Former Miss Barbados – Renee Rawlins Thomas Inspires Young Women To Higher Education


Black Pearls In Toronto, Canada

(That’s Renee in the blue dress)

Excerpts from The Toronto Star Online…

“The media is not seeing the educated, upwardly mobile black community in the GTA who are working very hard,” says Renee Rawlins Thomas, 29, executive director of the three-year-old Black Pearls Community Services Inc. (

Black Pearls was born out of concern that stereotypes and negative images were holding back women of promise.

The non-profit agency runs a book club, holds financial seminars, finances scholarships for young women, plans an annual fundraising black tie gala and is setting out to provide etiquette classes for young women seeking to break into Canada’s corporate boardrooms.

Rawlins Thomas, a former Miss Barbados and a Toronto high school guidance counsellor, is working on her doctorate in education and is on maternity leave with her second child.

In her spare time, she and the other members of the group meet in coffee shops and each other’s living rooms to plan programs that will help young black women reach for the stars.

Mostly, though, they lead by example, says Rawlins Thomas.

“We say, we’ve done this so you can do this, too,” she says, adding that this year’s $95-a-ticket gala on Dec. 15 in the elegant Arcadian Court will raise funds for post secondary scholarships.

Rawlins Thomas wishes everyone could get a glimpse of the gala crowd – 150 young black men and women decked out in formal duds, a far cry from the ghetto culture of today’s popular music.

“It’s a unique environment. They are young, urban and edgy.”

The group has learned that attitudes and stereotypes are hard to change. Examples of this are the U.S. radio announcer who referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” and television’s Dog the Bounty Hunter, recently bounced off the air, after being recorded using the “n” word…

… read the entire article at the Toronto Star Black Pearls Offer Inspiration


Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues

6 responses to “Former Miss Barbados – Renee Rawlins Thomas Inspires Young Women To Higher Education

  1. Anonymous

    Home growing

    Published on: 11/23/07.

    AT 72 years, St Clair Maynard has no intention of giving up on his kitchen garden that has blossomed into a small farm.


    BARBADIANS who grow their own food are supporting Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s call for people to plant some of what they eat.

    While backyard gardening, or kitchen gardening, as it is more widely known, is slowly dying, there are still many people who are involved in planting their own staples and vegetables.

    When the WEEKEND NATION spoke to some of these people, they all agreed with the Prime Minister, with some saying that Barbadians should not wait for someone to tell them to plant their own food.

    All over the island, people, especially women, have small gardens in their backyards where they grow potatoes and yams and a variety of vegetables, herbs and seasonings.

    Seventy-five-year-old Eulene Wilkinson, of Bridgecot, St George, said the proceeds from her backyard farming helped to provide for her large family of 11 children and husband.

    “At that time I had a lot of ground in the back of the house and I used to plant to put food on my table, but one day a friend came to me and he said he was going to take some of my produce to the hotels. He did and I started selling to them.”

    Now that all of her children have grown and moved away from home, Wilkinson said she did not give up on farming even though she only had two mouths to feed now.

    Fresh produce

    While she plants on a small area at the side of the house, she said there was nothing like picking fresh food from her small garden.

    “I don’t spray them, so I know what I am eating,” she said, while confirming that planting her food had reduced her grocery bill.

    In Airy Hill, St Joseph, St Clair Maynard, who could be considered a true son of the soil, started backyard gardening when he was eight years old, helping out his parents.

    It became his life and blossomed into a career for the 72-year-old.

    “I plant everything,” he stated, pointing to a field of fresh lettuce almost ready for picking. “I spend about four hours every day out here. It helped me to send my nine children to school and to build my house,” he said with pride.

    In relation to the Prime Minister’s statement, the elderly man said: “Nobody should wait for someone to tell them to plant food.”

    When Carron Burgess moved to a new housing development in Westview, Rock Hall, St Thomas, five years ago, she thought about following suit by planting flowers and plants around her house like so many of her neighbours.

    But then she realised she could kill two birds with one stone – she could plant a kitchen garden instead which would look pleasing, and yet satisfy the needs of her family.

    It worked. She created neat garden beds at the front of her hardwood home, separated the beds with concrete blocks and began planting vegetables including cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach and sweet peppers.

    Now the 35-year-old woman, who is also involved in the food business, and neighbour Alicia Willoughby, 25, work diligently on the six-bed garden.

    “We split what we sow and even give to some of the neighbours. When I heard what the Prime Minister said, I told myself that everybody should try to plant something. These days people are looking for everything in a can but there is nothing wrong with having fresh vegetables.”

    Also in Rock Hall, another woman, who did not want to give her name, said: “I grow everything,” while pointing to beds of corn, cucumbers, seasonings, potatoes, yams and other starches. She also has sugar cane, as well as a variety of fruit trees such as lime, grapefruit, orange and apple.

    “I grew up in the country and my mother use to plant, so when I moved up here I decided to plant my own food and share it with my mother because she is too old to do that now.

    “Earlier this year I reaped 60 pounds of potatoes and 40 pounds of yams. I shared them with my friends and family. I am not going to buy anything which I know I can grow in the ground!”

  2. reality check

    What a fresh inspiration!!!

  3. Anonymous

    Barbados to get a new $700 million hospital.

    Good! Well done!


    BFP Replies,

    Really? And where is the money going to come from?

    And who is going to make it happen? The same folks who blew GEMS, Hardwood Housing, NHC, Cricket World Cup, Kensington Oval? Them?

    Why on earth would you believe a single word they speak?

  4. reality check

    once again an anonymous blogger ( BLP )
    is trying to change subjects with a discussion about Owen and his self help gardening advisory.

    If Barbadians are going to have to grow their own food because the tourism industry has been ruined, the offshore investors are tired of being abused and the IMF dictates draconian rules because of the unsustainable debt, then the survival gardening will happen because of Owens actions, tiefing and incompetency.

    Barbadians are resilient and will survive despite Owen and the BLP not because of them.

    If Thompson thinks for one moment he can step into the business as usual kind of conduct that Owen has perpetrated on the citizens of Barbados for 13 years without immediate censorship, let him and the DLP think again.

    Accountability, transparency, freedom of information, honesty and good governance are simple concepts but not very well understood by our two parties.

  5. Bajan Observer

    Can someone give the phone number of this pretty girl at the center of the picture with a b/w dress.
    She looks luscious!

  6. Ernest DeBrew

    Since Rihanna is from the Barbados, man, Barbadian women are attractive.

    If any guy wants to find an exotic and charming lady, you need to go to the Caribbean or Latin America.

    The Caribbean has island girls and Latin America has Latina women.