Race. Yes, Again…

When I wrote the article on Libertarian Marxism, I said to myself that I bet people will not discuss the theoretical aspects of libertarian Marxism as opposed to authoritarian Marxism, rather they will latch onto the one small section of that post where I mentioned race and the UBP.

Looks like I was right.

And thats cool, I’ve been enjoying much of the discussion. But it does lead one to reflect on a few things though.

The most obvious smack-you-in-the-face issue is that while the question of class is increasingly becoming prominent in Bermuda, it is still a long way off from eclipsing the question of race. Yes, we need to address lots of other issues, be it sexism, homophobia, ageism, classism, sectarianism, authoritarianism, ecological issues, infrastructure issues, freedom of speech issues, and so on, but the one issue that seems to really get everyone in a fuss, without fail, is the question of race.

I’ve written my thoughts about race many times on this blog, both in general terms and on the more particular question of the whole UBPs approach to it. Similarly, good discussions have developed on threads that have contributed to this discussion. I haven’t gone through all of my posts in any exhaustative manner, but the following ones should be representative of much of this discourse on race:

“A Frank Discussion on Race”

“More Thoughts on the UBP – Facing Reality”

“White Fear”

“The UBP Platform – First Review”

“A Boxful of Crayons”

“Non-Mariners Race as Racist?”

“Colour-Blindness is Not the Answer”

So… As I’ve said, the above are only examples of some of this discourse. Much of what I’ve written in the above and elsewhere are variations of the same thing, and really, it does get a bit frustrating dealing with the same issue over and over and over and over and over and so on.

But its clear that we as a society have failed to exorcise the scourge of race and we’re gonna have to keep talking. Perhaps we’re talking at cross-purposes and not really understanding the others perspective. I don’t really know how to deal with that except to just keep trying to both put my position forward and to review carefully the opposing views.

This thread may become a long one. I’ll try to keep it all short, concise and broken up into smaller sections.

How do I percieve the UBP/White Bda approach to race?

*By extension I am including in very general terms under this how White Bermuda seems to approach race. I do this because it has been my personal experience that much of what the UBP says – or doesn’t say – is reflective of what White Bda seems to think. This is hardly suprising when the UBP commands near hegemonic support within White Bda, and is constituted overwhelmingly by White Bermudians – at least based on my observations of the Party and confirmation from UBPers themselves.*

I find that their approach to race is what I call a general ‘colour-blind philosophy.’ What I mean by this is that they approach everything today officially from the perspective that segregations and slavery ended XX number of years ago, and racism is a thing of the past. They continue this with affirming that they themselves are not racist.

These leads them to a general proffessed belief in meritocracy, and that there is nothing really but self-ambition to prevent ones success in life. It also leads them to view with great horror any attempts to address the very real racial inequalities that do exist today. This ranges initially from a general aversion to discussion these racial inequalities in the first place. They describe this as generally being ‘divisive.’ This progresses to near hysterical attempts to portray any attempt to practically address these inequalities as either totalitarian (as evidenced by the reaction to even assisting with developing a statistical picture of race in Bermuda, such as the CURE forms), to charges of ‘reverse racism’ and ‘Black revenge’ in the face of weak attempts of correcting institutional racism.

The Big Conversation

The approach to the ‘Big Conversation’ as a whole has been illustrative of this. The UBP and White Bermuda as a whole has been almost universal in their condemnation of this whole very small step to discussing race as divisive and by extension have sought to portray the PLP as a whole as being racially polarising. Its true that some phrases by various PLP members could have been phrased differently and have provided ammunition to this argument, but as a whole these comments have been quoted out of context or misinterpreted.

This attack has been extended to criticising the use of ‘foriegn experts’ in these discussions. These experts have been attacked on various fronts, be it that they are ‘slick snake-oil salesmen,’ to their not understanding the Bermudian situation so they have no right or ability to contribute to the discourse. This of course fails to acknowledge that many of these ‘experts’ are actually leaders in their respective fields in analysing the race issue, and acknowledge they are not experts on the particulars of Bermuda but offer their insights all the same, not as dogmatists but as contributors to the process, and learn through interaction with those that attend.

And immediately when ‘local experts’ are used they change tack and delegitimise these local experts as having ‘chips on their shoulders’ and ‘known to be divisive individuals.’ One wonders sometimes when they will stop criticising and instead volunteer names of locals who would be acceptable. It seems honestly that to them anyone who would discuss the issue is divisive by virtue of discussing the issue in itself, and this deligitmises anyone in their eyes.

They also seem to have become particularly riled by the phrasing ‘uncomfortable’ in this context. There are a number of White Bermudians who have never attended these Bermuda Race Relations Initiatives (BRRI) who have told me that they had heard, or otherwise were of the opinion that, these events were white hating events, where Whites were generally being attacked as a whole and that they had no intention of going somewhere to be verbally and even possibly physically attacked. They really thought that that was what was meant by the term uncomfortable. The correct interpretation should have been that in a discussion of institutional racism in a still White supremacist society (in the sense of institutional White supremacy and not overt KKK style White supremacy), being confronted with the facts of this insitutional racism would be uncomfortable for many. And it is. Its always difficuly when one is confronted with hard facts that question much of what you believe about the world. That was all that was meant by that phrase.

I can understand that some would misintepret the phrase. Thats okay. But there are many within the UBP and White Bermuda who knew better, who had actually attended such meetings, but for various reasons, mostly of a short-term political nature, chose not to challenge these misintepretations but instead in some cases encouraged this misperception. I could even understand that there would be a mass White misinterpration of the phrase and the Big Conversation as a whole, that would be understandable from my analysis of White Bermuda. But there still should have been an effort from those in the UBP who knew better to counter such a mistaken perception.

And when the phrase was used to in the post-election interview of Dr. Brown by the BBC Caribbean, it was meant to say that there are very clear statistical information to show that the legacy of our racial past is evident today, that institutional racism is shown by these statistics, that race still correlate with class, and it is a fact that Whites as a group are better off than Blacks, and that is a problem that needs to be dealt with. That there are some poor Whites is not dismissed, but what is confronted is the very real fact that as a group Blacks are disadvantaged via institutional racism. Again there are those within the UBP who knew better to allow the misperceptions on this issue to grow, but these were not confronted by them.

