‘I didn’t care whether I lived or died’
A man who lost his younger brother to violence told last night how he found purpose in life after the teenager’s death.
Kudre Hill delivered an emotional presentation at the Bermuda College, where he told an audience: “You win when you can walk out of a negative situation into a positive situation.”
He was among four panellists at a discussion titled Murder in Paradise, that considered possible solutions to the crisis of homicides among young Black men on the island.
Mr Hill, whose brother Kellon was killed in a fight in August 2008, said Bermuda was like a “prison” for him in his younger years.
He said last night: “I couldn’t even hold certain jobs in Bermuda. I couldn’t go to certain areas in Bermuda. I couldn’t go check a girl, take her for a date. I couldn’t participate in Harbour Nights, football games at National Stadium.
“All those were a no-go for me and if I chose to step out of bounds then I had to be ready for whatever came with it, and I lived that life.”
Mr Hill added: “One of the biggest scars that I carry is not having my little brother here today, but Bermuda, if I’m being real, if Kellon was here today then I wouldn’t be here today.”
He said that his brother, who was about to go to university, was “brilliant, intelligent, ambitious” and “could have been anything”.
Mr Hill told the audience: “The amount of pain that I’ve seen on the island of Bermuda has broken my heart.
“I’ve seen fathers whose lives were gunned down before they had the opportunity to see or hold their firstborn son.”
He said: “The individual standing in front of you today is the individual that I wanted my little brother to be.
“I wanted him to be better than me, I didn’t want him to get involved in the things that I was involved in.”
Mr Hill added: “I never wanted my little brother’s death to be in vain so it encouraged me to live for everything.
“As a young man I didn’t care about whether I lived or whether I died.
“I didn’t have no respect for myself because I was so immersed in what I was doing. I felt that if I died on them streets, then that’s what I wanted anyway. But God had a different plan.
“My little brother wasn’t able to go to university, I did that.
“My little brother never had the opportunity to walk across a stage and grab a degree, I did that.
“My little brother never had the opportunity to get married, I did that.
“My little brother never had the opportunity to bring life into this world, I did that.
“Matter of fact, I have twins and I believe God gave me one for me and one for him.”
Mr Hill said: “My purpose was birthed out of his death.”
He added: “I once was a part of the problem. Standing here today I’m a part of the solution.”
The talk was moderated by Victoria Pearman, a former Ombudsman, and other panellists included Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe, Quinton Sherlock, a psychologist and former Bermuda College lecturer, and Ty-Ron Douglas, an author, motivational speaker and university official.
Men incarcerated at the Westgate Correctional Facility joined the lecture virtually.
They highlighted the importance of education as well as instilling feelings of identity and value in young people.
Some suggested that incentives could be used to try to discourage antisocial behaviour.
One said: “You have a lot of guys that are incarcerated that probably comprises every gang on this island.
“We’ve been in talks with each other in reference to how we could slow down if not stop what’s going on on the island.
“If we pool our knowledge from in here and out there, I feel that we could make something happen because I don’t believe that no one individual has the answer but I believe collectively we could make something happen.”
Mr Justice Wolffe spoke about the part played by people in the community.
He said: “We’ve got to look at ourselves and have an honest conversation with ourselves and say, how do we contribute to this demise of our young Black men?”
Mr Justice Wolffe added: “The problem we have now is not something that just happened when we woke up yesterday, didn’t happen this year with eight murders.
“This has been festering for many years and we as a country have failed our young Black men … by not putting in place programmes and tools that will allow them to strive.
“We are some of the biggest enablers in the world.”
He believed there was a need for “robust, comprehensive and sustainable” life skills components in settings such as schools, government programmes, churches and workmen’s clubs.
Mr Sherlock read the names of the seven men and a 16-year-old boy who have been killed this year.
He said it could be argued that the Black community in Bermuda was better organised and united in the 50 years prior to desegregation than in the past half-century.
Mr Sherlock, a co-founder and executive director of the Ace It Foundation to empower young people in Ghana, added: “I dare to say that upon the acceptance and, or admittance to mainstream White society, we turned our back on a lot of those very institutions that we had developed for us and on our own.”
He said: “We have indeed lost our minds in the process of assimilating or assimilation into mainstream White society.
“Part of the answer, in my humble opinion, is that we need to go back to those things that worked for us as a community when we knew we had nobody else to rely on, when we knew that if we didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done, and this starts by firstly taking back the responsibility to our community.”
Dr Douglas said in his presentation: “We have to ask questions of the systems and structures.
“This is not a problem about Black boys, Black males.
“This is an unhealthy society and we haven’t figured out how to repurpose the pain and do something with it.”