Why did the PLP's race relations head call me a 'House Nigger'?

First of all, I will declare my interest. I am a fully paid and supportive member of the Island's newest political party, The Bermuda Democratic Alliance. I subscribe to and support the core values of the Alliance, one of which states that we believe in "society that is inclusive, embraces diversity and equal opportunity and protects everyone's human rights".

On Saturday, February 20, the date of our first ever Alliance conference, I decided that I would go to the gym, as is my custom, to get some training in before the events of the evening commenced. As I walked in, I was verbally set upon by Mr. Rolfe Commissiong, the current Government's race relations advisor.

We have a history of heated discussions regarding all manner of social issues, politics notwithstanding. However, since joining the BDA, these discussions have become even more heated. This time what he said was unacceptable to any right-thinking Bermudian.


First of all, I will declare my interest. I am a fully paid and supportive member of the Island's newest political party, The Bermuda Democratic Alliance. I subscribe to and support the core values of the Alliance, one of which states that we believe in "society that is inclusive, embraces diversity and equal opportunity and protects everyone's human rights".

On Saturday, February 20, the date of our first ever Alliance conference, I decided that I would go to the gym, as is my custom, to get some training in before the events of the evening commenced. As I walked in, I was verbally set upon by Mr. Rolfe Commissiong, the current Government's race relations advisor.

We have a history of heated discussions regarding all manner of social issues, politics notwithstanding. However, since joining the BDA, these discussions have become even more heated. This time what he said was unacceptable to any right-thinking Bermudian.

Mr. Commissiong began his tirade by stating that myself and a few others aside, most black members of the Alliance have spent their entire lives trying to push away their "blackness". I respectfully disagreed, but his tirade continued. I was informed that the Alliance would never win the black vote, at which point I requested that the conversation end as I was tired of the race card being played. I have no problem having a conversation, and each person is entitled to his or her opinion.

However, if the race card is played, then rational conversation cannot be had. Particularly if that card is played with open malice.

When I was accused of "forgetting my people", I responded: "My people are Bermudians. Period!"

This was met with: "You are living in a dream world!" My response? "Maybe I am. In my dream world, I see unification of all Bermudians."

Mr. Commissiong's retort? "You sound like a house nigger."

Bear in mind this is being said loudly on the gym floor, for all to hear. Now, this is not the first time Mr. Commissiong has referred to me in this manner, and normally I would just walk away shaking my head.

However, since being involved with the Alliance, which does not tolerate this sort of backwards divisiveness – I felt I could not sit idly by, particularly when this very same person has been appointed by the Government, and is being paid with taxpayer money, to head up race relations. I mean, the very man charged with promoting unity between all the Island's races called me a "house nigger" - do we see a problem here?

It is time for the PLP's brand of hateful and divisive politics to end.

It is time to stand up for what is right.

It is time to stand up for what is decent.

It is time to stand up for what is respectful and inclusive.

There are 52 cards in a deck, and right now all of them appear to be race cards. Surely that deck must be empty by now? Surely we as the Bermudian people should refuse to deal another deck? Surely it is time for a new deck. It is time for a better way.

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