisters unless their see themselves as God’s own ‘favourite’ creatures being closest to the Fire as represented by their ‘blackened’ skin.

    Black people (especially the women) must stop seeing their skin colour as a curse and accept it as a blessing from the One above.


  • @ Hal
    Point taken. You talk about the scarcity of conkies. On the south coast they sell bagels !


  • @ William

    Think black pudding and souse. I know overseas Bajans like going to Golden Sands, and I like going in the Pine, but the first person to mass produce and home deliver all over the country (14×21) will tie up the market. Deliveroo is a US$1bn business. The Millers (Freddie and Tommy) made their money from selling tamarinds and frozen water. Think golden apples (syrup, marmalade, jams, etc), and I can go on.
    @ William, how many patents have been registered in Barbados since November 30, 1966? Of our UWI MBA graduates how many have gone in to business on their own?
    In terms of small businesses, why does it take an Englishman to come to Barbados to open a pub selling food (Coach House), or you mentioned Trevor Clarke earlier, who does Barbados import ordinary T shirts from South Africa? We are worse off then we think we area.


  • @ Hal
    I agree. That tamarind business by the Miller’s made hundreds of thousands. Most of us have no clue about the variety of uses the tamarind can be put to. High source of fiber; can make glue etc
    When I talk about looking inward and regionally to solve our problems, I am ridiculed.
    By now conkies pudding and souse cou cou etc should have been marketed internationally.
    Jamaica jerk sauce gone international. We are not ready bro’


  • @ William

    Inward and regionally. You are too smart for a rum shop of waffle makers. They all want to be international financiers. They live in a dream world. Go on You Tube and watch Dragon’s Den.


  • @ Hal
    The Barbadian cherry is said to have one of the highest levels of Vitamin C in the world. We have known this for more than a hundred years. Imagine if we had a well organized cherry industry and the foreign exchange that could have been earned and the jobs created.
    Where there is no vision the cherries rotten on the trees.


  • @ William

    Poverty of ideas is worse than material poverty.


  • @ Hal
    @ William

    Not only poverty of ideas but what about a lack of support and an enabling policy for when a good idea does come along?

    One classic example of a total lack of policy for growth is with the renewable energy sector. First you encourage bajans to install solar panels, then you tax them on it and cap supply. You also turn around then and fail to renegotiate a proper rate of return for these independent suppliers. Check what the BLP pay for a KW and what they resell it for !

    We have got to have policies and support structures in place that encourage those with ideas to come forward. To me the renewable energy sector has been blindsided by both parties and there is no sector that has the potential to save us hard currency like that sector does.

    William I support you 103% on the fact that our education system has failed to provide school leavers with a basic understanding of commerce. This must change if we are to go forward, especially In light of our current challenges. Giving people $5000 in free money to start a business is pointless unless you first give them the basics of how a business works.


  • @ John A
    @ Hal
    There are too many Alices in Wonderland directing national policy and controlling national discourse. You note that when properly researched, we would find no creativity in national planning in the government or private sector.
    We , after fifty three years of independence cannot even get the process of securing a driver’s license correct.
    John A , as you opined earlier we may be no farther in the next three hundred years and as I have stated a few days ago, Hal’s failed state position looks frighteningly ominous. If the Duopoly is allowed to continue ripping the bowels out of our country; the only question left would be where to bury the entrails

    Watch all yuh head and belly my brothers.


  • @William
    @John A

    Government can help SMEs and in particular start-ups through using their fiscal tools. That they do not says a lot. By the way, whatever happened to Roberts Manufacturing?


  • SirSimpleSimonPresidentForLife

    @Hal Austin August 18, 2019 4:56 PM “Government can help SMEs and in particular start-ups through using their fiscal tools. That they do not says a lot. By the way, whatever happened to Roberts Manufacturing?”

