Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Don't blame slavery for ill health

Published:Friday | May 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I hear the argument being made that the diet that our slave ancestors were force-fed is the primary reason why we, in Jamaica and the Caribbean, have such a major problem with hypertension and diabetes today. This ridiculous argument was again recently made at some supposedly esteemed event not too long ago. Not only is this claim false, but it is also insulting.

How often do you see parents sending off their kids to school with lunch packs stuffed with junk food? Far too often! Far too often, I myself have seen many parents buying lunch for their young children that consists mostly of sweet biscuits and soda drinks. These young children are the diabetic patients of the future. In none of these cases can I remember seeing a slave master with a whip!

We are constantly told that our "wicked" slave masters of old forced our slave ancestors to overeat salt fish, yams and other starchy foods in order to feed them at the cheapest cost. However, assuming that to be true, nothing much has changed. Indeed, in Jamaica, salt fish is not only considered a delicacy - it is even part of our national dish. I wonder which slave master forced us to do that!

Here is the insulting part of this baseless argument: Assuming that our slave ancestors were forced to live on a diet of salted and starchy food to be true as a direct cause of us still doing that today, is it that that mental reprogramming of those "wicked" slave owners was so good, to the point that it became hereditary?

I long for the day when we can start taking some responsibility for our own actions. We need to grow up and stop blaming other peoples for our own irresponsible actions!