Saturday, April 8, 2017

The story of working class Germans in Jamaica

The story of working class Germans in Jamaica - By David Ritter

The vague assertion, accusation, insult or narrative of white privilege is something I hear all too often.
I hear this phrase chimed out from the mass media outlets, academic circles, and I find it working its way into the vocabulary of common people.
What does this even mean? Frankly it does not mean a damn thing.
It is a new way of screaming racist. The term racist is getting horribly played out so now the neo left needs to jazz up its political vocabulary to find new ways to stigmatize its opposition and silence dissenting information and views that complicate its flimsy agenda and narrative.
Let me be clear I do not feel that people of European,Caucasian,white derivation do not have a level of "privilege" within certain situations, context, eras of history, or circles but people of all ethnic,racial,national derivations can find a certain level or "privilege" within certain time periods, social circles, places ect.
I simply feel this term "white privilege" should be scrutinized and examined rather than accepted as a mindless mantra that we accept without thought or criticism.
I feel the term is used as more of a weapon than a genuine means of discussion.
I feel it is a code word that most often translates to " Shut up! your opinion is less valuable based on your racial categorization"
In the year 2010 I traveled to a small village in the mountains of Jamaica called Seaford Town.
This small rural farming community was colloquially known by many locals as German Town and when one spends a few hours in the village you will see why.
This village was founded in the year 1835 by a group of German migrants who were granted the land by a British land owner named Lord Seaford.
The Germans who came to Jamaica during this time period were generally poor and middle working class people.
Most published historians and authors assert that these migrants came under conditions of indentured labor,  though there seems to be a massive revision of this narrative in recent years by Caribbean and Black studies professors who insist that these people were never under conditions of indentureship or provided any labor to the Jamaican economic system in any way.
I recorded my first trip to Seaford Town and was able to complete a 10 minute documentary on the history of this village and the modern day remnants of German heritage living on within the village to this day.
German style ginger bread homes, structures, still live on within this village.
Many residents are of German derivation to this day as well.
It is not uncommon to meet people in the village with names like Graskopf, Hacker, and Eldemire.
There still is a portion of this village that is fully of European derivation and some argue fully/ primarily of German derivation.
Few people want to mention this in their publications and some people often become very flustered and angry to even hear this mentioned.  The fact that any Jamaican could still be considered white often sends many people who viewed my documentary into a rage or a snarky retort with claims such as "everyone in Jamaica is mixed race" or the famous " Jamaica is a color blind melting pot race does not exist in Jamaica."
Truth be told Jamaica does have a small minority of people who still count themselves as "white" meaning primarily or fully of European derivation.
This demographic does not equal more than 2 percent or some stats claim 3 percent.
According to assertions of various other statistics whites equate to 0.2 percent of the population.
The first documentary I shot featured two Seaford Town residents who were fully or primarily of German roots sharing their knowledge of the history of their village.
The documentary features German structural remnants and highlighting the few German cultural attributes that are still living on amongst the people of Seaford Town.
The people interviewed also shared their modern day experiences within Jamaica.
Their thoughts and feeling on Jamaican life, what being a Jamaican meant to them, how they felt about their German roots and the extremely taboo subject of racial bigotry.
I posted this 10 minute piece to you tube in 2011 after touring the project at art centers, film festivals and Universities.
The reaction was huge and mostly positive many Jamaicans and people all over the world found this village to be an amazing place with historic worth and value however there was a portion of the audience who went into fits of hostility.
I was later contacted by a production company that wanted me to produce a full length documentary on this village and in 2011 I decided to return to interview as many residents as possible and capture as many relevant scenes as I could.
One thing that is interesting about this village is that all of the older residents who grew up in the village in the early to middle part of the 20th century told me that when they were living in Seaford Town that almost all of the residents of the village were of European, German derivation.
One resident told me " when I was visiting the school over there it was all white children in the school. They were barefooted and they were poor but it was all white children."
The village according to most publications and assertions from the residents state that this village was a German descended and white majority village until the 1970s/ 1980s
Over the past several decades the German descended and white population has decreased within the village and more often people are of multi racial derivation and African derivation.
The population of Seaford Town maintained a close knit community and unintentionally or intentionally depending on who you ask this village remained a mostly German descended enclave until the later part of the 20th century.
Though the German heritage has faded and this village is a culturally Jamaican village, German heritage does live on in various subtle ways and my documentation exemplified this throughout the project.
The Germans who came to Jamaica in the 1830s came under economically trying circumstances and faced a massive death toll and difficulty.
Their descendant's faced economic trials and hardship the same as any other rural Jamaican community and through out the years many found advancement economically within Jamaica and various parts of the world.
Some residents have built good working middle class lifestyles others still struggle economically but most are proud farmers and crafts men who are independent people who are strong and self reliant.
What is so controversial about this story or the documentary I shot on this village?
Where to begin! I began a screening and lecture tour for this documentary that started in 2012 and has continued on and off over the years.
As I began screening and lecturing and sharing this project at various cultural centers, Universities and art house cinemas through out Canada, the USA, Jamaica, Germany and England we have been met by a overwhelmingly positive response from Jamaicans, Germans and people of all ethnic and national derivations internationally but the oligarchs of German, Jamaican and US society often have had anything but kind things to say about me, the documentary or Seaford Town.
