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Social and economic racial divide must be addressed

November 22, 2013

Dear Sir,

OBA's Thadeus Hollis has recently commented that Bermudians have a “symbiotic relationship” with expatriates. Perhaps. However the deep divide between the black and white communities means that what enhances the condition of the white community may very well disadvantages the black community, no matter how much one believes in the “trickle own theory”. Expatriates and international companies may, indeed, be Bermuda's salvation but, unlike God's salvation it is not free. It has often been very costly for the black community. History tells us why some black Bermudians, with very good reason, fear that the OBA with their “new Bermudians” are trying to create a Bermuda without Bermudians, particularly since the majority of Bermudians are black.

Beginning in the 1840s, immediately after the 1834 emancipation of black slaves the Government, unabashedly and explicitly, introduced policies to encourage British immigrants by giving them funds for settlement in order that they would not have to pay blacks for their labour which they had had for free. “Heritage” by Dr Kenneth Robinson describes the protest of blacks at the time. The policy was not very successful until 1849 when the Portuguese immigration policy proved very successful. Often to the detriment of blacks.

Then in the 1950s D A Brown, (the father of our former Premier) who was involved in the tourist industry, used to insist that he could tell the exact period when the Government policies deliberately began to replace blacks — who worked in the hotel industry and who had been so successful in that industry and whose friendly service had attracted tourists — with Europeans as punishment and a way of containing blacks, after the resistance led by Dr E F Gordon.

Walton Brown has pointed out how, with a renewed effort in the Sixties, 6,000 white immigrants were brought in to counter the successful efforts of blacks to desegregate public places and to achieve universal franchise. These policies have clearly been successful from the white perspective since our white population today is primarily those who have immigrated here in the historically recent past.

Craig Christensen has recently commented that we have got an opportunity to do something right for a change. However, as long as the economically powerful white community with both its old and new Bermudians continue to believe that they, and “their Bermuda” can be successful while continuing to see the majority black population as irrelevant and merely to be contained, they are not likely “to do something right for a change” — no matter how many whites they import or under which of many circumstances they do it. Almost all of our challenges, including our current economic challenge, are a direct (occasionally indirect) result of our deliberately maintained social and economic racial divide. Unless this issue is directly addressed, no matter how much blacks may suffer, we will still be here and, at the very least, we will be that prickling thorn under their blanket of comfort.

Yours etc.

Eva N Hodgson

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Published November 23, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm)

Social and economic racial divide must be addressed

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