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It's the skin colour...



I've been living in the Bahamas for just over two months now. While my coming here was a result of a long series of unexpected events, settling in the county has been a whole other ordeal.


The Bahamas was a British colony for 325 years and only recently claimed independence on July 10th 1973 under the Commonwealth of Nations. It's one of the 15 countries under the rule of Queen Elizabeth II. This means that the Bahamas share a few similarities with Australia, such as their legal and political systems. And to my own excitement, they also drive on the left side.


I had quite a few expectations of the country given that its economy is almost entirely dependent on tourism. There's also the super uber rich who come from America and Europe to buy up lands, houses, and islands, or just store their treasures in off shore banks. So, to say the least, I expected the country to be a little more Westernized, white-washed and developed. Not too different from Australia, similar to America.


Alas, living here during a world wide health pandemic is quite a different experience when tourism is almost completely shutdown. I'm not going to beat around the bush, but with over 90% of Bahamians of black African decent, you can easily spot the tourist. They're white. And there were hardly any white people here when I first came. You only saw them in the high-end parts of the country because they lived there.


While the Bahamian culture is relaxed, English is the official language of the country, and there are familiar fast-food chains around every corner, and grocery stores filled with familiar brands, it's not so much the ease of everyday living that has made me feel alone and foreign.


It's people's skin colour.


I've been to many countries and interacted with many ethnicities, but I've never had the experience of mingling with black people to the extent I have been in the Bahamas. Like I said in my last blog post, I still get a little shocked when I walk into a supermarket and only see black people. I also have a full time job here and my boss is black; something that is hardly seen or heard of.


To me, it feels like an unusual shift in power.


I didn't really realise how white-washed my mindset and view of the world was until I started writing this post. Seeing white skin colour has become subconsciously synonymous with familiarity, safety, modernism, and even leadership.


And I'm not going to lie, there were instances where I would feel unsafe walking past a group of black people or beggars. Like I haven't walked past white beggars in Australia or America... But, because they're black, I would automatically think they're violent gang members or high on drugs and that they're after me because I look like I have money.


While I've met many amazing Bahamians, my eyes are also always on the look out for a white person, just to feel a sense of familiarity. I find this ironic given how unaccepted and foreign I felt in Australia. In fact, in Australia, seeing a person of colour was like finding water in the middle of a desert. I craved someone who would understand what it's like to be marginalised and dehumanised in the very country you grew up in, simply because you look different.


Now I find myself the perpetrator, fearing Bahamians simply because they're black. So here I am admitting that contrary to the open-minded and accepting person I thought I was, racism is embedded into my subconscious.


We are living in a world ruled by Western forces and certain ideologies are being played into our minds everyday. Whether that's to meet political agendas or feed economical powers... or maybe a part of it is just human's natural fear of the unknown... I guess it's something that will always be there. But I think it's the way we choose to react and engage with the unknown, that will make us a little less judgmental and a little more open to experience.

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