Bill Cosby Syndrome

Another factor that develops from the White Bermuda/UBP approach to race is what I call the Bill Cosby syndrome. I name this after Mr. Cosby’s rather infamous ‘Pound Cake speech’ where he launched a rather critical attack on Black America. This allowed White America to also jump on much of these criticisms, safe from feeling that they would be attacked for being racist because they could point to this Black man Bill Cosby who had said these things, and they just happened to agree with them. The speech largely failed to acknowledge the role of institutional racism in these problems that he criticised in Black America, and instead led support to the White American (which is shared by White Bermuda) perception that racism is a thing of the past and the problems of Blacks today has nothing to do with racism at all, rather its down to personal choices.

This in itself leads to the problem of how to reconcile how it is that as a group these Blacks seem to make all the wrong personal choices. This leads to statements (that, quite frankly I hear all to often in the company of White Bermuda) that Africa and the Caribbean should have stayed as colonies, because look at them now… How they do not see that as being a racist statement I still don’t understand. The White have two solutions to this dilemma. A very small minority lapse back into overt racism (I am talking here of America; while I’m sure there are some White Bermudians who share this solution, our population is too small to allow it forming any organised grouping) such as the myriad of White Power groupsucles one finds throughout the States. The majority point towards the exceptions such as the Oprah’s, the Cosby’s, Tiger Woods, Colin Powell and the like. To me these are exceptions that prove the rule of insitutional racism. To the colour-blind philosophers they are proof that merit and personal choice work today and not racism. They can do so only be ignoring the very real statistical facts of instutional racism that confront them daily.

Obama

Lately this Cosby Syndrome is needing renamed to the Obama syndrome. And indeed his rise in US politics is particularly useful for insight into Bermudian politics. It is no secret that the UBP as a group seems to be rooting for Obama. Similarly they are using the example of Obama for their own political ends in Bermuda. The PLP quite frankly has walked right into this one, and is still stuck in that trap, something they did through a combination of blind allegiance to identity politics and traditional affinity with the US Democratic Party (much of the PLP’s recent group of leaders were particularly influenced by the exampel of Clinton, that Tony Blair of the US).

You see, Obama does represent alot of what the UBP represents. They have no problem with Blacks per se. Only certain types of Blacks. Blacks who are willing to be upfront about the race problem, that acknowledge instituitional racism and say that the ending of overt bigotry was only one small step in correcting the problem of race, those types of Blacks they have a problem with. They call them confrontational, divisive. Blacks that don’t make Whites uncomfortable for the past, that serve as mouthpieces for White thought, they have no problems with that. I realise many will take offence for the term mouthpieces. I’m not saying that these Blacks don’t genuinely believe the ideology they are representing, I’m sure they do. But their ideology just happens to fit with and legitimises the White worldview, and those that question the White worldview, their philosophy of colour-blindness now, those they don’t like.

You can have a parliamentary party who’s candidates are majority Black. But as long as the Party itself is dominated by Whites and fails to confront the race question and instead continues the colour-blind now philosophy, well, to me its a White Party espousing White worldviews.

Obama is recieving so much White support precisely because he is not challenging the White worldview of colour-blindness now. His candidacy is effectively ‘racial reconciliation on the cheap’ for much of White America who can say they ar enot racist because they support a Black man for President. By this slieght of ideological hand they can ignore the fact of institutional racism.

Confusion

The confusion ultimately stems from a confusion over what is meant by racism. Most Whites, and even a good number of Blacks see racism only in its overt in-you-face KKK style bigotry. That is only one form of racism. That was Jim Crowe. What we have today is institutional racism. While one can experience it subjectively, its hard to prove, they always have so many different excuses for what one experienced. It can only be proven really through statistical analysis. We have that analysis. It can and is shown that Bermuda, as well as America, has some serious problems of institutional racism of a White supremacist nature. Our racism today is covert, a more sophisticated Jim Crowe. We have James Crowe III, Esquire.

By adopting a colour-blind now philosophy one avoids dealing with the institutional racism that we do have. And by failing to confront the very real problems this approach only legitimises the system and puts obstacles in the way of dealing with it.

I am always amused at how White Bermuda, and White America as well, employs MLK. So many of them can parrot off his speech “I have a dream” and say thats what they believe, and that attempts like affirmative action are reverse racism and contrary to this ‘dream.’ This approach to MLK is a combination of ignorance and selective reading (cherry-picking if you will) of MLK. Much of this is due to the selective presentation of MLK through US media which does cherry pick MLK’s thought. Its true that MLK had a dream that one day we would achieve a colour-blind society. But what is not advertised, what one has to go and read and search out because tehy don’t advertise it, is that he also wrote about how to achieve that dream, that simply adopting a colour-blind philosophy without dealing with the inequalities of the past would not achieve that dream. MLK wrote passionately in favour of some form of affirmative action and reparations as tools with which to construct this colour-blind society.

Taking a Break

Anyway, there’s alot more that needs to be written, and I’m pretty sure much of the above will spark a bit of debate here. But quite frankly I need to go and get dinner, so I’ll let this start the discussion, and add more in the process of that discussion.

But I did want to add just a few more things though. Specific to the blogosphere.

Christian’s Politics.bm, and to a lesser extent (in the sense of posting frequency) IMHO.bm provide a rather good example of the more sophisticated approach to the race issue from White Bermuda/UBP. This is especially so in their criticism of the Big Conversation and support for Obama.

The site Bermuda Sucks is rather a free for all of discourse. But there are a few issues that need to be put on the table with that site. Vanz, who posts on this site from time to time, and posts on that site as “Tigga” (I post as “Crimson Dynamo”) has made an interesting social experiment with that site.

What I udnerstand he does there, for which he is attacked, is largely a holding up a mirror to some of it. I have disagreed with his tactics, essentially saying that two wrongs don’t make a right and that he only provides ammunition for the anti-PLP posters.

But what he does is he essentially holds a mirror up to that site, as far as I can tell inr esponse to two posters there. One of them is the character ‘Rummy’ who in his stye of writing Tigga apes. Rummy comes across as a general troll, often with nonsensical comments (I’m sur ehe’ll respond here eventually). But his bad use of dialect, well, I consider it essentially racist. the other character is Sal, who has his own blog which you will find on my blogroll as “Sal’s Blog.” Sal also posts here, and I’m sure he’ll respond as well. Sal hasn’t posted on that site for some time, but does post now on its spin-off, BIAW. Sal is about the closest thing I have come across in Bermuda as an out and out bigot.

