Visitor To Barbados Asks – Why Do Black Folks Receive Worse Treatment From Other Blacks?

Our blogging friend Dennis raises one of those issues that nobody wants to talk about…

“We’ve noticed, meaning that it has happened several times since arriving in Barbados, that in many establishments black Barbadian service workers have two standards. One, with politeness and general good courtesy, is displayed for white customers. The other, often sour-faced and indifferent at best, and downright rude at worst, seems to displayed to black customers.

This treatment of black customers seems to be worse when they speak with a non-Bajan accent. This is really puzzling, especially if you hail from another English-speaking Caribbean country. I’ve never seen or experienced the same thing in Jamaica or Guyana; and I cannot speak for other islands…”

… read the entire article at Living In Barbados blog (link here)


Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues

76 responses to “Visitor To Barbados Asks – Why Do Black Folks Receive Worse Treatment From Other Blacks?

  1. Marcus2

    That is the legacy of slavery. Remember the house negro and the field negro, In the field, the horse back negro and the planting negro?

  2. Anonymous

    It’s a black thang – you wun’t onderstan’

  3. No - Name

    This is depressing. Can you imagine this is still happening in 2007. Within the last two weeks I have experienced this. The first one was in a restaurant where on arrival the Supervisor made no attempt to greet me and my party…but five mins afterwards the same Supervisor Hurriedly got up and met a white family with smiles before they could even enter the restaurant. The Supervisor then ensured that they were comfortable etc. The other one was a classic class in which a salespersons almost completely ignored me in preference to a white couple. This situation continues to be very conspicuos at places like Cave Shepherd.

  4. Sapidillo

    In a restaurant, employees seem to feel that it is more likely that they will receive a tip and a “decent” tip from a white person, moreso than receiving from their own/black person. There have been times I wish I were wearing a hat that I can take it off and tip.

    As far as departmental stores, such as Cave Shepard, the employee feels that s/he can charm the blouse/shirt off a white person and a sale is produced; but when it comes to a black person, that individual may have them go back and forth, and in the end leave without buying anything. These same employees act as though whenever they walk into a store, they purchase something; steupse. Ignorance at its peak.

    Some of these employees got the attitude that when a customer asks for/requests service, there should be some form of gratitude at the end of the transaction — sale or tip. [But then again, not all customers utter the words, “thanks,” which is also a form of gratitude.]

    Bjans seem to have an inferiority complex especially if thier customer is a black person from overseas. Don’t expect change anytime soon.

  5. Anonymous

    The owners of these establishments are directly responsible for their underpaid undertrained staff.

    Owners care about profit only and as long as you continue to spend your money in these places you will get treated like —-

    If you dont like the service walk out.

  6. Hants

    The OWNERS are responsible for the attitude of their undertrained poorly paid employees.

    The OWNERS are well aware of this problem but as long as the profits keep rolling in they are content.

    Black consumers should demand proper service or spend their money elsewhere.

  7. Lady Tee

    Oh my gosh, similar thing happened to me ….

    Only on Sunday I went into Big B supermarket. Even though the cashier hadn’t finished my transaction, when I handed her my magnacard, she said it was too late and that I’ll have to go to customer service (I had part paid in USD). I accepted that. She then gave me my receipt minus my 2 cents change. I bought it to her attention that she forgot my change, I was told, none too pleasantly “It’s only 2 cents!” Usually I would’ve insisted on my ‘only 2 cents’, but I didn’t want to hold up the queue. Anyway, with 2 heavy bags in each hand I made my way over to the customer service desk. I got in line behind two gentlemen and managed to slide my magnacard and receipt along the counter because my hands were full. The not so friendly cashier then came over to me with 2 cents hand. As my hands were still full, I indicated for her for put the money on the counter. She then literally threw the money in front of me onto the counter, turned on her heals and strode back to her station (she had a point to prove). Both the gentlemen infront of me and the casheir looked shocked at her behaviour. The gentleman remarked on her rudeness several times. I do believe the lady behind the counter was too afraid to say anything (maybe they are friends). I remarked to the lady behind the counter that if I were to do such a thing, that there’d be an outcry…. I spoke to a manager (Mr. Durant) to make a formal complaint, he said that he had to report it to another manager as he is not in charge!!?? I left my name and number so that I could receive a formal apology. Nothing as yet. Like the above, I am a black Barbadian born in England, accent and all…

  8. Hants

    Lady Tee you may get some satisfaction by spending some of your money at a different supermarket.

  9. concerned

    “Black consumers should demand proper service or spend their money elsewhere.”

    Hants, Where is “elsewhere”?

  10. ??

    not sure what the Big B issue was this Sunday but service was substandard ……..what happened to NISE.

