August 27, 2008 § Leave a comment
Negril, Jamaica – at the pirate cove with kirk, swimming and listening to his stories of a place he loves and hates all at once.
Reading about Jamaica’s history of slavery and colonialism, I’ve come to look at this place through a new set of eyes. The poverty, so easily romanticised with its peeling paint, ramshackle homes and braided barefoot children, is now a sad consequence of a vastly skewed ideology of white supremacy.
There is a system that has been put in place by middle class, English (or should I say British) educated, so-called “brown” Jamaicans – not to be mistaken for the black variety. Unrepresentative of the masses, I’m learning about a system that is structured to promote the success of those that manage to fit within colonial-influenced ideals, and marginalising those that don’t. Sound familiar? I suppose it does.
It has only been about 150 years since the official emancipation of Jamaica, but the struggle to keep up with the first world has left an indelible imprint on a people that were dispossessed and then forced to adapt to a system that doesn’t really want to let them in anyway. Tourism and missionary work has formed newer versions of an old horror story. Again, the disadvantaged classes of African Jamaicans are catering to the whims and demands of a predominantly white world to earn a measly living, in the hopes of striving towards a high level of “civilisation” – a term frequently used in the post-emancipation era and now changed to the more politically correct “socio-economic progress”.
Although, who am I to criticise… the paramount tourist that I am? I chase the exotic and vacation in the idea of living the “authentic” life of people foreign to me. Then I return home to my cushy lifestyle and place the immense issues of survival that press in on my periphery on a shelf for another time to worry about.