“Rihanna syndrome” raises ugly head again in Barbados as former Prime Minister cautions against whites.

UPDATED: July 6, 2011

A chap in Australia of all places linked to this story and wrote a very good piece on racism. We’ll leave this at the top for a day because his piece is worth a few minutes of your time and it will make you think…

Bishoz: Racism. I don’t get it.

BFP’s original story as published September 1, 2010…

Is Rihanna’s skin dark enough for former PM Owen Arthur? Are her features “African” enough?

Light-skinned, Indian and Chinese Barbadians cringe at the return of institutionalized racial politics. Will tourists and foreign investors get nervous too?

It’s been almost three years since Rihanna told the world that she was bullied in school for being “white”. That virulent racism that Rihanna spoke about is not only alive and well – it’s thriving in Barbados thanks in part to former Prime Minister Owen Arthur.

Last weekend former Prime Minister Owen Arthur urged Barbados citizens to embrace “racial pride” – but only if your skin is dark enough and you’re not of White, Guyanese, Indian or Chinese heritage. Speaking to a Barbados Labour Party gathering, Mr. Arthur “accused members of the governing DLP of lacking racial and national pride.” (The Nation article Arthur: No DLP national pride)

Whipping up the anti-white sentiment further, Mr. Arthur said, “There is a group of people who are not committed to economic democracy. The Barbados Labour Party was formed 72 years ago to break the stranglehold of white economic power. We are now in danger of seeing a fundamental reversal of earlier gains. We have now to fear a reversal of our standard of living. We have to stand up and be counted.”

Oh yes. The old political fallback position “Beware the whites”, and when that doesn’t work, it’s “Beware the Guyanese mango sellers*” or “Beware the Chinese rat catchers*”. In the recent past it’s been a proven winning political formula – but what damage it does to our future and our ability to progress as individuals and as a nation.

Rihanna: Guyanese mother. Is she black, white? How should she embrace Owen Arthur's "racial pride"?

Fostering racial tension to bring in the votes and to cover-up Arthur-Mottley government failures, corruption and taxpayer rape.

Race consciousness is always just below the surface in Barbados, but considering our history, who can blame us? When the slaves were freed the plantation aristocracy didn’t surrender the land, the banks, the connections and the political control of the island’s resources. In short, the white aristocracy and lesser whites too maintained the means – and the knowledge (that’s important!) – of production and profit.

No Sir… it took a hundred more years of education, agitation, prayer, activism and then violence and riots to even start the process of allowing dark-skinned Bajans to share in the potential of their own country. After that it took World War II, the demise of the British Empire, the rise of the sugar beet in the USA and many other factors to set the stage for Bajan independence and black majority rule in 1966.

But after almost 44 years of independence and black majority governments, Mr. Arthur takes an international financial crisis and declares that those WHITES are causing “a fundamental reversal of earlier gains” and “a reversal of our standard of living.”

The world has news for Mr. Arthur… whether in China, the USA, England, Dubai, Brazil or South Africa – EVERYBODY is seeing a reversal of the standard of living. Except that Mr. Arthur already knows that. Drunk or sober, Mr. Arthur is a master of propaganda and his choice to push the race button last weekend was calculated.

Yes, Arthur’s racist rant was evil, disgusting… but it was also a calculated viable strategy for short term political gain if one doesn’t care about the damage to our country. Indeed, Mr. Arthur’s words reinforce a bondage on our people that holds them down.

But racism might return the BLP to power and thereby enrich the BLP elites, so Arthur doesn’t care.

Words produce actions and consequences

Owen Arthur’s use of racial politics reinforces racial prejudices and perspectives held by large numbers of black(ish) Bajans. (I say “black-ish” because after hundreds of years of cross-race love we’re all mongrels on this island – even the “whites”, who when they travel elsewhere are often viewed as “black”.)

If Owen Arthur was a politician in the USA or Britain and he had called for “racial pride” for the majority race – to the exclusion of minority races – his statements would have caused a scandal. Not so in Barbados.

… to be continued in The Rihanna syndrome, Part II: Bajan racism is deeper than we’d like to admit

* The terms “Beware the Guyanese mango sellers” and “Beware the Chinese rat catchers” will be explored in Part II of this article.