  11. John

    Only last night I heard Pizza Man Doc on the news saying there is every likelihood that he will have to close two of his eight outlets because the attitudes of some of his employees is “running the customers”!!

    I tried to get the link to the story on CBC but for some reason that site was giving trouble. Go on the site and search for pizza.

    The exact same problem, it was how his staff treated “black” customers.

    I don’t think this is any legacy of slavery. There were shopkeepers in a district who did perfectly well and treated people, old and young, black and white like people.

    They even extended credit.

    The problem is comparatively recent. There was a time when we had risen to a level where manners were shown to each other as a matter of course.

    We are in a downward spiral. We are worse off than before!!

  12. DFX


    You are so correct. The buck stops at the Owner. A few years ago I was in Florida and being accustomed to the little not on most Bajan menus and bills at the time stating that the gratuity was included in the bill I finished my meal, paid the amount on the bill and left. Before I could make it to the car park the manager was on me. He wanted to know what was wrong with the service, was the food bad or was there another problem.
    When I explained that nothing was wrong he queried as to why no tip. I had to explain to him how it was here. He then told me that in Florida the waiters/waitresses were taxed in the percentage of expected tips from the meal served. So no tip meant that they would actually end up paying the taxman for part of your meal. Maybe this is why most North American visitors (black and white) tend to leave tips, I know that I always add 10% to 15% to my bill because of that day.

    I will however say that while I’ve had terrible service at some places here when accompanied by my non-white wife (especially the new Cafe place that’s Blue) I must say that Lucky Horseshoe is the most friendly place we have ever been. We are always greeted with a smile and the girls are always playing with my son. Matter of fact, recently my son and I went to Horseshoe and my son got sick and vomited. The staff was so helpful and they even offered to take his meal off of the bill, I declined the offer. Do I think this is because I’m white? No. I think it’s because the staff is well trained and they chose the right personalities when picking the staff.

    I have heard a black friend of mine refer to black bajans as crabs in a bucket. Always crawling over each other to get to the top. Funny thing is the one that gets to the top first is the first one in the pot. Maybe what we have to do is stop being Black Bajans and White Bajans and High Brown Bajans and just be Bajans. If we all work together it will be a better place, there will be no more blogs complaining about the lack of service people get while here and it will be better all round.

    So with that thought in mine, I’m off to hug and kiss the 90,000 visitors arriving at the Airport. I’m hoping the my friends Chase, Yardbroom and Bajan Boy will cover the 75,000 down by the Harbour for me.

    Take care people, and treat humans like humans.


  13. True Native

    The service in both Big B and J.B’s has deteriorated alarmingly. Many of the staff are rude and uncouth and the ones that pack away goods on the shelves spend their time licking their mouths as loud as they can and doing as little work as possible. If you complain to a supervisor, he shrugs and whispers, “Can’t do a thing with them – the Union will be down on us like a ton of bricks.” Oh, for a Margaret Thatcher here!

  14. Yardbroom

    It is very true – and it pains me to say it – bit reality must always be faced, despite the anguish it causes.

    Employees in the service sector require proper training, there is more to training than being taught to physically perform a task. Being able to interact positively with clients is sadly lacking, often people serve you in Barbados without making eye contact or being pleasant, of course there are exceptions.

    There is a little restaurant beside the Pharmacy in Hastings going towards Accra the service there is excellent. My wife and I often went out of our way to lunch there.

    I will refrain from going overboard in my condemnation of this issue here, but employers should think carefully about the staff they employ, as the best establishment can be found lacking if the staff are not accommodating.

    I have a theory why this treatment occurs, but I will leave that for another time.

  15. Lady Anon

    I also heard Pizza Man Doc and he indicated that training was an issue. I was also appalled to hear him say, in essence, that they should be trained before they come to him.

    Does he not know that he should also provide training for his workers especially in what his standards and requirements are?

    One of the major issues in any organisation is that they want someone else to do the work for them…they want something ready done, and they just pick up the finished product.

    It doesn’t work like that. Once you have identified the person you want to work in your organisation (they must have had some qualities that match what you wanted to hire them in the first place) you then have to train them to deliver at your standard. And then, when the performance does not meet the expected standard, then you deal with it and not wait til four years down the line.

    The buck does stop at the owner.

  16. Underdgo

    The service at Pizza Man Doc is not discrimatory. I am white and I’ve experienced the same terrible service from them. Never had a problem at Big B, though. I think lady T just had a bad day. As far as shelf-packers go, one at Jordans tried to make a pass at me one day, and I threatened to report him to Mr. Jordan. He shut up right away. Sometimes you have to earn your respect, black or white.

  17. Yardbroom

    With your natural charm, how can I duplicate your efforts at the airport!

