Politicians should engage with all the people
As we are being “open and honest’ about racial issues worldwide and locally let us take a moment to discuss race and politics.
Should be a peaceful discussion devoid of negative comments.
During the lead-up to the 2012 General Election, I had the opportunity to canvass alongside Vance Campbell when he was running as a candidate for Constituency 9, which encompasses eastern Devonshire and western Smith’s Parish.
Reviewing the demographics, one will see that this particular constituency comprises roughly 60 per cent white and 40 per cent black residents. These demographics have ensured that the United Bermuda Party and now the One Bermuda Alliance have maintained this as a safe seat for decades — Trevor Moniz being the sitting representative for more than 25 years.
On the other hand, there are seats that have demographics of at least 60 per cent residents who are black Bermudians. What this means is that the Progressive Labour Party also has safe seats. One prime example would be Constituency 15.
Out of the 36 constituencies, approximately two thirds are safe seats for either party.
Again, now that we are going to have an honest discussion on race, we can accept why many seats are safe seats. So, let us drill down a little further about canvassing.
Anyone who has run for politics in Bermuda knows, depending on which party one represents, that there will be those who will either open their doors or keep them closed.
Unfortunately, more often than not, those doors either open or close based on the race of the candidate.
A white candidate running for the OBA in a PLP stronghold most likely will not get invited into every home. Likewise, a black candidate running in an OBA stronghold would face an uphill battle to see every potential voter.
The net result is that many candidates, from either side, become weary of knocking on the doors of those who may not share the same pigmentation.
This ends up with voters, of all shades, never getting to see both candidates owing to persons not knocking on their doors, This is based initially on preconceived thoughts of how someone may or may not vote.
Once again, if we are being honest, we all have experienced racialised politics in Bermuda in one way or the other. So where do we go from here?
Engage, engage, engage
I would encourage all sitting MPs, or those wishing to get elected, to take a long look at the list of those living in the constituency you represent or wish to represent, then take the initiative to reach out to each of those persons.
Many may be surprised at the reactions that they get.
We have potentially reached a point in our country where persons are more open to honestly discuss the historically negative idiosyncrasies of our island home.
Any given politician or would-be politician would like to have everyone voting for them. That is a given desire. However, at this moment in time, it is equally as important for us a country and as individuals to establish and build relationships with those we normally have not had honest conversations with.
That is what leadership is truly about.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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