WHEN PIG GROWS HOG | Historicizing The Limits of Haitian-Bahamian Identity
I don’t have much to comment on the matter of illegal immigration of Haitians to The Bahamas that I can say in less than 2,000 words when the plight of immigrants everywhere, is pretty much the same–especially when they are darker-skinned sisters and bothers.
I will, however, say this. When you make no efforts to include large immigrant populations into the fabric of your national social, political and cultural frameworks; and when you despise them for being hardworking, but poor; and when you call their mothers and fathers “Haitian mammy” and “Haitian pappy” (I, too, am guilty) as though they are a nameless, faceless, pride-less, honor-less people; and when the highest insult to be paid to a Bahamian is “you look like a Haitian” (and again, I, too, am guilty) you breed contempt in their children’s hearts and minds. Their children, like children everywhere, grow up. And then you see what happens when that great Bahamian saying becomes a reality: “Pig does grow hog.” But it doesn’t end there. The saying continues: “And hogs get slaughtered.”
This is, in my mind, the plight and flight of the Haitian, in The Bahamas. Much like immigrants everywhere, for better or for worse, Bahamian folks didn’t too much mind Haitians as long as they appeared to be powerless, and when they were seen and not heard; as long as they lived in shanty towns away from public view and ventured into town to do the menial and manual labor that Bahamians once thought beneath themselves to carry out.
Does this mean that a fledging nation like The Bahamas doesn’t have a right to national security? Of course not.
But it does mean that we are a part of a much larger narrative which cannot on the one hand feign innocence when the nation’s prime minister dresses like a “Chinese emperor” (complete with white face make up to pay tribute the Chinese people) and then attempt to have sophisticated conversations on its right to self-determination, not even a year later, without having the gaze of the world rest upon us in an absolute side-eye.