What would our national hero Mary Prince do?
In the construct of Bermuda’s long-term inability to define the immigration status of children born in Bermuda to non-Bermudian parents, would Mary Prince be a Bermudian today?
I ask as the parent of a child overseas and potential future narrative to have to define their immigration status.
This narrative mirrors the present nationalistic ideology imposed within Bermuda without chance or circumstance, yet disadvantageous in a declining-birthrate environment and an ancestry of immigrants.
Born or ancestral, children should have the right to call their place of birth their home. Young Mary Prince did not determine her destiny to be a slave or her place of birth. We cannot blame her parents for staying too long in Bermuda. Staying was not her fault as a dependant to her parents and to her slave master.
Critically speaking, a Borner’s story is unlike that of Mary Prince’s story, as they did not help the “anti-slavery movement”, nor were they aided by abolitionists with an agenda. However, I have no doubt that Mary’s pain and hardship was a reality.
Mary Prince is deserving of recognition in her country of birth, although not “her own country”. At least to help enlarge Bermuda’s identity within the diaspora while still a colony.
Retrospectively, Mary Prince transcended her existing state to speak her peace. Bermuda can also. Would Ms Prince embrace and/or criticise international attitudes towards immigration, yet remain silent when her country of birth is not free to its own.
Unfortunately, Mary Prince’s imposed abstract of colour is an undeniable option. This option, which was decided by those who did not want to provide an identity to persons they considered inferior to themselves, denies children their place.
This false identity manifested in the colour of skin keeps people segregated. So Mary Prince was born in Bermuda in 1788 and she would have been called Bermudian if free instead of being called black.
However, being black, white or whatever colour remains a name that identifies with a place, a location, a belonging. This is identity. A sign of being — being free, free outside an enslaved colour.
Mary Prince would have answered the introductory question simply by her narrative that, “all slaves want to be free — to be free is very sweet”.
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