Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Garth Rattray | 'A web of weird black people'

Published:Monday | October 30, 2017 | 12:00 AM

A very close friend and colleague of mine who operates in Kingston was scheduled to see a female patient for a biopsy. When the patient was called to confirm the appointment, she claimed that the doctor's office forgot to inform her about the method of payment that they accepted. The staff apologised, whereupon the patient declared that she forgot that she was dealing with "... a web of weird black people".

The patient turned up for her appointment and complained that it took her 10 minutes to find the office. My friend asked her if she had indeed remarked that she forgot that she was dealing with a web of weird black people and she, unabashed, replied in the affirmative.

My friend told her that even if her staff made an error of omission, her response was rude, below the belt and inappropriate. She went on to tell her that, as a black woman, she was offended.

The patient's face registered shock as my friend stood up, opened the door and asked her to leave her office. She refused to see the rude bigot and repeated her request for her to leave. After leaving in disgrace, the offensive woman had the temerity to complain to the referring physician who shut her down because he was alerted about her racist remark.

Just for the record, this female is tertiarily educated with an MBA, is unmarried, about 5' 8", average body habitus, cropped, black hair, works in the tourism industry and, most important, possesses an ample supply of melanin-producing skin cells. I think that if she were from a different social stratum, she would have bleached the hell out of her skin.

The real message in all of this is that there are a lot of people, right here in Jamaica, who think exactly as she does but keep their opinions closeted. Sometimes their prejudices and self-hate slither to the surface and they make that kind of disgusting remark, or they say things like, "Nutt'n too black nuh good." I've actually heard someone tell another that he was "black like John Crow". I've often heard people shout, "Guweh, yuh black lakka what." All this from people with my nice-nice, chocolate-brown complexion. SMH.

We have to give the Devil his due. The brainwashing from the Europeans was detailed and has lasted for many generations. There was a time when the African race was regal and influential, but, with the scourge of slavery, people of African background have been looked down upon and treated like inferior human beings. Slavery represented the epitome of ignominy and cast a shameful shadow on both the Europeans and the African nations that facilitated and profited from the cruel practice.

 

NASTY HABIT

 

We have a nasty habit of disrespecting our own people and, therefore, ourselves. This has contributed significantly to the pervasive aggression and violence that we see throughout the country.

I've been the victim of the negative socio-racial sickness that affects so many of our citizens. Once, I ordered a kitchen cabinet, and the job was so poorly done that I remarked that it looked like a primary-school project gone wrong. Just for the heck of it, I asked the supplier if he would have given that kind of work to someone like Butch Stewart. He was honest enough to say that he would not do that.

A similar thing happened with a mason who failed to complete the job after begging for the remainder of the money upfront. I put the identical question to him and he also said that he would not treat someone like Butch Stewart like that. If I had lacked confidence in who and what I am, if I had any crack in my pride as an 'Afrogenic' human being, I would have been totally devastated.

I remain staunchly convinced that the behaviour that we see on the streets and a lot of the crime that we experience have to do with a lack of self-respect and a lack of respect for others. As long as we retain the mentality that holds fast to the notion that people of African descent are an inferior race, we will remain underdeveloped, riddled with crime, and beholden to richer nations for our survival.

- Garth Rattray is medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gamil.com.