Adonis Diaries

The “Jamaican syndrome”: Discrimination against your own types?

Posted on: January 20, 2012

The “Jamaican syndrome”: Discrimination against your own types?

In Jamaica and the Antilles islands, slaves were brought in from Africa to cultivate sugar cane fields.  Harvesting sugar canes is different from picking cotton in south USA: You need the proper industries to process the sugar canes in the fields, and thus, you need to train slaves to maintain and run the factories

In Jamaica, a British colony, the lighter-shade former slaves, from successive breeding with the whiter people, acquired the same rights in society before the darker-shade former slaves, and they were very prized among the members of the same family.

There are far more dangerous and insidious discrimination among the “colored” people in Jamaica. The Jamaican sociologist Fernando Henriques wrote:

“The most lightly colored will be favored at the expense of the other members in a family. In adolescence, and until marriage, the darker members will be kept out of the way when friends of the “fairer” members are being entertained.

The fair child is regarded as raising the “color of the family” (by a notch toward white), and nothing must be put in the way of his/her success… A fair person will try to sever social relations he may have with the darker relatives…The darker members of the “Negro family” will encourage the efforts of a very fair relative to “pass” for white.

The practices of intra-family relations lay the foundation for the public manifestation of color prejudices…”

Malcolm Gladwell, in “Outliers“, recounts the story of his aunt.

Malcolm’s aunt was on a train to meet her darker colored daughter and she fell in love with a lighter-colored gentleman. As she stepped out of the train, the aunt passed her daughter without saluting or acknowledging her.

After many violent riots in Jamaica in 1835, the British Empire started extending grants for higher education in England to the brilliant students of colored emancipated slaves.  The aunt of Gladwell was among the recipients of these grants.

As the concept goes: “If a progeny of young colored children is brought forth, these are emancipated…”

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