Tag Archives: caribbean

MORE PROPERLY CALLED SLAVES, PART 12

The Caribbean in the 1600s officially broke the age-old association of sugar with love. Europe’s fascination with sugar started with Columbus. All the way back in 1493 he was given sugar cane as a present – after a month of sexing the then-governor of the Canary Islands Beatriz de Bobadilla.

That’s how I KNEW he was Italian! Fuck me – again!
Nah I’m good. I’m getting some actual sugar!

He then took his present to Hispaniola (now Dominican Republic & Haiti), then the Portuguese took it to Brazil, Dutch took it to Guyana, French to Martinique & English to Barbados. In other words, sugar cane was THE cash crop of the day! Very soon Barbados became the leading producer, mostly because the English cared only about it and having enough disposable people to cultivate it. All that shit about expanding the British Empire was kept to the mainland; island planters were there for business and nothing else! Any slaves hoping to own land at the end of their service were wasting their time, because the plantations were too big to allow any dege-dege farms to survive!

RULE OF COMMERCE: for every demand (read: craving) there is an equal rush to supply. Sugar was a drug, colonial planters were the pushers.

(On a slight tangent, sugar is still a drug.)

In the 1620s Capt. John Powell claimed Barbados for King James (cue face palm) and reported its existence to his boss Sir William Courteen, who then in 1627 set up a colony of about 80 people. He had a fair few difficulties finding a suitable cash crop; he tried cotton, tobacco, miscellaneous vegetables and then sugar cane. The sugar cane was used to make kill-devil (rum).

All that hassle just for some fucking booze? And English wonder why they’re stereotyped as a nation of alkies.

Powell had 40 Arawak men enslaved and put to work on the fields, but Courteen then lost his colony! How? By the King’s permission, the Earl of Carlisle now owned it!

Another enigmatic planter, maybe most of all in this chapter, was James Drax. He boasted to his memoirist Richard Ligon that he came with £300 and was absolutely not going home ’til he could afford a £10,000 estate! Needless to say he was very grandiose. BUT he was in competition against his half brother William and other farmers. Virginian sugar cane had higher quality leaves so Barbados switched to cotton & indigo as their cash crop. BUT then the competition grew worse; now he was up against more established colonies like St Christopher & Montserrat!

Hm. Should’ve stuck with sugar cane.

In 1629, the Earl’s soft-hearted governor Sir William Tufton decided the slaves were getting it too hard and tried to improve conditions for them. However the planters rebelled! To keep them all sweet (pardon the pun), they were each given an extra 10,000 acres! For that the Earl fired Tufton and hired Henry Hawley, then Tufton proved he had a pair after all and rebelled! And lost, and his supporters were tried and hanged for mutiny.

Under Hawley, farming became even more intensive. Slaves expected they’d be freed after the 7 years indenture, but in this system they were production units with monetary value so that basically didn’t happen. This was a very good time for Anglos to cash in on sugar. Why? Because they’d all heard that mainland Europe’s sugar had skyrocketed in price. Cha-ching! In 1640 St Christopher made the switch to sugar cane, with Barbados soon following and taking the lead in production, effectively making the island into little more than a giant penal colony. By 1642 the very first lot of convicts were imported to man the fields, and in 1644 the roller mills were so tough they could turn 50% of the cane’s weight into liquid! Rum production shot up too, so much so that a Connecticut General Court Order banned it!

OH HELL NO!!!

Despite being a chain of islands, before the Monarchy Restoration the Caribbean was getting about thrice the number of new arrivals as mainland America. Half of them were Irish, unsurprisingly. In the years leading up to the America Revolution about half of all Scots, Irish & English were off to the Caribbean.

Through it all Drax became THE RICHEST planter in Barbados! Tufton’s 10,000 acre payout His own sweat, blood & tears finally paid off! And he got the estate he told Ligon about…

Even got it on a stamp. Nice!

Despite the grandeur & power of its appearance, Drax knew how to throw parties. He practically drowned his guests in beef (the most expensive meat at the time), Scotch collops, boiled chickens, shoulder of goat, kids stuffed with pudding (kids as in baby goats – I hope!), piglets, custards, creams, cheesecakes, puffs, fruit preserves, brandy, kill-devil*, sherry, wine, English spirits, Canary red sack, etc. Meanwhile the slaves, ‘white’ & ‘black’ alike, were left to suffice with mainly carb-based foods: potatoes, corn & plantain washed down with sugar spirit to stave off the all-too-common fever.

