I recently went to a screening of the documentary, The Price of Sugar. It is about the slave-like working conditions of Haitian cane cutters in the
The audience at the screening was a very cultured set of predominantly black people with a number of the academic street conscious crew too. The high end set had ornately arranged dread-locks and were adorned with golden Egyptian scarabs on their hands that poked out from expensive looking cuff-linked French cuff shirts. The street conscious brethren and sistren were crowned with their black, gold and green tams, bathed in Egyptian musk and carried their signature weathered leather satchels with two heavy books that contain the “knowledge.”
What was striking about the public discussion that followed the film was the combination of a sense of victimization among black people and anger directed towards the Dominicans. There was a lot made of the negative consequences of “globalism” and the detrimental effects it has had on African people throughout the centuries. The scorn directed at the Dominicans was palpable. Members of the audience scolded the Dominicans in the film for looking down on the Haitians as being “blacker and poorer” than them, while failing to see the mutuality of their collective plight. That idea seemed to capture the attitude of the audience.
What was interesting about the dialogue is that we failed to look into the mirror that was presented to us. The Dominicans in the film are us. The attitude that black Americans have largely adopted towards Hispanic immigrants is identical to that adopted by the Dominicans towards the Haitians. The analogy is almost perfect. The working and living conditions of many Hispanic immigrants in the
This small screening made it abundantly clear that in the absence of critical thought, mirrors are useless.