Today, I went to a hotel with a friend to collect a check that he was owed as he has a band that plays at the entity. As we arrived at the hotel, he gave his brother (who was driving the car) the instruction to pull over to the side to speak with the security. As my friend opened the door to speak to the security guard, the guard already started to shake his head indicating the negative. I sat in the car thinking that my friend hadn’t even started speaking as yet but the security guard already assumed and exhibited that whatever it is that we were there for, he could help us. However, my friend communicated his business to the guard and another worker called inside to verify that indeed there was a check for my friend to go and collect. As my friend sat back in the vehicle, he said, “He nah even mek me talk. He already min a shake he head. Me nah know when arwe aguh lub people who ah arwe own skin color. He just see four black people inna di car (another young lady was in the vehicle) and he start behave so. If arwe min white, me sure he wouldn’t deh ah act so.” What he communicated in standard English is that the man already had a negative reaction from seeing four black people in a car at the hotel, however, if we were white, we would get different treatment and he wonders when black people are going to start loving ourselves.
Living in an island that is populated primarily by black people has made me aware that there is a policing of black people that goes on within our borders and oftentimes, we are our own oppressors. As much as I am aware that we have been systematically targeted for failure and being socially stagnant by the “white man”, sometimes I feel like black people being able to make something of themselves, push down barriers and have access to places that were unofficially reserved for whites is an affront to some black people. My sister said that once she went to a restaurant and wanted parking and the security guard denied her entry, however, when some white people arrived, he allowed them entry and said, “Ah dem hab di money.” Also, I had an experience at a cosmetics store that sold a foundation that I was fond of years ago. When I requested assistance from the store clerk, she asked me why I decided to come during cruise ship season. 😐 Let me tell you something about Antiguan people, Antiguan people love spending money and living life. If there is a gift exchange, Christmas season, Valentine’s Day or the birthday of a loved one, black, Antiguan people would frequent that cosmetics store that doubles as a perfumery. Antiguan people aid in keeping that store open. Antiguans have complained about tourists coming off of cruise ships and just browsing stores and not buying anything, however, when a black, local shows up, I was quarantined to the side and ridiculed for daring to be in the store around the same time that tourists would be present. In another situation, my sister went to a store to purchase a cellular phone and she told me that the sales clerk appeared to be offended that she was purchasing the phone in store when there are cheaper alternatives. She said the sales clerk said, “You know you could have purchased the phone online unless you are a lawyer.” She said she felt like the clerk wanted an explanation as to how she was able to afford the phone.
I’ve heard of wealthy, black Americans receiving the “nigger treatment” which is promised to awaken them to see that regardless of how successful they are, the white man still sees them as niggers. But how about how we see ourselves? When you work hard and honestly for your money, no one has the right to question how you decide to spend your money, where you go or the treatment you deserve. We shouldn’t see ourselves through our former enslavers to determine how we are treated, however, it seems that some black people enjoy policing the lives of other black people because seeing other black people thrive is an affront to them. I have heard a lecturer in Jamaica recite having similar experiences in Jamaica where her presence in certain stores is unwelcomed as she is a black, nappy haired woman. We as black people sometimes like to see our black brothers and sisters berated because it somehow makes us feel better about ourselves. We try to invalidate the success of some black people and remind them of their state of “niggerness” because we just cannot live with the idea that the nappy headed boy from down the road has managed to make something of himself. As Popcaan would say, “Dem nah war we fi own no asset.”
We as black people should go off duty… actually, we should quit policing other black people. We more than any race know how difficult it is to progress in this world. When we see someone moving up in life or hell, even ENJOYING life for crying out loud, we should not perpetuate racist, segregationist ideals that infringe on their right to go up the social mobility ladder or to simply enjoy the pleasures of life. The mentality of liking to see people do good but being full of anger and hate to see people do better than us needs to be eradicated. We are all created equally and deserve to be treated with respect despite our socio- economic position and regardless of the color of our skin.