* Are you surprised?

Strangely, despite Ireland being stuffed with young underemployed men, the most desired slaves at the time were Scottish youths! England was quickly running low on men to supply Barbados’s labour demands so in 1652, government passed an act giving justices the warrant to ship beggars and vagrants off to the colonies. Due to political turmoil in the century, many Scottish & Irish religious dissenters were banished too (see Part 10).

According to the book White Cargo, most of what we know of this era came from Richard Ligon. He even wrote a book in 1647: A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados. It’s important to know, though, he wasn’t merely a memoirist. He’d been chased out of London by a ‘barbarous riot’ who’d managed to take all his money – or so he claimed. In reality, he was a Royalist* who lost his money & property in the Civil War and wanted to try his luck in the Caribbean. In his book he gave step-by-step instructions on how to found a colony and exactly how much profit you can expect to make from it! (see White Cargo, pages 183-186)

* Note: any and all political prisoners from the Civil War were at risk of being enslaved. Social status, connections & rank made no difference. Royalist officers Marcellus Rivers & Oxenbridge Foyle were two such examples, even after they raised an ethical debate in Parliament! However, many Royalists fled to the Caribbean as refugees to escape Cromwell’s Parliamentarian revolution, which led to Barbados becoming much more pro-Royalist. However, the dogged pragmatism of planters & merchants meant politics back home changed fuck-all.

Until King Charles I was beheaded.

Then Barbados was declared property of Charlie the sequel so Parliament stopped all trade with Bajans! Not just that, all English colonies & even Dutch ships stopped trading too! Parliament even drew up an army to ensure the island wasn’t pushing any Royalist agendas, an army of ‘converted’ Bajans under the command of Sir George Ayscue. In January 1652 Barbados ‘surrendered’ to Parliament rule.

First prime minister of Trinidad & Tobago and accomplished Caribbean historian, Eric Williams wrote many books on the topic of slavery. However, Ligon would’ve differed with him on one point: the differentiation of slaves & servants. Ligon reckoned ‘white’ slaves were treated WORSE than ‘blacks’; because their enslavement was (meant to be) temporary slavers felt more justified in purging all their cruelty upon them. Their only food was potatoes for dinner and potatoes/ loblolly (a type of gruel or porridge)/ bonivist beans for lunch, they had to sleep in their work clothes, and they had no blankets for their hammocks. The Irish, scapegoated as perpetual enemies in faith, bared the worst of it.

In fact, treatment was so bad that in 1651 a law was passed that merchants were forbidden from shipping over anyone under 14 years old without written guardian approval. Of course no-one gave a shit. Soon after that, in Jamaica colonel William Brayne wrote to Cromwell recommending Africans be made the dominant labour force! Why? Because they were (now) lifelong servants, planters theoretically had to pay for them and keep them alive. In other words, he was arguing that ‘blacks’ were treated better so they should be a kind of buffer for planters’ cruelty! Cromwell agreed, and in the middle of the century tens of thousands of Africans were dumped in Barbados.

Anglo-Bajan planters’ main task was to enforce a code of conduct delineating the master-slave relationship – the Act for the Ordaining of Rights between Masters and Slaves 1661. It banned importation of children (if they were English), any youth over 18 were only to be held for a maximum of 5 years (7 years for under-18s!), and slaves were forbidden from trading. Of course there were punishments for “crimes”, usually in the form of extra service:

  • Laying a hand on their master/ mistress = 1 year,
  • Marrying without consent = 4 years,
  • Stealing bread = 2 years,
  • Trying to escape = 3 years,
  • Becoming a father = 3 years,
  • Going AWOL in or out of work hours = 1 year per 2 hours gone.

This code later evolved into the Slave Code 1688.

Needless to say many rebellions happened, some started by Irish, some by Africans & Irish together. One all-African plot was to take over the whole island – but that was foiled. Rebellions became so common in 1675 MARTIAL LAW was introduced in Jamaica.

Not that one, the real shit!

Back in Barbados planters were so scared of rebellions, that in the mid-1600s they started switching to an all-African labour force because they were generally less rebellious. In the last decade of the century, Irish slaves were so distrusted that African militia groups were employed to crush rebellions – both ‘white’ & ‘black’. In 1684 the ratio of ‘blacks’ to ‘whites’ was 46,000:20,000. In 1834 (the year of abolition) it was 88,000:15,000.