A Black studies professor from John Hopkins University came to one of my lectures at Towson University and began to attack the documentary for mentioning that most historians and publications assert that the Germans who migrated to Jamaica in the 1830s came under conditions of indentureship.
I simply stated my sources and that I found not one dissenting view amongst any other historian because all dissenting historians had no published works that I could find.
He then said that the people I interviewed were not capable of teaching the audience anything and were ignorant.
He later stated that nothing could be gained by watching this documentary and that the audience learned nothing.
I decided to ask the audience what they had learned this evening and gained from the documentary. Hands raised people all shared what they had learned.
One young man said he was amazed to see how Jamaica had so many different cultures and races that made up its populace and how these cultures helped contribute to Jamaica.
One German history professor claimed that this was the first time she had ever heard of any German history within the context of Jamaica and found it fascinating.
One young woman stood to her feet and looked this African studies professor in his eyes and said that she was a descendant of one of the families from Seaford Town and that this documentary accurately portrayed the life of the people within the village and that his claims that the thoughts and feeling's of the residents not being worthy of being recorded sickened her and found his claims to be erroneous and rude.
He shut his mouth for the rest of the event and when I brought up how this film challenges the concept of "white privilege" he stood up and waddled out of the auditorium.
I then screened this film at the Institute Of Jamaica in Kingston.
We had slander and attack coming from members of the audience many of whom were students and faculty from the University Of The West Indies.
One young woman said that this village was no different from any other Jamaican village and that there was no point to watching it.
I asked her how many Jamaican villages maintain German cultural retention, German historic structures and maintained a white majority village with residents with names like Hans Groskopf?
She then replied with the classic retort that Jamaica is a color blind society and very multicultural in all communities.
I told her she lived in a alternate reality that demonstrative evidence past and present could prove as a false perception rooted in cognitive dissonance.
No statistical data shows that all of Jamaican society is adhering to racial relativism nor does day to day life show this.
All one has to do is look around you. Open the door and step outside.
Listen to the music of Sizzla and his famous statement he made at the Reggae SunSplash music festival "burn all white people"  Bob Marley singing songs of African pride, Peter Tosh promoting black nationalism.
Jamaica is a Black/ African descended majority by 90-93 percent of the population and many people are proud of this.
I then asked the young woman why is it louis Farrakhana a black nationalist leader annually visits Jamaica and is wined and dined by Jamaican academics, heads of media and state? Why is he toasted and met by legions of proud Jamaicans at his lectures at the University of the west indies and never met with the criticism or scrutiny that is being launched towards me?
Why is it that a man who has openly stated that all whites deserve to die and that they should all be dragged to hell is given such esteem within Jamaican society and never faces even half of the criticism I have been faced with within Jamaica?
The crowd began to hiss and shout.
I then noted that several Jamaican national heroes were in fact black nationalists such as Marcus Garvey.
Why is it so common to drive down the street in Kingston and find murals sporting depictions of Malcolm X? These Miss are not the hallmarks of a racially relativistic society I said.
Another woman then stood up and said you made white society look as if it was poor when in fact whites control a disproportionate amount of wealth in Jamaican society.
I told the woman that I find it strange that we just had several people claim Seaford Town was no different than any other village yet we have complaints from people seeing that poverty was a reality for some of its residents. Is poverty not an issue for many Jamaican rural communities and farmers?
It also interesting I told the woman how we just heard from so many people here today that Jamaica has no concept of race yet you feel a certain race holds more wealth than all others?
Are we now admitting that Jamaica does in fact have a concept of race? Further more I am not discussing " white society" within this documentary I am discussing the German history and heritage of Seaford Town Jamaica. White people are not a monolithic group with a history and experience that is indistinguishable from one another.
The documentary was about Seaford Town and its residents not "white society."
I then said the triggering statement again " I feel this documentary can confront the over simplified concepts of white privilege."
The howls and screams began to chime out from the now very agitated segment of the audience.
I said that Orwell stated that the more society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those who speak it.
Orwell also said that there will come a time when the most intelligent of us will simply have to state the obvious.
I later quoted Orwell and said that he predicted that people would be indoctrinated with a socially engineered concept known as double think and explained how this was a form of institutionalized hypocrisy.
A way of destroying logic as we know it when people will hold two differing views at the exact same time and will switch from one to the other within seconds and not even be aware that they are contradicting themselves.
Someone from the audience asked why I kept quoting an " obscure author that nobody has heard of" they then said " do you have any original ideas of your own" I said " I feel we stand on the shoulders of giants and I am quoting a man more astute than I but I feel his teachings are relevant because Jamaica has been steeped in Fabian socialism the ideology of the ruling political party within Jamaica and Orwell was primarily warning the public of the dangers of Fabian socialism and the adverse affects social engineering can have on a society and I think we are seeing examples of this right now before us."
The event soon came to a close and a portion of the audience walked out of the event with a rage.
The next day I began getting emails from Jamaicans who were in the audience.
They said they were shocked to see such hostility and that they wondered if I was black would they have treated me different.
I asked one of the people who emailed me why he did not stand up to these insane ideals and people shouting down the event.
He said I need to live in Jamaica and live in peace.
Link to the trailer of my documentary on Seaford Town Jamaica.
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