Filed under Barbados, Celebrities, Culture & Race Issues, Human Rights, Politics, Race, Rihanna

43 responses to ““Rihanna syndrome” raises ugly head again in Barbados as former Prime Minister cautions against whites.

  1. Anonymous

    BFP , I am amazed that you guys still pay attention to that no – teeth “Wonder” Owen Arthur !

    He is fighting to avoid political extinction.

  2. Mathilde

    I wonder what all his white drinking buddies think of this, They probably know he doesnt mean it and only does it to rouse the rabble. He looooooves them too much!

  3. I don’t know Rihanna growing on me lately but politics is politics. They’ll do whatever it takes to gain a following that will win an election.

  4. Mobert

    What??? When I read it, if he was quoted correctly, I thought what rubbish.

    From the leader of a cabinet that sold the Barbados National Bank to Trinidadians?

    From the leader of a cabinet who wanted to sell so much land to foreigners and proudly stated that this was the only way to survive?

    A cheap, rabble-rousing, political ploy, as cheap as it gets.

    Come Honourable Sir, you can do better than THAT, you are capable of much better, why stoop so low?

    Please, feel free to attack policy decisions of the Government and voters such as I welcome strong opposition, but please do not run back to the old and long tried method of ‘that fellow got your job’, that is used in so many countries, right back to Germany before the war.

    That said, Rihanna does look lovely in that photo, yes?

  5. Capt. Nobody

    Gooshh I am confused now…BLP is not supposed to be the party favorite by white bajans?
    BFP, are you sure that Mr. Arthur said that??!!?

  6. Slap Happy


    Doesn’t Owen know that Barbados is foreign owned or for that matter controlled financially by whites? If those investor dollars ceased to exist tomorrow Barbados would hit rock bottom.

    Do they still about the German, French, Spanish etc race?

  7. Patience

    Wow…that article was funny…seriously…good thing I was there. Amazing what one can do when you jettison context out the window…reminds me of poor Shirley Sherrod being accused of being racist…only to discover that it was all about misdirection by the Right Wing Party.

    Big steupse awarded!

  8. Not so fast!

    Patience is using the old “you took me out of context” excuse for racism. Next it will be “Some of my best friends are guyanese”.

    Goin’ with Owen said wat he said. Think if the numbers were reversed and 94% of the population was white and the former white prime minister was saying “white pride!”

    You think on that, Patience.

  9. Analyzer

    Yes, I also though the BLP was who most of the Bajan whites vote for. This doesn’t make sense.
    If this is true he must be feeling desperate or he is looking for attention or is going senile.

  10. Mr. Owen Arthur is desperately trying to upstage Ms.Mia Mottley. After living it up with the white foreign investors, for fourteen long years, he now shouts:”Black Power.” This is by far the most oportunistic rant I have heard from a politician for a long time. It is time that Arthur realises that he is directly responsible for the following: failure to solve housing problem, failure to solve problems in the health sector, failure to solve the problems in public transportation, failure to pay for the building that Barak built, allowing thousands of dollars to be spent on a public beach bath, spending millions on Kensington and the attendant world cup fiasco and we can go on and on…nearly a billion dollars in over runs on public projects.
    Arthur needs to reflect on the damage he did to his own people and stop senseless political race baiting.

  11. If this is what he really said and meant, I am really really disillusioned. That kind of talk creates fear in both black and white folks. It is evil speak, which is why in most developed countries who have experienced war on their land, it is ILLEGAL to make such remarks in public. It is preaching hatred.
    Look what happened in Bosnia/Serbia not so long ago. Do you know why it happened? It was because of the mass murders that took place in the same countries in world war 2. Look up Jasenovac on Google and read the horror stories that were the result of preaching hatred.
    Racism is hatred and ignorance and comes directly from fear, not love.
    Please, god loving people of Barbados, do not allow this kind of talk to spread, it will be the destruction of this small society.

  12. perfect color

    Needless to say, whoever happens to be unfortunate enough to be in Owen’s bed, is the perfect color!

  13. ninemikemike

    Never mind caribman, Owen wasn’t incompetent at everything – he was very good at lining his pockets with money from dubious sources!

  14. what will they think of next

    Caribman, you forget to mention the cutting down of the ackee tree for over $6000.00 and still the ministry had to go and finish cut it down. The taxpayers got no refund of their money.

