A GUY'S VIEW
Sun, 04/24/2016 - 12:00am
Passover, slavery and reparations
The evening of April 22, 2016, marked the beginning of the Day of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was on the day of Passover that the one regarded as the Messiah of Israel, Yahshua, who we call Jesus, was crucified.
We have been told that Passover and Unleavened Bread are Jewish, but this is only because the Jewish people were mainly the ones who held true to the Bible and never adopted the pagan practices that are promoted by Christianity.
Passover should be of special significance to us as a people with a history of slavery. It is interesting that there is presently a raging debate over whether we should be pursuing reparations for slavery. While most academics see this as a no-brainer, other Barbadians do not see the point of this exercise.
The point has been made that other people who have not suffered anything like the slave trade and the institution of slavery, have been paid reparations by those who mistreated them. There has been no widespread debate in those societies over whether they should be compensated for the advantage taken of them. It is worth trying to understand, therefore, why the children of slaves still are divided over the question of whether something should be done by their enslavers in acknowledgement of what was done to them.
It has become completely predictable that whenever the subject of race comes up, no white Barbadian needs to say a word in defence of their position. The group among us which sees it as their job to defend them always jump to the front line. This is probably the strongest evidence that slavery has done irreparable harm to our psyche.
After slavery was deeply entrenched as a mainstream institution, its effects on those on whom it was imposed became identifiable in many ways. One such manifestation was the emergence of the “get along” mentality. Persons infected with this disease show undue deference to their masters, not due to their work relationship, but because of their race and class.
Then there are those who go beyond the showing of deference and demonstrate their loyalty to the system that demeans them by actively fighting for its maintenance. They will never be part of the status quo, but are willing to fight to preserve it. We see both of these personality types in Barbados.
Academics might suggest that persons who demonstrate this apparent self-hatred should be studied. The more practical view is that there is a very simple answer to this issue which bears no mystery at all. It may be a natural human trait for persons with an inferiority complex to seek acceptance from those to whom they look up. There was nothing more dehumanising than western slavery and an inferior mentality is an inevitable result of prolonged exposure to this practice and its institutions.
It must be remembered that slaves were taught that the justification for their enslavement was that they were not fully human. They were told that they did not have souls and were not even human enough to enter the Anglican Church. When the end of slavery became inevitable, they were given religion to ensure that they retained their slave mentality. It worked well.
They were quite willing to sit at the back of the church, which was not a problem because they were promoted by being allowed to be in the building in the first place. They no longer had to stand outside and say Amen.
The church never told them that the Bible was a book of their history. They never knew that the stories in the book were their stories. Those who controlled the church, and them, created graven images for them to worship of white gods, angels and prophets. No one and nothing in the religion given to them looked like them, except the devil.
No other people on earth worship a god who does not look like them, except black people. If ever there were need for evidence of the effects of slavery, there it is.
This background provides the context within which the reparations debate takes place in Barbados and the region. It should not be difficult to understand why a people who have been damaged as slavery has damaged our people would be willing to say forget slavery and move on.
The persons who say forget and move on, would never say such a thing to the Jewish people who have vowed never to forget their holocaust. The Jews are not willing to say that the persons who harmed them are all dead and their descendants are not to blame, so let us all forget what happened and just get along. They know that that is a recipe for disaster.
It is possible that at the root of it all, is the idea of survival. The objective is to survive in an environment over which you have no control. Playing the role of Uncle Tom may be seen as a small price to pay if that is what it takes to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
The palpable ignorance which we see oozing from the pores of some among us should be seen in this context. Many of them owe the quality of their lives to the very people that dehumanised their parents. Academic attainment does not change a slave mind.
When our people were in a previous slavery, the power of the true God to deliver was manifested in his ability to smite their oppressors, and pass over them. That same God said that his people should never forget this event and should mark it on the 14th day of the first month of Nissan forever. It was our parents’ disobedience that led them back into slavery. We should learn from their mistake and celebrate the feast, as Paul instructs in 1 Corinthians 5.