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Plantation And Race In The Caribbean

1740 words - 7 pages

Plantation and Race in the Caribbean

The incredible history of the Caribbean is indeed, one of the most rich, and at the same time troubling, of the New World. Its incredibly heterogeneous population and its social racial base make it a very difficult place to, for instance, live and raise a family.
While some children may have a future because of their light complexion, the others are doomed to a life of poverty in the unforgiving culture and society of the Caribbean.
Three people have taken it upon themselves to portray the Caribbean in their own ways. The opinions of Sidney Mintz, Michelle Cliff and Antonio Benitez-Rojo are made clear in their works and are discussed below in relation to two main issues; race and the plantations.

The Issue of Race

Perhaps out of personal experience and perhaps out of direct experience with people of the Caribbean, Michelle Cliff makes, by far, the biggest deal out of the race issue and the role that it played (and still plays) in Jamaica. Benitez-Rojo and Mintz certainly mention race as a factor in determining social status as well, but they do not base their articles on this. Cliff dedicates both Abeng and her article to this issue. It seems to have touched her in a way that the other issues have not. Her works are far more personal than the other two, and this is certainly the most distinguishing characteristic between her and the others. Her accounts, though fictional, are much more gripping and interesting, because they involve so much more feeling and emotion. The others seem to be nothing more than basic historical accounts of the Caribbean. It is impossible to look at her novel for more than a few moments and not pick up some sort of passage about the tragedy of this issue. Therefore, for our purposes, we will only mention a few. An underlying manifestation of this issue throughout the book is portrayed through the lives of the Savages. Boy is white, and is very intent on being so. He does not help out dark people, and only condemns them when he sees them. Clare’s mother, Kitty is darker and is the opposite of Boy in her treatment of the darker colored people on the island. She does not talk much when Boy criticizes ‘her people,’ but near the end of the book both parents make their feelings abundantly clear in their argument over the black woman urinating on the side of the street. Boy says to his family, "What are we to do with people like that." (Cliff, 1984, p.130) Kitty retorts, "Where do you get this ‘we’ stuff, white man?" (Ibid.) Boy responds with, "Come on, Kitty, no matter what you do with them, they’ll never be like us." (Ibid., p.131) This is too much for Kitty, who in a rare state of rage yells, "Why don’t you shut your filthy hateful mouth, you damn cuffy. She’s probably pregnant and alone—something you would not know about." (Ibid.) With that, Kitty makes him stop the car and so she could give the woman all the money that she had on her. This example illustrates perfectly how...

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