  18. Hants

    Lady T did not just have a bad day. Bad service is pervasive in Supermarkets and stores because the OWNERS refuse to take responsibility for the actions of their staff. The staff are also poorly paid.
    Prehaps that is why some of them look tired and angry.
    The Owners make millions while we the consumer put up with the nonsense meted out to us.

    Concerned asks.
    Hants, Where is “elsewhere”?

    Barbados is still big enough that you don’t have to shop in the same place if the service is bad.

    However, I understand it is not easy for some of you. There are some places I will not shop unless the Ownership changes but I am a vindictive person so that works for me.

  19. it is true

    Yesterday I saw a black cashier hog up a young black man in the mart in DaCostas Mall which opens into Swan Street. He did not speak with an accent and was very polite to her.

    It was so ridiculous. The young man had his hands full and had finished his transaction. The cashier handed him the copy of his debit card receipt which he said he did not need. She tried to force him to take it. He politely asked her to discard it and she pushed it down the counter it at him and said in a most disgusting tone that “it could stop there”. The young lady who was packing bags discarded the receipt with a shocked look on her face.

    On leaving the City Centre car park the young man in the ticket booth greeted me, asked me how I was keeping and said he had not seen me for a long time. This made me feel so much better.

    All is not lost yet.

  20. DFX


    Ya got me blushing now!

  21. Yaya

    I am a Bajan living in Florida and I had the Cave Shepard experience. A white family paid for their meal and the cashier gave them smiles and was very courteous to them. When I came up to the counter and said hello, the smile dropped. I noticed and decided I would go out of my way to see what would happen next. She shoved my change into my hand and I told her to have a nice day. She just gave me an icy glare. I was with my brother who lives there and he could not believe it.
    I have seen it in other places on the island, even at the airport. A woman at my job was talking about her cruise recently and she said Barbados was teh worst stop for her and her friends because the people were so rude and unfriendly. Especially the women and sad to say I agree. I was embarassed and she does not even know that I am a Bajan.Some of the employers there really need to train there staff on the importance of customer service and satisfaction. I am glad that someone is bringing attention to this.

  22. Bajanboy

    I think service in Barbados has improved over the last 10 years. I also think that consumers’ expectations have also increased dramatically, perhaps faster than service has improved.

    I know David Neilands, MD of Supercentre, and know he would be shocked to hear about bad service not being remedied. You can e-mail him at

    Service improves by not only businesses investing in training of front line staff, but also training higher level staff to effectively deal with complaints. An apology alone is not enough, as steps must be taken to ensure that the service delivery process benefits from the complaint and the process is modified where necessary to ensure that similar issues do not arise in the future.

  23. Yardbroom

    My theory for what it is worth, is that the situation works like this.

    I am black and you are black and don’t think you are better than I am , because you are not.

    You have got some money in your pocket and perhaps more than I have, I can’t do anything about that, but I will give you an icy stare, ignore you if I can, I might even be rude to you, why? because I will feel better for doing it.

    The reason why? when I don’t even know you and you have done me no wrong.


    Naked jealousy! that’s why!

  24. DFX


    I’m a little surprised that you think Mr. Neilands would be shocked at bad service at Supercentre. A few years ago I bought a can of Butane from the 9 to 9 store at Quay Side. Paid $10.00 for it. Saw the same thing at Big B 2 days later.. $1.99 Mr. Neilands response.. Tough luck. But maybe years have softened him. Mind you I’m still to spend another cent in any 9 to 9. I also know of a case where an ex-member of staff at Mannings pointed out to him that toilet paper they were selling as 2-ply was in fact 1-ply. His response.. Don’t press so hard. She is also a shareholder I think she has about $385K invested, so if a little white lady shareholder gets no satisfaction what chance does the poor black man have?

    Think I need to go off to church and learn forgiveness?

    Like Hants so wisely said I do my business elsewhere.



  25. No - Name

    Bad service is more pervasive than I thought in both the public and private sectors. In the public sector they get away with it because a Minister might have sent them and in some cases senior gov’t officials cannot take action because of an outdated grievance handling system or because of the employee’s close relationship with a politician.
    In the private sector it is usually more a reflection of the management style. In the case of Pizzaman is his style. He is not capable of being any more effective like so many other small and medium sized business persons who think they know it all.
    Poor service directly correlated with discrimination towards local and overseas blacks is most conspicuous in the hotel and restaurants especially on the west and south coasts. Speaking to an employee sometime ago from MaxelL Coast, she said that employees do noy much attention to black diners because they perceive that they (blacks) will not tip.

    Another intersting thing about Barbados is the way black employees treat black employers. Unfortuantely black employees seem to respect white or persons approximating white with more respect than they do employers with black skins.I am not sure if it has changed but one could not help some years ago noticing the difference bewteen service at Chefette vs KFC!