  15. runner

    but does he have a point ?.. just forget the messenger for a second..forget who support who.. forget the racist innuendo and forget that we see alot of broad brushes in painting people of one race or religion right bout hey

  16. yatinkiteasy

    Was the cheque he deposited to his account “white?”

  17. ARG Chronicles

    Listen .. I am amazed by the BLP on a whole, I have never really been impressed with Mr Arthur. His popularity was as a result of his opportunistic rise after Mr.Sandiford had made the hard choices and done the dirty by necessary work, and stabilize Barbados’s economy. I felt back then that Bajans were being taken for a ride by the BLP leader who saw a golden opportunity back then, to take advantage of Bajans, and once again he is seeking to drum up hate and discord in a time when we as bajans, white, brown, yellow and black, need to come together and work together and navigate this world initiated economic slump to survive. Mr.Arthur is truly a sleazy politician, who will seize any opportunity for his own selfish again, no matter what negative fall out it may have nationally or internationally. God have mercy on us, if Mr Arthur or Mia Mottley becomes prime minister in Barbados.

  18. Environmental Planner

    still with this black white thing? Be proud of who you are not matter what you look like! That is what we should be teaching our children!

  19. ninemikemike

    Environmental Planner – you are right, and that is the whole point of this article – the disgraceful exhibition of race-bating politics by scummy politicians.

  20. Yes lets stay on the point. We are all in this together. We need to help each other, and remember that we all need each other, rich and poor, from labourer to manager to owner. This massage needs to travel up and down the chain of command.
    All public speech should carry this uplifting message.
    As for politicians, they seem to have forgotten who they work for and who they have to answer to. They all too often display the basic attitude of an ignorant person who has been given power but has no moral or ethical boundaries.
    At the same time in this country, citizens have become corrupt in order to get the civil servants to perform their duties. Bribery is no longer a small matter. The cost of living in Barbados and the need for car, land etc. has increased considerably in the last 30 years. Very few are clean enough and courageous enough to stand up and say stop the rot !
    The economists in Barbados need to come up with a plan to boost the middle class and enable teachers, nurses, police officers, civil servants and other similar income earners to see a real benefit from their hard work, based on performance, as is usually the case in the private sector.
    This is not easy, not as easy as blaming the rich for the demise of the poor.
    I used to think that Owen was a clever economist and was capable of setting up a system that may allow this to happen, but I see he has lost it…..he wont get my vote next time.

  21. reality check

    Please delete those last reality check comments. Someone is improperly using this handle for more confusion.

    Owen, Hartley or whomever, get you own handle and stop trying to create disinformation and political opportunism!

    BFP, you might want to check the IP address

  22. BFP

    Hi reality check,

    Yup, we deleted them. Some joker out of Kingston Jamaica using your name.

  23. Robert

    He can’t fool me. I experienced too much

  24. Cuthbert Canecutter

    So let’s get this straight, BFP, if a body’s bigoted against Race? WRONG! But bigoted against Religion? RIGHT! So the only way you mind Bjerkhamn is if he was erecting minarets facing east? Read Malcolm X, Islam embraces all!

  25. 49

    Now that we’re down and out
    we tryin hard to be ‘de blackman party’.

    In other words, we trying to out-Dem the Dems.
    Lord ha’ mercy, dey desperate for power,nuh?!

    Sorry guys: you gotta wait at least two terms
    for the real Dems to loss de wuk so try en chill,
    an doan embarrass yuhself no further, please.

  26. 183

    Miss Fenty is a beautiful young lady
    and regardless of whether her skin colour is pink or purple
    she has done more to put lil Barbados on the map than even the Merrymen ever did!

    She sure has done more than the blp ever did..
    We should be thankful for who she is
    and all the free tourism advertisement that comes as part and parcel of who she is, and her origins of birth.
    No doubt she assiduously avoids reading any of the small-island-talk about her..

  27. 68

    This whole conversation is one large collection of garbage and lies, built on a false premise by Harley Henry and cohorts no doubt. The simple truth is that at NO TIME did Owen Arthur nor any of the other speakers at the Haggatt Hall meeting make any reference at all to RIHANNA or the colour of her skin.

