Rise above: no winners in race war
I recall talking to the late Eva Hodgson PhD, who once said to me: “Khalid, don’t look to me for solutions for the future. I admit my life is tainted by my experiences and I cannot escape my past. I think maybe those answers may come from a younger generation than I who have had a different experience.”
In recent days through conversation with some of the essential players that have coloured what we see as our Bermuda politics, there are a few seemingly intractable positions. Given that I am a type in the equation, part of the analysis is based on my own dynamic, and how a person such as myself is perceived. It also foreshadows some of the thought about whether the energy of politics is about race or about ideas.
I was asked what part has race played in Bermuda, and my simple answer was it has been the major component of our politics. The next question was why did or does it play such a role in determining the affairs of the day? Again my simple answer is, that is for power and control of the economy, which internalises as having control over destiny. Of course, the logical question that follows is, whose destiny?
It is there around that quest that the fork begins in the road because it is historically clear that White destiny has been the dominant cultural axiom that Bermuda was built upon and, while Bermuda has become a plural society and we have a significant Portuguese population, the issue of Black destiny has arrived, which can come only with a measure of control and which is today's political undercurrent.
So, putting it succinctly, if the energy that led Bermuda was driven by the notion of a secured White destiny, should not the energy going forward be led by an energy for a secured Black destiny? This is the interesting part because many of my detractors by now would be saying, why is that even a question? They will be saying, why doesn’t this guy just come on board? He has suffered, we have suffered, centuries of deprivation — is he in denial? Is he an apologist? And afraid of what they will say when we assume control and act with authority? Is there some qualified difference between Black authority and White authority that makes one superior or inferior to the other?
Those assumptions are based in reality on the notion that there is such a thing as only a Black way or White way, or that any political drive must be based on an ethnocentric position. The modern Black intellect is going to say we have been driven by Eurocentric ideals and sensitivity, the most recent proof being our global lamentation over the Ukrainian dilemma of being invaded by Russia. This commanded world attention instantly, while slaughters in Africa, Yemen and other non-White places are ignored and underreported.
So the thought of many contemporary activists is you either cater to Eurocentric values or Afrocentric — not both. The issue for me is that neither are universal; both are experiential and learnt, and there is a higher potential within all humans to be better than Eurocentric or Afrocentric. That the human spirit is beyond the cultures of the two east and two west. That a human can speak beyond domestic or tribal culture is near impossible to imagine by those who are culturally bound.
The innate position of most in White society is conditioned on the assumption of Eurocentric thinking, to the extent that life in all its elements seems to be just the way it is in practice — anything else is just a novelty and not a conscious, daily thought. They don’t need to wear something or remind themselves daily as being European. Or Caucasian. Contrary to Blacks, who after being subjugated often wear garments and apparel as reminders to contemplate daily who they are.
For those who are driven by their ethnic perspectives, it is indeed a race war where everyone must choose a side. My often uncompromising stance and invitation to rise higher escapes the imagination of both camps. That is because issues of politics are judged by whose side you are on, not the viability or the merit of a situation. If this were meant to be only one-sided, there would be no fork in the road — it would be two lines parallel whose ends never meet. But even that it is two-sided is precarious because we are in fact dealing in such a case with the idea of mutual destinies. Not compromise or attrition were one side caves in to a pragmatic position.
The only hope for mutual destiny is to rise above tribalism and ethnicity to embrace our human spirit, which is not bound to colour or ethnicity, and is not bound to the transgressions of the past or tradition. There is precedent, so this is not novel. From time to time, the human spirit has risen among societies and raised it above its limitations.