October 6, 2007

Bob Marley was white!

Here's something I never thought of before. Although Jamaica was an English colony, the "one-drop rule" works the opposite way there than it does here -- some white blood makes you white. (I suppose this was because Jamaica was a Spanish colony until 1655, and kept the Latin perspective on racial classification.) So, the most famous Jamaican ever, Bob Marley, who had a white father and black mother, was more or less considered white in Jamaica.

Marley's ex-bandmate, Peter Tosh, used to complain about this. Wikipedia says: "Tosh became bitter about the success of his ex-bandmate, at one point claiming that the only reason Marley was so successful was that his father was white ..."

Sorry, Peter, but I think the real reason was because Bob wrote better tunes than you did.

I remember walking out of a Tosh show at the Roxy in the late 1970s, and the club put on the English group 10cc's pop reggae hit "Dreadlock Holiday," and thinking to myself, "I know Tosh is supposed to be Mr. Authentic Roots Rock Reggae and all that, but this piece of fluff is catchier than anything in his whole show."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Steve, Hispanics do the same thing. Many consider themselves to be white, even though the majority are mestizos. I have an acquaintance who is the second cousin of the junior Senator from Colorado. She is a cafe con leche Hispanic. She talks about "Anglos" when she's making bigoted references to Whitey, but considers herself to be "Hispanic" instead of a Mexican when it comes to social pathologies of La Raza.

On the other hand, whites who have just one drop of American Indian blood are quite proud of being Indian. Though this might have much to do with all the quotas, preferences, and set-asides that benefit Indians.

Thursday said...

I think you underestimate Tosh. Take a listen to the Equal Rights album.

I think there may have been "other reasons" why Tosh's performance was off. Analagously, as I learned the hard way, never go to a Willie Nelson concert on Willie's birthday. ;)

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, whites who have just one drop of American Indian blood are quite proud of being Indian. Though this might have much to do with all the quotas, preferences, and set-asides that benefit Indians."

Oh, come on, 1/4th is what you have to be to get any benes. The point is you can tell the Mexicans to go home. They aren't the natives here. Also, you can claim to have been more victimized than any of the rest of the whiners in this country which can shut everyone up pretty fast unless of course you get into a debate about who's more Indian...

Steve Sailer said...

Indian tribes frequently hold membership drives in which they drive out a fraction of the membership for insufficient Indian blood. That's because the best perk -- a single casino -- is finite, so the fewer tribe members, the bigger the rakeoff per member.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that being part Indian doesn't count? How much Indian do you have to be to be Indian at all? Do you just pretend the mating voluntary or otherwise never happened? Somehow, I don't think you're an expert on this, Steve.

BTW, are all Jamaicans talkative? When I was traveling a few years back, I was obliged to have a drink with a Jamaican guy. I figured he was going to come on to me, otherwise why the invite. Instead, he rambled on about one subject after another with no transitions, nor even a breath. There was finally enough of a lull in his monologue for me to excuse myself saying I had to be up early. I think he was still talking when I left. Perhaps if I had told him I was part Indian?

Bill said...

Indian tribes frequently hold membership drives in which they drive out a fraction of the membership for insufficient Indian blood.

-steve sailer


Sure, but they also throw the full-bloods who can't keep it together (drunks, thieves, etc.) off the rez to go on the public dole in cities.

The tribal leaders I see around here hobnobbing with state government officials are significantly whiter than the Indians I see passed out in parks downtown.

Steve Sailer said...

You know, there's this thing called Google that let's you look up these other things called facts.

Mark said...

My grandmother was 1/8th Cherokee. When the government was handing out bennies to we natives many moons ago she discovered she didn't qualify because she had to be at least 1/4th, Kemosabe. Just to let you know.

Sure, but they also throw the full-bloods who can't keep it together (drunks, thieves, etc.) off the rez to go on the public dole in cities.

The Skull Valley Band of Goshutes is a group with a 28 square mile reservation in Western Utah desert about 90 miles west of Salt Lake City. Their population in 2000 was all of 31 people (though I think a hundred or so claim to be tribal members). A few years ago they tried to hold the state hostage by offering to lease their land to store the waste from every nuclear power plant in the country.

