22 June 2005

En responder

to Madd bull question as to whether de people down here is as racist as I make them out to be. Let me give one or two of my latest examples, then you judge fuh yuhself.

#1 - I live on the top floor of my apt bldg, incidentially the top floor has the biggest apts in the bldg. Alla yuh would figure out by now, that soy una negreta wid twist up knotty hair (bear wid me, this point gonna be important later). So, one day, I get in de elevator. it had just came from one of the other floors and came up. I'm on the 6th flr. a man in the ascensor(elevator) started a conversation wid me. Where I'm from ect. ect. I tell him I'm from Barbados, but I live here meaning in the bldg. he continues the conversation about how nice B'dos yadda, yadda. Still again, he ask me where do I live, I said here in Caracas. all de while he ein hearing me, so when we walking outta de bldg, he ask again, where do I live and he started to call off the names of the slum areas, he asked ¿pero a donde vive? Petare, Siliencio, Capitolio ect...

Now I live in the venezulean version of a upper middle class neighborhood. Apart from us extranjeros (foreigners) and from my observations, me and the hubby are the onlee black extranjeros that live around here. onlee the black venezulean chicas come into this neighborhood to clean houses, cook and babysit. So upon seeing me, he automatically assumes that I was a black venezulean and couldn't possibly live in the neighborhood farless the bldg. He named the poorest of barrio(slumb) neighborhoods. He didn't even mention any of the other so-called lesser prominent neighborhoods. So could you imagine the look on his face when I reinforce to him, that yes, I not onlee live in the neighborhood, but the bldg. Go figure was that racism or what?

Eg#2- I have a white European friend here, we are pretty much always out and about together. now I'm the city girl, so I'm always kinda dressed. my european friend is pretty much a plain clothes jeans and sneaker person. So now my friend has a baby and while we are out and I'm helping here push the carriage, do you know people constantly think that I'm the sitter. Now here I am dressed in a totally different manner than the typical babysitter, but no, they don't see it..all they see is una negreta pushing a white baby and instantly I become the sitter. It's even gotten to the point that some of my european friend friends, think that I'm the sitter, and they would talk to her and totally ignore me. well wunna know that onlee needed tuh happen twice, cause once I catch on tuh wha happening, I puttin a stop tuh it quick and fast. especially once i realize that muh so-called european friend ein doing nuttin tuh change de situation. so long of the story is, I doan go too much places wid she and when I do, she pushing she own damned chile, nuh matter wha de situation.

so hey, wunna got muh two latest situations, tell me if it sound racist tuh wunna or not.


Anonymous said...

Camp...I'd say its a combination...racist stereotyping. They basically looking to 'classify' you based on the colour of your skin.... She is a black woman so she mus poor....and quite likely uneducated.

So sad. I know full well that there does exist colour prejudice in some Latin American countries with los blancos being favoured over negretas. Mestizos (indian-white) mixes are somewhere in between, but I have heard that even those can experience prejudice.

This is a topic I have laboured again and again. I commented at great length about two years ago on the blog of an 'African American' male. He seemed to have issues with his blackness. I told him my situation...I am Jamaican. call me black, white, yellow, green, mongrel (which perhaps is what I really am)...I don't give a shyte, cause it isn't important. I didn't keep going back to his site as he laboured the issue of race/skin colour much too much...it seemed the sole purpose of his site.

I think in many places, great strides have been made where colour prejudice is concerned. But at other times I wonder if we aren't making backward steps.

Fret not, I experience stereotyping (or racism if you like) based on my skin colour in my own country. Being a fair skinned Jamaican with straight hair I am referred to as 'white', 'brown or browning', Chiney, Syrian....automatically I am assumed by many to be wealthy or 'Blessed' as is the popular term. It bothers me not one bit what I am referred to as, I know full well who I am. Firstly a human being, and secondly a Jamaican. Jus hold your head high as a proud Caribbean woman!

Away with racial prejudice! Chupse!

(Sorry 'bout the epistle...maybe I may do a post stimulated by this...again.) Dr. D.

Mad Bull said...

Ok. Simply assuming that you're the helper because of your colour isn't necessarily racism, if you really think about it. Humans learn by experience, and if one's experience teaches one that all blacks in that upper middle class neighbourhood are household help, then whats a guy/gal to do but act based on time tested experience.
To me, it would be racism if once the person realised that you really lived in the neighbourhood they began to get upset that you lived there. Hey, I myself am guilty of similar mistakes, and I don't consider myself racist at all... still, thats just me.
Look at what you told me about the way the Europeans treated you once they had categorised you as the maid... they ignored you. Well, that sounds a bit more racist to me than just assuming that you were the maid, you see what I am saying? After all, a maid is a person and doesn't deserve to be treated without respect.

Anonymous said...

MB, that is why I referred to it as stereotyping....something which we are all guilty of from time to time but really should try to avoid.

When we encounter someone who does not fit the stereotype in which we place them, then we are shocked.

Eg. On many occasions when I travel and meet people from other lands...the US, UK and even some other Caribbean territories....they don't believe me when I say I am Jamaican.... No, you don't speak like a Jamaican. You are too light skinned. Can you bring back some ganja for me when you return to London!?

The stereotypical Jamaican is a black skinned person with locks who speaks badly, smokes ganja and says 'irie mon' to everything. Sigh.

Anyway, let me stop parasitising this comment box. Dr. D.

Trish said...

I agree with the comments above...Living in the USA I face raciam and stereotyping constantly. The worse thing is that they are hypocritical about it here.I honestly wish they would just say and act like how they feel.

The recent guilty verdict for the ex-clan member has made things even worse. There is so much tension in the office.

