The F-AcT of Publishing ‘bigly’
It will help to begin this title shifting, cloistered, oracular 14th installment of my Mouth Of the Beast series of articles with a word of thanks to Ann Fenton, Managing Editor of the American news blog The Latest.
The submersion of the MOTB brand under the black and white nationalist title in this instance is both an assertion of my relatively absolute power over my writing and a subtle rebuke to Ms Fenton.
An apparent stickler for compliance with the Associated Press’ Style Guide, the mainstream news journalist’s Bible, Ms Fenton can be thought of as a hyper vigilant, arguably anal retentive head teacher or press pope.
She might be considered a compulsively ordered editor, afflicted with an edited, literary version of the racial anxieties behind Donald Trump’s, Steve Bannon’s, VS Naipaul’s, professor Sir Hilary Beckles’, Louis Farrakhan’s and other black and white nationalists’ and similar social separatists’ insistence on ethnic and color coded clarity.
And I do not suggest this as a slur against Fenton because like her and other writers, including The Latest publisher Jeffrey Hall, almost certainly, I too have ‘black and white’ publishing anxieties.
Indeed, I empathize with Fenton precisely on the basis of my own neurotic and phlegmatic publishing struggles, especially my own seemingly interminable challenges of learning and unlearning the subjectivity of words.
I identify with the AP’s Jill Lawless and the BBC’s Mike Liggins and other BBC journalists similarly.
And as a corrupt corporate culture challenging petition I have started suggests, I am keen to help the BBC reform itself internally.
I want to help Liggins, Wendy Witham, Garry Standly and others free themselves from the duplicity and double-mindedness that excessive corporate conformity can make normative or normalize.
On a similar basis, I empathize with and, if I could, would “radicalize” Barbadian poet and formidable feminist and trade union activist Margaret Gill who is featured in the above video.
A virtual embodiment of the literary fault lines along Barbados’ gender, racial and religious divides, Gill was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1987.
But that is an official record or “publication” that Gill, a founder member with me of Voices: Barbados Writers’ Collective, is rightly refusing to be defined by.
And consistent with my work with others promoting reform in mental health diagnosis and treatment, I support Gill in that public assertion.
But Gill, with whom I was once involved intimately, risks being defined by a psychosis of another kind: a sociopath-like, public image obsessed twisting of the heart and mind.
Weighed in the balance by the omniscient umpire who presides over the cosmos’ collective wickets, the longstanding Democratic Labour Party member Gill risks being branded a player of a deeply malformed, malicious and corrupt cricket.
Like former England cricket team captain Nassar Hussain’s now clearly premature analysis of the West Indies team’s performance in their second test match against England at Headingly, Gill, a poet of considerable pedigree risks being exposed as a Pharisee: a performer whose words are empty.
That is because like Trump, Hilary Clinton, Dr Ben Carson, Kellyanne Conway, her UWI colleagues professor Beckles and ‘sista’ Dr Sandra Richards and other conscious or unconscious gender, race and religion racketeering manipulators and bullies, Gill is at risk of being defined by her contribution to the long-running, Barbados-sown, globally grown campaign of character assassination and related human rights violations that has been undermining my work, my health and my family life for more than a quarter of a century.
And let me assert again here, as I have done previously, that campaign is not harming me only.
As I have indicated in an open letter to the Queen of England, to whom Barbadian parliamentarians owe a particular moral and constitutional duty, that cowardly campaign is undermining freedom of the press and other critical cornerstones of Barbados’, England’s, America’s, Canada’s and related democracies.
But the good news, the gospel truth, if you will, is that it is in Gill’s power to redress the risks to her reputation as a person of integrity proactively.
And what a tragedy it would be if the following decree of CS Lewis, describing essentially self-alienated, self-righteous leaders is ultimately, definitively said of this truly gifted Barbadian woman.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
It is this tyrannical delusion of righteousness that makes Gill, Beckles, Carson, Farrakhan and other black leaders conscious or unwitting allies of beast-like Trump’s truth trampling, tyrannical work.
