Some thoughts in advance of Non-Mariners

I fully admit I have long held the Non-Mariners Race with suspicion.

I have seen it, at least in its modern construction, as a spectacle largely by and for White Bermuda.

I recognise that this is largely due to, in my perception, only having truly grown into the cultural phenomenon it is today in the first decade of this century, within the PLP’s tenure.

It featured on a regular (if not always) ‘non-boats’ with explicitly (or as a distinct sub-text) anti-PLP or anti-union sentiments in my opinion.

From the 2012 event

From the 2012 event

I can appreciate satire, and there has been some deserved satire there.  All the same, I have seen it as a carnival of whiteness, an expression of their resentment towards being out of power, even unconsciously.

I know that Non-Mariners is more than the non-race.

There’s raft-ups and a general party atmosphere, in many ways completely separate from the non-race, and I am seeing them as two completely separate events that just so happen to occur in the same geographical location at the same time.

Nonetheless, the political sentiments of the non-race have been such that I have made a conscious decision to not attend – although I have at times made brief recce’s of the area a few times.

Am I guilty of pre-judging the event?

Yes, very much so, based on what I’ve seen in the media about it and on what I’ve seen during my recce’s.

As such, it will be curious to see if my prejudice towards the event is borne out tomorrow.

With the OBA in power, and more prone to mis-steps than any government in my living memory, it will be curious to me whether the themes expressed in the non-boats will feature them, or instead carry on the tradition of ridiculing the PLP or the unions.

Last year, after all, the first year of the OBA in power, featured:

  1. An attack on PLP MP David Burt – the ‘HMS Burtlegger’s Bliss’.
  2. ‘Cannonair’ (complete with an ‘L’ sign for a learner driver), which sought to make light of a scandal which today we know much more of, and which led to Premier Cannonier’s disgrace and subsequent resignation.

I have the distinct feeling that tomorrow will instead focus on the PLP or the unions, or the ‘White Mental Illness’ theme.

So, yes, I have prejudices about the Non-Mariner’s Race.  I look forward to being pleasantly surprised and proven wrong.

Who know’s, maybe someone will have a ‘non-referendum’ non-boat?


24 thoughts on “Some thoughts in advance of Non-Mariners

  1. Isn’t anybody allowed to enter the race? If so, then any political slant is a result of who chooses to participate. And given that last year a boat did target cannonnier you can hardly claim it is an entirely one sided event. And given KFC dominated the news for the year before you can hardly complain that somebody chose to make fun of the news story.
    As for whiteness, does this even matter, given that half the population is white? Do you also avoid the Bermuda Day parade on the grounds that it is not white enough? Do you avoid sporting events on the grounds that not enough women turn up? It’s kind of inevitable that some events will attract more people of one description than another whether you want to highlight sex, race, class, religion, etc

    Instead of complaining I would have thought the race presents a great opportunity for you to get some like minded folks together and come up with a witty idea for a raft that highlights one of your pet issues.

  2. Competition in the non-race is strictly limited to whoever enters.

    Don’t like the floats? Come build your own.

    Anyone and everyone is subject to lampooning it’s just that until last year the PLP were in power and with their non-stop circus of scandals and bad behaviour they gave plenty of material for satire. The difference between the OBA and PLP is that the PLP took great offence and publicly attacked non-racers as racists while Craig Cannonier showed up and laughed at himself when he saw “Cannonair” and took a joke the way a mature, secure person does.

    Non-Mariners is becoming far broader in its appeal to Bermudians and no doubt will continue as the capstone of the Cup Match weekend. Your inference of racism or bias are insulting and you should be ashamed of making them.

  3. Well what are we are going to see Jet-gate or the march? I too have always looked upon this event as an opportunity for the white community to display their hidden racism and political bias; however we will see?

  4. ‘Deonion’, to preface my response to you I do find it curious that you continue to accuse, on FB, people of being PLP ‘sock-puppets’ and, I believe, you’ve criticised the PLP in reference to ‘Bud’, yet even post-election you continue to hide behind anonymity in your blog and blog posts.

    What are you afraid of? It gives the appearance (if not the reality) of being a hypocrite in my opinion.

    I also find it disingenuous as regards this issue that you neglect to mention your own involvement in the Non-Mariners Race, including being actively involved some of the more distasteful non-boats in question.

    I would think such would’ve been quite relevant for other readers to judge your objectivity on this matter.

    Now, to you post itself…

    Yes, competition is open to anyone, no question.