  26. Anonymous

    Yaya made a good point!
    It is the black Bajan WOMEN staff that give lousy service(when dey ready).

  27. Anonymous

    Bajans suffer from Envy in the worst way. It’s a national problem. We are the product of an eternally-ketchass economy that shall never flourish(unless Oweing’s Big Ga$-field Off$hore is discovered) – and that’s why Trinidad and Trinidadians irk us, no end!
    Dammit that country is blessed by natural resources (and we got none, just 250 mi. away)
    and the Trini-in-the-street is a far happier person than Scowling Baje, and we ENVY them that situation.

    We ‘bite-up”!

  28. jinxoo7


    We are on the same page for a change.
    I think that before these people even enter the work force their “bad attitudes” are already ingrained in their character. I don´t believe that genuinely NISE people aquire jobs and then proceed to treat their own and others with such disdain. Sadly management rarely tends to the situation because there seems to be “slim pikins” out there of late, for competent hired help.
    I have received on rare occasion, 1st class treatment from my own black race here but you have to ask, why so few clearly put service above everything else whilst others waste so much time and energy “sizing you up” before they decide how you should be treated.
    When i made a purchase at a Sheraton store recently , the young female sales assistant was more than helpful, yet the cashier was sitting beside the cash register painstakingly squeezing a pouch of ketchup on her fast food fries, mouth already stuffed to capacity and at the same time her greeting to me was “Cash or card?” Needless to say would she have subjected a “tourist” to masticated potato?….she would not last a day in a developed country !!!!!
    Many moons ago ago i had a “christmas job” with N.E Wilson, you could not have asked for a more helpful and competent staff. Yes, their wages were meager (mine too) but you would never have guessed their gripes. Where has it gone wrong?
    And that little Bistro near Accra beach ?,
    It´s another world there, a complete 360 degree turn from the sickening treatment most of us seem experience elsewhere on this island.
    I look forward to Yardbrooms “theory”…… …….

  29. crossroads

    while I may agree that training is important for all staff at all levels. I do belive what man doc is speaking of is basic manners, disipline and respect, that all persons should have for each other. Also, an imporant part of any training is how the person, recieving such training implements what they have learned.

  30. Rumplestilskin

    This ‘attitude’ needs to change from young up, to eventually be wiped out.

    When I see school children ‘s-t-r-o-l-l-i-n-g’ across the road, daring to be hit, it is a rotten egg waiting to hatch.

    I stopped my car one day and told a girl ‘that is why you will get nowhere in life’.

    The attitude that the world owes a person a living and that others whom one meets are to blame for their problems is the root cause.

    ‘We are all trying to live and survive, get real and do what you have to do’ should be the message.

  31. Pingback: Why 'green,' not black, white nor polka-dot-pink, should matter when serving customers « The Bystander

  32. Hants

    How many people on this board make Bds.$60 a day?

  33. Chase


    Here we are in 2007,trying to find out why service is bad in Bim.
    Why people treat each other badly.

    This is my input:

    What is the average age of these rude people?
    I would say 22yrs as a ballpark figure.
    These people dont need training,managing ,good tips or anything like that…what they need is GOOD MANNERS !!
    And the place to get it is from HOME!!

    Remember when you had to speak to grown up folks even if your parents and them cussed out each other 5 minutes ago?

    Remember when any grown up would cut your a** for behaving badly and it was in your best interest to keeep this a secret from the parents?

    Remember when you had to leave the room when grown ups were having a discussion,where you had to shout excuse me please before entering the room but making sure that your interuption was important(like the house on fire or something close)?
    These were the values taught then but not now,children are rude and parents smile and take it for a joke,what do you think the end result will be later?

    I saw a small child ‘throw a tantrum’ in the supermarket last week and the mother was there pleading for the child to get up…… my days we didnt even know what a tantrum was….because one look was all that was needed to put us back on track because we knew what was coming next.

    I said all that to say this ,manners maketh man and sadly ,manners are lacking in society today.It has nothing either to do with how much you are making because those old ladies who sell produce in Speightstown dont make $60 a day but they are the most mannerly and courteous people I have ever met.

    Ever realised the the rudest are the young people….we have lost our way….and this is coming from a youngster !!

  34. Citizen First


    I concur 100% with your comment!

    It is my observation that a high proportion of young Barbadians (and old ones too) believe that all workplaces are unfair and exploitative. The old, medievel Catholic viewpoint that business people and employers are either devils or offspring of the devil is strongly held in Barbados. A number of the posts on BFP reflect this view.

    The contemporary concept of high self-esteem has produced a people that see work (especially manual work) as unbecoming but yet they expect to have all their needs and wants satisfied somehow. The prevailing attitude is “If I am not doing well it is because of something some other person did or did not do!”