What a scam. Indian Reservations are an anachronism whose time has come - and gone. Give them their land, let them sell it and then divide the profits amongst their members, and then get rid of this fiction of sovereign nation-within-a-nation nonsense. Or else let those of us whose ancestors have been here 200 years or more have our own reservations and separate nations (which, of course, everyone else will want to move to).

I have an acquaintance who is the second cousin of the junior Senator from Colorado.

The Salazars are something like 5th generation Coloradoans. He traces most of his ancestry to Spain, not Aztlan.

craig said...

In reggae circles, the darker the skin, the more 'authentic'. But someone like Sean Paul, some kind of chinese-jew mix, still sounds better to my ears. Perhaps it correct to say that without the authentic types, the more accessible music could not have been made.

Anonymous said...

Mark said:

"The Salazars are something like 5th generation Coloradoans. He traces most of his ancestry to Spain, not Aztlan."

Very true. But that hasn't stopped Petey from using the old "we didn't cross the border, the border crossed us" line once or twice.

Gus said...

Steve, is Vanilla Ice your favourite rapper?

Steve Sailer said...

David Byrne.

Anonymous said...

Senator Salazar's relatives all benefit from race based preferences.

My acquaintance's brown cousin used to "work" for IBM in Texas. Sweetheart job. He had a 4,000 square foot home in Austin, and benefited from a scholarship to Texas A&M.

One of her brothers works for a national lab in New Mexico.

And I met her in Dallas when she and I used to work for the Resolution Trust years ago. She was an affirmative action beneficiary.

Not bad for someone whose family never rode the back of the bus.

tommy said...

Indian tribes frequently hold membership drives in which they drive out a fraction of the membership for insufficient Indian blood. That's because the best perk -- a single casino -- is finite, so the fewer tribe members, the bigger the rakeoff per member.

This can lead to some funny situations. A friend who lived in Montana near the Crow reservation recalled that such a "membership drive" ended up driving out the half-brother of one teenage girl on the rez. The girl in question was blond-haired and blue-eyed. Her half-brother, of very slightly less Indian blood, actually looked like an Indian. The girl had to appeal before the ruling commission of the Crow tribe to grant her half-brother an exception.

Josh said...

I recall when I first heard that Maley's father was white-I thought it was kind of cool! But I dont see what the big deal is about reggae. Seems to me anyone can do it.Take any song,or make one up,and just do that weird beat and voila! you've got reggae! It helps also to add stuff about the Israelites,the Lord,Ja,and being free someday and such. Marley would prob have been succesful in any genre,including Tin Pan Alley. I wonder if he ever wrote for the Monkees,like Neil Diamond did? (And you can tell Neils songs cuz they sound just like his OWN stuff,as in "I'm A Believer") Too bad Marley went out the way he did. Remember the story about Johnny and Ruth Carter Cash being robbed in Jamaica--and how the robbers met some rough justice. Tough place Jamaica! Woman no cry,we'll be free some day when Jah bring justice! :)

Anonymous said...

Bob Marley may have been considered white when it suited his adversaries to put him down. Nevertheless, Bob Marley fit in rather well with his other black band mates and with his acquaintances in the slums of Trenchtown during most of his youth. Although he sired children with many different women throughout his life, his primary wife Rita Marley was a very dark Afro-Caribbean woman. He even told her that he chose her as his wife and the mother of his children for her blackness.

Bob Marley wore the badge of 19th century colonial victimhood brilliantly. His white father impregnated his black mother during the latter days of British colonialism in the Caribbean, running back to England after finishing his time playing with and impregnating the natives. Having a white father was a source of considerable shame throughout Bob Marley’s life, which I truly believe was legitimate rather than him posturing under the bastion of political correctness. It is telling that Bob Marley never bothered to investigate the white side of his family back in England when he became rich and famous in the late 70’s.