The convergence of white and black nationalists’ bipolar political, hollowly heady, excessively high minded impulses is both rooted in and leads to miscalculation of their own and misappropriation of others’ social capital.
This creates power vacuums among their respective constituents, resulting in social equivalents of the destruction that hurricane Harvey represents.
Or as I indicated in a number of recent tweets it causes #TrumpicalDepressions.
The delusions of manic depressives like Gill always tend to create deluges of one kind or another.
The embarrassingly public mental health crisis that the radically race conscious rap artiste Kanye West suffered following his endorsement of Trump may be a case in point.
I will get to the particulars of Gill’s ongoing betrayal of the beautiful bond that she and I initiated in Barbados in due curse.
For now it will suffice to say that hers seem to mostly be sins of silence.
Her crimes, and I do mean crimes, seem mostly to be a matter of secretive, conspiratorial subversion.
And in the same way that the cosmic reason why the literary umpire Fenton rejected an earlier, 700 word version of this article is something of a mystery to me, so too Gill’s perverse persistence with a cynical Naipaul and Surinder Kandola recalling secrecy about abuses she, I and numerous others have suffered at the hands of Barbados’ gender, race, religion, class and otherwise deeply divisive, tribal political culture remains something of a puzzle.
But for now, back to Fenton.
I empathize with the difficulties of her editorial role, which essentially obliges her to police not just the words but also the motives of others.
Indeed I grapple with the limited control I have over what even the words I create, write or speak, can mean, let alone the words of others!
The heart can be such a shady, obscure, erogenous zone (Jeremiah 17:9).
“Schnart Art”, an Intelek Domino Effect Associates (IDEAs) project that I have embarked on with a number of emerging citizen journalists and ‘seers’, including visual artists Deborah Liversage, entrepreneur ‘oracle’ Janice Lear-Gurney and her architect husband Ray, demonstrates the cyclic or perennial challenges around human language-knowledge consumption and production patterns that I struggle with daily.
Consistent with the fundamental, geopsychic phenomena measuring, early warning aims of this KoreBelief blog, of which it is a ‘by-product’, SchnartArt proceeds not only from the obscurity of the oracle Gurney, but also engages with seismic significations of the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse, profoundly.
I certainly view the hurricane Harvey triggered tragic deaths and destruction in Texas as a kind of semantic saturation, catalyzed perhaps by Trump’s hot wind rhetoric engaging with an extremely cold, frigid, fundamentalist Christian front.
I also hold Trump’s, Bannon’s, Farrakhan’s, Carson’s and others’ heat generating, at times blood chilling rhetoric responsible, at least indirectly, for the ongoing destruction of hurricane Irma and the emerging threat of Jose.
And to be clear, this is not just a meteorological metaphor.
It is also an empirical assessment that derives fundamentally from a time and space generated, linguistic labels transcending rehabilitation of the medieval notion of “humors”.
Accordingly, as I recently indicated to Barbadian cleric Reverend Sonia Hinds, I am inclined to see some causal or at least contingent connections between the Texas flooding and real property rich Trump’s moral famine risking political correctness destroying obsession.
I believe these destructive weather systems may be reasonably viewed as God’s or the cosmos’ way of cleansing America and its Caribbean neighbors (especially proud Jamaica, where Beckles is currently based) of their excessive, racial pride rooted delusions.
From that point of view, these violent weather phenomena may be viewed as cleansing winds, sent to prompt a review of well-meaning but misguided or short-sighted, maliciously and materially motivated decisions.
Trump’s immediate White House predecessor Barack Obama’s simplistic, short-sighted support for gay marriage, apparently ignoring 2000 years of Christian marriage manipulation and perversion by various shadowy micro and macro economic interests, would fall into the former category of Mike the headless chicken misreads.
I suppose I can sympathize with Obama, a constitutional lawyer by training.
I can see why he and other legal minds might think the letter of the law could fix the fundamentally social, complex challenges that marriage, whether gay or straight, monogamous or polygamous presents.
