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Sorry Folks, We’ve Made Ourselves Victims by Choice

Image of Carlton Ishmael
By Carlton Ishmael

HISTORY always gives us an indication of our origin. It clearly defines our past, our struggles, as well as our successes. Every race also has its challenges, way of life, strengths and weaknesses. Environmental elements determine our way of life. Climate also determines our way of life. And religion (or lack thereof) shapes our moral compass.

We all cannot be the same and external influences can change our outcome in life. Our dreams and aspirations shape our future and circumstances can generally change our lives. But as one grows-up and acquires knowledge and wisdom, it is important to define who you truly are and what role or part you can play in the evaluation of life.

For example, throughout our black history we have always been restricted, suppressed, categorized and condemned — and in some cases enslaved. Yet, despite all those circumstances, we were and still are supposed to just open our hearts and homes and give freely our lands to those responsible for our enslavement and suppression.

We need a visa to visit the rest of the world, but they expect our region should have no restrictions. We seem to have no rights in our own country and foreigners have more rights than us. We were not given a free holiday ticket to visit. Instead, we were forced into slavery and free labour was forced from us, which was the only reason we were transported to this part of the world. Yet we have survived.

Despite all odds, we laboured for our rights, fought for our freedom and paid a fortune to educate ourselves — and still we seem to have no rights and our future is dictated by a few.

Our original way of life is compromised, our clothing, foods and medicines all determined by external factors and forces and our leaders all are blinded to our cause.

The true story has never been told. We continue to work in vain, entangled in modern slavery, aspiring to be someone else, running away to find greener pastures, making ourselves the product of the First World so we can continue to live off their values and culture while we lose our true and traditional identity.

Sadly enough, our people are not even aware of this modern enslavement and continue to hope for a better tomorrow, not realizing that we have already made ourselves Victims by Choice.

Recently, I was comforted by the image of one of our young brilliant artists finally given a chance at home to erect a brilliant display of art in the city’s centre. I also complimented the artwork done in Soufriere at the town square by another local artist, and said to myself that we have finally came of age when we can acknowledge our own.

But, sadly enough, you and I heard more negative comments from the nationals than praise: We still worry more about the amount paid to the artists than the value of their art. We cared more about the inconvenience of the foolish traffic disturbance for the unveiling than what was unveiled and its true significance. We were more ready to criticize the image than to see if the depiction has merit. It is so sad to have our people sell out their souls to foreign attractions and not be able to appreciate their own.

But all is not lost – or was never lost at all. We can Bob-n-Weave, play Rope-a-Dope, Sing and Dance or Wheel and Come Again as much as we want, and for as long as we want, there is one thing we cannot escape from, because that has been the experience of the world – and that is: Art will one day become our best-seller as a people, because it is always a true reflection of our true selves.

We just have to look more deeply and much longer into the mirror!

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