We've noticed, meaning that it has happened several times since arriving in Barbados, that in many establishments black Barbadian service workers have two standards. One, with politeness and general good courtesy, is displayed for white customers. The other, often sour-faced and indifferent at best, and downright rude at worst, seems to displayed to black customers. This treatment of black customers seems to be worse when they speak with a non-Bajan accent. This is really puzzling, especially if you hail from another English-speaking Caribbean country. I've never seen or experienced the same thing in Jamaica or Guyana; and I cannot speak for other islands.
Does this behaviour reflect a lack of training? Is there some "natural" deferrence, which is shown to white customers, in the belief that they have some special place? Or could it be associated with some assumptions about power, or wealth and ability to spend? I wish I knew. What I do know is that it's not going to pass without comment.
All of the discussion about white people's racism towards blacks often skates over or ignores totally the fact that black people get treated very badly by other black people! Some have tried to trace this back to colonialism and the different roles assigned to "house" and "field" slaves, and how that set black workers against each other under the plantation system. Discussions about reparation need to take account of how to make some serious repairs in how relations between black peoples develop.
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