What will the OBA do?

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April 17, 2013

Dear Sir,

It is not unusual but recently but there have been a number of Letters to the Editor and other articles and comments that have been a reminder that while Bermuda is currently facing a financial and economic challenge, it also faces an even greater challenge — for which the Progressive Labour Party cannot be held responsible. Beginning in 1834 and for nearly 200 years this tiny Island has had Governments which ensured that we were deliberately developed as two adversarial communities, one of which was to be demeaned, excluded and exploited. In the 1970s that policy was modified and no longer overt but the policy had been successful, the damage was done and attitudes remain the same. The divide is such that the question has been asked if supporters of the PLP wish the One Bermuda Alliance to fail. Certainly there were those who were unabashed in their desire for the PLP to fail, in order to confirm their propaganda no matter how much the entire country was damaged.

The inevitable economic disparity in 1834 between erstwhile masters and newly freed slaves was increased as Britain paid the white community £2 million pounds for their loss of free black labour and immediately after emancipation, beginning in 1840, successive Governments sought to bring in foreign labour to undermine the newly freed black labour. The newly freed slaves were disparate individuals solely dependent on the language and culture of their former masters, which demeaned and despised them. As they began to come together to form a community, it was elements from this hostile culture that attempted to exclude them and so often demeaned them that formed the basis of their own culture.

As the black community began to evolve it did develop values that did much to sustain them and unify them in a hostile environment until party politics further institutionalised the racial divide and created divisive conflict within the still evolving black community. The emphasis of their struggle was no longer justice for the people but victory for the party and party hierarchy. It has not mattered whether a party is called United Bermuda Party or OBA, the racial divide is the same, nor has it mattered how many blacks have allied themselves with the white community, they have never been a bridge between the communities nor have they done anything to address the economic and psychological damage inflicted on the black community by decades of racist segregation and propaganda. On the contrary they have more often contributed to the concept of the righteousness of white supremacy.

There are many nongovernment organisations that are attempting to address the various manifestations of the social, economic and psychological damage that has been inflicted on the black community but they can never adequately address the destructive outcome of decades of Government policies, only equally deliberate policies by a Government equally intent on unifying this society and bringing equity between the communities as previous Governments have been on dividing it and ensuring that one was economically and socially superior to the other. The successful policies of nearly 200 years cannot be undone overnight, even with the best of intentions, and there is no indication that such intentions exist. But it is interesting to consider what kind of country we would have and what kind of attitudes would exist if that had been the intention in 1834.

In the meantime we will watch to see what kind of response there is to Member of Parliament Rolfe Commissiong’s proposal for affirmative action to begin to address the centuries of white affirmative action. It has been said that the current Premier has claimed to be open to consideration of affirmative action. We will see because this country needs far more unity if it is to solve even its economic challenges to say nothing of the social challenges to which many are indifferent because they are impacting only the black community.

EVA N HODGSON

Crawl

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