But I see the destructive hurricanes as a cosmological indictment on the real property rich magnate Trump’s condition as an ethical and intellectual property thin, moral dunce more readily than I see it as an Obama or Clinton conceit remedy.
My primary concern though is that these and other natural disasters might be read more prospectively and respectfully by the people of the Caribbean.
I suggest we think of them as colonic cleansers removing post-colonial psychic impurities from the Caribbean body politic’s system.
And from my creole linguistics informed perspective, the balance of probability clearly favors such an analysis, however tentatively offered.
I certainly stand by the validity of this theistic proposition, irrespective of British historian Niall Ferguson’s and other atheist or atheistic, secular historians’ indifference to the intersection of ethics and ecology in spoken, written or otherwise published words.
I single out Ferguson here because in the September 4, 2017 broadcast of BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend he defended Trump’s supposed PC redressing verbal aggression.
As I noted in a post in the National Union of Journalist’s Facebook group, Ferguson seems to have a peculiarly unscientific understanding of the power of the 45th US president’s brazen Twitter and other public pronouncements.
I wrote: “His criticism of the media for focusing on Donald Trump’s tweeting is not without merit but deeply concerning nonetheless… surely a historian of Niall Ferguson’s standing should have some inkling of the potency of the public comments of a US president.”
Even if he isn’t familiar with the idea of a ‘speech act’ as formulated in the discipline of Linguistics, a scientific study of language, I opined, Ferguson, a seasoned broadcaster and the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University should know something about the power of words.
He should be aware of the power of words to escalate or deescalate tense, potentially violent situations.
A student of distinguished American diplomat Henry Kissinger apparently, Ferguson should be aware of the concept of “constructive ambiguity”.
But he seems to have little grasp of the workings of language beyond some rudely agglutinated or hurried together, self-contradicting understanding of the coherence that may exist in and across pragmatics and related linguistic fields, such as semantics, syntax, phonetics, phonology and morphology.
Which brings me again to the seemingly PC hyper sensitive editor Fenton.
She seems to have little awareness of the relative obesity of the English language and how this makes a nonsense of Style Guide and other notions of clarity, at least potentially.
Like Ferguson’s ethically shallow assessment of Trump’s tactless diplomacy, Fenton’s editorial stewardship toward me might be described as a Hussainesque misreading of a cricket test match by reliance on the the temporal and spatial constraints of T20 memories.
Reviewing and ultimately rejecting the earlier version of this article that I had submitted to The Latest, Fenton ignored my stated intention to present my ideas in a series of articles rather than a single 700 word, one-off instalment.
She also took particular issue with my use of the word “mistress”, despite my effort to explain the unique, gender transcending “entailment, implicature, semantic and pragmatic” properties that distinguish my use of that word in this instance.
Fenton apparently reasoned that even my use of quotation marks to signal my peculiar, idiosyncratic use of the word made no difference.
But by binning my article, basically, Fenton triggered a sense of longing for the short-lived literary liberties that I enjoyed while working as an anchor with the then more relaxed, Style Guide-challenging, citizen journalist publisher Allvoices-Pulse Point.
She therefore triggered a happy memory even as she helped me appreciate the extent to which both traditional print and cutting edge digital media entities can be virtually imprisoned by and perpetuate the binary or bipolar gender, racial, religious and other stereotypes that ‘divide and rule’ demagogues like Trump, Beckles and Farrakhan trade on.
Her insistence on my conformity to the Style Guide’s dictates on journalistic ‘clarity’, a perfectly reasonable, legitimate insistence in many ways, therefore shifted my attention from Gill’s, Beckles’ Carson’s, Richards’, Farrakhan’s and other Black and Minority Ethnic community leaders’ conscious or unconscious support of Trump’s agenda to the systemic nature of the media industry’s tendency to package and ‘compartmentalize’ information and, intentionally or unintentionally, perpetuate bipolar, black-versus-white and other bigotry enabling ‘branding’ and stereotyping.
Fenton demonstrated what we might call the petrifying or heart and head hardening propensity of the money and otherwise materially motivated publishing industry.