    It is quite clear that for all the boasting about Black pride and talent we really are powerless victims that can only improve when (according to Dr Ikael Tafari on recent CBC programme) White people truly feel sorry for what was done to us and give us our just rewards. Our salvation is thus in their hands.

  35. johnw

    I have shopped on a few occasions with some friends for souveniers and I was most impressed with the two ladies at Articrafts in Norman Centre. They were great with Blacks, like us. whites and indians , there were some there on one occasion that i was there
    Go see for yourself

  36. samizdat

    White people get sour-faced unmannerly surly treatment too, trust me…

  37. liz

    yes..and sometimes we even have to ask if they serve white people here!

  38. crossroads

    well said, chase

  39. It is part of the Black man cultuer to treat his brothers and sisters this way, it happen in the DLP too there drop a hard working candidate just because he was too poor and black to replace him with a Syrian just because money and colour

  40. True Native

    Excuse me, motherb, but exactly what is “cultuer”? You dummy.

  41. Lollipop

    But looka how tables turn, though. Remember when de dems was using de race card and everybody start to bawl and how de white people say it turn dem against the dems? well looka now how de same white people party, the Bs doing dixie about colour. I hope de white people hearing and reading.

  42. True Native
    you is the dummy, check the dictionary.

  43. Jerome Hinds


    April 18th, 2007 at 10:41 am

    It is part of the Black man cultuer to treat his brothers and sisters this way, it happen in the DLP too there drop a hard working candidate just because he was too poor and black to replace him with a Syrian just because money and colour


    Thanks for that bit of information…!

    I always wondered why Owen Arthur dropped Pizza Man Doc and installed his brother, Richard Arthur, as a losing candidate in St. Lucy…!


    You can always be counted on to expose Owen Arthur…!

  44. Lollipop

    motherb, continue to wallow in your ignorance. There is NO word in ENGLISH dictionary as cultuer.

  45. John

    April 18th, 2007 at 1:30 am
    How many people on this board make Bds.$60 a day?


    That is a good question.

    For me there have been periods in my life when I was in that boat. When there is no work you make less than that.

    For me, I think that I always have hope and expectations, at least so far in my life.

    I would not choose to do the jobs of any shelf packer or sales clerk, but that does not mean that if circumstances forced me to that I would be miserable.

    Perhaps tha poor service is a reflection of the lack of hope which pervades this country.

    I have never seen it like this in my life. Look at the faces, all glum, and where there used to be smiles.

    The best example of this is Ken Gordon, from the WICB. I am sure he pulls in a good salary and has good prospects yet he looks to be the most miserable man alive, …….. ok so cricket ain’t so hot, but cricket was always brought the cheer.

  46. Yardbroom

    I believe the service given -or not given- to Black people and Black tourist in particular, does not reflect a general attitude in Barbados. We must separate the West Coast and South Coast strips from the heart of Barbados. There is an element of superficiality in those places which in many ways do not impinge on the heart beat of Barbadians.

    If one interacts with the average Barbadian – which most tourist do not – you will find a different individual. I have often had very good service from ladies who were selling just a few items from a small tray, I sometimes felt humbled by their courtesy and good manners. To my mind that is what is lost by the imagined ” sophisticates ”
    who earn a living in the tourist sector. I will not be sweeping here, there are exceptions.

    Tips should not be a reason to give good service, that is what you are paid to do, however the customer tips because he/she acknowledges the service they have been given.
    jinx 007
    I am not quite sure about their ” bad attitudes are already ingrained in their character”

    People’s attitudes are more to do with experience, environment, learning with and without supervision and a multitude of other factors which this is not the correct forum to address.

    I believe that the average Barbadian changes on being employed in the tourist service sector and in her/his efforts to be an imagined sophisticate exhibits traits which are not the norm for the average Barbadian.
    ps: I am always a little uncomfortable when we start correcting the grammar or spelling of others who have made a contribution, disagree by all means but do not go down that road, this is not a literary thesis just an exchange of “ideas”.

  47. No - Name

    Relax a little….
    Lollipop, Jerome and True Native are just having fun in the same manner that JohnW gives compliments to his own store in Norman Centre and then invites the public to visit! LOL….

  48. jinxoo7

    Our beliefs about what we are and what we
    can be precisely determine
    what we will be.

    Anthony Robbins

  49. J. Payne

    I believe it has to be cultural… Because my mother always talks about when she first came here in the 1970’s she and her other West Indian friends used to get treated really bad by other blacks here in the U.S. My mother says when she saved everything she made she would 1) send some back home for her mother and other siblings 2) save a little to get a car to get to work and that’s when problems began. She said the blacks here used to make comments that “She think she’s uppity because she just come here and she’s got a car already.” My mother says there’s nothing uppity about it. You have to work hard for them things. Then when my mother put down soon after on a house mortgage and had tenants that was it they stop speaking to her all together.