Bob Marley’s father represented everything wicked and despicable about white colonialism: a military man who imposed the Crown’s rule by force and coercion; an impregnator of black women for fancy rather than for love; an absent father who evidently undervalued black women as human beings. Not only was Marley black, but, in addition to that, his own DNA bespoke of white oppression of the black masses. He was still dark-hued enough, however, to pass off as black in the every day sense. Don’t also discount Marley’s ability to grow long beautiful dreadlocks, a mark of respect amongst Rastafarians in Jamaica and elsewhere.

I don’t deny that Jamaica’s socioeconomic dynamics exist on a color continuum. Much like in Haiti after it shed colonial rule, the lighter skin black people inherited and kept ownership of most of the profitable farms and industries. Bob Marley, however, was a different type of light-skinned black man. He truly came from a background of abject poverty. His mother was a single, impoverished and uneducated Trenchtown woman. Marley truly came from practically nothing, despite being half-white in a land where a lighter hue carries heavy implications of status, upbringing and cultural affinities.

Bob Marley once sang that “Some people have everything… some people have nothing”. This is an authentic line from a man who truly experienced both.

kuze said...

anonymous @ 1:22

How come it is that Bob Marley "sired children with many different women throughout his life," while "his white father impregnated his black mother during the latter days of British colonialism in the Caribbean".

;-)

kuze said...

The latest Jamaican influenced culture?

From yesterday's NYT:


"According to victims, one of the newest groups to emerge is called the Rastas, a mysterious gang of dreadlocked fugitives who live deep in the forest, wear shiny tracksuits and Los Angeles Lakers jerseys and are notorious for burning babies, kidnapping women and literally chopping up anybody who gets in their way."

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer: Indian tribes frequently hold membership drives in which they drive out a fraction of the membership for insufficient Indian blood. That's because the best perk -- a single casino -- is finite, so the fewer tribe members, the bigger the rakeoff per member.

Cherokees eject slave descendants
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6416735.stm

Cherokees Pull Freed Slaves' Memberships
http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=2921413

Anonymous said...

"His white father impregnated his black mother during the latter days of British colonialism in the Caribbean, running back to England after finishing his time playing with and impregnating the natives."

What a load of bollocks!

Norval Sinclair Marley didn't run "back to England" in fact he was born in Jamaica and he died there in 1955, which is before independence.

Anonymous said...

There is no color barrier for musical genius. Louis Armstrong, who knew a thing or two about music, considered Bix Biederbecke (a white jazz trumpeter) a musical genius. Too bad he went the way of many jazz musicians (drug problems leading to his death).

Marley was a straight-out musical genius. His voice, his phrasing, his control, his rhythm, all made him wonderful.

Sting basically copied Marley as much as he could (Sting himself was a jazz musician not a rock and roll guys before the Police). And Bob Marley is not a bad guy to copy. It's a bit ironic that probably most of Marley's fans are upscale white guys and gals who love his music and voice (and probably just mentally skip over all the Rasta stuff).

Fred said...

Ken Salazar is the ancestor of conquistadors. His family has been in what is now the United States for 500 years. For him to be considered to be an oppressed minority is ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

Bob Marley would probably still be alive today if he got his cancer treated when it was confined to his foot. Great musician though.

Has there ever been an accurate accounting of how many children he fathered?

tommy said...

Norval Sinclair Marley didn't run "back to England" in fact he was born in Jamaica and he died there in 1955, which is before independence.

Yes, in fact, Bob had some brief contact with his absentee father during his adolescent years as I recall. (I haven't read To Catch a Fire in years, but I have the book around somewhere.) The elder Marley was anything but a model parent, and he traveled frequently, but his home remained Jamaica.

Anonymous said...

I get the impression that more than one of you white boys went through a dreadlock wearing phase along with parties in the funny smoke filled rooms...

Svigor said...

How come it is that Bob Marley "sired children with many different women throughout his life," while "his white father impregnated his black mother during the latter days of British colonialism in the Caribbean".

I was wondering the same thing.

