A GUY'S VIEW: Dey gine kill we!
This was the exclamation of a middle aged woman as she discussed recent events in this country.
A senior colleague has more than once told me that Barbados is a funny place. To buttress his point, he related a story told to him by a more senior contemporary of his, who has since departed. The original language was more colourful in stressing the strangeness of how this society operates.
While all the evidence provided is not relevant here, much of the rationale for that point of view was grounded in the power of class. It did not seem to matter then, and it does not seem to matter now, what was said by persons of privileged classes, because they knew that their words were only for the consumption and hoodwinking of the masses. The laws that applied to the local Medes did not apply to the Persians. This was only possible because they were unequally yoked.
Nothing has changed in 2020. I heard a story that made me scratch my head. A woman turns up at a gathering and was told that she could not join the august group because she was on a list of the unwell. She leaves and returns with a certificate of wellness which defied the rules that
had been set in place for the rest of the society. And another woman of medical training stands up and seeks to use her qualification, if not any learning or logic, to justify the unjustifiable.
Meanwhile, the ancestor of the President of Russia is about to blow a fuse, so heated are his admonitions of the masses to obey his directives. The Covid-19 police are shutting down businesses and pulling persons’ only means of transportation off the road. Infected persons are threatened with punishment if they leave the premises of their confinement in less than 14 days. But those semantics are for the masses, not the privileged. According to Adonijah, there are two Barbadoses.
But this is the “frigged” up society we live in called Barbados. While some displeasure was expressed on social media, there was no call for her immediate removal from all public service, in light of her display of a lack of suitability for such service. While this might surprise an outsider, it would come as no surprise to Barbadians. We have grown to accept the dysfunctional nature of this place.
The entire world is trying to strike a balance between the safety of populations and safeguarding economic activity. There was a time when this would not have been a competition at all, but capitalism has outlasted the planned state, hence, business is king.
Barbados and the rest of the world are no safer now than was the case three months ago, but the mantra is that it is time to lift the conditions that slowed the spread of Covid-19 so that business can resume. So, previously fairly safe places, like Barbados, are now prepared to sacrifice their poor people on the altar of big business.
The evidence is pellucid that the main threat is to poor people. One only needs to look at who the virus is killing around the world. In America and Britain, it is our relatives who reside in those places who are dying in large numbers. How many of the rich and famous have died?
So a woman who, according to the rules implemented for the poor, should have been in isolation, could stand and use as her justification for being above the rules for the protection of the society, that she had long been in unprotected contact with myriads of people who could have been potential transmitters of the coronavirus, and no one knew or complained. And she retains the confidence of the Prime Minister.
In a strange way, this places in perspective the removal from Cabinet of a person like Trevor Prescod and the elevation of persons whose interests seem not to coincide with the black and poor. Maybe one should take a closer look at the words of Mr. Prescod.
When Barbadians recognised that the Barbados Labour Party represented the interest of the elite, some hid their heads in the sand and practised wilful blindness. But when a Minister of that Government can blame white shadows for his removal from Cabinet, closer attention should be paid. This is not some outsider making an uninformed observation.
Add to this the historical speeches of Dr. Donald Blackman, who departed from the ranks of that party for the same reason. It was he who gave legs to the “white shadows” theory. His observations were never refuted or disproved.
Can the observations of Dr. Blackman and Trevor Prescod explain the economic policies of the current administration? Is this why unprecedented tax relief was given to the business sector while no effective relief is available to the working class? Is this why a Minister of small business could stand on the floor of a big business and declare that he intends to level the playing field between two unequally yoked competitors?
What really is going on in Barbados?