‘My Island home has raised a generation without shame’ Dennis Rahiim Watson
Bermudian motivational speaker Dennis Rahiim Watson plans to return to Bermuda next year with an anti-violence message bolstered by experiences such as last Saturday's “peace summit” in New York City.
As Chairman of the National Youth and Gang Violence Taskforce, Mr Watson was invited to a National Action Network (NAN) rally at the group's headquarters on 145th Street in Harlem, New York City.
Originally signed on to speak at the anti-gun violence gathering, Mr Watson said he preferred to listen instead. Born in Bermuda and raised on Ord Road and in Southampton, he now lives in Harlem and felt he'd spoken enough there.
“It was a phenomenal event because the who's who of city service organisations, all sorts of politicians and groups, came together to support the anti-gun summit and proposing to come up with a solution to our young black males killing each other and terrorising our city.
“I listened for about four hours and I got pages of notes. I really appreciated Reverend Al Sharpton for stepping up and organising this.”
Mr Watson said Rev Sharpton had spoken out against black communities sheltering wrongdoers. “We've got to get away from being afraid to turn people in. People of colour are people of faith, but we can't hold ourselves out as a moral people and keep Satan in our houses.”
He said Bermuda has raised a “generation without shame” which blindly imitated the worst qualities found in the US.
“This is the part where Bermuda comes in. Mayor Mike Bloomberg said in his inaugural speech that whatever happens in America happens in New York first.
“If you get metal detectors in schools and electronic tracking on prisoners, it happened in New York first.
“I see a lot of things coming from New York City to Bermuda, and if it does it's going to get a lot worse there.”
Mr Watson decried gang members in Bermuda as “a fake bunch of disgruntled young people” and said no matter how much Bermudian gangsters try to emulate a rough urban American lifestyle, it wouldn't translate.
“There's no place to hide in Bermuda. It's too small. In New York City, somebody could kill you and be anywhere in an hour. There's millions of places to hide, but nowhere in Bermuda. That's a crucial difference.
“The other is that Bermuda is surrounded by water. There's no comparison with that magic and beauty all around, because we've got plenty of places over here where you can't see any beauty at all outside.
“Bermuda is still one of the safest places on the planet. It's not New York or Chicago or Compton, and any gang member from Bermuda would pee himself if he got locked into Detroit a few weeks.”
Saturday's rally in New York included Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Junior; City Comptroller John Liu, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as a special guest speaker.
Mr Watson said Mr Kelly's speech included statistics that “73 percent of all victims of gun violence are black, 80 percent of the shooters are black males, and 50 percent of the victims are gun violence are under the age of 20”.
He said he planned to incorporate the message of accountability into a series of talks in Bermuda in 2011.
“I'll be there for two weeks, and I'm going to speak out from Somerset to St. George's. Everything I know in life I learned at the feet of Bermudian teachers. We're the most blessed people on earth.”