Though the 1600s saw the rise and fall in the number of ‘white’ slaves, the next century saw a change of law that brought a massive increase of almost-free Irish labour!

Back to Part 11

On to Part 13

Some notes on how I use common terms 4

Wow! It’s been a while since I did a race-related post, so I’m going to go back to that. Again this is referring to racial terms as I personally use them based on my ever-evolving knowledge of history, which may or may not agree with the common definitions:

Euro-Arabs: the name I give to most modern Arabs. They’re distinguished from ancient Arabs by their fair/ light/ pale skin, greater variety of hair & eye colour, predominance of ‘white’ European slave ancestry (which they like to completely deny), and often have a disdain for ‘black’ and Asian peoples – whether foreign workers or native-born. Sometimes I may also call them Arabised Europeans, but this may confuse their “mixed-race” status with 100%-European people living in Arabia – if such people still exist. I may also use the term Ziyuwd/ Ziydan which I introduced in an older post.

Admit it. If it weren’t for the headscarf you’d never know would you?

(note: Euro-Arabs aren’t just confined to the Arabian peninsula anymore. Over the centuries they’ve spread to other parts of southwest Asia & north Africa, and now trickling into east [Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti] & west Africa [Mauritania], which is why those lands are Arabic-speaking too. Modern Berbers/ Amazighs are a very good example)

Moroccan Berber children

Afro-Arabs: obviously this would refer to modern Arabs of predominantly enslaved African background. However, I rarely use this term or talk about these people because it’s so often a pointless distinction, similar to Americans/ African-Americans. Furthermore, in many cases it’s inaccurate as it’s often treated as synonymous with ‘black’ Arab, ignoring the fact that the original Arabs were ‘black’ and their unmixed descendants still exist in many parts of the Arabian peninsula!

I’m hesitant to put pictures as I may make that mistake myself, but I’m gonna give it a go:

3rd President of Egypt Anwar Sadat

They often look very similar to original Arabs, hence the confusion:

unmixed Mahri Arab man, NOT Afro-Arab
displaced Yemeni children

Despite my constant distinction between original & modern Arabs, I’m not saying the modern ones don’t have the right to call themselves Arab. Everyone has the right to self-identify however they want; that’s how tribes/ clans/ ethnic groups/ nationalities are defined anyway! But from various Internet forums I’ve seen, a lot of Euro-Arabs are committing an anachronism by claiming their phenotype & ancestry is identical to the original Arabs. They claim to be their direct descendants; even ‘white’ Americans don’t go that far!

Middle Easterners: I have occasionally used this term, simply for ease of reference &/or want of a better term. However, as it’s so Eurocentric (east of Europe, middle to Europe & east Asia aka. the Far East) I try not to use it anymore. Instead I use the term southwest Asians. Arabs do fall in this category but ‘white’ people often see them as interchangeable, which they’re not. As with Arabs, though, their ethnic backgrounds are hugely diverse so I more often distinguish by country than ethnicity.

Afghan druggie injecting crack into his groin!
Iraqi women voting
Pashtun man, Afghanistan
Iranian girl, probably Afro-Iranian as the original ‘black’ Iranians were driven out en masse
Turkish woman

About Turks, I put them in this category for completion but Turkey is considered a transcontinental country, as it covers southwest Asia & Europe (which is just west Asia anyway). I also kind of see Afghanistan as “the dividing line” between southwest & south Asia, though of course there is cultural & ethnic overlap.

Latinos/ Hispanics: I personally hate this term. To me it’s nothing but a catch-all to describe the European cultural influence while ignoring the mixed African & native American influences. I prefer the term Samericans (my shorthand for south Americans), but keep in mind that most of them have predominantly south European (Spanish & Portuguese) ancestry. However, most Samericans have mixed African, native & European blood whether they look it or not.

Update: “Latin America” includes most central American & Caribbean countries, eg. Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, as well as Mexico which is in NORTH America. Basically, Latinos/ Hispanics have culture and language in common much more than ethnicity.

In other words, I’m lost for a term again! Maybe something to show they’re Americans south of USA…

native Taramuhara Mexicans in traditional garb (except the boy)
Yes! An excuse to put another Amara la Negra pic in my blog!!!
And him.

Maybe non-US Americans? Then again that could include Canada. Hmmm…

More to come later.

