Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. who once said “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” first time author Rodney D. Lewis said he was tired of remaining silent on pertinent issues and matters that he previously ignored, and decided it was time to write “Divided by Design,” a book that begins with the introduction of a nuclear family in Africa.
The clan, he said, was living harmoniously with man and nature when their lives were abruptly disturbed by power hungry Europeans looking for cheap labor.
The 47-year-old Barbadian writer, told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview, that the narrative transitions from one era, into modern-day times and focuses on the real-life scenarios of a single mother and her daughter as they navigate the hardships of life in Barbados.
The author, a marketing communications specialist, who lives on the Caribbean island, was compelled to write the volume that traces how the white man for 400 years took advantage of free labor and resources which secured wealth for his race for generations to come.
“While black Bajans continue to live in poverty which is a by-product of slavery. One should not make excuses for negative behaviors but with poverty comes crime, desperation, sexual exploitation, and the pressure to exercise bad judgment,” according to Lewis, whose book, also briefly shows how religious, legal, financial, and educational institutions are continuing to support these injustices.
Lewis, who is adamant that slavery still exists, argues that “There are several African countries where all the natural resources are being used to benefit the industrialized nations by the exploitation of its people who are paid well below market value for their labor.”
“As long as white men (and other beneficiaries) who are dedicated to maintaining the banner of white supremacy and exploiting control of their institutionalized power, slavery will always exist as our people will only be paid enough to continue to be laborers and never owners. The oppressive model was designed that way,” he shared.
“I never experienced outright racism. However, what I experienced was ‘colorism’ as my skin is highly ‘melanated’ and individuals would use insults targeted at the color of my skin to try and inflict injury. This attempt at an insult never achieved its goal because I absolutely love my skin and always saw those who tried to use it as an insult as having an identity crisis. Colorism, is a subtle display of racism and its roots, can be directly tied to the underbelly of slavery and colonialism,” said the author.
Lewis, who holds a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honors from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, a guest lecturer and director of a Canadian offshore company that specializes in renewable energy, expressed his dissatisfaction that the Black man is still begging for basic rights and opportunities afforded to their white counterparts.
“We should be making progress. There seems to be an infiltration of black minds, especially where our identity as people is concerned.”
In the process of publishing another fiction sometime this year, Lewis said, he will continue to use the writer’s platform as an instrument to educate.
The multi-talented individual, who wrote songs and poems from a young age, but didn’t accept that he was a writer until he realized what he wanted to “lend my eyes to a reader,” did several years of dedicated research to complete the book.
He said, while writing “Divide by Design,” he realized how serious the art form was. “The readers lend you their eyes and hearts for you to take them on a journey. When I saw that writing would be the perfect time for me not only to entertain but to educate the readers with a subject matter that I felt passionate about, I had to transform to seize the opportunity,” he said, adding that the book is for everyone.
“Anyone with an open mind and heart is welcome to take the journey from Africa to Barbados with me. The book is a sampler of this journey and persons are encouraged to do additional research after reading the novel on areas of the book that would have piqued their interest and further broaden their knowledge base,” said the father of Adiella, Jabari and Nicholas, who shares that his children means the world to him.
The writer who maintains a healthy stress-free equilibrium through laughter, despite his many roles that include providing marketing consultation across the region and abroad for one of the major houses in the region, said he does not have a favorite author, as he is driven by the biographies of great men and women. However, as a writer, Malcolm X whom he calls a loved philosopher, inspires him.
“Divide by Design” is being sold on Amazon.com, in both paperback and eBook format, at Blackdot.com, Barbados – UWI Bookshop, Black Rock Bookshop, and others.