    She said her other West Indian friends used to go through the same things at their jobs. But then again, my mother came to the US at a time when Blacks here were threatening to strike leaving US industry with no other path except to pay US blacks better for employment. However, to throw a wrench in the deal- the USA imported scores of highly educated West Indians to do the same work for less basically leaving striking US blacks on their strike and replacing them with West Indians. That was the end of their bargaining chip. “A strike.”

    To this day there is still some undercurrent resentment I see that West Indians basically underminded a part of their “Black Power” movement by working for less than them and putting some of them on the breadline for striking.

    In Barbados I guess the perception would probably be more along the lines of the Caucasians are the ones with the money, so you have to accommodate them best so they’ll keep coming to spend their money. In almost all black societies blacks don’t recognize themselves as being a powerful unified economic force.

  50. paul sealy

    i think you gotta blame Willie Lynch for this 1..

  51. Yardbroom

    “My ” reality surrounds me it is for me to change, others perception of it is their reality, that is for them to change.
    No Name
    I have taken your point on board.

  52. Lady Tee

    Hell No, Underdgo…

    I certainly did NOT have a bad day!!
    As always, I walked into that supermarket in a very pleasant mood. Funny enough, on the way to the supermarket I was trying to make up my mind whether to go Big B or Trimart…..looks like I made the wrong decission.

  53. Lady Tee

    It’s getting kinda heated in here….let’s have some fun
    Try to think up a suitable acronym for N.I.S.E. coz it surely doesn’t stand for what it is supposed to!

  54. Lollipop
    Say something about how the blp treat poor people

  55. Lollipop

    motherb, I ain’t wanna spoil yuh day, but I doesn’t lime wid de BLP. PERIOD.

  56. J. Payne

    If you got problems wid SuperCentre I think you’d have to complain to Barbados Shipping and Trading…. That is one dem people’s companies.

  57. As a Black American and ten year visitor, I have never felt that Black Bajans discriminated against me because of my color while visiting Barbados.

    I haven’t been to the island in over a year, but our office manager, who is also Black, just returned from her first visit a few weeks ago. She loved Barbados, remarked more than once how nice the Bajan people treated her – and plans to return next year for a longer visit.

    I read this post yesterday, and then waited to respond until I e-mailed other Black American friends who visit the island frequently to get their feedback.

    Neither of them said they felt any discrimination. Also none of our Black clients ever came back and complained of racism.

    Now, I along with my friends and clients have seen poor service, and non professional attitudes from restaurant workers and sales people, but we also see that same attitude within the service industry here in the U.S. As Black Americans we all seem to agree that this issue is more of a breakdown in society of our values, morals and overall respect for each other and ourselves.

    I totally agree with “Chase” on manners and “home training”. We all find ourselves in a world where respect, manners and decency seem to have gone by the wayside – especially from the younger generation.

    I also believe that many within the service industry do not want these jobs, and only take them because they cannot find better paying jobs, or until something better comes along. And this certainly does not lead to a friendly manner and good attitude towards those they are serving, and obviously leads to a negative impression of the business.

    Business owners definitely need to be mindful of who they are hiring, but my friends who own businesses here in the U.S. say it is difficult to find good workers who actually show up for work, and if they do find them they often leave for a better paying jobs – so the process starts over again.

  58. bp

    You want service? Go to Carters…..most of the time. Except for the lumberyard. Supermarkets? Try the mini mart in Market Hill, tiny place but helpful staff, cheap cheap veg & fruit and they have everything. Restaurant? Try Sam’s, next door to St. George’s Church. If you are a black customer, try ‘Hi, how are you today?’ instead of ‘I want’. I see it so often, it would make anyone’s hackles rise.

  59. True Native

    BP: Thanks for those very informative tips. And you’re right – it would make a nice change to hear words like “May I please have”, and “thanks” from customers, instead of, “I want” and “Gimmuh”.

  60. John

    ….. do unto others as you would have them do unto you!!

    bp, True Native, you are right. It is amazing what great service a smile and a few words of kindness attract.

    The message they convey is one of respect for the dignity of the other person and an mutual expectation that any interchange will be enjoyable.

    Many people only see the result of the smile and think the service is a result of skin colour or what ever.

    It is sad. They will never learn because they miss the first part of the lesson.

    Just a reflection of the times, everybody is too busy with themselves to notice.

    Sometimes even the service provider is all wrapped up in themselves and doesn’t notice.

  61. John

    Lady Tee
    April 18th, 2007 at 5:19 pm
    It’s getting kinda heated in here….let’s have some fun
    Try to think up a suitable acronym for N.I.S.E. coz it surely doesn’t stand for what it is supposed to!