The fact that both Sal and Rummy are barely attacked to the same degree that Tigga is speaks volumes of the psyche of many. Whiel Sal no longer seems to post there, past failure to respond to him in anywhere near the manner that Tigga has had to deal with, is intepreted along the lines of institutional racism. The same goes for Rummy. Until this situation is addressed that, and similar blogs, will be regarded as racist, even if the overwhelming number of posters there are not overtly so themselves. Its institutional racism, and Tigga’s actions have illustrated that point splendidly over there, as much as I have issue with his actions there myself.

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44 thoughts on “Race. Yes, Again…

  1. Johnny,

    You and everyone seem to be full of ideas. Lets hear some solutions or at the bare minimum, suggestions.

    What sort of reparations should black Bermudian families receive? Land, money, businesses, etc…?

    Should wealthy black Bermudians receive reparations as well?

    What about poor white families? Should they get nothing?

    If the reparations come in the form of money, where will the money come from?

    I agree that there are a lot of whites in Bermuda that have benefited greatly and still enjoy the benefits today from slavery and colonialism. The question is, how do you prove it? What should be done about it?

    You talk about institutionalized racism and how statistically blacks, as a group are worse off than whites. When it comes to employment I’m guessing that statistically, whites have better paying jobs than blacks. What can be done about this? Our public education system is in shambles. How can we allow individuals to fill positions without the proper education? This isn’t a black and white problem. This is a Bermudian problem.

  2. Hi Enlightened,

    I promised at the beginning of the year to write a whole series on reparations. I have continued my research into that, but due to the complex nature of it I have not yet really had the time to get about writing anything in depth.

    All the same I have written in various threads, some relatively recently, concerning my idea of reparations. I believe that we would need a thoroughgoing community discussion on it to work out the exact nature of it all, but I will repeat for you here what I envision in the form of reparations.

    I would say that reparations are not a tax on Whites with the proceeds going to all Blacks in some sort of cheque. Quite frankly that would be impractical and would also lead to a huge amount of resentment and other nasty stuff. In short, it wouldn’t fly.

    What I envision rather is a long-term heavy investment in social infrastructure, namely education, healthcare, housing and the like. I would like to see this result in free quality education right up to the tertiary level, free quality healthcare (with a strong emphasis on preventative care). I would like to see quality housing and a reworking of our current housing situation.

    Additionally I believe it is necessary to develop some form of affirmative action in order to address much of the existing structural inequalities that we currently see. The Workforce Empowerment Bill (or whatever it was called that was essentially about affirmative action) was a good start and should be revisited.

    Alot of the above will have to come about I reckon through a phased system, but with the long-term goal of acheiving the above.

    I believe a progressive income tax would probably be the best way to go under the existing system. OF course, under a different mode of production than capitalism there may be alternate systems.

    I also believe that it is neccessary to totally overhaul the existing political institutions. Rather than the existing straitjacket of Westminster hypocrisy I would like to see a more genuine popular economic and political democracy. I would imagine this would take the form of elected Parish Councils combined with the right to recall, and a general federated system, where each neighborhood elected a representative to the council, and the councils themselves elected representatives to a national territorial council. I would envision the same system for the economic arm, workers council in each workplace electing industry representatives and ultimately an economic council, thus having two national councils. I advocate all residents – regardless of citizenship – to have rights in the territorial councils, and similarly within the workers councils. If you live here, you should have a voice and representation. Same for workers.

    Now those are only starts for domestice purposes. There is also the need for international reparations, essentially from the West to the rest. Much of the structural inequalities existing in the world today are legacies from the Imperial past and the immediate Cold War and current proxy neo-imperialisms. This can only be corrected through global reparations. This would require some rather profound radical change on a global scale. As to pay, much of the US military budget today, which by far eclipses its five nearest rivals combined (from the last data I had direct access to review, in 2005, their military budget was equal to the rest of the worlds military budget combined; from my understanding of the last budget total it was somewhere around $630 billion this year), this goes a long way to enforcing the existing structure, and would go a long way to dealing with much of the problems that the world is faced with. [A fraction of this expenditure is, if I have my calculations right, all that is required to meet the UN’s much touted Millenium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, combat gender inequality, reduce child mortality by two thirds, combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other major diseases, realise environmental sustainibility, and correct the global developmental structural inequalities.]

    I hope that provides a basis for at least a begining discussion on this question.

    And yes, it is a Bermudian problem. But its more specifically a Bermudian racial problem.

  3. What I envision rather is a long-term heavy investment in social infrastructure, namely education, healthcare, housing and the like. I would like to see this result in free quality education right up to the tertiary level, free quality healthcare (with a strong emphasis on preventative care). I would like to see quality housing and a reworking of our current housing situation.

    Ok fine. We give people a great start in life by affording them with an education, healthcare, and a place to live. In the US this would be a great start in life. However in Bermuda these kinds of things are not adequate to acheive economic prosperity like some white people enjoy today. I’m talking about the white people sitting on 20 – 30 acres of land that has been passed onto to them from generation to generation. Even if a young Bermudian acheives an executive position within a corporation they will NEVER enjoy the kind of life that some white people are enjoying as a result of slavery and imperialism. What should be done about this?

    I’m not a fan of affirmative action. I believe Bermuda employs qualified Bermudians based on skills, education, and experience. Not on race. Thus, affirmative action would be redundant and counterproductive because employers will be forced to hire based on race instead of qualifications.

    As far as our Westminister system goes, I believe it is a system that can work. If we had two parties that genuinely put the Country’s issues as first priorities, I believe the Westminister system is an efficient system to acheive the desired results.

    I admire your utopian ideas regarding global reparations. However, being a realist, I believe global reparations are unattainable because the US will never agree to such an idea. You have to think, you’re asking the US to relinquish its world dominance. We both know that traditionally, hegemony has never been transferred without a fight. Afterall, we can’t even get them to clean up our baseland here in Bermuda.

