I could very easily follow up that title with ‘for whom?’ but that’s not the direction I’m taking this post in - not this time anyway. It’s better in The Bahamas has been a marketing slogan and kitchy catchphrase for The Bahamas for forever, and of course magic in a bottle like that makes for a great Instagram hashtag. And when a hashtag is popular someone scoops it up and makes it an account where they repost photos posted with that hashtag.
Although I said I wasn’t going in the direction of ‘who is it truly better in The Bahamas for’, the @itsbetterinthebahamas (and every other instagram that focuses on The Bahamas and tourism to all of the 700 islands and cays) only highlight white and wealthy visitors to our most famous attractions as if domestic tourism or even black travelers don’t exist. Everyday someone is commenting about the lack of representation on Bahamas related instagram pages especially considering the fact that The Bahamas is a country where the majority of the population is black. Is it truly better in The Bahamas if Bahamians can’t afford or don’t have the time to see the attractions that people travel from near and far to see? Is it truly better in The Bahamas if they can’t even see people that look like them on social media enjoying these attractions?
I said I wasn’t going to go too deep into who is is better in The Bahamas for, so I’ll go back to discussing the phrase in the lens of Instgram and why these accounts are seemingly wholly white when our population is the complete opposite. If you let these pages tell it, it’s because “black people don’t do these things” while ignoring what the reasons for that could be and/or ignoring what role their constant showcasing of white faces play. Nevertheless, I don’t have to guess that they feel that black Bahamians don’t visit particular attractions, because the @itsbetterinthebahamas Instagram page actually said it with their own fingers.
I’d be the first to say that their comment was loud and wrong because I have been swimming with the pigs and swimming with the sharks, and I have been posting to instagram with the hashtag #itsbetterinthebahamas for years now and while some of the pictures may have been liked by these kind of pages, not one was ever reposted. I can say hey my picture wasn’t that great and probably doesn’t deserve a repost, but that takes me to another point that some of the pages make whether vocally or silently - that they don’t include local photos because it doesn’t fit their “aesthetics”.
If “aesthetics” is going to be the metric by which a photo gets posted or reposted, then the truth of aesthetics is going to have to be discussed. For example is the aesthetic carefree white person on vacation or is the aesthetic bright, colorful picture? Because you might believe it’s the latter and continue to submit picture after picture when they truth of the matter is that it’s really more of a combination of the two. The most popular photos are beach photos (usually on the Exuma cays or other cays the average Bahamian doesn’t visit - never on actual popular beaches), swimming with the pigs (also on a Exuma Cay), swimming with the sharks (another Exuma Cay) or other Cays where the average price per night tip 4 figures. In addition to rarely seeing a black face, you won’t see much spots frequented by black Bahamians either. You won’t really see Arawak Cay, Ardastra Gardens, Saunders Beach or any spot on islands that are actually populated by Bahamians regardless how bright, colorful, crisp or clear the photo is or how many times they add the hashtag #itsbetterinthebahamas.
When I initially tried to write this post and to process my feelings regarding the comments from the @itsbetterinthebahamas page on the whole, I was determined to start using #itsbetterinthebahamas more when I posted to instagram to see if that would make a difference. Upon further reflection, I realize now that it wouldn’t. At least not on any of the pages that clearly go out of their way to choose certain photos anyway.
However, I’m going to stick to my resolution to use the hashtag more often and I challenge all of you reading to do so as well. If we all post photos using #itsbetterinthebahamas, at least when someone searches or clicks the hashtag, they’ll see that it is indeed better in The Bahamas for those who live here as well as those who visit AND that we visit tourist attractions too, despite that fact that no instagram pages including the official Ministry of Tourism one acknowledge or display that. For the next two weeks, I’m going to peep at the hashtag and if you agree with what I’m saying, post a photo and use #itsbetterinthebahamas and tag me (@kissmyelite) in the comments. If I’m tagged, I’ll share the photos here on my blog and if I get any submissions at all, I’ll treat one of the photo posters to a special prize where you’ll definitely be able to use #itsbetterinthebahamas.