    Mr Arthur’s comments about blackness have been taken completely out of context. He was denigrating the DEMS, who have always considered themselves “the representatives of Black people” in this country, as having effectively reversed the gains of Black economic enfranchisement brought about by The Adamses, and Barrow. The BLP speakers stated that the DEMS are now seemingly only interested in further enriching a small minority of wealthy white men. Whitemen like Berjkham, whom they see as possible successors to election campaign financiers, CLICO, who are now bankrupt.

    Michael Lashley has callously GIVEN AWAY the birthright of Barbadians by allowing Berjkham and company to have an enormous piece of land at $2 and $3 a square foot, which land they have then been allowed to mortgage to obtain cash to fund the development. The DEMS then turned around and leased another humongus piece of land for NINETY NINE YEARS at $100 per year, on which will be built service buildings which will be rented back to Government at various prices at an average of $150,000.00 per year.

    At the end of the project at Coverley, Berjkham and company will have realised nearly ONE BILLION DOLLARS IN PROFITS off the blood sweat and tears of Barbadian Taxpayers, some of whom will also be asked to pay EXHORBITANT PRICES for little boxes packed closely together, with breath-choking covenants.

    These are some of the matters that need to be addressed, not all those nonsensical lying diversions manufactured by Hartley and company!!

    Read BIG DEM FRANK DaSILVA’s column in the last weekend Nation, and tell me if that is not a man pleading with his own party to answer the charges. ANSWER THEM!! I saw DaSilva at the Haggatt Hall meeting casually intermingling with the large crowd, and feeling comfortable with them too.

  28. 68

    Another thing, any one with a modicum of commonsense and discernment can see that Messrs. Distant Voice, Carib man, Owen, Mobert, Not So Fast and a few others ARE ALL THE SAME PERSON. This is orchestrated garbage at its best!!

  29. Dessalines

    I dont find what Mr. Arthur said evil or even offensive to anyone considering Barbados’ history. It is factual so why not say it. Nothing wrong in asking a people who have been racially denigrated for centuries to embrace their racial identity. Why would the white bajans be ‘offended’ having benefited for years off the labour of blacks and free land now that Arthur is asking for equal distribution of the islands economic resources? I just dont get it.

  30. Pingback: Discovery Channel’s Treehugger.com picks up on Barbados Free Press articles « Barbados Free Press

  31. 243

    @RRRicky September 7, 2010 at 1:48 am

    “106, did you read what Rihanna said about being harassed for being “white” in Barbados?

    You think that was “manufactured”? You must live somewheres else.”

    Ricky’s post above is on another thread dealing with “The Rihanna Syndrome”. I thought that his comment above, and my response below, should be on this thread as well, unless BFP combine the two threads.

    My Response.

    @RRRicky, I meant “manufactured” in the sense that this whole discourse was predicated on the FALSE premise that Owen Arthur was just simply attacking white people and stirring up racial strife.

    By a large stretch, someone then took “their” distortion of what he said and attached it to a complaint of Rihanna’s going back to her childhood, which as far as I am aware, never really gained any credence in Barbados. I can’t at all recall public outcry nor agreement with that statement by Rihanna.

    Please read again and understand what I said in my earlier letter. Mr. Arthur’s remarks were in the context that through the massively inequitable distribution of profits to the Bjerkham Group, the present Government was in the process of rolling back the gains made in the area of Black economic enfranchisement progressed by The Adams’ and Right Excellent Erol Barrow.

    It was NOT an attack on white people. That’s the “manufacturing” I was speaking about.

    Regarding Rihanna’s complaint, exactly how much validity should we apply to her immature teenage perceptions about how others viewed her stature and tenure at Combermere School?

    As a matter of fact, the only instances that I can recall on the matter of harrassment on Whites in Barbados were during the Black Power Consciousness days, when Mr.Barrow himself stated (I think the ocassion was a political mass meeting) that he would place ALL the White people in Barbados on a schooner or a barge, and push it off the island from the Careenage. That statement I believe activated an exodus of whites, scurrying out of Barbados for places afar such as Australia and New Zealand.

    I am sure that the Honourable Mr. Barrow was only speaking in the heat of the moment; he was not expounding Government policy.

    No wonder this thread has only attracted FOUR comments. People are not interested and it’s a vain unfair attempt to attach dirt to Mr. Arthur.