  4. I never said it wouldn’t involve a fight.

    These reparations, domestic and global, would require a fundamental – that is, radical – change to the system. The current exploitative system will resist that because realising them would mean the end of that system itself.

  5. Jonnystar,

    “I would say that reparations are not a tax on Whites with the proceeds going to all Blacks in some sort of cheque. Quite frankly that would be impractical and would also lead to a huge amount of resentment and other nasty stuff. In short, it wouldn’t fly.

    What I envision rather is a long-term heavy investment in social infrastructure, namely education, healthcare, housing and the like. I would like to see this result in free quality education right up to the tertiary level, free quality healthcare (with a strong emphasis on preventative care). I would like to see quality housing and a reworking of our current housing situation.”

    Then you don’t really believe in reparations the way most people envision them at all. You actually believe that the way forward is the exact same way that most of Bermuda black and white who don’t believe in reparations think is best.

  6. I really dislike the phrase ‘reparations’. The underlying connotations lead many to believe it is a payout or a monetary apology. “Here, sorry I killed your people. Want some money? Take my house…” Sounds silly huh? I see the way forward as more of a leveling of the playing field, an progression in education – not simply of the mind but effectively of the soul. You can throw as much money and such at a person but until that person learns that they are deserving of it, they will never use said gains to their full capabilities. I like to call it the air of entitlement… which is another catch phrase that I think is used incorrectly and has has thusly picked up bad underlying meanings. When I say it to my friends, it means more that I feel that I am just as deserving as anyone else of stuff. It doesn’t occur to me that I can’t have or do anything I put my mind to. A lot of black people unfortunately don’t think like that. They feel they have to fight for everything they want, that they have to take it from someone because “white” people would never just give it to them. In some cases it is true and in some it simply isn’t.

  7. Jonny,

    You seem to assume that any time whites disagree with an attempt to combat racism that:
    a) their disgreement has no merit
    b) they are disagreeing because they are not interested in solving the problem
    and
    c) they disagree because they become hysterical and afraid

    This seems to be a pretty condescending view to me but I suppose its you perception and fair enough. Have you ever considered that sometimes whites may have other valid problems with some of the methods that have been advocated or employed to address racial inequlity?

    You say that white Bermuda in general seems to disagree when any attempt is made to address the issue of inequality yet the truth is that most of Bermuda of all races are on board with a great many of the concepts and actions that have occurred in the past or that you call for in the future in order to bring about “reparation”. These include:

    1)The development of the Economic Empowerment Zone
    2)Political Reform
    3)Repair of the Education System
    4)Government Funded Tertiary Education
    5)Elimination of the death tax
    6)Bermudianisation of the workforce (to a point)
    7)Participation in (sincere) Anti-Racism forums
    8)Accurate and unbiased study and collection of statistics as they pertain to racial inequality

    The way I see it, the main difference between your opinions on the mattter of race in Bermuda and the common opinions of white Bermuda is with regard to Affirmative Action. You and the PLP agree with it. Most of white Bermuda (as far as I can tell) disagree with it. That’s their opinion. It doesn’t neccessarily make them lazy or unwilling to sacrifice. It could just mean that they really, genuinely believe (as I do) that it will make the problem worse rather than better.

    Also I really think what the Limey said regarding BRRI participation on Dougie’s blog needs to be repeated here. That non-participation in the BRRI meetings is not evidence of an unwillingness to sacrifice for a solution to the problem. It can simply be an unwillingness to give legitimacy to a forum that some believe was not and is not genuine in its stated purposes. Many people are doing and continue to do their part elsewhere including on the internet. People from all viewpoints need to understand that when it comes to the race issue, Bermudians are going to take action on their own terms. Bermudians should be motivated by their own consciences and should never be deterred by the possibility that when they speak they will be accused of being hysterical, afraid, disengenuous, selfish, lazy, greedy, ignorant or even a sheet wearing klansman as I have been called before.

    You define the word ‘uncomfortable’ in the context of the Big Conversation as being the natural feelings that people confronting race issues will encounter. I agree that that is what it should mean but I am fairly certain that it is not just white Bermuda that has misinterpreted this term. We hear and read over and over again since the Big Conversation started, from people who seem to have employed the false logical argument that “Talking about race may be uncomfortable to white people. Therefore white people need to be made uncomfortable to bring about equality. Therefore white discomfort is a pre-requisite to all racial heqaling.”

    With regards to the Obama and Cosby Syndromes. Why is it that when a black man has the guts to go out there and address the problem of institutional racism from the angle of what black people can do to heal their ills, we need to label white support of it as a disease because some ignorant white people might illogically use it as ammo to say that racism is dead? Bill Cosby has addressed racism from many different angles throughought his life including by making a point of hiring all black staff for his tv show. One of the angles he has taken is to ask black America to take a look at what they can be doing for themselves which is one of the few things that no white person can credibly do. I for one, applaud him and others like him and I don’t feel I have a syndrome for doing so.

    With regards to the true meanings of statements and speaches made by Ewart Brown, PLP MPs and supporters. You have rather confidently written here about the true meanings of some of the more divisive things that these people have said. You write that these people are largely misunderstood or quoted out of context. I have trouble seeing how any significant portion of these statements meant anything different than what most Bermudians of all races understood them as meaning. Would you be able to back up your assertions?

    Confusion

    This should be a whole thread. Most of the people from all backgrounds in Bermuda agree on most aspects of the problem of racial inequality and the way forward. We never get to talk much about the few points we really do disagree on (like affirmative action)because we spend most of the time arguing about things we actually agree on due to minor semantic differences. For example the question, “Can black Bermudians be racist?”. Most white Bermudians would say “of course” and the PLP would say “of course not”. This argument is really just about a difference in the definition of the term racism and is a huge waste of time since almost all Bermudians know that discrimination and hatred exists in many forms and that it is in our best interests to bring them all to an end. The semantic confusion continues with words like ‘uncomfortable’, ‘reparations’, ‘gay’, ‘institutional racism’ and ‘priveledge’. This confusion goes further and infects the ways we perceive each other’s intentions and opinions towards each other, fostering distrust, fear and lack of compassion. While I disagreed with most of your post, it really does illustrate to me, with a yellow day-glo highlighter, the towering walls of confusion and how much further we could go if we could tear them down.