She dramatized, pragmatically, the printed word’s tendency to facilitate mental frigidity, fossilization and compartmentalization.
Particularly through a tendency to force writers to make binary or bipolar word choices, the publishing industry tends to limit those writers’ and their readers’ capacity to think holistically.
Fenton, Hall, Ferguson, Katharine Viner, Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, David Thomson, Paul Dacre, professor Beckles, Richard Dawkins and other publishing industry and wider knowledge trading ‘priests’, ‘priestesses’ and similarly ‘ordained’ worshipers of ‘Style Guide gods’ force us to choose between words like “secular or religious” and “black or white”, for example.
Yet it is apparent that at its worst, demonstrated both by PC trampling Trump and some of his hyper sensitive detractors, this tendency of the written word can be a catalyst for or ally in the binary, bipolar thinking that was behind the tragic killing of human rights advocate Heather Heyer, during an eruption of racial tensions over a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
As readers may recall, the 32 year-old Heyer was killed by James Fields Jr, a white nationalist (or should that be whites rights activist?) who in a now routinely used terror strategy drove a car into a group of protesters that included Heyer.
She was killed an 19 other protesters were injured.
That arguably sensory rather than sense less vehicular slaying of Heyer by the 20 year-old Fields was a dramatic demonstration of the 2 Corinthians 3:6 New Testament warning about written things that I have cited repeatedly in this MOTB series: “the letter killeth”.
This spirituality restricting, cognitively corrosive capacity of the written word, which finds a peculiar contemporary expression in Trump’s and others’ politically polarized tweeting, tends to be overlooked by written news publishers and knowledge traders everywhere.
Secular and religious publishers seem equally indifferent to the capacity of written word based black and white clarity to kill.
And although the lethalness of the letter is a central theme in my book The Bible: Beauty and Terror Reconciled, I tend not to dwell on it myself.
How could I and maintain any sense of self respect as a post modernist scribe in the mold of Cheikh Anta Diop and Jacques Derrida?
So I am grateful to Fenton for prompting me to reflect at length on how what I in one poem call “the illiteracy of Christ” is relevant to Trump’s and other divide and rule demagogues’ programs of publishing ‘bigly’.
I am indebted to her for reminding me that despite the efforts of those like Ferguson who might deny a causal or contingent link between Trump’s aggressive rhetoric and the racial tensions now undermining black and white Americans’ efforts to coexist peacefully, his word, and that of other supposed “white slight redressing”, PC pulverizing pragmatists became flesh in the Heyer tragedy.
Fenton’s challenge has ultimately deepened my conviction that while the pen may be mightier than the sword, it is also, potentially, as impotent.
She has strengthened my belief that like the car driven by the hot head Fields, the 26 characters of the alphabet are mere machines, ultimately.
Their meaning and utility derive from the consciousness of the writer-driver.
And some writers, like Scotland’s ‘Bin Lorry Bin Ladin’ career driver Harry Clarke are clearly less conscious and conscientious than others.
Now, should Fenton be considered not only a ‘bookish theoric’ but in fact a binary thinking, bipolar person herself?
Probably not in the strict, medical sense of the word.
I know very little of Fenton beyond what is indicated by the few emails we have exchanged.
And I hope that she has never suffered the misfortune of a deeply stigmatizing bipolar disorder or similar mental illness diagnosis, as these tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies.
Gill a ‘bookish theoric’?
Which brings me back to the woman featured in the joint Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization produced video accompanying this article: Ms Gill.
As she admits in the PAHO/WHO video, Gill was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by Barbados’ secular science based medical establishment in 1987.
That clearly was not an easy admission for the proud poet Gill, as her facial expression, especially a seemingly anxious, Fentonesque shifting of her eyes to someone positioned to the left (her right) of the recording camera suggests.
Gill, the winner of the inaugural Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award, the most prestigious on the island is clearly aware of her reputational, publishing vulnerability.
