I’m the son of a buccaneer
and a black woman
I’m the son of a Spanish man
and a Carib woman
I’m the son of a Creole man
and an Indian woman
I’m the son of an English soldier
and a mingo whore.
I’m the son of love
I’m the son of sex
I’m the son of violence.
– excerpted from the first stanza of “Superhigh”, a poem by Evan X Hyde
Marcus Garvey, the most powerful black man of the twentieth century, did not believe in the mixing of the European and African races, what we call “white” and “black”. If you are brown, as I am, it means that you are the product of interracial sex, which in almost all cases before liberalization of sexual attitudes began to take place in the 1960’s, for argument’s sake, meant that European men were impregnating African women, many of whom were slaves.
When a famous black man in the United States began cohabiting with white women openly, he became a special target of the American white power structure. His name was Jack Johnson, and he was the first black heavyweight champion of the world, a championship he won early in the twentieth century when they were still lynching black men in the Southern states of the United States.
Anyway, if Garvey and I had met (he died seven (7) years before I was born), the possibility is that the meeting would have been uncomfortable for him. From 1969 to 1974, I was the leader of a black power movement in British Honduras/Belize, and I was very obviously mulatto.
Remember, Marcus Mosiah so detested the mixing of the races that he actually met with the leadership of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist movement which was lynching black men in the South. Since the KKK and Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) both believed in the separation of the white and black races, Garvey felt something positive could come out of such a meeting.
Regardless to whatever, all black-conscious human beings have to pay respect to Garvey, because he was very brave, very tireless, and very sincere. And many, many people who are descended from interracial sex, such as the legendary Robert Nesta Marley, a Rastafarian, gave Garvey the maximum of respect and reverence.
Rastafarianism is a religion which was born in the early 1930s in Jamaica out of the mystique of the Garvey movement after the UNIA began to fade when Marcus was jailed in Atlanta and then deported from America during the late 1920s.
Now the Hon. Elijah Muhammad was an American Garveyite who founded his own movement in the United States, in the 1930s I guess. He was jailed for refusing to be drafted into the American military. That’s as much as I know of Elijah (Poole) Muhammad’s earlier years.
Hon. Elijah named his movement the Nation of Islam (NOI). It may be said that his followers disliked the white race intensely, a race which the NOI referred to as “devils”, but it did not seem to me during the 1960’s that the Nation of Islam was biased against mulattos to the extent to which the UNIA was. I’m just saying.
The key thing to note is that Garvey came out of Jamaica, a British colony where the British had created a brown buffer class of mulattos whom they used against the heavily majority Jamaican blacks. In Jamaica, blacks are maybe 90 percent of the population, whereas browns are maybe 8 percent. Garvey was justified in considering mulattos his enemies because of his life in Jamaica, and his dislike of mulattos was no doubt exacerbated by his disputes and conflicts with W. E. B. DuBois, a Harvard-educated American mulatto who was a powerhouse in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an American organization which was supported financially by Jews and other American whites in the early 1920s, when Garvey was at the height of his power.
In the United States, there has never been a brown buffer class. There is a tiny group of Americans in places like Louisiana and South Carolina who have “minority” African ancestors, but are light-skinned and do not consider themselves black, as such. In fact, however, the race policy of the United States historically declared all who possessed the tiniest drop of African blood to be “black.”
A Nation of Islam supporter like Muhammad Ali, for example, had white ancestors, but there was not the slightest doubt in his mind that he was black. This was because America’s policy defined him as such. When the white slavemaster impregnated black slave women on his plantations in the American South, the children of such interracial sex were branded as black and were treated as slaves. They had no rights, and knew that their lives would be directly and inextricably linked with their black brethren and sistren.
That is not the case in Belize, and other British possessions. Why it is that the rulers of America chose a course different from the one chosen by the British where “mulattos” are concerned, I do not have any idea. And which course is better for the maintenance of white power, again I have no idea.
In Belize, it is definitely better to be brown than to be black. In the United States, it makes no difference: if you are not white, you are black. Straight like that.
The French had a brown buffer class system in their colonies similar to the British colonial system. In fact, it is because of that French brown class in Haiti, which went to Paris to demand their human rights after the 1789 French Revolution called for “liberty, equality, and paternity,” that a conflict between the whites and the browns flared up in Haiti which created the opportunity for Haiti’s half million black slaves to revolt in 1791.
Over the years, I have tried to teach you a little of the little I know about Haitian history, because, again, the colonial and post-colonial education system in British Honduras/Belize taught us absolutely nothing about the Haitian Revolution. In 2021, that is still the status quo here.
This orchestrated ignorance is amazing to me, because the Haitian Revolution and the history of the Haitian nation, the result of the only successful slave rebellion in history, are important to understanding the early history of the United States in the nineteenth century, leading up to the American Civil War between 1861 and 1865. Haiti is of huge significance in the history, not only of the Caribbean region, but also that of South America.
Apart from that, to understand the tragedy of Haiti, you have to know that the French, supposedly those enlightened, sophisticated Europeans, forced the Haitians to pay them for their freedom, which the Haitians had originally won on the battlefield.
In 2021, the name of Haiti is a synonym for poverty and desperation for people like us Belizeans. The truth is that the heroism of the Haitians was historic and outstanding. They paid an enormous price for being so heroic, because this region is controlled by white power, as is the world. The Haitians were made an example of by the white supremacists, because the Haitians had fought their slave masters and dared to be free. I salute the Haitian people.