    Anyway, sorry in advance for all the typos and errors (no time for much proofreading today) and thanks for the thoughtful post on race as you see it!

  8. 🙂 I will respond when I have the time to fully go through your posts. Quite a bit to read over and its lunch time. Just wanted to let you know I’m not evading – just busy!

  9. Sow nah um ah racist beekawz eye tawk lyke ah onion?

    You have no clue as to what you talk about, and thats one of the defining problems in Bermuda today. People need to lighten up. It’s tough no matter where one lives on this planet.

    Bet you won’t say that in Scutlynn..yah mite bee a wee out of line there Jimmy. Ahc high the new……….or whatever.

    Have a pint on ole Rummy. And I don’t like Communists in any shape or form. If that makes me worthy of a label, then pin it on Bro…….

  10. Hey Rummy, knew you’ld respond sooner or later. I find your use of dialect racist, and your general actions mostly trollish. That “Tigga” is holding up a mirror to you I stand by, and the fact that he is blasted out of the water and you are not (quite the opposite despite the occassional skirmish) speaks volumes. Combined, that is one reason why that site and a few others are regarded as racist. Are you personally racist? No idea. Don’t know you personally and can’t speak on it. But do I find your use of dialect akin to minstreling? Sure. Do I find the discrepancy between reactions to you and Tigga indicative of institutional racism? Sure.

    And you don’t have to like me, or any Communists for that matter.

    And do I, as a Scot, find your your use of Scots dialect like the above discriminatory? Sure do.

  11. “And when the phrase was used to in the post-election interview of Dr. Brown by the BBC Caribbean, it was meant to say that there are very clear statistical information to show that the legacy of our racial past is evident today, that institutional racism is shown by these statistics, that race still correlate with class, and it is a fact that Whites as a group are better off than Blacks, and that is a problem that needs to be dealt with. That there are some poor Whites is not dismissed, but what is confronted is the very real fact that as a group Blacks are disadvantaged via institutional racism”.

    I have no wish to be flippant Jonathan in my point and I appreciate it is you that is saying poor whites are not to be dismissed, but I sense in reality that “those poor whites” are to be dismissed – very much so. Whatever the words were meant to say, the Premier was crystal clear in his remarks to the BBC correspondent…”They don’t need any help. Whites, (including the poor ones) have 95% of the wealth”.

    Where in the name of whoever, that figure came from is beyond me – utterly. Not 94.2% or 96.7% but exactly 95%.

    Whether we like it or not, such political posturing and throw-aways tends to turn people away from addressing the issue that “as a group Blacks are disadvantaged via institutional racism”.

    On a serious note – he either needs a new script writer, or he is being deliberately antagonistic. My bet, for what it is worth, is it is the latter.

  12. I was going to avoid touching on the “Bermuda Sucks” part of the thread but I have to bite on this one. What about Rummy makes you think that he is making fun of black people? Maybe I am totally naive but I always thought he was just talking in a generic Bermudian accent rather than a black Bermudian accent if that is something that even exists.

  13. mike – good post, it’s always refreshing to get this kind of honest clarity on such a muddy subject.

    why do you think there’s a(basically)monolithic antipathy for affirmative action from white folks? i’m not saying that white folks don’t genuinely believe that it’s a bad idea for, as far as they can tell, good and valid reasons.

    what i’m asking is that, do you think it’s just a coincidence that, nearly monolithically, white folks tend to be dismissive of race-specific social equity programs?

    or does it have something to do with the nature of race itself and how racism has impacted the way we all perceive ourselves and the surrounding world?

    if it’s the latter on any level, then the reasons that make Affirm.Act. plans invalid in the minds of white folks should be deconstructed further. bearing in mind how race moves, any sort of groupthink or racial consensus when it comes from white folks is almost intrinsically worrisome – because the detail that defines that group as a group is fundamentally based on the oppression of people of color.

    thanks for the dialogue.

    PS also, for largely the same reason, it’s important to look hard at the black pundits that white folk tend to appreciate and support. very nearly invariably, they possess two very specific qualities:

    a)generally, black folk disagree with their stance. see, Bill Cosby, Shelby Steele, Larry Elder etc.

    b)generally, they dismiss the fundamental inequity created by structural racism while suggesting that the individual is responsible for how the society treats them. as in, black folk just sort of have to work harder than white folk in order to succeed; moreover, that’s a perfectly acceptable and natural truth, that needn’t be corrected or even challenged.

  14. Your problem ( well one of them) is the fact that you have not been around that long and have no concept or memory of how Bermudians spoke years ago. In the 40’s through the 70’s from Somerset to St. Deyveeds arrybuddy had a little twist to the onion speaks.

    You ever been abroad and waited for the flight home. You don’t even have to look for a gate. …yah yah…chack deeze noo traids mahan,….annn dee chayne……yah yah….

    Get of your high horse Mr. Starling. And if your trully Scotish yahore ah beet too left of centre………

    My blogging is to have fun, upset a few carts and have a laugh. If others don’t get it, well tuff crap.

    And if I am racist because you percieve my writings as such then I suggest you go to the back of town and speak to the doods there. Sorry, forgot, they are all rednecks and jews, and ….yah all cum back now………….

    Start a fire, pour fuel on it then run off too Scutlynne……………

    Typical honkie….bawahaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  15. Someguy,