As for the ganja question, if I get asked about where they can get some good ganja by one more person,I swear I am going to lose it.

Why people can't get over judging people by their skin, accents, or country of origin, I do not know...

Needless to say I am dying to leave here.

Scratchie said...

Let me 1st say that I share Dr. D.'s problems simply because I am what is termed as a browning and my family is half indian so I get that thrown in for good measure, I've been call Mr. Chin on ocassion and I've been told how pretty mi colour is....and the list goes on. I also deal with it like Doc....simply ignore it because I know myself.
Half of what goes on is stereotyping and by labelling it as stereotyping does not remove the stigma of prejudice because it is prejudice. Instead of seeing a black woman who has obtained what she likes and is free to live where she likes this possibility is automatically excluded because of her colour (and generally her appearance). My grandfather used to tell me that a horse by any other name is still a horse.

Campfyah said...

Good comments, first let me reinforce that I don't walk around crying racism or sterotypist if there is such a word. I know that both exist all over the world. Hey, I've lived in the U.S from the north to the south and I can share some stories. Had Madd Bull not asked, I would not have made a post on such an issue, unless it was something that really bothered me.

Actually, here in Caracas, they practice classism moreso than racism. it just so happens that the dark skin people falls into both the class and race catgerories. It's pitiful and you see it even amongs the brown skin venezuleans...they will be blacker than me and you but will tell you that they're not black or that race isn't an issue in the country. It just one of the things in life that you have to deal with. So just deal with it and move on.

How many times in the U.S, I tell people that I'm from the islands and they ask me if I came to America on a boat, or if my family lives in a hut.

Fyr said...

Howdy do, Campfyah - passin thru by way of de Skin Doc...

You bring up an issue that never used to be of consequence to me. I grew up with a latino, "white skinned" best friend who lived right next door and there was nothing in their own household that intimated they were necessarily "richer" than we were. They lived right next door, they had 2 cars, we had 2 cars; they had a 3 bedroom house, we had 4; the Dad worked and not the Mom, same with us; they had a TV, so did we; they had a live-in helper, we didn't; (but my mother never like people living in her house too tough when I was small so...). Neither of us was better off than the other and so I grew up with a concept of equality. Well, that is of course until she hit the "big time" (i.e. High School) and then that changed drastically and rapidly (peer pressure is a b***h!) But even then, it wasn't until my late twenties that I even became aware of racism as a real everyday issue - even in my own country.

Now I see it everywhere. Which is a shame! I see the difference with which people look at me and realize I am mixed. Standing in the office the other day with a male colleague, I was repulsed at his sudden, bright-eyed observation that "wait! yuh have indian inna yuh!" when he was able to observe my locs up close. It sickened me. What? Am I suddenly so much BETTER of a catch now that you can see the curly hair? Ugh!

But then again, I can't really BLAME people for staying true to their roots. It's what they learned and if it is one thing *I* have learned - there aren't a lot of people who have the ability to unlearn what they were taught as children and yound adults.

So sad though. *sigh*

Sunshine said...

Hi Campfyah-It's a pity that color prejudice is still alive and well in this world. I've had a touch of that when I moved to the US but not as much as some of my black Jamaicans have encountered, espcially being a black man living here. Sad but not everyone is like that.

Anonymous said...

Me again...(I may soon get banned from this site!) :-(

Camp..I didn't get the impression that you were one of those types who walk around with racism as a major issue...though I fully agree with you that such types exist. In some ways, I feel that those types are partially accountable for their problems...making it something they wear in bold capital letters on a T-shirt, so to speak. I 'ent saying it doesn't exist (sad as that is), but hell, if you are constantly on the lookout for it, then you'll find it when its not even there....get me? it is the individual who is astute enough to discern when it is and is not being thrown their way now, that I can see with.

In the same breath...people who are always looking out for race issues, will be easily offended by a joke of a racial nature...even if it is not meant to harm anyone's feelings. People who know what they are and represent are cool with this sort of thing....and can still appreciate the humour, knowing full well that no harm is implied.

Then again, others who wear the 'race T shirt' all the time have told me that I wouldn't know...because I'm 'naturally selected' (Darwin perhaps?) for on account of my lighter skin colour! Rubbish! I have experienced racial prejudice here and abroad. Some of my own Jamaican people will dislike me because of my lighter colour and the assumption that I will be chosen over them because they are darker than I. Perhaps they feel that I grew up with colonial ideology. So damn sad and far from the truth.

Like Fyr, Scratchie, Mad Bull (and many other Jamaicans) I am very mixed. But as a child growing up, skin colour was definitely not an issue in our home....and it still is not, and never will be! My parents who are both light skinned individuals had friends of all colours and ethnicity. Friends who were genuine folks were always welcome to visit and have a meal and drinks with us. If hard times took them, they could stay too. I was brought up to judge people for what they are and the values they possessed...not how they looked, how straight or kinky their hair was or how much money thay had. Tief of any colour was not welcome at our yard! Hence my outlook today, and this is reflected by my bredrins and sistrens today. My crew is one big pot of 'stew peas' if you like. Who cares what the colour of the skin of the meat in the stew is like!

Finally, I hope none who reads this gets offended, we are all mature individuals having discussion, that is what blogging is about. We may not necessarily agree on all points, but offence is never the intention.

Peace. Discussion sweet....like stew peas! :-)

My last comment here...I promise. Dr. D.

Campfyah said...

Dr. D...yuh naah get banned from this blog...it's ah equal oportunity, post as much times as yuh like blog..speak yuh speak muh bretheren.

Some issues just must be discussed, whether we like them or not. and race is sure such an issue.