=D

Mulatto liberal icon and cultist from bizarre racist religion sires scads of illegitimate children and he's a saint; white guy from England who knocked up one black chick and ran out becomes an indictment of an entire race.

LOL!

Credibility on wings. Watch it fly away!

Svigor said...

I get the impression that more than one of you white boys went through a dreadlock wearing phase along with parties in the funny smoke filled rooms...

Lol, not much sadder than that; reminds me of that Chappelle skit about the blind black guy who was a KKK leader.

Svigor said...

P.S., why do people (especially blacks, for whom the term "boy" is often a fighting word) feel comfortable referring to grown white men as "boys"?

Zach said...

fred,
ancestor = a person from whom one is descended, such as a great-grandfather.

The word you are looking for is descendant = a person who descends from someone, such as a grandchild.

Anonymous said...

Bob Marley was a famous artist, so it only makes sense that he would sleep with many women and sire a lot of babies. Back in the 70's, condom protection was not as prevalent as it is now and pregancies were more frequent. He was an attractive, free love, anti-colonialism, black nationalist icon, well loved in the Caribbean, Africa and amongst affluent white folk in the West.

Compare him to his white father, who decided not to have much to do with his son because he was black. Bob Marley's father also came from that small affluent class of whites in the Caribbean who considered it morally proper to lord over the native blacks and use military coercion to ensure that the Caribbean remained a quasi-slave sugar and fruit plantation for the benefit of Great Britannia.

Bob Marley spread love. Bob Marley's father was hardly a love figure.

Anonymous said...

P.S., why do people (especially blacks, for whom the term "boy" is often a fighting word) feel comfortable referring to grown white men as "boys"?

Svigor, it was in the context of an observation about adolescent male behavior. No offense intended.

tommy said...

Compare him to his white father, who decided not to have much to do with his son because he was black. Bob Marley's father also came from that small affluent class of whites in the Caribbean who considered it morally proper to lord over the native blacks and use military coercion to ensure that the Caribbean remained a quasi-slave sugar and fruit plantation for the benefit of Great Britannia.

I get the impression Norval didn't have much to do with his son because he was your typical self-indulgent absentee father, not because he worried so much about what other white Jamaicans would have thought of his mixed-race son. I think Norval was basically a love-'em-and-leave-'em kind of guy who probably wanted to do the right thing by Bob at times but was simply too irresponsible to carry through. I doubt it would have been much different had Norval knocked up a white woman. As I recall, Norval's own family gave him a rather hard time over his relationships with black women like Bob's mother but Norval couldn't have cared too much about what they thought because he carried on with them anyway. I suspect he was content with being the black sheep of his family.

brendan gordon said...

Bob Marley's father was white.

That's interesting, because it seems that Caribbean blacks are more attractive to whites than American blacks are. Caribbean blacks are also better swimmers than American blacks. Go figure.

Svigor said...

No offense intended.

None taken.

Anonymous said...

"Mulatto liberal icon and cultist from bizarre racist religion sires scads of illegitimate children and he's a saint; white guy from England who knocked up one black chick and ran out becomes an indictment of an entire race."

Well, maybe if the english white guy had written "Redemption Song," I'd be willing to forgive him...

Anonymous said...

Then again, he did father (even if he didn't raise) the guy who ended up writing "Redemption Song," so I suppose we can forgive him in the long run.

Anonymous said...

“Bob Marley was a famous artist, so it only makes sense that he would sleep with many women and sire a lot of babies. Back in the 70's, condom protection was not as prevalent as it is now and pregancies were more frequent. He was an attractive, free love, anti-colonialism, black nationalist icon, well loved in the Caribbean, Africa and amongst affluent white folk in the West.”


Bob Marley was a Jamaican in addition to being a popular artist. His fathering many children outside of his marriage (many of which he did not have any input in raising) is not uncommon in Jamaica. My family is from there and some of my male relatives have behaved similarly to Marley and they are not famous. Indeed one could argue that his father’s lack of interest in raising Marley may have as much to do with his Jamaican-ness as his class and race. Further many of Bob Marley’s “outside children” had next to no contact with him.