    What about


  62. True Native

    OR: National Ignoramus Syndrome Entity.

  63. DFX


    Since you added another word I think I have an idea

    No I Shouldn’t be Employed

    or after you reward them for their horrible attitude

    Now I Seek Employment

    Keep smiling people,


  64. Jerome Hinds


    April 18th, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Say something about how the blp treat poor people


    You spend so much time in your BEE hive that you often ” miss ” the callous treatment your BLP colleagues dish out to people….!

    But here is an update :

    1. The folks at Emmerton….!

    ** Broken promises about their removal for years now.

    2. Mr. Clyde Denny who gave up his house for the Eagle Hall market years now….this was recently highlighted in the press……!

    ** Broken promises again.

    3. The treatment of police force ……being forced to work from containers….!

    ** Owen Arthur says there are not SPECIAL…..!
    He puts to work in a container to demonstrate his view.

  65. DONQ

    Three things in Barbados “service” industry that delude me…. the first is “the finger”, i.e., “Please hold a moment”… I feel I would hold that finger and break it off…what is so hard in flashing a smile, and saying those words instead of erecting the finger of impatience – I am not there to bother you, I am a customer and have come with my enquiry at your point of sale.

    Second, the “overtalk” i.e., whilst being served, the banter between co workers of what, and who they did or saw the night before, and what manner of “gawblimma lashes” someone needs to get retribution. Not on… I have actually had to repeat the same query more than twice on occasion, as clearly I was interrupting a more juicy conversation than I could offer.

    Third, “the face” i.e, the customer two in front of me might have p@@’d you off, but I have not, so why must I get your post p@@-off venom.

    By the time I get to the grocery, I too have had a long and challenging day, except mine would probably have started before the cashiers, floor staff etc., as I believe they work on shift basis.

    I always try the old fashioned route of the three
    p’s .. .Poor Peaceful and Polite.

    It’s worked for me over the years, sometimes despite the circumstances put before me. Who would have known BIM would have bcome the over-priced nation where Poor in fact does come first of all…

    Oh yea…. some other really pleasant and professional behaviour Bajan workers specialise in whilst on the job … an inhaler up one nosehole, a pen/pencil jukking down in the ear, the grunting throat clearing (like a turtle mating), and “uh huh”, instead of “thank you” or “yes”….

    So, nuff said for now… peace out.

  66. Yardbroom

    Did you make that up, or is it true? I had to smile, we have been there.
    Well said.

  67. Rumplestilskin

    However, this thing works both ways.

    A few weeks ago I made sure to comment on the perfect service, particularly attitude, I received from a cashier/ sales assistant.

    I turned to the ‘lady’ behind me and commented that this is the service every store should have.

    I got a practially poker faced, sour look from the ‘lady’ customer. Maybe she thought it was not my place to praise the sales girl?

    At least the sales girl seemed pleased with the encouragement.

    I have told my wife before that if I ever need staff to set up a business I am not advertising unless the position is specialised.

    I will ‘hand pick’ staff from whom I see working.

    That way you get people who do what you want rather than someone who ‘interviews’ well.

    I have a colleague who has done this twice and the two people have worked out very well indeed.

  68. Lady Tee

    Lady Tee
    April 17th, 2007 at 5:32 pm
    Oh my gosh, similar thing happened to me ….

    Only on Sunday I went into Big B supermarket. Even though the cashier hadn’t finished my transaction, when I handed her my magnacard, she said it was too late and that I’ll have to go to customer service (I had part paid in USD). I accepted that. She then gave me my receipt minus my 2 cents change. I bought it to her attention that she forgot my change, I was told, none too pleasantly “It’s only 2 cents!” Usually I would’ve insisted on my ‘only 2 cents’, but I didn’t want to hold up the queue. Anyway, with 2 heavy bags in each hand I made my way over to the customer service desk. I got in line behind two gentlemen and managed to slide my magnacard and receipt along the counter because my hands were full. The not so friendly cashier then came over to me with 2 cents hand. As my hands were still full, I indicated for her for put the money on the counter. She then literally threw the money in front of me onto the counter, turned on her heals and strode back to her station (she had a point to prove). Both the gentlemen infront of me and the casheir looked shocked at her behaviour. The gentleman remarked on her rudeness several times. I do believe the lady behind the counter was too afraid to say anything (maybe they are friends). I remarked to the lady behind the counter that if I were to do such a thing, that there’d be an outcry…. I spoke to a manager (Mr. Durant) to make a formal complaint, he said that he had to report it to another manager as he is not in charge!!?? I left my name and number so that I could receive a formal apology. Nothing as yet. Like the above, I am a black Barbadian born in England, accent and all…


