Book Review: Consequences Of Class And Color

Consequences Of Class And Color: West Indian Perspectives, edited and introduced by David Lowenthal and Lambros Comitas

This book is embarrassing. This book is certainly not worthless, but its worth is entirely in demonstrating the lack of fitness, moral and intellectual, on the part of the people who write in it to be worthy of leading countries and institutions in the Caribbean. There are some important people who wrote in this particular book, some of whom have held a great deal of power, including heads of state in both Trinidad and Jamaica, and this book makes them look like ridiculous tools whose only arguments against the backwardness of their societies and the inabilities of their nations to progress amount to some form of “blame whitey.” Over and over again the authors claim that if the people of the Caribbean felt proud about themselves that they would succeed like the West does, and that the backwardness of Jamaica and Trinidad and Haiti consists in the aping of English and American and French habits and in the shame that people feel about their own ways and their own languages, and that if this was gotten rid of then success would follow. It would make for excellent comedy reading except that the editor and the writers of these various terrible perspectives are themselves entirely in earnest. Sadly, they are mistaken.

This book is a bit more than 300 pages long and it consists of eighteen readings on two subjects. After an editor’s note and an introduction that discusses cultural expressions of class and color (of which this book contains some pretty terrible examples), the first part of the book discusses class and color from a variety of elite mostly black and brown Caribbean sources (I). So we see Marcus Garvey talk about the race question in Jamaica (1) and see others talk about personality patterns, social class, and aggression in the British West Indies (2), or the myth and reality of threatening masses (4), or the middle classes (5), or read some anonymous comments about race and realism (7) as well as supposedly favored minorities (9) that demonstrates the anti-Semitism and anti-Chinese feelings from those who could not compete with them. After that we see some comments about tutelage, expression, and creativity, which includes some whining comments about education in the British West Indies (10) from a longtime leader of Trinidad & Tobago, education and occupational choice in rural Jamaica (12), language and society in St. Lucia (13), French and Creole Patois in Haiti (14) that claims that life is only to be found in the black language and not in the white one, nothing like anti-white racism there, problems of cultural integration in Trinidad (15), or various comments on the state of literature in the West Indies (17, 18), after which the book ends with selected readings and an index.

By and large, this book consists of a lot of people who have a lot of envy problems that they need to work through. This book demonstrates the same kind of useless thinking and ridiculous failure to take personal responsibility or to encourage others to take personal responsibility that one typically finds in the whining of the left. The sort of writings one sees here ought to disqualify one for higher office, and if what is found here matches your own political worldview, then I have no respect for what you think about matters of culture and class and how people should deal with such matters. All throughout this book there is the envious and hostile attitude towards those whom the authors consider to be elites, which is all the more inappropriate given that the people involved in such envy are themselves elites, and if the elites have been slow in letting others rise in status it is because the authors and others like them who have led the Caribbean nations have decided not to respect competition for the enjoyment of high honors and positions within the government and other institutions in education and culture. Rarely has self-ownership looked as whiny as it does here, or been less creditable to the people trying to use it to doge their own responsibility for the failures of free Caribbean nations.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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