A Frank Discussion on Race

I’m going to try and put away the general Bdian tendency of politeness and beating around the bush and try to be as upfront as I can in my half-awake state on the current situation on race in Bda.

Alot of Whites are scared. They are scared because they beleive, adamantly, that they are under sustained attack. They beleive that the current political administration is anti-White, that all attempts by the PLP Government are directed towards revenge for the past White supremacist society of Bermuda. They percieve all attempts to address the lingering legacies of this past, as seen in numreous analyses of Bdian society/economy, as direct assualt on them, on the Whites.

Attempts to develop proportional representation of the class system and the workforce are percieved as reverse racism, as unfair penalisation of Whites as a race.

Whites cling to the beleif of a colour-blind society today, of a society based on merit and hard-work. They view the current actions as divisive, as contrary to their ideals of a meritocracy. They view it as payback.

The fact is there is plenty of evidence to show that in Bermuda today Blacks are disproportionately concentrated in the lower economic classes, jobs, income brackets, health, pretty much every possible indicator of subordination respective to Whites.

Some of this is a factor of lingering economic echoes of past obstacles towards financial, social or professional capital accumulation. This needs to be addressed.

Some of this is a factor of continued White privelege, or institutional racism whereby Whites benefit disproportionately relative to Blacks. This needs to be addressed.

There also continues to be occassions where direct racism occurs, for example the recent case where RG writer Nancy Acton (White) was caught out racially discriminating against a potential Black tenant. This was not an isolated experience; it was only the one that got caught out and was made public. These continued cases need to be addressed.

Correcting the racial inequalities we have inherited from our racist past in vital to securing our present and building the future society whereby we truly live in a meritocracy.

We are not there yet. Not by a long shot.

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9 thoughts on “A Frank Discussion on Race

  1. Several important reasons for blacks lagging in economic strength in Bermuda have been avoided here:

    – High percentage of births to young mothers
    – High percentage of single parent households
    – Insufficient pursuit of higher education

    These must be addressed by the community as well.

  2. In fairness, the above also apply to many whites. I see a large and growing separation between the classes in Bermuda – and that is where more tension exists than between races of the same economic status.

  3. “The fact is there is plenty of evidence to show that in Bermuda today Blacks are disproportionately concentrated in the lower economic classes, jobs, income brackets, health, pretty much every possible indicator of subordination respective to Whites.”

    Three questions for Johnny and his readers:

    Are there any other reasons aside from slavery as to why this might be so?

    Why can you find white individuals in these classes, jobs etc…

    Why do you find black individuals who aren’t?

  4. Hi Fred,

    I’m a little rushed at the moment, and I promise to respond more fully later, but I thought I should give a quick reply for now.

    You are completely correct that the points you put forward need to be addressed and continue to compound the issue in question. It is my contention that many of these problems (teenage pregnancy, education) are part of the legacy of our past racial history. Yes, these are also class issues. In Bermuda class and race are largely interconnected.

    I am of the beleif that in Bermuda we are at a stage now where we have the potential to transcend a largely race based political discourse and move towards a more class based one. This should not be misinterpreted as saying race, or sex for that matter will cease to be a factor in discourse. But it is to say that increasingly class will be paramount where race once was the main factor.

    I do believe that the actions of the PLP decade of governance, mostly unintentional, has been vital to bringing us to this potentiality. In general the PLP has proven its competency to govern equally well (or badly depending on ones perspective) as the former UBP. There are not that many real differences between the two Parties once one gets beyond the superficialities. They are both Parties that are solidly in the ideological political center, and there is actually more common ground, ideologically at least, between the dominant PLP faction and the UBP than is sometimes percieved.

    The reforms, especially to the voting system, have made the electoral system more rational, and these, along with a few other PLP Government actions have improved our country, even if in the heat of political debate it sometimes appears otherwise.

    At the end of the day though, especially with the recent comments by Mr. Wayne Furbert (tha tI will have to read more in-depth before really commenting on) have the potential to serve as a catalyst for wholesale change in our discourse away from a preoccupation with race and towards class/economics.

    This can only be beneficialy for us all. Lets hope this potential isn’t wasted.

    To J Galt,

    I’ll try to take an initial stab at your questions, but as noted above, I don’t have much time right now to really answer them properly. Hopefully other readers can jump in for now, or my quick answers might be sufficient.

    (1)Are there any other reasons aside from slavery as to why this might be so?

    Yes. There are factors other than our racial past that have affected our present. In general such external factors however have only influenced the already existing trend and have had more of a superficial impact than a substantive one. There have also been factors that one might not initially or obviously connect to our racial past (the points highlighted by Fred Menace for example can be separated – although I think this would be unwise) but through research and analysis, have been related to it, and have in many ways served to compound the problem.

    (2)Why can you find white individuals in these classes, jobs etc…

    (3) Why do you find black individuals who aren’t?

    I have decided to answer these two questions together.

    Bermuda’s class system is not directly correlated with our racial demographics, in that there is not a one to one correlation. There is however enough of a general correlation for practical discourse. There are White working class, and there are Black bourgeosie. Historically this occurred even in our earliest days of colonisation.

    Due to the system of enforced slavery, or enforced segregation and organised racial oppression and discrimination however, in general Blacks were economically, socially and politically disadvantaged. Some Blacks were able to accumulate capital in all these areas even in the most racially oppresive eras of our past. Their ability to accumulate capital however was disadvantaged, or perhaps depressed however by the prevailing socioeconomic system, relative to their White contempraries.

    As a result of the above we have our present popualtion where the working class, defined by profession and income (population density and education level too), is about 85% Black, the middle class about 60% Black and the upper class only about 20% Black. There are other social groups, such as the Portuguese who have served the role reserved historically for the mullatoes in our Caribbean relatives, and you will find that many of them are concentrated in the lower classes.

    The predominance of race in our discourse is increasingly being replaced by that of class, and the successes and failures of the last decade of PLP governance have been vital in this transition. Race will continue to be of great importance in our discourse for some time to come, but it is losing its predominance now to that of class.

  5. Like J Galt I have often wondered what other factors come into play in creating the racial disparity. I would agree with Jonny that the racial segregation of the past is largely responsible for the situation, but there is another factor that I think also comes into play, which is the exploitation of the victim status of black Bermudians, until recently, by the PLP for political reasons.

    It seems to me that instead of vigourously promoting education and self sufficiency among black Bermudians, the PLP has historically portrayed many of their followers as victims, who are not responsible for their own problems. In years gone past education and self sufficiency were the means by which previous generations of black Bermudians were able to maintain their dignity and self-respect – and some were able to accumulate property and capital – in the face of a system of outright segregation and oppression. Had the PLP continued to promote such behaviour, I think things would be very different today – and perhaps they would have formed the government earlier.

    The party’s stance today seems to be changing. Both Dr. Brown and Col. Burch have made statements that people must take their lives into their own hands and not rely on government to fix or provide everything. I look forward to seeing the results of their efforts in a generation’s time.

  6. Pingback: Race. Yes, Again… « “Catch a fire”

  7. All this useless talk is why crime is high as hell. A billion dollar government must fix the social programs or reduce taxes. We aint all yes men out here.

  8. In white countries they have welfare checks and housing but because of racism black politicans destroy their people with greed and poverty. The day will come when these corrupt leaders will be dealt with. Racist hatred for the welfare state is inexcusable. How can a housemaid compete for housing with a CPA?

  9. A good government would provide an econamy for 4 plus children at 37 hours for a trash truckdriver. Trash this elite racist cave man economic system. The only peace treaty is a welfare state.

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