8-8-8-8: a time to pause and reflect
August, a traditional time of recreation for families in Bermuda, offers an opportunity for reflection, facilitating our capacity to respond rather than react to life's inevitable challenges. In light of 2020s surprising challenges, we are inviting everyone to pause for reflection on Saturday at 8pm on how we each may contribute to “making a difference”.
Covid-19 is creating a “new normal” across the globe. Amid the pandemic, social media provided millions of us a front-row seat to a most callous police murder. These scenarios highlight fractures in societies on the one hand, but a sense of global connectedness on the other. The pandemic is producing varying outcomes in countries responding like Bermuda, as opposed to those reacting to the crisis.
The unprecedented worldwide response to the inhumanity shown towards George Floyd has offered an encouraging glimpse of human solidarity. Please pause on August 8 at 8pm for 8min and reflect on two questions:
• What is 2020 calling up in me?
• What steps may I take to answer that call?
August 8 offers two examples of addressing challenges and fostering solidarity. It is the 103rd birthday of pioneering Bermudian actor Earl Cameron, who died on July 3, 2020, having overcome substantial challenges to become highly honoured for his art and for a life of making a difference.
Earl's widowed mother nurtured her six children with Central School's support. Stranded in London in 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, Earl survived as a dishwasher, responding to substantial challenges.
With that mindset, notwithstanding his inexperience, Earl accessed a minor role in a 1941 musical, which opened a door. In 1951, he became lead in a breakthrough movie, arguably the first black star in British film. His transformational career included roles in 29 films and numerous appearances on television. Paving the way.
Earl Cameron, grounded and committed to family and his Baha'í faith, has offered present generations an example of responding to challenges.
On August 8, 1970, a demonstration of ten persons, acting in solidarity with the people of South Africa, was organised by the Black Beret Cadre — a group of young people attempting to transform Bermuda's legacy of racism during another tumultuous global period. They opposed the British Government's policy change; selling weapons to the apartheid regime of South Africa, notwithstanding United Nations sanctions implemented in the wake of the Sharpeville massacre.
A Union Jack was burnt in protest that day. In September, Cadre leader Hilton “Bobby” Bassett was charged and tried in Magistrates' Court. His six-month imprisonment was reduced to one month upon appeal. Those seeds of solidarity sprouted again on South African Freedom Day — June 26, 1982 — when 20-odd persons, mostly teachers, joined a protest organised by the Bermuda Workers' Socialist Party.
They were protesting a local bank's involvement in a loan to a South African company. Thereafter, the Anti-Apartheid Group was formed, starting a fund in 1983 that raised $30,000 with the support of US congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.
The Bermuda Government matched those funds, producing a $60,000 donation (worth about $158,000 today) to the World Council of Churches' Southern Africa Solidarity Fund. The Anti-Apartheid Coalition subsequently formed, including unions and various community groups, and creatively fostered solidarity. Links were established with the British Anti-Apartheid Movement and the American Committee on Africa. On February 14, 1990, 3,000 people marched through Hamilton in celebration of Nelson Mandela's release from prison.
Other examples of responses to challenge and actions of solidarity mirror Earl Cameron's mission to the Solomon Islands. These include campaigns by churches and other organisations for developing countries, providing funds and volunteers travelling to lend a hand.
Thirty years after the 1990 march of 3,000 in solidarity with Mandela's release, 7,000 marched through Hamilton in solidarity with the George Floyd global response — reverberating that Black Lives Matter. This evident solidarity reminds us of the power of responding. Considering these examples among many others, let's pause. Mirrors, Social Justice Bermuda and Imagine Bermuda invite our community to pause reflect for 8min on August 8 at 8pm on:
• What is 2020 calling me to do?
• What steps may I take to answer that call?
Please share your reflections on social media, using the hashtag #bermudareflections, and join the conversation on Social Justice Bermuda's Facebook Page at 8.08pm. How can we each make a difference?
• Glenn Fubler represents Imagine Bermuda