She knew full well the risk she was taking as she chose to stand up and be counted among people “breaking the silence and the stigma around depression”, as the video states, with black and white clarity, literally.
And again, for this conscious risk-taking I will salute the emotionally fragile yet self-affirming poet Gill’s courage endlessly.
However, I can only offer her a restrained, largely optimistic, emotionally edited salute at this stage, because Gill does not seem as aware as she could be of the fallibility or selectivity of her Kandolaesque memory.
I say this because in February, 2017 Gill said that she loathes me because I ‘outed’ her as a mental health sufferer, rather than letting her publish that information herself.
Emphasizing that it is not her way to hate anybody, Gill, the mother to an adult son, told me that she was making an exception to that rule just for me.
So it appears that Gill believes that she has arrived at her loathing of me rationally.
There certainly was a vehemence and determination in her voice as Trump-like, she executed this venomous, violent speech act: “Ya see you Junior Campbell, I loooooathe you!” she said, stressing the vowel of that verb for impact.
I believe the ‘outing’ that Gill is accusing me of occurred in an Allvoices article I published in 2012, ventilating my concerns about her conscious or unconscious role in the long-running campaign of character assassination and other ‘brand bashing’ human rights violations.
Yet if I recall correctly, I published that since binned but soon to be re-published article some time after Gill had already “published” the bands of her bipolarity, if I may use that ecclesiastical marriage announcing analogy.
Put with Fentonesque simplicity, in 2012 I believed I was free to mention Gill’s mental health struggles publicly because she had already done so by then.
As I recall, she had told me that her courageous, mental health stigma challenging public declaration had come about during a conference of some kind, possibly held at the former Sherbourne Conference Centre (now called the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre).
So, it may well be that the long-time Democratic Labour Party member Gill’s decision to loathe me is based on a failure of memory.
And I say ‘may well be’ because I am mindful of a rather darker, more depressing possibility.
Given our capacity as human beings for self-deception, it may be the case that Gill remembers that she had outed herself as a mental health sufferer but is seeking to conceal that fact in a bid to discredit me, as her DLP colleague Donville Inniss and others dancing along Barbados’ political divides have been doing since the 1990s.
That is to say, Gill may be casting herself as a victim, basically, in order to justify her, her UWI colleagues Beckles’, Richards’ and other fundamentalist feminists’ and black separatists’ efforts to portray me as a villainous, or (and perhaps more professionally damaging) a well meaning but incompetent person.
Much as it saddens me, I am obliged to consider the possibility that Gill has given herself wholly to the political machinations and related public relations deceit that blight all levels of Barbadian communication and social relations.
And it seems to me that Barbadians’ pride in our longstanding but rather optimistic 98% literacy assessment only exacerbates this dilemma.
Gill’s bipolarity, a personal challenge, is in fact correlated by the similarly separatist, socially divisive party politics that Barbadian writer George Lamming has identified as a pernicious destroyer of Barbadian dreams and talent.
The prominent Barbadian thinker, best known for his novel In The Castle Of My Skin, offered this assessment during the 5th annual Assembly Of Caribbean People, held at UWI’s Barbados-based Cave Hill Campus in 2015.
Here are Lamming’s words as reported by a local newspaper:
“It is my view that the political party, as it operates, is the source of public corruption. It is the source of a waste of human capital. It is the major obstacle to any rational and serious debate about politics.”
The basic argument of this essay is that by behaving like the anxious editor Fenton, who again, I empathize with, Gill, Beckles, Richards and other Barbadian black nationalist thinkers are advancing the deeply divided and divisive president Trump’s and other white nationalists’ short-sighted agendas, consciously or unconsciously.
I am contending that this unintended consequence of their actions is a perpetual risk not just in spite of their literary and other academic accomplishments, but to some extent because of them.
Again, as the biblical writer put it “the letter kills”.
And I readily concede that my own written words can have a lethal impact.
So contrary to Fenton’s apparent assumption, it is not my intention to denigrate or humiliate Gill or anyone else.