    Sill in business manufacturing cooking oils, shortening and margarines. Maybe animal feed too. I don’t know as I no longer raise, or slaughter animals


  • @ Hal

    I agree on help from the SMEs but it must be accompanied by a clear and decisive policy from start up to delivery of product. We need for investors to know before they get in that this is what is in place to support their venture. Not the ” go long and start we going see what we could do to help you.”


  • “Giving people $5000 in free money to start a business is pointless unless you first give them the basics of how a business works.”

    John A

    To be fair, money is not just handed over to the potential entrepreneur. He/she must present an adequate business plan, which they may be asked to included sales forecast, projected and pro forma statements income, cash flows and balance sheet; loan repayment schedules; market analysis; marketing strategy; management summary and personnel plan.

    Some people may charge between $2,500 to $3,500 for a simple business plan. Imagine having to pay, let’s say $2,500 for the business plan or you and your loan application is rejected up front by the officer or not approved after going through the process? Not because you did not meet all the statutory requirements, but because the officer or committee believe your business idea won’t work.

    On the other hand, if it’s a government agency….. and yuh know somebody, then, yuh gone clear.

    Those who are successful in obtaining loans or grants, are usually required to take courses in management and bookkeeping using software such as QuickBooks, mainly to process invoices, enter sales, cost of goods sold and expenses. And in many cases, they have to submit financial statements to the lending institution.

    I remember a few years ago I was in discussion with some “friends” and the topic of a car rental business came up. I told them I had always wanted to own a few “hired cars.” Each individual gave me a negative story, from “de cars gine get lick up,” to “yuh ent gine mek nuh money.” I told them if the car rental business is not lucrative, why are the Indians and Pakistanis involved?

    I also recall a guy I knew from schools days, was about to sell his Mini Mokes, because his business was experiencing a down-turn. I asked to purchase three of the vehicles. He found all types of excuses why I should not become involved in the business, including if the car broke down, you have to get up during late at night or during the wee hours of the morning to attend to them. I told him let me worry about that. He preferred the Mokes to rust out than to sell to me.

    Let’s look at the “other side.” I was talking to a young Indian guy about cars he imported for sale. He is in to hired vehicles as well and asked me what I thought about ZRs, as he wanted to start with two. I in turn told him the reason why I was looking at the cars. If you saw the encouragement and advice that youngster gave me, about what are the best cars to use for rentals and the ins and outs of the business.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Artax

    There are many arm chair business advisers, who only know how to work 8-4. I have avoided them like the plague.
    Ninety eight percent of all the autobiographies of great and successful people reveal that they were laughed at by their closest friends family members and others.
    We are from a society that predicts failure as soon as the idea is mentioned.
    There are many successful blacks in our country who keep a very low profile to avoid the naysayers and negativity.
    Rule one in pursuing ideas is to believe in yourself only and those who believe in you will support and follow you.
    Avoid the armchair experts at all cost. Don’t worry about them because as soon as you make it they would tend to say you are fronting for somebody; you are a gambler; you owe the whole world money or you involve in some illegal activity.
    When you become a millionaire go in the nearest rum shop quietly have a drink, politely offer the fellows one and get up the next morning and see who can help without all the fanfare.
    We were taught that nothing beats a trial but a failure. We need to reverse that: Nothing beats a failure but a trial.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Artax

    I was speaking of these government loans that have recently been made of $5000 to people to start a new business. The government has never published the criteria for these loans so I don’t want to jump to conclusions on them. Don’t know who gets or how one qualifies.

    The point about negativity in many towards business ventures is interesting, even among people you know. It is like if people have a predisposed position on failure being inevitable.