    However in as much as it’s seen as a largely white event, that itself provides a barrier for many in as much as a ‘white space’, especially one that has in the last 15 years been featuring themes that to many appear to have a distinct racial sub-text, is seen as a hostile space.

    There’s also the lack of a tradition of attending, and so there’s a degree of inertia.

    So, yes, there’s no ‘concrete’ barrier to entry, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t barriers all the same.

    For myself, and many others, the response to not liking the floats is not to ‘come build our own’ but to avoid it altogether.

    It will be up to those traditionally involved to not react to criticisms of the event, as being reflective of Whiteness in Bermuda, and a hostile space, but to instead reflect on these criticisms and to take the effort to apply more objectivity and consideration going forward.

    If this is seen to occur, then it can transcend the current perception, among many, and truly become an event for all.

    Yes, the now disgraced Premier did come, as did MP David Burt. However there’s been a long-running theme of anti-PLP/anti-labour boats, and the ‘Cannonair’ sought to play down the seriousness of Jet Gate (as did many pro-OBAers at the time), something that in hindsight takes on a different interpretation, imho.

    I suggest you review the 2007 link I included in my post.

    The essence of that post being that, to me, it is a White event and as such simply reflects White anxieties and foci. There’s nothing inherently wrong in that – in fact it’s quite illuminating for others.

    It is what it is, and in as much as our society continues to be a racist one, it’s natural that this is reflected.

    My pointing that out is not an ‘inference of racism or bias’ but purely a description of what I see to be reality.

  5. Hi Jennifer, thank you for posting…

    Might I ask you to explain to me what you understand by the ‘race card’ and how it’s relevant to my post?

    Hopefully we can have a small Big Conversation here.

  6. Indeed Alvin, as I wrote in the post itself, I look forward to being pleasantly surprised (and thus proven wrong).

  7. I read your 2007 article on the same matter.

    Jonathan, you admit to having never attended the event, and that your analysis is based on talk show rhetoric and pictures.

    I think it odd that you can extrapolate the event to be one representative of “White privilege” and unwelcoming to “Black Bermudians” without having attended. That you think the Non-Mariners Race to be a “largely White” event is problematic enough; perhaps those who enter floats are, but with years of experience, attendees are representative of the Island’s demographic make-up.

    Not that I think this to be of any consequence, anyway. You pointed out rightly that Non-Mariners invites satire. Surely, political satire will be among the most prominent themes—and surely the prevailing political zeitgeist will receive attention I’m the form of floats. Again, I think it odd that you can idict Whiteness and White piveledge to be at the root of people capitalizing on a political zeitgeist in the form of satire. More troubling is that you brand the entire event as “racist” by following this line of reasoning. Without having ever even attended.

    I appreciate that you concede that you are guilt of “pre-judging” the event. That you are. As others have pointed out, anyone is free to enter a float and mark it with whatever satire they like. With all due respect (seriously), your point about “barriers” existing to the non-race is nonsense; and one which, again, you hold having not attended. In fact, it seems more like an excuse rather than a reason why there are so few anti-OBA floats.

    My advice: attend non-Mariners. And don’t just patronize the non-race. Experience the whole thing (no, it’s actually not “two completely separate events that just so happen to occur in the same geographical location”). Then, and only then, will you not be guilty of pre-judgement.

  8. Hi Ryan,

    I think you may have missed the part where I noted I’ve recce’d the event a few times. As in I came, walked around the site, observed who was involved in it and left. I did so after reading articles in the media concerning it, and did so for the sake of seeing it myself; what I saw largely confirmed the pre-conceptions I developed via the media reports of the event. I recce’d it on more than one year.

    I’ve never ‘attended’ in the sense of actively participating or staying the entire day there, thus my choice of the term ‘recce’ instead of attend.

    I actually don’t listen to talk-show radio, to be clear. I generally only use a radio during hurricanes.

    Also, as I noted, to me there are at least two events there, one the raft-up, one the race itself. From my observations the demographic involvement is distinctly different in composition. From my observation they are, indeed, two different events.

    I have also pointed out that I remain hopeful of being pleasantly surprised, in as much as I am hopeful that with the OBA in power now the bulk of the satire will be focused on them rather than on the PLP/unions. If, indeed, the site is purely political satire, then the focus should be on the OBA; if it is truly reflective of White Bermuda, then I’d expect to see more of a focus on the PLP/unions – thus my statement of hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

    I have only branded the event ‘racist’ in the sense that we live in a racist society, the event is essentially a White event and as such tends to reflect White political satire, which has a racial aspect. I have not said that the event is racist in the sense of a KKK party featuring explicitly racist imagery.

