The question my father ask me is whether or not these people dem is fear the blackness they see or the blackness they cannot. `Is it the blackness..Or the lack of blackness..That cause the slackness`..(decades done pass but i just find out that my man spent his adolescent Sundays behind the church writing dub prose while the proper West Indian boys sung hymns of the Second Coming to the preacher`s daughters in the front row). Father tend to ask questions that he already know the answers to..sorta like when police ask for license and registration as em reachin pon hip for back-up… either the walkee-talkee or the ‘no-walkee-no-talkee’, whichever machine the hand reach first. Naturally, I am hesitant to answer.
So when he say `I not askin you, I askin the sky“ my nostrils relax tough and shoulder blades ease up. The sky don`t talk much nowadays, not like (so I heard) back when father was young and the air clean. But today, my first day on the job, the sky was chatty-chatty and ready feh talk. Wunna must ask the right question. She did snap at my father,` you hear Sun talk `bout brightness? Or she just do what she haffi do every morning, praise god? Nuh mind dem.` My father tightened his grip around the shovel. `Jason. Grab yuh fuckin hoe and start planting man before the hotel fire we.`
I comply, deflecting the invisible probes of tourists staring at we-the-help without staring at we-the-help. One day, I gunna reason with sun and sky and handle all this talk of slackness both up there and down here.
If you were to ask tomorrow’s farmers, they would all agree that the White Ahaw is no myth but a very real entity. They would say it comes in the form of a thick cloud, sagging with unwanted remorse only to burst one time on dry black soil until the seeds dead of overdose.
Ask the indoor field workers and they would all profess, that the White Ahaw is not a thing of legend, but a breathing and living mess. They would say that it is like the frenzied pangs of torrential winds, forcefully licking through window panes and door panels. Pure licks on any type of structure, on any type of history as it bawl-out ‘Progress! Progress!’
Ask the Mystic Man Dem on Fielding Avenue and they will all attest, that to them the White Ahaw is no new-age theory but an ancient bona fide threat. It is like bad inside-outside smoke, the kind that clings to your lungs and muffles your voice, hiding the road to your own terms.
But see you now, looking for the White Ahaw..have you not been warned? Do you believe that you can invoke this creature and expect not to be scorned? You cannot eat its meat nor will it work your land and it will grin as it teef resources from your hand, what business do you have feeding this beast, child? For the sake of tomorrow`s farmers, of the indoor fieldworkers, of the mystic man dem who will always watch over your children, kill it and leave it there on the side of the road to rot in a pool of its own self-righteous promises.
Whenever Baby cries, mother would fetch a bottle of tobacco leaves, coffee grains and sugar water, shake it up and give it to baby. Delighted, baby would expose their black tongue and yellow gums. Baby goes to sleep and mother slave puts on her high heels and leaves for work.
Tobacco, sugar or coffee will never feed a community. Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade kidnapped Afrikans and forced them to grow tobacco, sugarcane and coffee; cash crops that did not value subsistence but prioritized profit. The expansion of such cash crops are one of the metrics that differentiate Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade from slavery within the Motherland. Close-minded scholars would compare these different types of slavery to diminish the ruthless and continual effects of imperialism. Look to agriculture as an indicator. African slave-owners had slaves, yes, to grow cassava and subsistence crops to maintain the health of a society. Agricultural techniques and culture were shared between captor and captive because despite differences, there is a respect for humanity and a reverence for the ground that provides food. Captives, in their lifetime, could have land and be leaders in their new community.
When tobacco and sugar were exported to Europe, it was not to sustain a population, it was to quench the bourgeoisie’s greedy addiction to luxury items. European aristocracy had no vested interest in the humanity and culture of slaves, nor did they value the soil that provided them with the commodities they desired. They worked both Afrikan and soil mercilessly. They were not feeding families, just potbellies and egos. Slavery sucks. But do not put slavery in the Americas and slavery within Afrika on the same level.