Here is NEWS that was mailed to my readers on Jul 26, 1999:-
Jul 26, 1999 First, I want to thank all those persons who have taken the time to fill out the Survey form. So far the deck is stacked in FAVOR OF DIALECT !... but the ballot box has NOT been closed and will remain open for at least another 24 hours. I am EXTREMELY PROUD of Jovan Reid, a 15 year old student of Queens College and a fine example of the intellect that will shape the future of Barbados. He emailed a clear and intelligent reply to the "anonymous" writer who has a problem with our dialect. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Dear Stephen, One could not be more displeased than I am right now after reading the biased and opinionated views of this particular reader. I am extremely tired of this particular attitude and I must stress to your other readers that this is not the general consensus of the Barbadian population. As a fifth year Queen's College English student, it is imperative that I do not bring the school to disrepute by indulging the temptation to give the reader a "Bajan tongue lashing" but I would not hesitate to say that his letter could do little more to embarrass Barbados and the population at large. In any society, there is an indigenous quality [or qualities] which uniquely identifies it and distinguishes it from others. In Barbados, our rich and diverse dialect happens to be one of these qualities. To ignore or abolish it would be a reflection of the ignorance of Barbadians to their culture and moreso to their identity. I would like to point to the fact that when slave-owners in the colonial Barbadian society wanted to ensure that their slaves were completely alienated, they would deny them the right to speak or express themselves in verbal communication. This "brutalization and ghettoization of the English language", as this reader writes, shows the influence on the Barbadian society of West African slaves who were brought to work on sugar plantations for the British land-owners, who brought their culture and more importantly, their language, to this island. Does the fact that we are on the threshold of the 21st century give us the right to be completely ignorant to our past? The reader makes a direct stab at our predecessors when he says that "uneducated, uncultured Barbadians" spoke Bajan dialect. This mere fact is grounds enough to completely disregard this message. To whom, or to what group, is the writer referring as being "the lowest segment of Barbadian society"? Is it safe to assume that he is referring to Barbados' black population? I would hasten to tell the reader that we are neither in a Hindu nor mid-colonial Barbadian society where caste systems exist. This is 1999! I think it is he who needs to wake up! We are "striving to advance, not to retreat". Barbados enjoys one of the highest literacy rates in the Caribbean, 99% to be exact. Also, education is compulsory in this island and it is for that reason, that the writer's blatant references to "uneducated Barbadians" can only be interpreted as his view of the particular social sect to which he seems to be particularly indifferent. While I see the point that overseas readers will not be able to understand the dialect in the Bajan News newsletter, it would be "SUPREME EMBARRASMENT" to let this letter go on without notice. The English language, and the Bajan dialect, both share the right to be present in the Barbados society. Sincerely, JOVAN B. Mc.A REID --------------------------------------------------------------------- Jovan, I could not have written a better article myself.... To my readers... the point I wish to drive home is that the USE OF WRITTEN AND SPOKEN DIALECT has NOTHING whatsoever to do with intelligence, education, level of achievement or anything else. The concept that the slaves from Africa were ignorant, primitive beings is a RACIST WHITE EUROPEAN VIEW... there is ample historical evidence to show that their native intelligence, cunning and wit was every bit the match for their captors ! The Europeans made a deliberate attempt to mock them, belittle them and did everything in their power to CONDITION THEM TO FEEL INFERIOR ABOUT THEMSELVES. There is NOTHING DEMEANING about speaking in dialect... furthermore, there is NOTHING DEMEANING about poverty... and finally, lack of a formal "education" DOES NOT SIGNIFY "ignorance" or lack of "intelligence" We are a PROUD people... and we WILL hold our heads high in the International arena... we will not be embarrassed by the mockers and scoffers... we will not be belittled...and we will both succeed and achieve... to the ends of the earth. You all believe me to be a highly educated person ?... well know this, I absolutely DETEST people who think that they are somehow "better" than others... and I say to any of you who have a "stake" in this man-made class system... and think something of yourself... you are really just another animal.. crawling around on the surface of a rather small and insignificant planet.. you have to sh_t just like the rest of us... and you die just as easily... so you got cause for concern.. cause you got a lot to lose. If you have any comments for Jovan Reid... you may send them directly to him at: firstname.lastname@example.org Now to those people who say that there is "no racism in Barbados" consider this.. I have been to WEDDING receptions and BAR-B-Q... where I do not know the host, the couple or most of the people there.... but I have been WELCOMED like a family member.. because this is the way that most black Bajans live. What sort of a reception would a "strange" black man get... if he "showed up" at a WHITE wedding reception ?????????? ... THINK about it... Barbados is still an APARTHEID society... many white visitors to our shores who have been freely welcomed into black society... can TESTIFY to examples of being treated with CONTEMPT by the white community on the island... for NO OTHER REASON other than the fact that they "associated" with blacks in a "social" context during their visit... do I not speak the TRUTH ???? I gone.