No honour in the lack of diversity
I find it interesting, yet not surprising that people would rather attack the messenger than address the message. Over the past week, Michael Dunkley, the former Premier of Bermuda, and former One Bermuda Alliance candidate Ray Charlton took to social media to react to Bermudians’ opinions on a few key issues.
The first issue was the glaring lack of diversity on the 2017 New Year’s Honours List of awardees, and the ensuing public outcry.
While the outcry in no way diminishes the efforts of those who were awarded, the reality is that Bermuda’s diversity was not reflected.
The second and more important issue is that there are people in this country who are unfortunately or wilfully tone-deaf to the sentiments of the population’s majority.
When a number of people from all forms of social and economic groupings point out their disappointment with the selection of the awardees, there is something wrong.
This is no different than when many pointed out the glaring lack of diversity in the 2017 selection of the 25 most influential Bermudian women in the reinsurance field.
Some questions to ponder, then:
Are black women considered “influential” in the reinsurance field? If not, why not?
What message is being sent to the hundreds of black women in the industry?
Is the volunteer service to this country by black Bermudians worthy of recognition?
If it is, then why no recognition?
We now have a number of folks saying that we should do away with the Queen’s awards and start our own national awards, which would be more reflective of the diversity of Bermuda.
Of course, this may not find favour in all segments of our community, sadly resulting in yet another social fracture.
Several have suggested that the nominations for the New Year Honours be made public before the deadline, thus allowing for additional submissions.
Folks, we need to acknowledge that Bermuda has a 400-year legacy of systematic inequality, a legacy that is further perpetuated when blacks are not given public recognition for their dedication in many fields.
When those who, despite all that they do, continue to get the short end of the stick and speak out, there is an immediate rush from some sectors of the community to label them as racist, divisive or simply “not understanding the process”.
As shown in the screenshots that can be found on social media, both Mr Dunkley and Mr Charlton take the unfortunate route of being dismissive of Bermudians’ concerns.
Those who do so only further demonstrate their fundamental lack of empathy and any understanding of why we have “two Bermudas”.
In 2018, let’s do all we can to first acknowledge that we have a country that is racially, economically and socially divided, and then do what we can to address those divisions collectively.
Ensuring that we, as a community, highlight the efforts of the diverse mosaic of Bermudians on a regular basis is but one step in that direction.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org