    Thanks for the support. I want to avoid “speaking for my race” but I’ll tell you why I don’t support Affirmative Action and maybe that can give you some insight.
    First, I should clarify that I am actually not 100% against Affirmative Action, just Affirmative Action legislation and Affirmative Action that requires discrimination. This means that if you hire a qualified black person over a similarly qualified white person in order to achieve a representatively diverse workplace, then in fact the black person is worth more to you and you have not discriminated against the white person in not hiring them. If you hire a black person who is of dubious qualification over a qualified white person in order to somehow right previous injustices, then that is discrimination and I disagree with it. I still respect the rights of other people to hire who they wish for whatever reasons they wish and support their right to do so. I cannot imagine any form of Affirmative Action legislation that would not require employers to racially discriminate which is something most Bermudians have come to view as wrong in the extreme.
    I am very concerned about what effect an environment in which people are forced by law to discriminate racially would have on the psyche of all Bermudians. I am very concerned that this sort of legislation goes a long way towards undoing a lot of the progress that has been in changing Bermudian’s attitudes towards race in the past 40 years. I am somewhat concerned that with Black Bermudians holding most of the political power and the vast majority of jobs in the civil service that the pendulum will end up swinging past the middle. Some people like to use the analogy that the pendulum has to swing past the middle in order to reach equilibrium but as someone who studied physics and system control in University I can tell you that there are faster and better ways to get the pendulum to come to a rest in the middle. I am very concerned that legislated discrimination will lead to a backlash and suspicion in the workplace of those it is actually meant to help. Some people feel that legislated discrimination is a neccessary evil, that we need to break our rule that “two wrongs don’t make a right” just this once. I don’t think we do need to break this rule ever, and I think that the process we have made over the past 40 years by chasing the ideals of equality and non-discrimination proves this. Then again, I am white and stand to be discriminated against so I suppose it’s a lot easier for me to believe that while if I was black and stood to gain something, I’d probably be far more tempted to break the rules of society…just this once I swear.

    With regards to your two qualities of Black people white people love and black people love to hate; I don’t think they do “dismiss the fundamental inequity created by structural racism”. I think they tend to acknowledge the inequity but insist that the use of it as an excuse for failure tends to prevent success. In other words they say, “Forget for a minute about how much the white man is ruining your life because the reality is, you may never live to see a day when that changes. Live in the now and do whatever it’s going to take for you and your children to live a better life than your parents were afforded.” Of course, you might not read much about the mundane things about race that people like Stuart Hayward, Larry Burchall, Bill Cosby, Spike Lee or Lawrence Fishburn have said or done when you are reading a magazine article about the Pound Cake speach or a post on Str8 no Chaser about the “Negro Relic Stuey Hayward”. That doesn’t mean that these people don’t acknowledge institutional racism and historical inequity.

  16. How is the use of Bermudian dialect racist? It is racist in itself to assume that the “Bermudian accent” is exclusive to one racial group, and I take exception to that.

    In any country it is usual for those less educated, less well-travelled people to have a stronger local accent, and that is the case in Bermuda too. I went to government schools all the way through, and I can tell you that a lot of the people I went to primary school with had very strong accents – black and white – and most still do. Most of the people I went to secondary school with went on to university, and their accents have been modified to varying degrees by at least 4 years spent abroad.

    I am a white Bermudian going back several generations, and I have been accused by some of “having a very strong Bermudian accent” and assumed by others not to be Bermudian at all.

  17. Rummy can certainly be an irritant, but to place him in the same category as someone who has no problem using racial slurs against whites and blatantly racist rhetoric is pure folly. And, yes, I agree with Urchin that your misplaced assumption that Rummy’s accented posts are some kind of mock of black Bermudians is, in itself, racist. Oh, and not racist towards whites, but racist towards blacks. I’m actually shocked that someone who tries so hard to appear to be racially enlightened has such a low opinion of blacks that he can’t possibly conceive that white Bermudians can have a thick Bermudian accent. Do you seriously not realize the inherent racism of what you just did there?

  18. I think it might be useful to spilt this discussion up into several individual threads. Let me know how you all feel about that, and I’ll develop it.

    Lots to respond to. I will.

  19. I find Rummy’s typing of what y’all are calling “bermudian dialect” offensive. Not as a black person, as a bermudian. Yes, all people have a certain accent to their speaking voice. However, by typing it such as he does (which I can’t ever recall having actually heard anyone use his particular stresses) makes me and others feel like he is making fun of us. Expecially considering the fact that he does not live here – I had not even realized he was bermudian until recently. I’m not the only one to think this. Black, white, potuguese, plp, ubp and non-partisan people have all stated this over the time that I have posted on Sux. Shouldn’t that count for something?

    I like many others refuse to read his posts for the most part anymore, so if his purpose is to continuosly make comments in a manner which inalienates the very people I assume he means to communicate with, well, tht seems rather silly to me but “have at it” 🙂

  20. Mike T

    As an ex HR guy from the UK, I can fully appreciate the remarks you have made.

    Just adding my experience so to speak, it is also interesting that when a non-white gets a job over a white where they are (for all intents and purposes) otherwise equal in merit, that the white can feel he/she has been discriminated against! Was he not hired because he was white?

    That feeling is exacerbated further when the white is in a minority. As you may know in the UK, discrimination legislation is structured to protect the minorities, not the other way round

  21. Boy oh boy…I have become a celebrity. Now, um nuffin but a peece uv sheet…..amazing.

    Most of the hippocrites that post ( me included in jest) always have to have a scapegoat.

    I would suggest that you all shut the ….up and stand on the corner, or near a water cooler or make a purchase then come back and tell me that whats written by me in jest is not factual.

    Next…you’ll be bitching and moaning when you go to New York in an Bourough and can’t understand……

    Thats one of the biggest problems Onions have. They have lost the ability to have a laugh yet talk this way everyday because it is a reality that is part of the cycle.

    As for you Alsys..yah steal mihy fran…….and most important people like me never forget how they got to where they are, who helped them, and how to maintain a livelyhood without trying to be like the Jones’s.

    Before you all come down on ole Rummy……………as I said prior….you have all heard it before and you will in the future……..it’s not my fault…..

    Can’t you see somewhere down the road…Valcum…dis his dee hopening uv dee grandist Hoetal Barmudah hayse arra sean…………..

    Good luck…………….:+)

    Liven up and hug your neighbour……

  22. “I like many others refuse to read his posts for the most part anymore, so if his purpose is to continuosly make comments in a manner which inalienates the very people I assume he means to communicate with”

    I agree if I see rummy’s name on the post I just skip over it. I don’t really want to waste my time, not so much becasue of what he types, but how he types it, of course that is also why I didn’t read Trainspotting. Just couldn’t be bothered to spend the energy trying to decipher them.

    Even this post is more energy than I wish to give.

  23. Loki, take it out of context if you will, thats your choice. The Rummisims and what voal portrayl I do has nothing to do with “Blacks”. Many white Bermudians speak the same way.

    In your capacity, you probabley never met them nor associated with them on a regular basis.

    To catagorise me as a racist because I use such language or cryptics in not fare and untrue.

