Move Aside, Please

Racism and colorism in everyday spaces

Hello friends,

During the holidays, my sister and I observed an interesting phenomenon during our morning walks on the local golf course. It’s a popular exercise spot in Barbados, but also not too crowded, especially if you go as early as we do. That means there is plenty of space for people to get out of each other’s way, which is crucial in these Covid times.

And yet, some people don’t.

We noticed some commonalities in who moves and who doesn’t.

First of all, most pale-skinned people are unlikely to move, especially if they come from these parts or the USA (you can sometimes tell by their accent if they happen to be speaking). Many light-skinned Black people don’t move either. Men of all hues usually stay right where they are, even if it looks like they’ll walk straight into you. And almost without exception, dark-skinned Black women move aside.

The first time my sister and I noticed this, we thought it was odd, but as the days went on, it became clear that it was a pattern. We started speculating about the reasons for the behavior—and the reasons for our own initial inclination to always give way, which we had to fight for the purposes of this experiment.

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