  • @ John A

    A culture of fear of failure has been ingrained in us. Whenever a black business fails it becomes hot news.
    It takes a certain positive mentality to fly above this culture.
    I personally know three black business men who are worth in excess of five million dollars. I believe these are the kind of business people we need to have disposing knowledge to aspiring entrepreneurs.
    None of them went near the university; two attended the then new comprehensive schools and one may not have attended high school.
    I will bet anything that if they were to mentor thirty aspiring entrepreneurs, we would see a change in their business approach.
    We keep doing the same thing and expect different results. It is called madness.
    BTW not one of them was taken seriously by the banks until they showed that they had businesses that were turning over at least a hundred thousand a year.
    Our relationship goes back in each case in excess of forty years.
    We need to start recognizing proven quality rather than these jokers who believe that they know it all and have never employed even a part time worker in all their lives. Never created a single job but go about the place calling people failures.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ John A

    I meant each worth in excess of five
    million dollars….


  • @ William.

    Well said!

    Plus even when you go to the bank the managers today are reading from a script supplied from head office with boxes they must all tick.

    Bank managers today at foreign owned banks have little room now for decision making, unlike in years gone by when they could of signed off on loans locally.


  • When a young British Bengali woman with a black boyfriend got pregnant, her family’s reaction forced her to confront their anti-black prejudices.

    As she stomped away from her maternal home, Salma began tallying up her current status. Twenty-one, two months pregnant and now, homeless. The door slammed shut behind her. And all because she was a Bengali woman insisting on having a baby with a black man.

    In her community, Bengali women “didn’t have” babies out of wedlock – let alone mixed-race, dark-skinned babies.

    Her aunt had spent the morning urging her to get another abortion, just as she had done last time she’d fallen pregnant. But she was no longer 18. What right did they have to make this decision for her?

    “I was willing to do whatever it took to have her. Yes, that meant giving up my family, giving up my career and giving up everything. But I felt like I had no other option,” Salma says.

    Just before Salma had walked out of the house, she’d caught sight of her mum’s tears splashing on to her half-eaten roti.

    “I knew she was wishing that this had been a Bengali baby. Then she could have called up the boy’s family, arranged a wedding and ‘legitimised’ the whole problem by the end of the day.”

    But this father was black.

    Before even more relatives could turn up and weigh in on her life, Salma grabbed her pink Nokia 3210 and stormed out. She was not getting an abortion and she couldn’t stay with a family who didn’t support her decision to have her baby.

    Salma leaving home as her mother cries
    Salma’s romance was a classic love story – he was the boy next door, she was the naïve heroine ready to fall in love. But in Bollywood, black heroes are not allowed.

    Although South Asians have endured racism for centuries, anti-blackness – prejudice against black people – is as rife within this community as in many others.

    No Bengali auntie ever came outright and said to Salma, “Black people are bad.” Anti-blackness took the form of casual comments throughout childhood such as “Don’t go outside in the sun, you’ll get dark,” or “That fair-skinned girl will get so many marriage proposals.”

    Her mother’s anti-blackness, informed by the British colonial system she had once lived under in Bangladesh, not only took it for granted that lighter skin was better it also accepted the worst stereotypes of black men.

    She told 16-year-old Salma: “They only want to get you pregnant.” When she hugged her, she would quickly feel her stomach. “You won’t amount to much dating one,” her mum said when she found out about the boy next door.

    No-one had said anything like this when three white women had married into the family.

    Short presentational grey line
    Salma’s parents had arrived in London 30 years earlier, migrating from Bangladesh to a housing estate in London, that was, incredibly, within walking distance of Harrods. They were living the immigrant dream.

    “The one Harrods carrier bag was a prized possession in the household and was kept neatly folded in the kitchen, only brought out when guests would visit. Little did they know it had been used to buy the cheapest thing in the shop – peanuts,” Salma says.

    But then one day Salma’s key stopped opening her front door – literally.

    While she and her mum had been on holiday, her dad had changed the locks, leaving Salma’s mum homeless with two children to care for.

    After that, her own community stigmatised her for being a divorcee – but she remained an outsider among non-Bengalis too.

    “Her worst fear was that I was going to end up like her,” Salma says.

    “Yet there I stood, defiant and ready to betray my culture, career and community for a black man who she knew was adulterous, had no plans to marry me and had now given me a daughter she didn’t think I could provide for.”

