Theatre Review from the July 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard
When we consider racialism, the image that arises almost invariably is one of white prejudice against coloured people. It is as well to be aware that racial antagonism is not one-sided and prejudice of white against coloured or coloured against white are equally reprehensible.
It is on this account that issue must be taken against an otherwise interesting play by the West Indian writer, Barry Reckord, called “Flesh to a Tiger,” recently produced at the Royal Court theatre.
The majority of West Indians live in a condition of appalling poverty—the corrugated iron barnyard erected on the stage was a fair presentation of the facts. Now it is all too easy to interpret white prejudice, power and opulence as being the origin of black misery, and see hope and salvation in building the white man’s world for themselves.
It is not just that white men oppress black; the cardinal point is that capitalists oppress workers. That the ruling class may happen to be white is not the essential factor. In Mr. Rickard’s philosophy—"to the White man the Black is as flesh to a Tiger and as much as the Deer may look to the Tiger, so the Black to the White—we must build on our own." The European power over the minds and bodies of the West Indians, as depicted in the Christian religion is a monument of evil, in the shadow of which they crawl in awe and fear, under the aegis of a lecherous self-made priest who rules with the white man’s insidious power. Now this is the point: the priest and his stooges are black, but it is the white man's religion that they have absorbed like a virus and use to tyrannize their fellow men.
That Christianity is an enemy of the working class we readily accept; not because the white man originally administered it along with the overseer's whip, but because it is a means of subjugation in the hands of the ruling class no matter what its colour and a barrier to working class emancipation. That the white man brought it is again irrelevant.
Racialism is no solution to the problems of West Indian workers, no more than it would be to us. If anyone gains it is only those who want for themselves the rare fruits of capitalism that a few white men enjoy. Why change the colour of your Masters?