Paradise or purgatory?
After its fourth General Election win on July 19, 2017, the Progressive Labour Party took the celebrations to its headquarters at Alaska Hall, Court Street. Many gathered outside. I found myself submerged in the crowd with the other supporters, as I was properly encouraged to attend. It was important that I see such a celebration, a passionate want for change, which was so evident from the crowd of cheerful, hopeful, yet sceptical people, as they skanked to Bob Marley’s Crazy Baldhead; I was one of them.
With the slogan “Putting Bermudians first” and the platform “Building a fairer and better Bermuda”, one would think that Bermuda would be in a better position in the year of 2022 with a government that claims to cater to Bermudians of all walks of life. Instead, it feels like we are stuck, suffering from the Government’s poor decisions and lack of action.
Founded in 1963, the PLP began during a crucial time in Bermuda. There was the Theatre Boycott in 1959, finally a law making it illegal to deny service to Blacks in 1962, the Belco riots in 1965, Mount Saint Agnes became the first all-White or government-aided school to admit Black female students in 1965, and the formation of the Black Beret Cadre in 1969. Change was undoubtedly happening and continuously on the rise. The people really pushed for change and held the government of the day accountable.
The argument for change is seemingly an everlasting one. The community knows this. The politicians know this. The Government knows this. Yet, centuries after slavery and years in the wake of desegregation, where are we? How much has really changed? Some may argue that the [Black] Bermudian people are content — as we have always been described to be — but who said we are satisfied? While that may be the case for some, is that the reality for the majority?
Change starts with knowing about your own. Knowing one’s history will undoubtedly change the character of the [Black] people. To know the trials and tribulations faced by those before you will trigger a taste so sour, you would have to make it sweet. From the 17th century to the 21st century, a lot of history remains unknown to many. The various efforts made by Black Bermudians and the incidents that occurred are rather secretive and sealed portions of Bermudian history, not to be discussed or taught, which is exactly the problem.
Bermudians need representation and knowledge of those who truly built the island for what it is — from those enslaved, to the Black Beret Cadre and individuals such as Pauulu Kamarakafego and Dame Lois Browne-Evans. To be informed is the greatest thing. As expressed by Marcus Garvey, “a people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”.
Black Bermudians must become conscious as a whole to uplift the Black community out of poverty and violence. Thus, finally planting firm, unyielding roots by creating a proper equitable foundation. We are already, no doubt, a self-sustaining people.
Now, we live in a Bermuda that is promoted as paradise, a haven for tourists, for the rich, the White elite and upper class. Still, Bermuda is a beautiful burden for those who do not fit in said categories. For some, it’s like purgatory. It has been this way and that is no secret. Bermuda is a postcard, a beautiful place that is ever so breathtaking, yet continues to leave some Bermudians feeling stagnant. Stagnant, dare I say, owing to the lack of progressive movement and opportunities, the lack of development and growth within the economy and areas such as education, cost of living and (lack of) affordable healthcare. Bermuda is not for Bermudians. Bermuda does not cater to us, which is evident, as Bermudians continue to emigrate and the needs of the people continue to be ignored.
The Government cannot continue to cater to the outdated version of Bermuda, which only rich locals and wealthy tourists can afford to enjoy. The choices made today are crucial steps towards the path of prosperity for all Bermudians. These choices will serve not only this generation, but generations to come. It will require fearless and determined leaders eager to build a prosperous society that works for all — making Bermuda, as promised, a fairer and better one. This can only happen by creating opportunities to empower people and by ensuring inclusiveness and equality.
Actions from politicians are believed, not promises. The PLP is hindering this country’s progress with its lack of leadership and (empty) promises of change that never come. Instead, there is a continual rise in the cost of living at the expense of the everyday person. Instead, we are facing the same challenges that our ancestors fought hard to remedy. The Bermuda Government needs to fix up, get creative and do better.
We need a government that promises less and acts more. A government that values character more than coins. A government that recognises and caters to the people who built this island into what it is, instead of hindering them with unnecessary obstacles. We need a government that makes feeling stagnant a thing of the past.
Put politicians on minimum wage. With the present cost of living, watch how fast things change.
• Camille Fubler is a writer and creative with an interest in entrepreneurship, and political and social issues