“Compare him to his white father, who decided not to have much to do with his son because he was black.”

The statement that Marley’s blackness is THE reason his father wanted nothing to do with him is simply an assertion. Having a black mother doesn’t automatically make you black in Jamaica.

According to author Timothy White’s biography of Bob Marley, “Catch a Fire”, Marley’s father (like his son would do after him) fathered other children with local women. In the book the author recounts a moment before Bob Marley was successful in which he encounters a women who is his half sister.

On the image of Marley being a black nationalist icon, he had fathered many children with women who were not the epitome of African beauty; some were in fact mulattos or mixed-race people like himself, like his favorite woman on the side, Miss World 1976, Cindy Breakspeare. From her picture (http://www.afiwi.com/images/gallery/cindyBreakspeare.jpg) you can see she’s not the blackest woman in the world, and she wasn’t the only one. His son Ziggy, despite cultivating an image pleasing to many black nationalists and pan-Third World types, is currently married to an Israeli (and I doubt she’s of Ethiopian Jewish stock). He also has fathered many children with different women. So maybe the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

With respect to the Marley family, according to one of Bob Marley’s cousins, Heather Marley, the Marleys are of Syrian Jewish ancestry (http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/mulatto/vpost?id=2187988&highlight=marley).

Finally, Steve Sailer is correct that Jamaicans (and others in the western hemisphere outside of the U.S.) do not subscribe to our U.S. notions of race, but he is incorrect in concluding that because Marley’s father was white he was generally seen as white in Jamaica (though I believe his racial background was ONE of the reasons why white Jamaican Chris Blackwell of Island Records decided to promote him over the other two Wailers-Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer as the front man of the group). It is also incorrect to conclude that he was universally seen as black on the Island as well, or to conclude that he consistently saw himself as black. To many people at that time he would have been seen as “colored”, which is something akin to both black and white but neither. Not white doesn’t automatically equate to black and not black doesn’t automatically equate to white.

Anonymous said...

Anon - 4:34 pm. Thank you for your insights on Bob Marley's family background and his racial status within Jamaica. I appreciate the education.

I did read Rita Marley's autobiography however and she did state that Bob Marley both was seen as black and identified himself as black. She was incessed whenever Bob went about having affairs with lighter skinned women who occupied the upper echelons of Jamaican society back then (and I would imagine now as well).

You are also correct in stating that Marley's tendancy to father children with many different women is a Jamaican trait which crosses socioeconomic lines. Marley did have at least 8 baby Mommas though. Can most Jamaican men attest to that number?

Mike said...

Anonymous said...

"His white father impregnated his black mother during the latter days of British colonialism in the Caribbean, running back to England after finishing his time playing with and impregnating the natives."

Ewwww. You ever get the feeling that these liberals are really disgusted by miscegenation?

In a couple more lines this guy would have gotten to his "spewing his filthy seed" part and I would have had to run for the toilet.

Something about liberalism really brings out the Victorian bluenose somehow.

tommy said...

With respect to the Marley family, according to one of Bob Marley’s cousins, Heather Marley, the Marleys are of Syrian Jewish ancestry

I've read various things about this. Some accounts state that that Norval Marley was of Sephardic ancestry but other accounts seem to indicate that this is only a very small amount of the Marley clan's heritage. Does anyone know more about these claims? Heather Marley's comments don't really clarify things but she certainly looks like she could pass as easily for a Mizrahi as Paula Abdul could. Then again, maybe she's just one of those people I would label the "Black English."

bob marley fan said...

I think it is not important how was the origin of Bob Marley. The important is his message.

Anonymous said...

Bob marley is a B-L-A-C-K man in society and that is more so in the US of A.it would be more becoming to say he was biracial but society doesn't see mixed people that way they either see more black and call you black or more white and your still not white people are prdominantly black so when they saw Bob Marley it is expected of them to think of him differently as he was of a lighter complexion.So please bein a west indian,if i were to come to America i would be called black even though i am
mixed with white because i look black