Notting Hill Carnival experiences

Last night (25/8/14) was… pretty novel. I went to the Notting Hill Carnival! That’s not new to a lot of people – the friend I went with and her friends said they’d been going almost every year since they were 2! But as I don’t normally go to parties, and carnivals even less, it was new for me.

Not totally new, though. I had gone to last year’s carnival, and to be honest I was bored witless. However, I decided to go again this year because last year I went on the first day – the kids’ day. This time I went on the second day for the adults.

(note: I didn’t take pictures. My phone’s old and it was raining non-stop)

Wasn’t able to get there til well after 6pm because of work – and spent at least an hour finding my friend – but I managed to have some fun. We were following the trucks blaring out their tunes, dancing (or in my case jiggling about trying not to get lost in the human stampede!) and ignoring the rain the whole time.

Amidst all the winin’, smoking, drinking, daggering (all of which I’d have prudishly labelled filth not too long ago) and blaring horns & whistles, I noticed an underlying… zeitgeist or energy or something. I don’t really know how to describe it but it became more apparent after the carnival ended and everyone was heading home. Though my 3 companions were women and they probably know all about it, I found it an eye-opener. Probably the first time I’ve seen misogyny in action in front of my face (as opposed to seeing it in books or the news or wherever). It’s no bloody wonder a lot of women are put off men:

Men can be proper assholes. 

As one of my friend’s friends was cute and very curvy, guys hounded her the whole way to the station. It was like a tide; when one guy ebbed away (ie. the rest of us chased them off) another came rolling in! In 1 or 2 cases it was whole groups of guys trying it on, and some even tried pulling the other 2 women away to get her alone! For God’s sake! Rapey and desperate much?

Not to be funny or “self-hating” but if this is what the carnival’s normally like we Caribbeans are validating the stereotypes. This is meant to represent us, our presence in England, our establishment of our cultures. We need to do a lot better, make the cultures better.

Oh, and that guy who had his dick out pissing as he walked past everyone, here’s a shout out to you from the guy who was cussing your ass out! Learn to use a damn toilet; outside prison men don’t want to see your dongle! LOL

Come see me in a rehearsed reading of…

Losing Sight of Home, Lea Bridge Library, this Thursday (31/7/14), 6:30! It’s free but book on http://tinyurl.com/m6sk49h  to secure a seat!

Synopsis: Four Caribbeans arrive in England in the late 1960s. All four are excited by what the ‘Motherland’ has to offer. Over two decades and two generations they experience love, racism and crises of identity. By the very talented writer Paula David!

Forward to as many people as you can!

 

Stories of Migration- Poster
Stories of Migration: Losing Sight of Home

There will also be a full production of this at some point in October! More information on that later.

Native Americans

This might be just my idiosyncratic definition so I’m admitting this now. I define native Americans as those people who inhabited the Americas before Christopher Columbus “discovered” it back in 1492. As such I include those in north America/ USA, central, Caribbean and south America. I may also include those in Hawaii & Alaska too.

Native Americans are believed to be an offshoot of the OOA emigrants who travelled to east Asia. These ones, rather than stay in east Asia, crossed the Bering Strait for whatever reason. The Bering Strait is a water passageway between the easternmost tip of Asia (Cape Dezhnev, Chukchi Peninsula, Russia) & the westernmost tip of north America (Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA). They didn’t sail or swim across it; back then the ocean levels were much lower and there was a land bridge that the migrants just walked across! This bridge is called Beringia but it doesn’t exist anymore; it disappeared due to the rise of ocean levels.

Disagreement exists over when this happened. 2 theories prevail today, short chronology & long chronology theory. The former says the migrants got there roughly 15,000 to 17,000 years ago, the latter says about 21,000 to 40,000 years ago (with a much later 2nd influx. More on this later).

You often hear these natives called Indians, or American Indians, ‘red’ Indians, Amerindians, Apache Indians, amerinds, Injuns or something similar. All of these names are complete cack because their ancestors never came from India and have no connection to Indians, past or present. The reason these names persist is because of Columbus; he was originally trying to reach India and went off course! When he reached land he thought it was India, which was kind of fair enough. However, he later realised he’d actually found a continent that ‘white’ people never knew about but didn’t bother correcting anyone! That’s why, over 500 years later, we make the same mistake despite knowing better! Even palaeontologists make this mistake, by calling the ancestral natives palaeoindians. I therefore call them palaeoamericans.

