Friday, April 19, 2024

GAL FRIDAY: Skin not the thing


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When George Lamming wrote In The Castle Of My Skin back in 1953, skin colour was a perceptive definition of who one was and where one stood in the world.
Today, I’d love to say that this is not the case, but skin colour constantly raises its head in my neck of the woods . . . and I happen to live in the same island as most of you, dear readers.
Since every skin teet’ ain’t no laugh and this is no laughing matter; but if you don’t laugh you will cry, I will choose to make light of the dark issue at hand.
When I began working at Starcom Network over a decade ago, I was hailed as the “roti” of the lot. Of course, originating from a “rainbow of people” I joked about the roti label and said, “Indeed, I was born and rotied in Trinidad, not ‘bread’.” Some ill-bred brethren stated emphatically, “Roti is supposed to be an insult. You realise you brown and you is Indian?”
Alas! Then I went to certain parts of the island and heard, “Wait! I din know you was white?” This bewilderment made my heart race so much, I called one of my close friends to ask what she thought I was. She said “stupid”.
These days, I sometimes tune in, only to hear about interracial relationships, inter-national relationships and other pampalam from Cupid.
It seems that the multiplication of progeny from Guyanese and Barbadian combinations are leading to a division of sexes. So, we often now hear blame and aspersions being cast, based on nationality, much like skin colour and race, or in Gandhi’s day, caste.
But why are we running in a race where colour or nationality still determines class? How do we class ourselves as a people? One of my peeves is to hear about “black comedy”
or “black and beautiful”. What in the world does that mean? There must also be “white comedy” and “white and wonderful” then, right?
The thing is, Lamming talks about being proud to be “West Indian” and the fact that the Caribbean is a unique space; a place where a mélange of men and women harmoniously co-exist. This pride is a positive pride; one that builds up rather than tears down. So I’d like to put something to you: think about yourself as part of humanity, where kin overcomes skin and where we don’t give a rat’s tail when it comes to colour, race, creed or class.
In this way, we will all inhabit castles – where none is a peasant and where all are privileged. Yes, you may say I’m a dreamer . . . . John Lennon was not the only one. White is not right and black should not move back. Love sees no colour. We’re all players of the same game, Life.
And when that Great Equalizer comes, it is not the colour of our skin, nor the casket we’re in; but the way we lived our lives that would truly matter.
Veoma Ali is an author, actor, broadcaster, advertising exec and most importantly, a karaoke lover!


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