It don’t mat­ter if you black or white

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

Neville Cenac truly be im­par­tial, for it is we who feel the pain when ei­ther side bleeds. In that state of im­par­tial­ity, I there­fore de­nounce any black or white men­tal­ity as sheer stu­pid­ity. Only the truly ig­no­rant would har­bor no­tions of in­fe­ri­or­ity or su­pe­ri­or­ity in their in­ter­ac­tions with one an­other. I there­fore see all ref­er­ences to black and white as mean­ing­less ex­ple­tives, for, like most of us, je suis Chré­tien.

When He made man out of the dust of the earth, did God, in giv­ing life to him say, “You are black, or you are white?” The black or white ve­neer on a man’s skin is a mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of his high qual­ity and is not the man. In Ham­let, the Poet of Strat­fordupon-Avon, in his con­tem­pla­tion of that like­ness of God, in joy­ful won­der, ex­claimed: “What a piece of work is man! How noble in rea­son, how in­fi­nite in fac­ulty! In form and mov­ing, how ex­pressed and ad­mirable!” That is the man. Any shadow cast on his skin is just a mere tan.

In The Mer­chant of Venice, the same poet cried out through the Prince of Morocco: “Mis­like me not for my com­plex­ion,the shadow’d livery of the bur­nish’d sun, to whom I am a neigh­bor and near bred.” Look at me, the man, and not my colour, for I beau­ti­ful? Or is the adder bet­ter than the eel be­cause his painted skin con­tents the eye?”

Still, in Julius Cae­sar, we see it said: “You are not wood, you are not stones, but men.” Also: “And men are flesh and blood, and ap­pre­hen­sive.”

There is only one red blood ir­re­spec­tive of black or white, male or fe­male. So what then does it mat­ter if one is called “nig­ger?” It’s just the colour of one’s skin that ac­counts for the name. Is it of­fen­sive to call a man ac­cord­ing to the colour of his skin? But that’s what he is! So what? To re­fer to a gov­ern­ment as “nig­ger” or “black nig­ger” is noth­ing com­pared to call­ing it “white ant,” which is a ter­mite or de­stroyer. Poule bwah in our dear Cre­ole. And the same ap­pel­la­tion to a white man is equally dev­as­tat­ing, and far worse than the re­cently adopted “N word.”

When Latin was taught at St. Mary’s, the word in Latin for “black” was “niger.” It still is, ac­cord­ing to my Cas­sell’s Latin Dic­tio­nary. There, two types of black or nig­ger are re­ferred to: “dead” black or “glossy” black. Black paint ex­cept for the shine in the lat­ter. That must have been one way of dis­tin­guish­ing one ne­gro (or black) from an­other.

It must not be forgotten that Niger is a vast na­tion in West Africa, that Africa it­self is re­ferred to as “The Black Con­ti­nent”; that Nige­ria is also in Africa, that Africans are a proud peo­ple and that the su­per­scrip­tion of “nig­ger” or “black,” which we bear, as descen­dants, is of that black African mould.

Let me now say that it does not mat­ter whether the de­testable word “nig­ger” is spelt with one “g” or two. What dif­fer­ence could it make? What is to be no­ticed in ex­am­in­ing the word is that it bears cer­tain de­riv­a­tives which are of uni­ver­sal ap­pli­ca­tion to both black and white. The noun “nig­gard” car­ries with it the word “nig­gardly” which is both an ad­jec­tive and an ad­verb, and with the same mean­ing. It con­veys the idea of one who is “stingy” or “un­will­ing to part with some­thing” and it does not mat­ter, of course, what the colour of the per­son is.

It is my hum­ble opin­ion that it was per­haps found that black peo­ple had that ten­dency to be “stingy” and that that mean­ness came to ap­ply to any other per­son found to be so. So even a gov­ern­ment can be re­ferred to as nig­gardly, mean­ing, mean. What­ever has been done to our for­bears, we are now here, and have shown who and what we are, whether flat black, glossy black, or oth­er­wise tanned. Those who have tram­pled us un­der­foot are now ashamed of them­selves and seek our for­give­ness. Thank God we have no one to ask for money, and can walk proudly with a clear con­science.

One of the first who saw the light was the English­man, John New­ton, the most fa­mous dealer in the trans­porta­tion of slaves from Africa. By way of con­fes­sion and deep sor­row, his heart cried out in the sweet­est song we sing in church: “Amaz­ing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

The views held here are not novel. Since the dawn of Black Power, I have held fast unto them as I have, like Sir Dwight Ven­ner, kept the “afro,” while all oth­ers have shunned it. They have been ex­pressed as early as De­cem­ber 1970 in an ar­ti­cle to an­other news­pa­per on the na­ture of the Black Power Move­ment, and the rights owed to black peo­ple by virtue of their po­si­tion as equal mem­bers of the hu­man race, and there­fore,“in no way sub­or­di­nate one to an­other.”

This ar­ti­cle is not writ­ten with a par­ti­san eye: for I am to­tally blind when deal­ing with prin­ci­ples, rights, and causes, bow­ing al­ways to whole­some coun­sel, re­gard­less of its source.

Edi­tor’s Note: The au­thor is a for­mer Leader of the Op­po­si­tion (SLP) and For­eign

Af­fairs Min­is­ter (UWP).

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