    Received apology from Big B

  69. jinxoo7

    Lady T,

    I decided to “boycott” Big Bs some time ago when at the cashier with my weekly shopping, a manager responded rather aggressively to my query about exorbitant pineapple prices. He raised his voice ,
    ( for other shoppers to know he was a manager i suppose) and proceeded to argue alone (because i refused to engage in a shouting match) that i the consumer did not know about the duties ect.. they had to pay neither was i “aware ” that the competing supermarket across the street used “underhanded” methods to sell their fruits at a considerably cheaper prices .
    The other reason…. oh i had walked through an aisle past a male employee, packing the shelves and heard the familiar “Bajan mating call” pppppppppssssssssssssssssssss!!!
    I immediately voiced a complaint to a male supervisor. His response …….. ” But what you want me to do” ?

    Need i say more????

  70. Sapidillo

    As far as customer service is Bim, it depends on whom you come in contact; it seems to depend on the side of the bed that individual/employee may have got up.

    One day, I visited a store and the sales person was very nice, professional — to me, a model customer rep. I went back into the store the following week to make another purchase and to ask a question; that same sales person had seem to turn beast — was short of manners, etc. If I had not dealt with her in the past, I would have said that she needed to be trained and/or retrained.

    I’ve noticed that most of this behavior starts at the top – down; somewhat of an inbred mentality. Some of these people at the top of the ladder were once at the bottom and took thier unmannerly behavior to the top with them, so they can’t say anything to thier subordinates because many of the subs may have learned from them.

    I’ve also seen this being short of manners at the Airport by some of our Immigration and Custom Officers. Bim seem to have gone from bad to worse when it comes to customer service in all areas.

  71. samizdat

    Interesting post, JPayne. You make some valid points.

    One thing, though. Why refer to white people as “Caucasian”? It’s an outdated, widely discredited and (to many whites) vaguely offensive anthropological term – though I’m aware it’s still commonly used in the USA.

    I’m not Caucasian. I’m white. Just as (I assume) you’re black, not Negroid…

  72. Samizdat

    1. As said: not “empty rhetorical flourish” except maybe for the jaded and cynical.

    2. The “pudding and souse tittle-tattle” (that turn of phrase does suit you so) – I met the Jewish American director of the BTA in New York, Bill Silvermintz around 2003/4. I know he was still there in 2006 and maybe still there right now for all I know.

    3. As for the insinuation of anti-Semitism. Huh!!! It’s so interesting to me how often that term rears its ugly head in conversations whenever one identifies someone as Jewish. Implicit in its use is a veiled threat designed to silence the speaker. Well Samizdat, and what if I were being anti-Semitic? What are YOU going to do, put me over your knees and spank me? Call the Anti-Defamation League? Go right ahead – not the spanking of course. I’m sure they would get a good laugh.

    If I had said he was an Arab American (which I would have done if he were) would you have insinuated anti-Semitic as well? After all they are Semites too? Or is it just because I identified him as Jewish American (which he was)? What if I had said he was African American or Chinese American? All of which I would have used were they appropriate to identify them as part of the ‘foreign expert syndrome’. The point of the identification was that he was not, one of the “brightest and best” of Barbados.

    4. You know what? Perhaps, that “unpleasant odour ” you detect is coming from within.

  73. guest 23

    This is not only common in Barbados. This happens in many countries including USA, I should say especially there. It seems that many seem to believe that Barbados is above what happens in the outside world. My advice is to wake up and smell the coffee. Barbados is affected by the same social and economic ills as the rest of the world and will react accordingly. It sickens me to see that every time something happens in this country people try to give the impression that it an exclusivity. or it is that we think of Barbados as such a paradise that we appear to be shocked to our core if these things happen? Maybe it is that we can not effect change in a realistic way so we choose to post unrealistic ones in forums such a this.

  74. True Native

    Wait, just a minute – so because it happens in the “rest of the outside world”, that should make it okay for it to happen in Barbados? We must just roll over and die?

  75. jinx


    From other Caribbean Islands to Europe and the Middle East why is it that i have rarely encountered such blatant disregard for the customer???.
    I stood with a shopping list in my hands at Carters yesterday feeling very lost, whilst three sales assistants sauntered past me chuckling amongst themselves.Yes! Indeed i do expect assistance to be offered:
    I have this constant tensed feeling (only in Barbados) just wondering what the response would be should i /should`nt i ,Oh Dear, get really bold and ask him/her (politely of course)..”Could i ask you to ring your other branch for this item? or disturbing a “little lunchtime nap” to make an inquiry?
    Mind you i am seeing some improvement lately at other businesses. A few are truly making an effort.
    But how long will it take before “bad service” is experienced once in a blue moon?
    It costs nothing to be nice………..