White People in the Caribbean?? The Shock!

2004 Olympic Bronze Medallist in the 200M
Individual Medley, Trinidadian
George Bovell III -
OMG - he's WHITE!

I had posted a photo of myself during Carnival, with a friend, who is white. Someone asked me what he – White Man – was doing in Trinidad.  Ummm…what? I responded, “He lives here”, then jokingly added, “We do have white people here you know”.
Needless to say, the person was seriously surprised. I thought it was a bit shocking honestly. I mean, moving ahead of myself here a bit, is there any real homogenous country in the world? Believe me, I would love to know.

But back to this White Man thing, I would just like to confirm that, yes, we do actually have white people, not just living in the Caribbean, but who are part of a long generation of white people. I mean, this will sound really harsh, and may shock some of you BUT… black people did not bring slavery to the Caribbean. We have had white people here for a little while now, believe it or not. And not just white people, but we have…wait for it…people of Indian, Chinese, and Syrian ancestry, just to name a few. And it gets worse – some of them actually get along, so much so that they get married and have racially diverse offspring.

I am not sure what people outside of the Caribbean think happens down here, or what a Caribbean person looks like or sounds like.  I should have asked this question. The accent issue - that’s another peeve since I apparently, to some, do not sound Caribbean. The media stereotype of what the Caribbean is seems to be fuelled by one segment of one population out of many. So because I do not use stupid media clichés, like “irie” and “yeah mon”, I am not Caribbean by non-Caribbean standards, which is pretty stupid. They have even gone so far as to say I sound American, which is OBVIOUSLY not the case, but since to the ignorant ear, it is CLEARLY not a Caribbean accent, it has to be SOMETHING.

I know that some white people born and bred in the Caribbean, who sound like me or maybe Barbadian or Jamaican, also getting the strange looks and ridiculous comments about sounding different, and I can only assume, their strong Caribbean accents are not congruent with their paler hues.

What’s next? I know to some, we all sit on a beach all day, drinking rum-based drinks out of coconuts, and we only wear tied dyed shirts and skirts. We probably all know how to play the steel pan and all listen to reggae music. I am negative when it comes to all of these things.

I am not saying you will know everything about everywhere either, but I would think you would be interested enough once it came up on your radar, especially if it is completely foreign to you. Maybe it’s just me but I am always researching something. Instead of poking people on Facebook (yes, people still do this), I read a lot, about anything or everything. If I meet someone from somewhere I had never heard of, I make a mental note to go check it out and learn something. I met someone from Georgia and though I knew the place existed, I did not know much about it, so I Googled it and I am a little bit wiser, less ignorant than I was before. It’s not that hard really. I do it before every trip as well – to know where I am going, and what makes the place more than just a utilitarian vacation spot.

I met a lovely guy in London, who had heard of Trinidad but was not quite sure what it was all about. During our conversation, he was so fascinated that he whipped out his phone and Wiki’ed us, which I found very sweet and at least showed he was interested. Inevitably, he was really surprised to learn that we are very different to what he had in his head. Again, I did not expect him to be a fountain of information about the place, but just showing he was interested about the person he was talking to made the world of difference in how I viewed him as well. I am not linking to any sites about Trinidad and Tobago – I will leave that to you, IF you are interested. I am currently Googling “NY sales”, cause I am clearly interested and don’t know quite enough.

And somewhere out there, someone is reading this and saying, “She did not know about Georgia? Has she never heard about Atlanta?” and I would have proven my point yet again.

7 comments:

  1. P-R-E-A-C-H. I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired of the ignorance and stupid comments that come out of people's mouths. It is often downright offensive. You have really hit the nail on the head with this post. What I cannot understand is, why would you think that the Caribbean is only made up of only "Black" people? Really, you're shocked that Whites actually live and have lived for generations in Trinidad? I guess heads would roll if the news got out that Indians, Chinese, those of Middle Eastern and various European ancestries exist too? Oh, the horror! I wish visitors and non-visitors would educate themselves before opening their mouths. The Caribbean isn't made up of only "certain" islands. And no, there is a difference between the Dominican Republic and Dominica. Furthermore, not all West Indians are dread-locked-wearing, weed-smoking, lazing-under-a-cocunut-tree-by-the-beach rum-drinking, all day every day individuals. People actually have jobs, yes, some even in office buildings! Shock! And as for race card (loud sigh), many of us from the Caribbean are so racially diverse, it just "IS". The fact that I have African, Indian, Irish, English and Eastern European Jewish blood just "IS". Every single country I have visited, I've always either made my way to the library or surfed the Internet for a country's official tourist site. The U.S.'s CIA Website also has bits of information. There's absolutely no excuse whatsoever for ignorance. None. I would just die inside if I visited a country and was speaking with someone and said something so mortifying, so obvious, when I should have known better. They'd look and talk about me like an idiot. I guess some people don't mind the perception of being labeled as such. You're not expected to know every stitch of history, but really, yes, there are White Germans in Jamaica! Oh the shock!

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  2. Stereotypes don't help, I agree with you!

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  3. Wait just a minute. You're telling me that people in the Caribbean aren't sitting around on the beach drinking Mai-tais all day and that some of them are white?

    I guess I'll just scratch that off my list of places to visit then, because, clearly, what's the point?

    Stereotypes are silly.

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  4. LMAO! I was telling someone not too long ago that Georgia was also a country between Europe and Asia and they looked at me crazy!

    On the other hand I'm guilty. When I found out there were Chinese Jamaicans and black Cubans I was dumbfounded. Let me go read a book!

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  5. "And it gets worse – some of them actually get along, so much so that they get married and have racially diverse offspring."

    Ha! It's true! And yet, according to my friend whose daughter is biracial, it apparently still bothers some folks. Personally, the very idea that it could bother some people makes me really mad. I just don't get it.

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  6. I know to some, we all sit on a beach all day, drinking rum-based drinks out of coconuts, and we only wear tied dyed shirts and skirts. We probably all know how to play the steel pan and all listen to reggae music. <WHAT?!??! I totally thought everyone in the Caribean looked like he/she came off the set of "Cool Runnings." (I do love that movie though. Something about the spirit of that Jamaican bobsled team, gets me everytime!)

    Anyway, I have actually been to the Caribbean a few times and I'm surprised that people didn't think that white people lived there. But, like you, I love to travel and always make sure to properly research any country/city I'm visiting first. And when I meet people who want to know what New York is like, I'm happy when they appear interested and don't just assume we're all mobsters who eat nothing but bagels and pizza and yell and push each other out of the way. I mean, some of us do these things, but not all... :p

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  7. When I read the caption for the picture I thought OMG I didn't even see race/color I just saw a good looking man. LOL

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