As a reputation specialist I am always tracking with interest the public’s response to issues.
But does the ‘public’ really respond? Who is the public? A people as a collective is usually referred to as public. But there is no such thing as a public response in my humble opinion. There are only individuals or groups with agendas. If we accept this thesis then we have to put a microscope on ever opinion that is placed in the ‘public domain’ to see the underlining motive for it (and there is always one).
One of the major flaws with black people is that we do not write our own history. Our communities are split up and we can hardly track our ancestors back three generations. We also have a historical reputation of being our own worst enemy, for instance, my 13 year old son only this week asked me if it was truly black people who sold other black people into slavery. As a practitioner of offering politically correct answers I took him back to the roots of slavery, from the Slavic roots of the word, the other type of slavery that you could purchase yourself out of, working my way to the worst type of slavery ever, the one based on skin colour, and the notion that a people could be lower than cattle. I did not want him to go away thinking only black people were slaves.
This leads me to Sir Roy Trotman’s reference (during the May Day 2012 Celebrations) to an employer as an “Egyptian Jew” and the ‘publics’ out cry against it. Really and truly if I was Sir Roy’s PR specialist I would have explain all the pitfalls for going in that direction. The resultant criticisms some very baseless, some quite convincing, even at the level of Parliament. The perception perpetuated was that Sir Roy, being a dinosaur, was not in touch with the “new” pulse of the society. But what really is the truth is that our Barbadian forefathers have failed to give us a strong understanding of our history. If some of the writers had witnessed and experienced the fight for worker’s rights in the 60s and 70s, they would not have been so critical of Sir Roy who from his vantage point must have be foaming at the mouth at the thought of an employer looking to undo the strides he and the founders had made for labour rights on the island.
Of everything I have read Dr Tennyson Joseph’s column “ All Ah We Is One” sums up the negative responses best – “ A basic consciousness of the role of the trade union movement in the West Indian independence project and in social advancement, and indeed the slightest personal identification with that history, would have been enough to counsel silence”. (To be continued)