    Nothing personal….gaz detz vy yoo laft.

  24. Rummy, what are you talking about? In case the point was lost on you, I was actually defending you from accusations of racism, and expressing disgust at the inherent racism in what Jonathan said.

  25. Val….muss haiv raid hit wrong……forgive me. Um taking a lutt of fleck hair lately…I can handle it……just so much shit going on….yah no………………

    Um cool.

    Gotta run……Vladimere on the line….just came out with a new “CD”…………..

  26. Slavery and racism can have enduring affects that seriously undermine social institutions and the social effectiveness of individuals for centuries. There simply is no way of denying this. White Bermudians try not to deal with this. The reason, I think, is that it implicates them in a horrific crime that they did not commit.

    Further more, at the time of the putative crime, it was not considered a crime. It would be nice to think that people base their moral judgements on analysis of ethical principles applied to the circumstances of their lives. But they don’t. Didn’t then. Don’t now. Almost no one does it. Our culture of individualsim is supposed to be all about individual standards. But it ain’t. There is a moral consensus derived by a society of “individuals” and most people intuit what that consensus is and make their values fall into that pattern.

    In the old days, the consensus held that slavery was OK. Then racism was ok. Now it isn’t. When it comes down to figuring out who the villian is, most people will make the historical case, if it looks like they are going to end up being the villain, get their polemical “get out of jail free” card and stop listening. The song goes “It wasn’t me”. The victims are left shouting and they might as well shout at the devil.

    And the problem remains unsolved. The victims, black bermudians, get angry. When they get ignored they are also embarrassed. Being a victim is very embarrassing. And that makes them angrier. Which make them look crazy. Which makes white people more reticent and a bit frightened. And that makes them angry. Which makes them panic. Which makes them look crazy.

    Should white people appologize. No. They didn’t do anything. And this isn’t a moral issue. Its a social one. Its not about whether we can all love each other. Its about whether black people and white people are going to be equally priveleged so they can participate properly in a functioning society. People in a the superior social class tend to think that society was perfect on the day they were born. On the day any white Bermudian was born there was a deep social problem. We have to fix it.

    Affirmative Action: an imperfect, temporary solution liable to be misused and often done unfairly. Prehaps, its very premise is unfair. Perhaps it is racist. In short run however, it puts black people in positions of power from which they can secure a practice of empowering others. Does that sound partisan? Yes, its not equitable. But in the short run it represents a practical expedient.

    Reparations: When ever people say this they mean one of two thing – niether of which are really represented by the word reparations. One – everyone gets a check. This is just a hand out. In world where almost all property was stolen extorted or built on slave labour at some point, the presumption is insulting to all parties. The other use of the word is the expansion of empowering services. But this is precisely what the government should be doing anyway. The fact that the PLP and UBP do not, to anywhere near the necessary extent, makes people think that this kind of reparations is something new for government. Its not. When they happily take our tax money, thats the job they are supposed to be doing. They just don’t. And keep the money.

    The invidious current example is Minister Hapless Horton. You would think that by this time the parties would have come up with an education policy with an agenda, that applied to Bermuda. You would be wrong. Over the years, it has become my opinion that the education ministry is given to moderately powerful members of the government party that are actually not liked by the party elite. Its a good way to trash a Bermudian politicians carreer. No one, with a seat in the Bermuda House of Parliament, is really going to survive a stint with a portfolio no member cares about and which is in serious trouble. Except Dale Butler. Dale cares about education. So they won’t let him near it. Ever. I give Hapless Horton two years to burn out.

  27. For some reason, the history of race relations in Bermuda is hardly ever discussed. Its affects are discussed interminably. For example, few people seem to know that the first man off the Sea Venture to put his foot on the island was probably a black man. Why don’t people know this? Where is the black history of Bermuda? We have the white ones. Where are the black ones? There are some but there is no general history. Slavery has been covered but what about all the other aspects of their lives?

    On another point: Some interesting points in american black history pop up every now and then. I remember when the Tulsa massacre was retold. Here’s another one. Gimme a name like Scipio Africanus Jones please.

    http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780307339829&ref=rec&name=display

  28. Interesting. Interesting. And, once again, those famous anything-but-the-last-words “confronting the Race Question” (or, as you say of the UBP and ‘most whites in Bermuda’ “not confronting the Race Question”.

    And I ask you, Jonny, WHAT IS THIS RACE QUESTION?

    Should we begin at the beginning and wonder, in some sort of Cosmic Sense, “Why did God decide to create caucasians and negroes and asians and aboriginals and inuits?”? Jonny, you don’t believe in God, so you won’t ask that, or want to know.

    I’m not exactly sure that I believe in God. I might wonder, feeling philosophical, “Why would a God decide to create … etc?”

    I think I do believe in what seems abundantly obvious: We are here, we are immediately descended from people rather like us. However, going back hundreds of years in my own family, I find direct ancestors who are not exactly like me. Or, rather, I should say that I’m not exactly like them. I’ve changed, they have not and cannot. They are done with.

    I have a feeling that if I went back beyond the fairly detailed “family tree” I have that shows my great-greats mucking about in the Hastings area in 1545, say to the decades before 1348 and the Black Death, I’d find my great-great-great-greats were enslaved, serfs, confined to tilling a few fields of my master’s land, and getting the remants after he had fed his family and chums in the lean years.

    The Black Death, as you’ll know, Jonny, did a great deal to change Great Britain for the better as far as the serf system was concerned. With more than half the population popping their clogs (well, my people couldn’t afford clogs, I’m guessing) labour was hard to come by, and the far fewer enslaved Britons started asking for a better life and, feeling brave and with far fewer people to physically stop them, just wandering away from the demesne they had been stuck on for hundreds of years. At the end of that century, the Peasants’ Revolt wasn’t all that difficult a battle.

    Jonny, you might think that those particular revolting peasants settled for too little, and too soon. However, here at least, winter comes on, so does disease, food goes off and the daylight dwindles, and if you live to reach thirty years, that’s not half bad. Settle for now, enjoy a little, plan for the future with your children.