    And with all due respect, (seriously) I think my observations on ‘barriers’ is more apt than you may wish to accept.

  9. Jonathon,

    Yes, I did miss the point about your having “recce’d” the event. My apologies. Also, my comment about talk radio is in reference to your 2007 article, where you make reference to complaints about the non-race heard on the airwaves.

    We shall see what floats pan out at this event. However, the only way no knock down the so-called “barriers” (which, to be clear, I contest do not exist) would be for more like yourself to actually participate. Maybe you always will think the event to be against your sensibilities. but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least try to affect change: round up some of your political or personal allies, and create your own float. You might encourage others to do the same.

    Somehow, I don’t think the inherent “Whiteness” of the event will stop anyone from doing that. ; )

  10. I disagree – It’s not for me or Blacks to assimilate into this event.

    I’ve stated there’s nothing inherently wrong with it as a White event, only that it’s disingenuous to deny that, as a White event, it will reflect White concerns, complete with all the racial sub-texts that involves.

    What is needed is for those involved to reflect on the concerns being raised – of which I am only helping articulate here; they are not solely confined to me – and consider it, rather than react in a knee-jerk ‘circle the wagons’ manner.

    As I’ve said several times now, I look forward to being pleasantly surprised and find that these floats now satirise the OBA; if we do see an objective criticism rather than the imbalance of the past decade and a half, then fine – and that will encourage greater participation from all sectors of our people.

  11. Why don’t you dig deeper than make your general ‘realizations’. First off, since you played the race card, I am a black male. I grew up in the Mangrove Bay area. Yes, the non-mariners race started at Sandys Boat Club, which tends to have mainly white members, but to even say that is disrespectful of the black members. It is a boat club, not a boat club for some specific race. Me and my black and white friends have been going to the non mariners race for years. When will older folk (Pardon me, I do not know your age) realize that this is not a black/white or Bermudian/Non-Bermudian thing. Your thought process disgusts me. Whether you approve of or not this comment, I don’t care. I just hope you get the message. Why does the different political parties even need to be a black and white thing also. It is people like you that perpetuate this image. I voted for the OBA and I am black. Does that make me a house-******. Or am I voting with my heart and beliefs. Please change your thoughts, then we can change the world.

  12. You won’t be surprised. I have already heard a number of floats will be concentrating on the White Mental Illness sign.

  13. Brian, I’m not sure what you mean by me having ‘played the race card’ or how my description could be constituted thus.

    Our political parties are largely race based directly as a result of our racial history; and our two-party system helps to maintain that these racial divisions too. They are a reflection of our racial reality.

    Describing the reality is not perpetuating any image; it’s simply describing reality.

  14. Of the pictures I’ve seen so far I can say I’m pleasantly surprised.

    I’ve only seen two floats so far, one ‘The Sun Sets’ concerning the end of the Bermuda Sun, and the other a take on the new Premier, the missing Premier and questions about the underground election campaign, Jet Gate and the non-referendum.

    So, yes, of those two boats I’m pleasantly surprised, and hopeful that the event is, indeed, maturing and can transcend what I have seen of it in previous years.

    How representative those floats are of the entire events, I can’t say though – but still pleasantly surprised so far.

  15. OMG, J Starling, there are black people at Non-Mariners!! And they’re mixing with the whites…like friends!!

  16. You know what’s racist? Accusing white Bermudians of being mentally ill.

    You know what’s not racist? Making fun of politicians for being self-centred, incompetent, corrupt, stupid, or just because. If the PLP or Union don’t want to be lampooned then they should stop doing things worthy of satire… same goes for the OBA or anyone else.

    For the record, Michael Dunkley was posing with the large milk jug raft.

  17. Hi Jonathan, I’m curious about one statement you made. Why did you consider the Connonair raft from last year “making light” of a situation, but not the KFC bucket? I can assure you the same line of thought went into both… “what current news allows for the most ridiculous object we can attempt to float?”

    In addition, the L on the aircraft was actually the entrance card, like a runner’s bib.

    I’m glad to see this years entrants may have changed your opinion somewhat, though I’m not clear why highlighting the OBA’s largest controversy at the time, jet-gate, didn’t satisfy that need last year.

    On next years recce of the non-proceedings, come down and say hello… we’re very friendly.