    Short presentational grey line
    A week after her baby was born, Salma found herself staring at her mother’s front door again. She could see the Christmas lights glistening through the window and caught a whiff of roast chicken. Anxiously, she straightened her baby’s clothes and rang the doorbell.

    Her brother opened the door and rejoiced at the small baby in her arms. She nervously entered the house. How would her mother react to seeing this one-week-old? The chicken was surely a good sign, she thought – it was her favourite English meal to make and food was always used as a peace offering in this house.

    Timidly, she took a seat at the dinner table, leaving the baby asleep in a cot in another room. Her mother avoided direct eye contact as she served up the chicken. Suddenly, a sharp baby’s cry came from the adjacent room. Perfect timing, she thought, but as she got up to leave her mother stopped her: “I’ll go.” Soon the crying had stopped. Her mother was holding her granddaughter for the first time.

    Salma’s mother holding her baby
    Tears formed in Salma eyes. Her mother, despite her prejudices, could love her daughter. It was the confirmation she’d been looking for to ask for help and move back home.

    “Within a few days, mum had performed all the Muslim baby rituals and truly blessed my little girl,” Salma says.

    Yet they never spoke about what had happened in the months Salma had been away.

    Five weeks later, disaster struck.

    Salma found out her partner had been with another woman the whole time and that she too had just given birth. It was as though her mum’s worst fears about black men had come true, her stereotypes confirmed.

    Silence, tension and passive aggression filled Salma’s life – and plunged her into a deep depression.

    “For my mum, it felt like she suddenly had two babies to look after – me and my daughter. She would wake us both up, feed us and look after us, but while always making sure she hid us from everyone else.”

    Salma escaped from her troubles by writing poetry and studying. She graduated from university seven months after having her baby. She knew it would have been impossible without her mother, though she never told her that.

    Her mum still disapproved of her life choices, especially when she decided to take her partner back and moved out to live with him.

    She did this quickly after graduating, unable to express to her mum the mixture of gratitude and resentment she felt.

    Short presentational grey line
    Over the following few years Salma’s life took more unexpected turns.

    She had another child with the same partner, who later walked out on her for good. She started to rebuild a relationship with members of her extended family who had previously ostracised her and her children. One even apologised for supporting the abortion.

    But the undertone of casual anti-blackness towards her children and choices never went away. “At least they look more like you,” they’d say. “Of course, he was going to leave you and end up down the wrong path,” tutted her mother. “If only you had picked a light-skinned looking one,” a cousin casually remarked.

    Salma, her children and her cousins
    She would try to explain how offensive some of these comments were, to little effect.

    But as Salma’s own children grew up, she found it easier to understand some of her mother’s concerns.

    “I can see now how it all came from a place of love and protection,” she says.

    “Ultimately, she was just making the decisions that she had been taught would lead to happiness and love for her daughter.”

    But Salma still couldn’t leave her mum’s anti-black attitudes unchallenged.

    One morning she finally blurted out: “It’s because he was black, wasn’t it?”

    “No,” her mum replied defensively. “Not because he was black, but because he wasn’t Muslim. He couldn’t understand us.”

    Salma stared back at her mum, shocked. That was the first time her mum had placed such an importance on religion. Well, what about the three non-Muslim women who had been welcomed into the family, she thought.

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    Salma now thinks this may have been her mother’s way of acknowledging her anti-blackness, without actually admitting to it.

    “I think in that moment, she recognised how unfair her prejudice was based on skin colour, and that’s why she switched the conversation to religion,” she says.

    There have since been further developments in the family.

    A few months ago there was an interesting development in the family – Salma’s brother started dating a black woman. And to Salma’s surprise, her mother accepted it without hesitation.

    “That’s progress for a woman who had never recognised or challenged her anti-black attitudes before,” she says.

    “I’m so proud of how far she’s come, although we still have more to go.

    “I don’t blame her for thinking the way she did. But it was time I challenged it. It’s time we did as a community.”

    Salma is a pseudonym…(Quote)