    World Revolution, the sort that your European Communist heroes, Hitler and Mao, and Jesus Christ, called for, and achieved to greater and lesser extents, have generally resulted in the slaughter on a vast scale of the innocent, in order to seem to be eliminating a small undesirable element said to be oppressing all those dead, ordinary people caught up in the crossfire, and the ultimate end to these world revolutions is the enrichment of a new few. Let’s call them the New Few.

    The Three Field System around a rather tatty baronial home in 1347 (a few days before the Black Death) becomes a Three Province System, or a Twenty-Seven Member EU, I suppose, in 2008.

    So, WHAT IS THE RACE QUESTION?

    I put it to you that THERE IS NO RACE QUESTION!

    In 2008, as in 1908 and 1808, and 1508, and 1308, and 8BC, we folks, we humans, no matter our colouring, hairstyles, height, the sizes of our privates, and those things that we bring into this world with us and cannot change (Michael Jackson, Cher and Pete Burns being the exceptions) … are our DNA. We are pretty much captive to it.

    Read that we are born afraid of the dark, snakes and height. Pretty much each and every one of us. We are also born to attempt to snatch things away from others and, often as not, to want to stuff those things into our mouths. If I EAT it … they CANNOT snatch it back! We are born lazy, aren’t we? The blokes, that is. If someone else can be persuaded, cajoled or forced to pick up the TV remote, or to make a sandwich for us … we demand it, and act on it, without thinking “Is this really right?”

    In 1347, this wasn’t so much of a problem (the TV remote was but a lump of mouldy cheese then, it had to evolve), we were fewer in number and had less to distract us. We weren’t missing a trip to the movies when we were stuck pulling beets out of the muck.

    Now, we have far TOO MUCH to do, which is why all the youngsters keep whingeing that THERE’S NOTHING TO DO, and set about robbing and stabbing each other for a few glittering bits of metal that, frankly, wouldn’t nourish you if the supermarket ran out of food for a week.

    There’s SO MUCH TO DO that people drink and take drugs so that they lose track of time and space and opportunity. They cannot handle it all!

    And there’s SO MUCH TO DO that a lot of people seem to be sitting, developing headaches, muttering THERE’S A RACE QUESTION. There isn’t one, they think they must INVENT ONE, but can they define it?

    Isn’t the RACE QUESTION just an excuse for being unhappy with one’s neighbour’s car parking space, or the choice of programming on Cablevision tonight, or a blemish on one’s arse, or a crabby grandmother, or an employer who wants you at work on time, or a God-fearing preacher who wants not only God’s 10% out of you, but a love offering …?

    How about we just enjoy the good that we have, and enjoy a little karma in the morning by being good this afternoon and tonight?

    How about canning the fancy words like Libertarian Marxism and Institutionalised Racism … that mean bugger all to 99% of us, and bugger nothing to nearly all the rest … and using words like Peace, Love and Family, and Home?

    What the flip is the point of talking in muddlespeak, except to attempt to sound more clever (and therefore better?) than the neighbours who are, by the way, indeed parking slightly in your bay, bless ’em, and to be thought better able to lead those who subsequently feel inferior, stupid, uneducated, oppressed. In order to lead a people you must convince them first that they are oppressed? You bet! The desire to lead, to be better than the rest, comrades, is in your DNA. In the end, the little people still have to uproot beets for a living.

    How about forgetting the RACE QUESTION that doesn’t exist, and suggesting that people simply get up and make their own sandwiches, or reach for the TV remote themselves?

    At the end of the day, we are, all of us, still going to be afraid of snakes, the dark and heights. So, let’s enjoy what we can!

  29. Umm, Civil Monster is off base with the Sea Venture reference.

    FWIW, Venturilla, a SPANISH slave, was sent ashore to sent ashore from Juan de Bermudez’ ship to search for fresh water 70 years before the wreck of the Sea Venture.

    So much for Bermuda History.

  30. My point was that the first one off the boat of the original permanent settlers was a black man. I am damned if I can remember where I read it. And I am very far away from all my BDA history books. I would not be surprised if it was in “Chained to the Rock.” But it might have been in The William Zuill history. I am certain I have it right because I was quite taken with it and went and rechecked it. The image to me, is quite beguiling. There are all the people in the boat. Behind them is the wreck of the sea venture. In front of them is this odd island. So they send this guy off to have a look so that if it dangerous they don’t get hurt. And of course its just beautiful. He walks around and then he has to come back to the boat, full of people who boss him around, and hold him is low esteem, and thanklessly send him off on dangerous missions. There they are in a tippy little boat. “Well? Well? Whats it like?” For a moment maybe he thinks how he is obviously as brave and probably just as capable as them and of his moment of freedom, on the island. But he doesn’t have choices. And the awful clumsy ill-considered human program continues.

  31. No, he’s NOT from the original permanent settlers. He was several years earlier in 1603 and didn’t stay. No-one did until two were left from the wreck of the Sea Venture in 1609 (Christopher Carter and one other whose name escapes me) after the survivors sailed on to Virginia. The remaining permanent settlers came on The Plough in 1612.

    I agree with your other points regarding his non-quest for freedom.

    IIRC, it’s in both texts. Required reading for any Bermudian.

  32. I have never read that Venturilla (the first black person to set foot on Bermuda) was a slave. He also wasn’t on the Sea Venture. I can find no documentation to show that a slave was the first off the Sea Venture or if there were any slaves on the Sea Venture at all. I always thought that Sir Thomas Gates had the credit of being first to shore off the Sea Ventuture, but that seems unlikely in reality. Can anyone shed some more light on this?

  33. I’m not really sure what your point is either.

    Does it really matter what color the first man on the island was?

  34. The history of slavery around that time was not (I believe) the chattel slavery that was started towards the end of the 1600s. If my recollection is right, many of the “slaves” of that period (i.e. the 1500s) were essentially the same basis as the other lower level sailers. Perhaps he was sent ashore because the was braver than the rest of the crew!! Maybe he was more experienced at rowing and dealing with “foreign” people – who really knows the specifics at this point in time 400+ years later.

    I am not sure of the specifics of the events in question, but I have heard people say that there was an indiginous black population in Bermuda in 1609 when the Sea Venture wrecked (I have serious doubts about that), but if it is repeated enough times, people will believe it is true.

    Every book or historical account is going to be biased to the person writing it, and as such must be read in that way.

    Pitts Bay

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