  18. Oh, it’s also worth pointing out that the year of the ‘HMS Burtleggers Bliss’ raft, David Burt got wind of what was going on. At that point it was named ‘HMS Bootleggers Bliss’ because that entrant was concerned about including his name. David Burt came ashore to see for himself, and upon hearing of the original name promptly insisted that the raft be edited.

  19. Jonathan…clearly you have never attended the event out on a boat…I can assure you that the black demographic is CLEARLY present, and in fact the boat I attended the race on this year had more blacks than whites. You know exactly what the ‘race card’ is Jonathan so please don’t play dumb. Satire is invited…and rather than branding an entire event “white” based on the content of the floats….just take the simple route – people who do ‘stupid, idiotic things get the p*ss taken out of them at Non-Mariners. Unfortunately a lot of those idiotic ‘things’ which people have most noticed in the past few years involve the PLP – a party, which I am sure you will agree is largely black. Poking fun at those people has nothing to do with their skin colour – it had to do with their silly actions!!! You may want to consider that a lot of stero-types are born out of truth that people don’t want to admit to. I don’t think it’s an anti-black event or racist,…I think a lot of stupid things were done by prominent black members in our society in past years and this is a fact you want to turn into an attack on race! You were already proven wrong by the presence of a float taking the mickey out of Cannonaire….which you conveniently glossed over in a previous response. I think you are completely off the mark here and honestly – you need to deal with that chip on your shoulder.

  20. So this year, we see a giant milk carton taking a swipe at the premier and the OBA. That’s what happens, you get to swipe at the governing party. Did you ever see Spitting Image as a child? Same thing?

    The two guys in the White Mental Illness tees? What I saw was a young black guy and a young white guy, sharing a laugh and being friends. What you and others of your warped mindset seem to want to do is whip up a race dispute. Please, leave this world to folk who want to move forward as part of one human family, and not split it into elements based upon skin colour.

  21. Dear Ms Stervinou,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I remain unclear what is meant by ‘the race card’ in this context – and in general I see it as rather non-sensical a term or reply tactic all too commonly deployed whenever someone tries to discuss race/racial issues in Bermuda.

    I’ve explained how I saw the Cannonair float as mitigating Jet Gate, and as I’d hope we all know now from the revelations since, there’s little to make light of concerning it. Even Mr Cannonier’s involvement interacting with the float last year should be seen differently today in light of subsequent revelations.

    One thing that I think is being missed here, is that I have simply given you my perception of the event, and I assure you it is a perception shared by many in our island as well. It may well not be a sentiment shared in your circle of society, but perhaps that’s not unexpected seeing as our society retains very distinct and different Bermuda’s co-existing in the same general geography.

    You don’t have to like that sentiment, or agree with it. I’m not asking you to.

    What you should recognise though is that these sentiments exist and ask why they exist and what it will take to transcend them.

    I’ve already stated that IF the event is seen to be more objective and taking the OBA (and I suppose by extension the representatives of the oligarchy, say the Chamber of Commerce, etc) to the same degree of mockery as has been seen in the last 15 years directed towards the PLP and the unions, then you will likely see these perceptions shift.

    I clearly stated that I looked forward to being pleasantly surprised (the post being written in advance of the event itself). And I was, largely. Of the three floats that appeared to have a social commentary, one was on Jet Gate and one was on the demise of the Bermuda Sun. All well and good, helpful for shifting perceptions.

    The one mocking the White Mental Illness sign, however, reinforces previous perceptions. In some way it neutralises the potential of shifting perceptions presented by the other two floats.

    So, perceptions on this event may well shift. It will have to be sustained by the event itself showing the objectivity and equality in satire its proponents claim.

    I’ll close with repeating once more – there’s no sense in complaining that these perceptions towards the event exist. It would be better to accept they do, understand why (even if you disagree with it), and recognise how these perceptions may change. Defensive reaction is not the way to achieve that change.

    As for a chip on my shoulder, I’m not sure what you mean by that – I genuinely do not. What chip do you think I have on my shoulder?

  22. Dear Tone,

    I am hardly whipping ‘up a race dispute’. I am trying to calmly explain certain realities to you, and others. You don’t have to like that reality, but you would do well to recognise that they exist, and having recognised that seek to understand why and to what degree your own perception is skewed.

    The reality is that we have ongoing racial inequalities, largely a hangover from slavery, segregation and discrimination, but realities that are being compounded by the delusion amongst some in our society that we don’t have racial inequalities or other racial legacies (psycho-social-cultural) from our past.

    Articulating that reality is not whipping up a race dispute, but rather a first step to resolving race issues in Bermuda.

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