Front Porch | The ghosts of a vicious colonial and racist mindset endure
There is a racist and colonial mindset born of European imperialism that perdures. This mindset was on nauseating and full display in a recent jeremiad which appeared in this journal, composed by “The Ghost of Junkanoo Future”.
The Ghost wrote in the first person plural so it may be assumed that the writer is now Bahamian, or that is the impression he or she wants to give.
The letter is of a certain genre: a classic racist screed that celebrates the superiority and accomplishments of the colonial masters while denigrating and depreciating the colonized in general, and Africans in particular, all of whom are supposedly inherently inferior.
The heart of darkness and lies by such racists have often infected some of the colonized, who internalized the imperialist venom of those who have been responsible for some of the worst genocides in history, particularly the African slave trade.
This genre has a pernicious and upended racist equation, treating the colonizers as the civilized, and those enslaved and exterminated through genocide are branded as the supposed savages.
A number of the developmental failures and challenges of The Bahamas noted by the Ghost, which are not unique to us, have been observed in detail by Bahamians for years, including this writer and other commentators.
But the conflation of these challenges with gross misrepresentations, distortions and outright lies require deconstruction and dismantling so that the mindset and intellectual dishonesty of such an individual is exposed.
Balance requires an understanding and recognition of our weaknesses and challenges as well as our strengths and accomplishments. The Ghost is woefully lacking in balance and has gone off the deep end in his bile masquerading as analysis.
To bolster his benighted attack on The Bahamas, the Ghost vomited a number of obvious falsehoods including: “We have no artists of international renown…”
It is important to note that because an artist may not be internationally recognized does not negate how gifted is an artist or the quality of his work.
Still, notice the telling word: “no”! Either the writer is tremendously ignorant or purposefully supplying mistruths, or a dangerous combination of both.
The deconstruction of this lie alone explodes the racist and colonial conceit of the Ghost, whose general argument collapses under the weight of a more genuine counter-narrative based on facts.
Amos Ferguson is widely celebrated internationally. Renowned Bahamian artists include: Max Taylor, Brent Malone, Antonius Roberts and John Cox, the creative arts director at Baha Mar.
The Ghost appears not to know about the brilliant Kendal Hanna and the late Chan Pratt, one of whose works was presented to a former president of the United States. The works of Eddie Minnis and his daughters appear in homes and galleries in quite a number of countries.
The Ghost may want to read the numerous clippings from international magazines on the arts program at Baha Mar, which celebrate Bahamian artists, including Cox, who attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), one of the more prestigious art schools in the United States.
While the Ghost may not appreciate Bahamian art and culture, the former and current owners of Baha Mar recognize that both are selling points for a sophisticated and travelled international audience.
For the benefit of the Ghost, who has shown himself to be a purposeful ignoramus, here is a list of a number of Bahamians who attended RISD: Dionne Benjamin-Smith, John Beadle, Clive Stuart, Jolyon Smith, Nadine Seymour-Munroe, Jennifer Maubry, John Cox, Christina Hermanns, Jace McKinney, Khia Poitier, Monique Rolle, Jessica Colebrook and Michael Edwards.
A number of these artists were trained at the then College of The Bahamas by Antonius Roberts and Stan Burnside, another reputable artist along with his brother the late Jackson Burnside, all of whom exhibited internationally.
The works of Janine Antoni have been exhibited at the Whitney and the Guggenheim in New York City. Lillian Blades is represented by a gallery in the United States.
Tavares Strachan has also exhibited internationally. He works out of New York City. Lavar Munroe has gallery representation in London and has exhibited at the Venice Biennale.
Blue Curry and Lynn Parotti are both London-based Bahamian artists, whose works have been shown in a number of exhibitions in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
Then there are other artists such as: Ricardo Knowles, who worked in Paris for a number of years, Jeffrey Meris, Jodi Minnis, Giovani Swaby, the multitalented Khia Poitier, who excels in a number of arts, and Heino Schmid.
The Bahamian Project notes on its website: “Heino [Schmid] was the recipient of the Commonwealth Connections Residency for 2010 and participated in the International section of the 2010 Liverpool Biennial.
“He has taken part in many group and solo exhibitions in The Bahamas, United States, Netherlands and United Kingdom and has received numerous awards. Recently, he was invited to participate in VOLTA NY, a critically acclaimed satellite art fair to The Armory Show.”
Bahamian success stories are ignored by individuals such as the Ghost because they do not fit into a jaundiced and deeply biased narrative.
That The Bahamas is excelling in the visual arts is a rejoinder to the self-serving lies of the Ghost. But more importantly it is a testimony to what such a small nation has accomplished in a relatively short period.
Despite the many artists noted in this commentary, there are a number of others who are unmentioned because of the restraint of space.
What is a lacuna is that we should be doing better in the literary arts, though we are making strides, with highly imaginative poets and writers such as Patricia Glinton-Meicholas.
The Ghost has compiled a litany of distortions and falsehoods to maintain a cul-de-sac of lies such as “…90 percent of our citizens and residents are a collection of burger-flippers not even remotely employable by any known Western standard.”
The Bahamas is a solidly middle class nation, something the Ghost may easily check, though fact-checking or truth-telling are clearly not strengths of this individual.
But sadly, this is how the Ghost’s hopelessly prejudiced mind sees the thousands of Bahamians who populate our professions, many of whom have distinguished themselves with excellence.
To the Ghost this is what our robed judges, who happen to be black, should be doing: flipping burgers; and our distinguished Rhodes scholars, educators, clergy, medical doctors, civil engineers, hospitality managers, airline pilots etc., all should be flipping burgers.
The Ghost talks about our inability to attract investment yet in the same 25 years he says he has been living here we have seen unprecedented investment in The Bahamas amounting to billions in our tourism infrastructure.
Perhaps the Ghost has a dismal view because he or she got burned because of ignorance, arrogance and underestimating the natives, a mistake others before have made. Many natives have great experience in dealing with arrogant foreigners.
The Ghost proposes the recolonization of The Bahamas: “Brexit is on the way. Let us hold our heads up and go back to London, for help. Let’s ask we be reincorporated into the U.K. for a fixed term, with a devolved assembly, until we develop.”
The Ghost’s message to a sovereign Bahamas: reimpose the colonial yoke of an imperial power that kept us as unequal citizens; that treated Caribbean immigrants, including some in the Windrush generation, with contempt; and that is still a racist and class-bound country.
We are proud to have assimilated the contributions of many cultures into a new Bahamian and Caribbean culture, forging something new out of what Caribbean Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott described as “fragments of epic memory”.
Message to the Ghost: If you are now a Bahamian citizen, renounce your citizenship and hand in your highly valuable Bahamian passport, of which many are desirous.
The Ghost may wish to resettle in a Britain reeling from the terrible mistake of voting to leave the European Union, and which now seeks to reopen a High Commission in The Bahamas as it attempts to cozy up to Commonwealth countries because of the Brexit disaster.
The Bahamian Project has not failed as the Ghost suggests. The Bahamian Project has its failures and successes. But the project endures. Perhaps it is the Ghost who has failed and who now wishes to blame others for any failure.
What will fail are the attempts by racist and imperial ghosts to reimpose their colonial shackles on minds that have freed and are continuing to free themselves from the mental slavery proposed by ghosts past, present and future.