Dale Butler’s hard hitting ‘Flip The Script’ opens
Children are growing up without a sense of hope because they are being dumped at the feet of their grandparents at an early age.
This is the hard-hitting message to come out of a new documentary filmed and produced by PLP MP Dale Butler.
Mr Butler’s 70 minute documentary called Flip The Script was well-received by an audience of about 50 people at its premiere at Liberty Theatre on Sunday. The documentary suggests Bermuda has “lost its way” because of a lack of positive male role models and the loss of strong family values.
Flip The Script features a series of interviews with community activists who address Bermuda’s unprecedented levels of crime and gun violence. They question the choices made in life and why some express their anger through crime while others use more creative means.
Many of the interviewees touched on how children are now being bought up by grandparents as parents work long hours to pay for the increasing cost of living.
The documentary is based on lawyer Larry Scott’s new book titled ‘It’s Only Four Percent: Crime in Bermuda’ which examines why black men end up on the front line of crime.
Social commentator Cordell Riley is in the documentary saying there is “a lack of hope” among black males, explaining that they don’t care about themselves or each other.
He believes it started in the early 1990s when the international business sector took over tourism and “changed the DNA of Bermuda’s economy”.
Mr Riley said rent prices started to skyrocket and single moms had to work longer hours, leaving their children with grandparents.
He said: “We’ve left our children to fend for themselves.
“They are growing up thinking the world owes them something. There’s a sense of hopelessness. People aren’t taking care of themselves as they think they are going to be killed anyway”.
Former school principal Dr Freddie Evans said when he moved to Bermuda 26 years ago, he thought it was “a utopia for black people” as people had boats, cars and houses.
But he said the “biggest failing” has been not promoting the role of schools and their extra-curriculum activities.
Dr Evans said he now saw fathers at football games “with a Heineken in one hand and a towel in the other”.
Education officer Dr Lew Simmons said: “People call this a crisis, this is not a crisis. There’s a sickness in our community that is pervasive”.
Preacher Scott Smith questioned what was wrong with parents, saying that “children are brought into this world, then left at the feet of their grandparents”.
He said: “We need to get some hope and some help … we have lost our way. We need to flip the script and get back to where we used to be”.
Larry Scott is interviewed in the field of Victor Scott Primary School, where Kimwandae Walker was murdered on Good Friday last year.
He said Bermuda had “lost the intellectual capital of black men” as “black men have been invisible for too long”.
Mr Scott explains that many men end up in prison as they are forced to look for “alternate means to find a livelihood”. He also criticised the “horrendous legislation we’ve passed”.
He said: “CEOs and directors are not held accountable, capitalism is practised by white males”.
Mr Scott believes the change has to “come from us” suggesting that everything must start at the grassroots level.
Senator LaVerne Furbert is featured in the documentary talking about her experience as a single working mom. She said that “rather than giving material things” she instilled the values of reading and family mealtimes.
Principal and mom-of-two Shawnette Somner is featured talking about how fathers who aren’t there for their children should be “named and shamed”. She said you rarely saw fathers supporting their children in court, but said they stepped up when a child was successful, saying: ‘that’s my boy/girl’. Ms Somner said: “Child support does not replace quality time”.
The documentary also features three interviews with Westgate inmates who explained why they turned to crime. The first prisoner said: “I can’t say I have any regrets” and explained how he “didn’t get anything” out of school as they “didn’t teach what I wanted to learn”.
The second prisoner admitted he “slipped up again” saying he knew he was old enough to know better, but said: “Everyone has trials and tribulations”.
The third prisoner explained how his mom has six children and he had to be the man of the house. He got kicked out of school for always being late then got laid-off from work.
The inmate said he knew he had to “make sure his mama and family were straight” so he became “a product of the environment” and “started living the street life”.
The documentary also features artists who have turned their frustrations into creativity. Dancer Eric Bean said growing up was hard as he was constantly teased for wanting to dance, but said his parents gave him “the positivity and encouragement” to continue.
Artist Manuel Palacio said art was a way to “express your feelings without turning to violence” while photographer and recording artist Ras Mykal said Bermuda had lost its “culture of respect and responsibility”.
During a short discussion after the documentary, Mr Mykal said he was disappointed MPs had not attended the film premiere as they were the very people who “need to hear our voices.”
The documentary suggested Sandys 360 as a solution that could be used in other parishes.
It was said that the sports centres bring together adults and children, which is “critical for the future of our country”.
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