The Amistad – When One Branch Of The Family Tree Used To Own The Other…

With the Amistad in town, a few of us who are café au lait (or “misto” for our loyal readers at Starbucks) might have a different perspective than some other folks… or maybe not. Everyone looks at the Amistad with their own eyes, but in our home the ship’s visit is a catalyst that makes us talk not only about the history of these fields, but about where we as individuals and as a family come from. Even one of our family who always says (or pretends to say) “skin colour don’t matter” finally admitted today that yes, skin colour still matters on this rock.

Not the way it used to, and not as some might think – but it still matters to some.

It is no secret that we have some relatives in New York, and when the girls get together whether in Bridgetown or Brooklyn, do you know what the sisters do first thing? Out come the arms and they put them side by side to see who’s lighter or darker on this visit. Little sister from NYC is always lighter in the winter, but darker in the summer because she works outside.

When they compare skin tones I always ask them why they do it. The answer is always an evasion or question about don’t I have something to do somewhere else – but they always do it first thing when they haven’t seen each other for a while.

I say “What does it matter?” and they laugh and say that it matters to them. Every time.

The sisters only do it when they’ve been apart for a while and only when they first meet. After the first meeting it doesn’t happen again on that trip.

And just like the girls getting together causes them to think about their skin tones, the visit of the Amistad causes us to think about some of the history and family connections that we might not have considered for some time.

I was mightily pleased to read Wendy Burke’s excellent article Drums Beat For Amistad in the Nation News, because she and some of the people she quotes see a purpose in the Amistad’s visit and mission that goes far beyond simply remembering the past. For the greatest value in the Amistad is not that it makes us examine the entire truth about the history of Atlantic slavery – although it does that well and so it should.

The greatest value in the Amistad is that it reminds us that this evil of slavery continues in many forms worldwide to this day.

When I see the Amistad, I think of the millions who remain enslaved in Mauritania, Côte d’Ivoire, Pakistan, Brazil and the gulags of China and North Korea.

Think of those wretched souls when you visit the Amistad, and then put a few extra dollars in the box so she can continue to fight like the warship that she really is.

*** Thanks to our friend Light Skinned-ed Girl for the photos of her great, great, great grandmothers on her mum and dad’s sides.


Filed under Africa, Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, History, Race, Slavery

14 responses to “The Amistad – When One Branch Of The Family Tree Used To Own The Other…


    This is a very interesting article.

    Thank you BFP.


    BFP says,

    Our BLP friends who have been threatening Ian Bourne and disrupting free speech left a nice comment from the IP

    Thank you.

  2. Tic Tac Toe


    You still don’t get it, do you?

    Oh dear… not everyone is as slow as you are.

    Man, I thought you would have realized by now, but it seems not.

  3. JC

    I like the idea that the Amistad is docked in Bridgetown. I for one will take my children there to see this great symbol. This is an interesting article I LOVE it!

  4. The Truth

    The whole idea of just one muntiny on one slave ship in 300 years sounds a bit strange to me.
    How could 20 Europeans arrive by boat the size of the Amistad on the African continent and capture 500 slaves? They could not with out help. Who helped these Europeans.

    I spoke to a lady on the Amistad who spoke with and African accent, she explained that the slaves we captured by Africains and sold to the Europeans using a barter system.

    Africans sold Africans to the Europeans for beads and shells…….shocking !!!

  5. Your article is right on target! We are republishing/linking it on the Amistad’s official website.


    Hi Wojtek,

    We’re honoured that you would like to use our piece. Please feel free to use that or any other original works so long as you credit Barbados Free Press.

    And thank you so much for the wonderful job you and the entire Amistad crew are doing.


  6. Pingback: Amistad Official Website Features Barbados Free Press Article « Barbados Free Press

  7. Pingback: May Is Mixed Experience History Month: Bi-Racial? Tri-Racial? Mutt? Mixed-Marriage? May Is For You! « Barbados Free Press

  8. pissoff

    how stupid are you fools. the jews started slavery , it started with the v.o.c company in amsterdam, at that time the jews was in kahoots with william van orange nassau, at the same time the british had ghana-french-sinegal and so on, so no african sold his brother into slavery. but i know the BLP/DLP are selling you out to the highest bidder. And this is the 21st centry.

  9. balderdash

    The jews started slavery in Amsterdam? That is so hilarious. The Egyptians had slavery thousands of years ago. The tribes of the south Pacific had slavery forever. The Iroquois of Canada had slaves long before the arrival of the Vikings or Cabot.

    Who is this “I hate the Jews” person, BFP? They infest your blog under different names and keep coming back. Do what you usually do and we might have a few weeks of peace.

  10. pissoff

    (balderdash) yes there were slaves everywhere in the world, but the first people to comercialize slavery, was the jew, the voc company in amsterdam. check it out on the internet. And what do you mean by BFP do what u usually do, and WE might have a few weeks of peace. how can u be rasist to people you dont even know, normal people discuss on blogs.

  11. West Side Davie

    The Muslims were the first to commercialize and codify slavery. The 14th and 15th century slave wars along the Barbary Coast were all about Muslims expanding their slave trade. Look it up. Study history and cut de crap “pissoff”

  12. West Side Davie

    The slave markets of Afrika long preceded the slave markets of Georgia and Virginia!

  13. pissoff

    i am not here to wage war on jews, just speaking the truth. wish god gave you your own country, and what a punishment, jews got for slavery. and god is not finish.

  14. “Hello, this is Bill Pinkney , first Captain of the Freedom Schooner Amistad , making an emergency call. This is an “S.O.S.” – an urgent request for you to help “Save our Ship.” (…) The funding sources that a non-profit organization like AMISTAD has
    previously relied on are no longer available; other schooners have shut
    down operations and laid-off their crews and captains. We at AMISTAD
    have been determined to keep our commitments but to do so we must keep
    our ship going, and sustaining the goodwill and its crew – can
    not continue without your help.” (Facebook)