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Class is colourless, so is criminal conduct

Dear Sir,

Is classicism colourless? Many years ago, two of my elder first cousins while in university were busy behind their printing machines in Canada producing materials for the 1959 Theatre Boycott. A few years later, the younger of the two emerged from a Front Street office, all elated, and exclaimed to the other cousin that “the whole world has changed”. This comment followed a meeting that he had just had with Sir Henry Tucker. You can just imagine what the substance of that meeting entailed for a once-desegregation activist to proclaim hope in a Bermuda then still divided.

As time and events quickly evolved, my cousin will become ingrained in the fabric that will colour the new emerging post-segregation Bermuda. From a black merchant-class family, the choice was clear in and around 1965: join the list of those other merchants being battered by a left-of-centre group or aim at an opportunity to foster an integration.

Beguiled by a vision of inclusion, the personal inroads, connections with real power brokers and piecemeal comparative gains, were enough of a fix to sustain the feeling of heading in the right direction.

Later in his life, he would call me to attend house meetings, which were “think-tanks”. I probably noticed more than he that we were the only blacks in the room; and why should it matter if the subject matter was about political constructs and looking at avenues for greater participation - and with more voter rights.

His history of activism and legacy of the kind of ideals he sought as one of the founding members of the United Bermuda Party underscored the real person. Those gentlemen we met in Fairylands - including my cousin, all deceased now - I could not picture as persons bent on racism; they were a class, like the Bermuda version of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams.

I truly believe in the integrity of that group. However, much like the Venetian street show, while the theatrics holds the attention of the audience, pickpockets are busy fleecing them.

Aside from politics and ideals, there is the economic agenda that led to the unabated growth of the establishment’s agenda - and simply no other agenda, except disdain for black business for 40 years. Like the two hands on a clock, both parties played a role in that debacle. Not all politicians are philosophers like the group I met. Too many are there to satisfy special interests, including their own, and this is both sides of the House.

With the glaring economic disproportion after 50-plus years of politically fixing it, I wonder how many - like my cousin, who was driven to achieve political parity and was satiated by a desire for social acceptance - realise there is also another game being played on the street?

Class is colourless, as is criminal behaviour. The thing is, though, one may be forgiven for class association, but to participate in a crime is an entirely different matter.


Remembering the Theatre Boycott: a file photograph of a commemoration in Queen Elizabeth Park of the historic event