I am simply suggesting that Barbadians are particularly susceptible to the unintended forgetfulness or deliberate dishonesty that Gill demonstrates because of the mental and moral fog that our country’s literacy linked, color coded political party opportunism and tribalism generates.
This is why Voices, the writer’s group that Gill, Nailah Imojah, Umbali Imojah, Mark McWatt, Joy Workman and I founded became such an attractive object of conquest or, as former Barbadian prime minister Owen Arthur once suggested, in a reference to Barbados’ cultural industries overall, a source of political capital.
I believe Lamming, a Marxist analyst who has impressed this writer by his willingness to acknowledge the limitations of Marxist analysis would caution against or even denounce that kind of proprietorial or territorial political speculation.
The Trinidadian thinker and cricket officianado CLR James did the same, incidentally, penetratingly labeling the USSR a ‘state capitalist’ venture.
Due partly, perhaps, to the victimization that he suffered under the mercurial Trinidadian leader Eric Williams’ regime, James too was aware of how the schizophrenic disconnect between Caribbean politicians’ and political activists’ socialist preaching and their capitalist practice could make them ‘mistresses’ of Trump-like racketeers and tricksters.
The crux of the problem, as articulated on one occasion by the late Barbadian trade union activist Ricky ‘Babu’ Parris, under whom I served as the Treasurer of the Pan Africanist Movement of Barbados, is a failure of polarized black and white nationalists to appreciate the value of being at least as self-critical as one is inclined to indulge in self-praise.
Ottis Gibson, the former Barbadian coach of the England cricket team spoke of a related challenge in a press conference held on September 5, 2017 at Lord’s Cricket Ground, ahead of the 3rd and decisive Investec test match between England and the West Indies.
More on that in my next article, to be published modestly here.
Black and white signs and wonders
Like Fenton’s questionable, simplistic, possibly corporate interests driven insistence on clarity, Gill’s loathing of me appears to be the consequence of a defective conscience: a deficiency of self-awareness, as our fellow poet Parris might say from the grave.
More pointedly, given that she had already gone public with her mental illness history, I am inclined to believe that Gill loathes me for some perceived offence or group of offences that she is either unwilling or unable to concede.
The perceived injury that Gill refuses to forgive me could be the fact that it was I, not her, who ended our relationship.
Or, and I think this is more likely, the fact that I married a white woman.
It seems to me that this racist territoriality is something that Gill shares with Trump, Farrakhan, Beckles, Richards and other nationalists and separatists.
A similarly compelling possibility is that Gill is angry with me for publishing details of her betrayal of the DLP.
As I have published previously, she did that when she asked me to do some ‘indirect’ canvassing for Reginald Farley, the rival Barbados Labour Party candidate, in the 1994 general election campaign.
I suppose it is easier to blame me than it is to blame herself, Robert Morris or another of her die hard DLP comrades for the militant tendencies or excessively strict, potentially violent or otherwise human-rights-infringing ‘labour discipline’ that made her feel obliged to conceal her support for a BLP candidate.
And I have no doubt some Barbadians would say that I should blame myself at least partly for accepting that BLP ‘mess of pottage’ despite having been raised in a DLP household from my childhood days.
But I reasoned, as I believe Gill did, that never having joined the DLP I was better placed than her or another person officially tied to that party to canvass for Farley.
And I believe she stressed the indirect character of that Farley promoting tactic which was conducted by means of an ostensibly independent house-to-house survey of voter opinion.
In other words, I felt that despite my loyalty to the DLP (which I incarnated with a vote for then party leader and my local representative Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford in the same general election) I could indirectly support Farley with a clear conscience.
I certainly did not think I was selling my democratic birth right or otherwise surrendering my rights as a Barbadian citizen to freedom of association.
I did not and do not believe that my interactions with Gill or any other Barbadian activist, politician, party or any other political entity anulls my entitlement to the freedom of conscience and other human rights that my slave and free Barbadian ancestors fought and laboured for.
Does the fact that my father canvassed for the late Sir Richard Haynes give the DLP proprietorial or territorial interests in Jeffrey Campbell’s children?
