Brannon episode highlights a problem
Upon first hearing and reading about Tony Brannon’s posts, my gut reaction was one of utter disgust and revulsion. However, after giving further thought to his comments and the responses of those who wish to defend him, it is clear, without question, that we have a problem in 21st-century Bermuda.
First, it needs to be made abundantly clear that Mr Brannon’s choice of words was purposely selected with the intent to demean and dehumanise members of the Government and people of colour throughout this community.
To then think that an apology and claiming to be ignorant of the word “cockroach” and its implications is further insulting and unacceptable. I do not think for one moment that Mr Brannon and his supporters would accept my apology or claim of ignorance if I used words or phrases that are widely known to be a part of xenophobic or homophobic vocabulary.
He has been around long enough and is more than familiar with the language he used and the people to whom it is directed.
If there is anything that history should have taught all of us, it is that the behaviour and mindset of the bigot is consistent down through the ages. In order to justify how you interact and treat those whom you despise, the first step is to demonise and portray them as being less than human.
Once it is established that the individual or group is less than human, the vile verbal assaults on their dignity and humanity escalates sometimes to the point of physical violence.
Mr Brannon’s remarks made historically and recently have escalated and come close to suggesting that such “vermin” need to be removed. The point here being is that words are powerful and are the precursor of our actions.
We as Bermudians should never allow anyone — black, white or other — to feel comfortable about using such offensive, derogatory, racist terms.
,Mr Brannon’s rhetoric is frightening as it takes us back to a time in Bermuda when those in power, whose mindset was clearly like his, felt justified in enslaving, exploiting and denying brown people the very basics of human rights.
That he may suffer financial repercussions pales in comparison with what others have lost or been denied because of someone’s warped and biased opinion of them.
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Ada Nyabongo (1926-2020)
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