Gosh! Was it really thirty-three years ago that I wrote this article for the Caribbean Review magazine? (JulyAugust/September 1974 Vol. VI No.3) Interesting how things hardly change with respect to attitudes and practices.
If tourism is not to destroy political and economic growth in the Caribbean, psychological problems connected to the tourist industry must be defined and then dealt with in a forthright manner.
We in the Caribbean have been left with very real problems of: 1) a virtually non-disciplined and fast growing young population which is anti any kind of authority (over 60% of the population in Trinidad & Tobago is under thirty); 2) a mass of people in senior, influential positions (especially in civil services) who have not been taught to make decisions and who, for the most part can't make them; and 3) an increased tourist flow with its concommitant social repercussions. These problems, if they remain unresolved, stand in the way of meaningful progress in the newly developing Caribbean countries because they prevent the leaders from leading (because they're too busy trying to maintain civil order), the businesses from flourishing (because they have tremendous production problems) and the people from receiving their full measure of human and civil rights (because everyone's liberty is affected when they have to suppress public meetings and stifle the press).
A major part of the inherited colonial pecking order is colour. In Caribbean countries white was (and still is in many countries) right, rich and remote, in addition to whites (and near whites) being major realtors,* restaurateurs, resort owners, retailers, receivers, most generally in top administrative positions and most importantly of all, firmly entrenched in the owning and running of commercial banks.
The psychological effects of meeting, seeing, hearing whites in these important positions continuously, of having most of the advertising media projecting 'white,' have to be experienced to really be believed. The psychological effects of continuous exclusion from what is known to be the mainstream of Caribbean development exert violently destructive influences on the psyches of the Black masses of people. To these frustrating factors, add the influx of tourists, with their different mores and behaviour patterns, mix in the fact that most of these tourists are white and you must come up with a boiling cauldron.
Do not forget to admit the widely believed myth of Black male sexual superiority and its sub-conscious effect on white and Black hotel and guest house managers, administrators and the general public and most notably the white female tourists, and what we have in the Caribbean is a combination of forces, all working toward social and economic chaos, unless very drastic unpopular action is taken by some of the very same ex-colonialists who have also been conditioned by the old masters.
How do we start to halt the evolution? With massive psychological and psychiatric testing for our educators? How do we do this with North American or English oriented testing facilities which have the standard behaviour and social patterns of North Americans or English people as their "norms?" With massive revision of educational material and teaching methods? While our educators are teaching, where will they find time and money for the revision? At what age does the re-conditioning have most effect? And while the law enforcers are dealing with that section of the population which is resistant to adult education and re-conditioning, isn't their work being undermined by the steady influx of Wang-Yu and Black-liberation-from-North-American-English-repression movies and television?
Where do we begin when even the people who are purportedly our most intelligent, most educated, most erudite leaders are not aware of the psychological aspects of ever-growing tourism? For instance, I cite as an example, the setting up of a management and productivity organization in one of the newly independent countries where tourism is almost the number one industry and means of employment for many locals. Their object is to train people who are already in top and middle management positions to be 'professional.' The first student graduate they chose to address the assembly at graduation was white. (in a predominantly Black nation)
One of the first market research studies of top and middle management people in that community dealt with persons by age, sex, national origin (local or overseas), length of tenure, position, duties and industries, but completely ignored the necessity for market research of Black/white top and middle management people.
Consequently, we in the Caribbean have yet to deal effectively with the tourist industy because we have not defined the psychological problems nor set up additional crash programs to deal with those problems. Until we do this, the very fabric of our Caribbean society continues to be eroded. We must wake up to those realities, although I have serious doubts as to whether it is already almost too late.
*These realtors have, in the last thirty years, made sure that white expatriate investors have acquired what purports to be inordinately huge portions of the most prime properties in many Caribbean countries of color. The new owners have set up insulting barriers to the local population - mostly 'of color' residents - social and physical barriers which are meant to separate 'de tourisses' from 'de people.' Before long, if this euralien invasion/encroachment is allowed to continue unabated, the BlackFolks' Caribbean will look like another Europe or (middle) North America...with its attendant roiling social upheavals ruining the heretofore rustic ways of life of 'the islands.' What a damn neo-colonial shame!