Does the labour expended by my father for Barbados’ trade union movement, in the hotel industry, as a hifi player or as a sign painter with the Ministry of Transport and Works entitle any of his shop steward or other union colleagues to a proprietorial or territorial interest in me?
If so, they should tell me how.
In an as yet unpublished poetic precursor to this narrative, I consider the possibility that somehow, through the neural networks of her tortured, bipolar soul, Gill’s professed loathing of me may be fuelled by a fragmentary love.
“And love and hate can be confused so easily in the market place: buyer’s remorse with the marketer’s guilt.
Ask Prime Minister Theresa May, media magnate Karen Blackett or that game Grand Master Reverend Sally Muggeridge.
You play your own word games with a considerable mastery.
You certainly gave that venomous verb dramatic, extended emphasis during our brief, long-distance conversation, this past February.
Oh! If words spoken in 0:03 seconds could kill!
If words travelling from Christ Church, Barbados, to Norfolk, England via fibre optic cable could decapitate,
Your Kalibank Queen killing skills would have finished me that day.”
The poem continues with a prayer:
“If only you and I could concoct a kindred science to reconcile our complementarily traveled and troubled, occasionally harried and muddled hearts and minds.
Oh that you and I could construct a man-woman, person-to-person faith based on our uniquely shared experiences and scribed in a marriage of our poetic Bajan idiolects.”
But as I have made clear to Gill and others, I am not seeking reconciliation or accommodation with her for her or my sake only.
A socialist she should know how the rift between her and I has been rippling and ripping socially.
A radical feminist in some ways, as indicated, for example, by her refusal to shave her legs, Gill knows that the personal is political, especially in Barbados, because of the depth and breadth of the tiny, 166 square mile island’s political penetration and saturation.
But as a priest after the order of Mechizidek, I would appeal primarily to Gill’s piety, rather than her Marxist or other ideologies.
Not least, because in February Gill told me that I am not the only person God speaks to.
Black and white alleys and allies
The economic historian and former British Labour Party MP Tristram Hunt offers a somewhat rudimentary mapping of the international dimensions of Barbadians’ published and unpublished, private and public sociopolitical ripples in his book Ten Cities That Built An Empire.
Like Ferguson’s ideas about ‘contaminated Christianity’, Hunt’s analysis is useful, but not above critical scrutiny.
There certainly is no evidence that he is interested in engaging with Barbadians’ religious faith penetratingly.
Like the late 19th century, money-minded madame Rachel Pringle, might Hunt, like his academic colleague Beckles, be assuming that every confession of religious faith or spirituality is shallow and of little consequence?
Might the labour rights preaching Gill be similarly convinced?
Might she be merely marketing and bartering the beliefs of Providence Methodist Church, her official place of worship, the last I knew, rather than fully embracing them?
Could it be that like disgraced ex-Methodist minister Paul Flower, Gill has given herself over to publishing ‘bigly’ what she pours contempt on through private unpublished actions?
I hope this is not the case.
More than hoping, through this article, I am acting decisively to alert the prodigiously talented Gill to what she and other members of the DLP, BLP and other stewards of Barbados democratic legacy are at risk of wasting, like the prodigal Englishman Tom Rakewell.
I have also been in touch with our mutual friend Reverend Hinds to this end (efforts to reach Richards through UWI and other initiatives have however so far sadly fallen on deaf ears).
Both women know that I have been tracking the earthquakes, sudden deaths and other socially seismic events that have shaken the faith of Barbadians in recent years with more than a passing interest.
And while I am not so conceited as to assume some messianic mantle that puts Barbadians’ fate in my hands, I also am mindful of my duty as a fully committed follower of the Cosmic Christ’s leading.
I do what I can to be a salting, life saving representative of the Barbadian incarnation of Christ’s brand.
Whether she loves or loathes me, I remain as committed to doing whatever I can to be a blessing to the uniquely beautiful Ms Gill, as I am to be a blessing to all Barbadians and Caribbean people.
References and further reading