Reading Barbados: Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire

Such power, words on paper have. They can change you, in an instant; knock you clean off the ground where you’ve felt pretty good standing. You think you know, but you don’t REALLY know.

I’ve encountered quite a few such experiences in my journey with this blog, but the book I read for Barbados…an absolute lightening bolt of knowledge. I honestly feel like everyone, everywhere would benefit from sitting down with it. The title would help, huh? Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart is what I’m telling you about here.

Ms. Stuart draws a portrait of the history of Barbados via her family tree, which includes European immigrants who came to the island by choice, and African captives who most certainly did not. She fleshes out the story of what those different experiences and circumstances wrought in one particular place, and gives the reader a platform to understand how all of it very much affects the world we live in now, particularly in the Western hemisphere.

The culture that surrounded the maintenance of slavery created a toxic intimacy between people who had freedom and people who had no escape; no one was left undamaged. It fundamentally altered the humanity of all it touched, and we’re still grappling with that today. This book is a step towards real understanding, and I genuinely hope you’ll check it out.

A Beach, Barbados
A Beach, Barbados (image by Berit from Redhill/Surrey, UK via Wikimedia Commons)

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