Do not limit your call to action to America

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A few years ago, I was in New York City and heard all this shouting in the street. I looked up from my driver’s seat and saw a large crowd approaching. As they drew closer I heard the words clearly and distinctly: “Black lives matter! Black lives matter!”

I was, like: “OK, great. I am about to see a ton of my brothers and sisters rolling through.”

Well, soon enough, the crowd — some might say army — drew nearer and marched on by for a good seven minutes. I estimated they were roughly about 2,000-strong.

What was an eye-opener for me was that of the 2,000 or so persons, 1,500 were not as melanated as I would have first assumed.

Yet there they were, standing up for their darker-skinned brothers and sisters.

This was a shocker for me.

Protests against PLP

Living here in Bermuda, we have never before seen masses of whites take up frontline positions to march for the equality of blacks.

The few mass gatherings of whites that we have witnessed have been always to protest something that the Progressive Labour Party — read “black” government — has done or wanted to do.

Here are a few snap shots in time:

• 2003: mass protest at Government House against constitutional changes to ensure “one man, one vote”

• 2009: mass protest at Cabinet grounds, against four Uighurs being brought to Bermuda

• 2010: mass protests at the House of Assembly against the proposal for municipality reform

Essentially, this paints a picture that the only time whites will protest is when it is against the Progressive Labour Party government.

On our own

All other times, we as blacks have had to stand, fight and get beaten by police on our lonesome for the better part of the past 100 years:

• 1959 Theatre Boycott

• 1965 Belco protests

• 1977 Executions of Erskine “Buck” Burrows and Larry Tacklyn

• 1981 General Strike

• 2015 Furlough day protests

• 2016 Pathways to Status protests

• 2016 Airport protests

Through it all, there have been but a handful of whites who have always come out to openly support what is right.

The late Barbara Ball being ostracised from the white community was a clear message to other whites that no matter how sympathetic they were to any given cause, they should not join in with blacks to protest for equality — or face consequences. To those who have stood with us over the years, we say thanks.

United we stand

For me to see whites in America now standing up for blacks is an alternative universe to what we have experienced for centuries here in Bermuda.

I don’t know what the catalyst is this week; however, it seems more whites in America and around the world are now prepared to come from the comforts of their homes and stand on the front lines.

While Bermuda does not have police killings of our black men, we have systematic racism in all aspects of our lives.

Please know this: while we mourn every black person slaughtered around the world, our racial issues in Bermuda, which thankfully do not include the killing of blacks by police, are just as destructive in the long run.

Black lives matter

It is my hope that those blacks and whites who truly accept that things must change do come out to protest peacefully this weekend.

However, please do not limit your call to action solely to what is going on in America, as we have racial inequities close at home that need addressing:

• Unequal hiring practices

• Unequal chance of promotion

• Major wage disparities

• Unequal property values

In closing, indeed, black lives matter, but let us understand that true equality is more than just the eradication of racist police brutality.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail carib_pro@yahoo.com

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Published Jun 5, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 5, 2020 at 7:42 am)

Do not limit your call to action to America

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