... and if you don't know what that long word up there means, go look it up.I was reading Shashwati's Blog this morning. It's been a long time since I've checked her stuff out, which doesn't mean that I don't value what she says, but rather that I really have not had the kind of time to do the kind of blogging I would like to do. But this post resonated with me, because I think we suffer from the same malaise. She talks about an experience she had (as an East Indian woman, in Caribbean parlance) with a Taiwanese masseur who, having heard her voice, questioned her about her colour. As Shashwati says:
[He (the masseur)] realized my English was better than my Chinese and asked me where I was coming from. I replied, “United States of America.” He turned to a seeing woman next to him and asked her what I looked like. Specifically what the color of my skin was (I could comprehend that much despite my poor language skills), then he turned to me and said, “Are you White?” what reply was he expecting me to give? Yes that I was White, so should be treated better. But he already knew the answer, so was he testing the “truthiness” of a non-White person? I told him no, I was browner than the brownest Taiwanese, and that the US had many people of different races and colors, and America should not be equated with being White, it was a big diverse country. I was suddenly in possession of language skills that normally elude me.
By that I mean that, just like the Taiwanese she writes about, we Bahamians appear to imagine that the world is monocultural. More specifically, we tend to associate specific nations with specific "races". We don't question this tendency, and we imagine that it is somehow natural. But the world is a multicultural world, and, colonial mythology aside, it is not divided into clumps of people who fit specific moulds.We should question it. Our history has determined how we see -- the world, our nation, ourselves. We should not accept that way of seeing without interrogation. We need to carve out our own existence, make our own reality. We cannot allow past oppression to stretch into, and shape, our futures.