(This is the same reason the Caribbean is called the West Indies, as opposed to south Asia which used to be known as the East Indies. It’s also why the Americas were and still are called the New World, because it was new. To Europeans, that is)

However, native Americans are not one big homogenous group. In Namerica (north America, by which I’m lumping USA & Hawaii, Canada & Newfoundland together) there are:

  • Cree
  • Cherokee
  • Ojibwe
  • Algonquin (sometimes mistakenly called Algonquian)
  • Menominee
  • Mi’kmaq
  • Maliseet
  • Apache (they call themselves N’dee)
  • Salteaux
  • Inuit (plural of Inuk), used to be called Eskimos/ Esquimaux but they consider it offensive

In the Caribbean/ Mesoamerica (aka. central America) there are:

  • Carib (after whom the islands are named), aka. Kalinago
  • Arawak, which includes the Taíno & Igneri
  • Kali’na, aka. Galibi
  • Olmec
  • Ciboney (name means ‘cave dwellers’ in Taíno)
  • Ciguayo
  • Embera
  • Macorix

In Samerica (south America) there are:

  • Maya (yes they still exist. They didn’t die out with their calendar!)
  • Aztec
  • Bororo
  • Otavalo
  • Nahua
  • Selk’nam, aka. Onawo
  • Quechua/ Kichwa, a collective group name that includes others like the Inca, Chancas, Huancas & Cañari as they all speak Quechuan languages

Mayan girls, Guatemala

Embera children, Panama

Apache man, USA

Alejandro Toledo, 1st Quechuan president of Peru

Bororo men, Brazil, about to partake in the Indigenous Games
Ojibwe girl, USA

Carib man, St Lucia

Because of European colonisation & the TAST (trans-Atlantic slave trade), all natives have become the minorities in the lands where they used to be the majority. In north America the majority are ‘white’, in the Caribbean the majority are ‘black’, and in south America the majority are mixed (though their ‘white’ ancestry is most visible). Many natives intermixed with others; in the Caribbean for example you have the Garinagu (plural of Garifuna, half-African half-native, used to be known as Black Caribs), in much of south America there are mestizos (the majority – mixture of European and native, though some countries include African in that mix), and in north America there are the Melungeons (in USA, mixed African, native & European) & Métis (in Canada, mixed native & European).

Point of interest: there are some people nowadays who go around claiming to be native Americans but aren’t. In reality, they’re people (usually ‘white’ although I’ve heard of ‘black’ ones too) who either think their lives are boring & unexotic or want to push an agenda – to show mainstream American society how bad it is to be native because the stereotypes are true. They get away with it because many, maybe most, native Americans in the USA are mixed with ‘white’ (which goes back to slavery days. What, you didn’t think Africans were the only enslaved ones did you?) so heavily most ‘white’ people don’t know what full natives look like anymore!

Examples include:

David  A. Yeagley,

claims to be Comanche (has been disowned by real Comanches),

actually a ‘white’ supremacist with a Comanche adoptive mother

Iron Eyes Cody, real name Espera Oscar de Corti,

claims to be native of some kind (now settled on Cherokee-Cree),

actually Italian-American actor

Margaret B. Jones, real name Margaret Seltzer,

claims to be half-native and raised in a ‘black’ ghetto,

actually fully ‘white’ and raised in Los Angeles, California,

was exposed by her sister

Above I mentioned the long chronology theory and the 2 waves of migrants into the Americas. Recent research has uncovered what appear to be a different type of people who inhabited the Americas millennia before the present-day natives, which are probably the 1st-wave migrants. Their craniofacial types are australoid & negroid, but such people are gone now. What became of them is a mystery, but there are a few traces of them. There are a few accounts of what Columbian-era Europeans called the 2 races of natives: ‘red’ & ‘black’. On top of that, the Olmec colossal heads of ancient central America resemble the ‘true Negro’ look even more than many Africans. In Tierra del Fuego, an island group just south of Argentina & Chile, there are a people who may be the mixed descendants of the 1st-wave & 2nd-wave migrants.

La Venta Olmec head
Fuegian man

 

UPDATE: More information on the 1st-wave migrants. Now it’s believed they’re an offshoot of… Aboriginal Australians! It’s believed they wound up in the Americas by accident, though their boats had unusually high prows which suggests they had intended to travel out on the open sea in relatively rough waters.

 

Prow = the high point on the front of a boat