  32. NotHappy

    Barbadian society becoming a bit too liberal for me boh. But see we wanna be developed so we looking at countries like UK and America and saying man, we welcome all this and that – but look at what happening in their country, look at the outcry and the bombings and then ask yourself if Owen Arthur wrong in what he says.
    Look at the countries all these ppl come from except whites and see how monoracial their societies are.
    They have no problem with chanting racial pride, so why cant we.

  33. Question is. Do Whites still dominate the means of production in Barbados? And has the domination increased or decreased of late? I don’t know much about Barbados, but many times people like to dismiss those who mention race without actually seeing if they are correct.

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  35. Aisha

    All light skinned persons in Barbados who went to a government school can tell you about being harassed about being “white”. Half of dem backwards children never seen a white person before off of TV and then wanna tell you crap about “you’re grandparents owned us”. And don’t make it seem like it stops after common entrance, I’m working now and I still experience it.
    If Rihanna want to talk about it, oh well.
    I personally am tired about how Bajans like to hide up this racism that exists in this country. Barbados is not racially diverse at all and in a society like ours some things do exist.

  36. wilma WARD

    I think that Owen ARTHUR should never be elected again to be the leader of Barbados. He is living in the dark ages. Barbados needs all the support it can get considering that it has no resources. I do not see anything wrong with white people. They make good managers, have good marketing contacts, can command a world stage and will raise our standing in the global village. I am surprised at Owen Arthur. It is clear that he should not be reelected. C an I point individuals to Robert Mugabe’s regime and the impact on the “once bread basket of Africa”?

  37. Owen Arthur wants the country to fall that is why he made those racial comments. Bajans becareful don’t let Barbados be like the less unfortunate islands. No offense, we don’t want to fall like Haiti and the other countries.

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  39. just want to know

    It amazes me when I hear people who are pushing politics start with racism. Who sent back all the Guyanese, and accuse Arthur of hiring them to build his house, aren’t they dark skin? Who constantly accuse us of being racist against the poor black man in Barbados? Come again let us talk about relevant things like our economy which is going nowhere but down! The most racist I find in Barbados are black people. A friend of mine, a black man who was parked in a supermarket car park was hit by another car, she called her boyfriend who owned a company here in Barbados, another black man, and the first thing he told my friend when he arrived, ” you black people are all the same,” with expletives, gave the wrong phone number to my friend and wrong insurance company. It is a good thing my friend had enough sense to take the name of the person and car number, so he was able to get compensated for hi car. Give us a break, talk about what is happening with the fishing agreement, talk about trade between Caricom, talk about why St.Lucia is having more tourists than Barbados. Talk about why L&P is so high, Talk about why our food bill is so high every time we go to the supermarket, not irrelevant things. Give us things that we can say well The DLP is doing something for us and for Barbados

  40. Freelance

    One moment BFP….how can Owen Arthur be so racist when everybody knows that the man has strict connections with the local white entepreneurs? BFP seems trying to misinform people for someone benefit…I remember a letter from a reader about the new foolish health policy created by D. Inniss, you BFP confused people writing “health assistance to visitors?” in the title, but the anonymous writer never mentioned the word “visitors” and instead mentioned “foreign residents”!! What is your game BFP??!

  41. bajeabroad

    Ratings….ratings…ratings…..this blog PATHETIC!!!!!

  42. J. Payne

    Ohhh. And don’t forget… Beware of the Taiwanese… “They’re paying for the DLP elections.” Anyone remember that?

    Article: China-Taiwan tussle in Bim politics
    Date: Last updated: 08 January, 2008 – Published 16:49 GMT
    Source: bbccaribbean.com – BBC Caribbean

    Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/caribbean/news/story/2008/01/080108_chinataiwan.shtml

    Prime Minister, Owen Arthur has accused Taiwan of giving financial support to the opposition party Democratic Labour Party’s election campaign to secure diplomatic recognition.

    He also warned that Barbados will break off its 30 years of diplomatic relations with China in favour of Taiwan, if the DLP is victorious at the polls.

    The DLP is the main challenger to Prime Minister Arthur’s ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

    General elections will be held in Barbados on Tuesday January 15 (2008).
    [/ END SNIP]

  43. sam cooke and duppy

    owen so foolish he aint realise that most of the blp finances come from white bajans.