The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB)
Examining this label Conchy Joe, the specificity on race is in the name; the most treasured meat source of the Bahamas is a mollusk (conch) with seductively white flesh. White historically has prestige; the master was white, the privileged are white, and the house slave had lighter skin. There is a seductive dance between the sinister and the sweet in regards to this color (or lack of color) that makes the user of this label both resent and envy the subject they’re labeling. The thick creamy white oil impasto that forms around the text lends to this sweet and sour label.
I grew up in the Bahamas both biracial and bicultural. Despite the fact that my father was an American black and my adoptive stepfather was a Bahamian black, Caribbean blacks referred to me as a “Conchy Joe” simply because the pigment in my skin wasn’t as heavily concentrated. As a child this confused me and made me question what it truly meant to be a Bahamian and to be black. It singled me out and created an obvious barrier.
With dying paradigms and ancient rhetoric the origins to any black-centric country always stems from slavery and an aversion to the master race who enslaved. In rejecting this history we have adopted the tongue of “Massa.” A continuation of these labels that differentiate us in physical appearance, thus demeaning one group over another, is a seriously depressing acceptance of slave culture.
*Special thanks for the generous support of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas