Tribal Bermuda’s multicultural lie
There will always be an exception to any observation, but what must be understood is that it does not undermine the latter. It is impossible to forget a culture that never existed but was fixed by imperial forces like a prosthetic limb on to an invisible body. Such is the case in Bermuda: a country that has no culture because it was never permitted to have one.
Culture, wrought from collective suffering, breeds thought and therefore dissent. One must, in the ideal society, make a friend of dissent and responsibility in turn.
To argue that Bermuda is a multicultural society is a farce because it implies that blacks and whites share their suffering with one another. I feel as though we begin our lives, in the nurseries and primary schools, as one cohesive body. Children have no, or very little understanding of, prejudice. (That is, prejudice, in the way that we know it.)
This is chipped away and the makings of a tolerating statue arise — and tolerant for all the wrong reasons. The teachers do little to stop this; the parents do even less, for they, too, have emerged from their chrysalides as duplicitous and prone to perjure as the next. It is no mistake that these basic tenets are shelved over time, and divided my peers into the various tribes they find themselves today.
Black “Bermudians” have their churches and clubs, which are the backbone and backache of young black “Bermudians”. They are the backbone because these institutions are for them and no one else — and that, up to a point, is a good thing, even if those institutions are ostensibly welcoming to all. And they are the backache because they are the shelter one must always — as a black male, especially — return to, weather notwithstanding.
Now we come to the white “Bermudians” who are bereft of culture — it would be equally ridiculous to claim, however, that black “Bermudians” are superior in this respect. It is of great interest — socially, and psychologically, I would argue — that white “Bermudians” educated in Britain often return with a British accent that is invariably posh and flat-out ridiculous. And so, bearing this in mind, the whites, who are not quite British — not quite white, in some cases — are what?
At best, they are people, in the same way that black people are people; at worst, the white “Bermudians” represent the descendants of a group of mostly oppressive individuals, whose sons and daughters and so forth have largely forgotten how to oppress, and have decided now to consume themselves with gluten-free products, golf courses and a total indifference to their own suffering, and that of others, at their behalf.
Many blacks are in this category, although they would never admit it — the church pews are full on any given Sunday. But just as the whites traverse these capitalistic ravines, so do the blacks — and for both, it is not only their crime, but also their punishment.
The unification of these races hinges, or must hinge, on a seldom-discussed notion: Bermuda isn’t a country. It’s just a business. Everyone knows this, but because dissent and responsibility are such frightening concepts, we prefer to perpetuate an existence that is prone to murdering thought in its sleep. And sleep we do.
I am tasked to point out that anyone reading this would be right in assuming that I offer no remedies. The present government, however, thinks it has one.
To them, I say this: “Bermudian” independence would be the equivalent of a murder plot carried out on a man who has been dead for centuries.
It would be a cultural disaster, full of implosions executed by the uneducated. And when the dust had finally settled, there would be only a faint whisper of what it was to be the by-product of the once powerful British Empire. Not to mention, the negative economic ramifications of such a decision — our Brexit; our disaster.
I am a white man who thought he was British; I thought the Queen was my queen; that their rules were my rules.
I, too, went to a British boarding school, and as I sat for the first time in what I thought was our memorial hall, the white faces — freckled and smiling — looked at me for two years.
It was then that I realised that I was about as British as Louis Farrakhan, but white as marble, nonetheless, whenever I looked in the mirror.
I am a white man and that is all I am. And Bermuda, as many will relate, and perhaps, denigrate, is all I have and love.
• Walker Zupp, a St Georgian, studied English language and creative writing at Lancaster University, where he remained for the Creative Writing Independent Study MA. He is about to start his PhD in Creative Writing at Exeter University
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