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Youth parliamentarians call for unity

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Teenagers said yesterday that it was important to break down barriers and unite in the battle against racism and inequality.

McKenzie-Kohl Tuckett, Ywione Darrell and Nizae Douglas, members of the island's Youth Parliament, were speaking before a planned Black Lives Matter protest tomorrow.

The march is part of demonstrations in the United States and around the world in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of police officers in Minnesota last week.

Mr Douglas, a 15-year-old CedarBridge Academy pupil, said that campaigners in the US had “opened my eyes to the struggles and difficulties” of black people in America.

He added: “Racism doesn't have a major effect to Bermuda as a country but it does have an effect on our people, predominantly black.”

The teenager, from Warwick, highlighted that it was common for Bermudians to travel to the United States.

He said: “Most US police don't care about whether we're American or British Overseas Territory citizens — their first image of us is the colour of our skin before anything.”

Mr Douglas added: “From Bermuda history books and stories our grandparents have told us, Bermuda has gotten much better with its racial issues.

“For example, I can share a water fountain, bathroom or school with students that are of the white race. To think that we couldn't share almost anything with whites almost a century ago, it shows Bermuda has made an effort.”

Ms Tuckett, 16, from St George's, said: “The protests that are taking place in the United States are sending a clear message that systemic racism must be eradicated.”

Ms Tuckett added: “African-Americans are no longer prepared to exist in a world that promotes a culture of discrimination.”

The Warwick Academy pupil added that, although “we no longer live in an enforced system of legally mandated segregation, the island was “still divided by race”.

She said: “I hope that Sunday's peaceful protest will lead to meaningful systemic change.”

Ms Tuckett explained: “As global citizens, we have a responsibility to join the movement.

“Joining the movement extends beyond showing up on Sunday. We can no longer stay silent in the face of racial inequality.”

Ms Tuckett added: “We must continue to engage in discussions about the systemic obstacles to equal opportunity and equal justice.”

She said: “Overcoming racism is everyone's responsibility and it is essential for the survival of humanity.”

Mr Darrell, 17, said that “systemic racism continues to suppress the economic rights of blacks in Bermuda and in turn has had detrimental effects on every other aspect of life that we endure”.

The Saltus Grammar School pupil, from Hamilton Parish, added: “In my opinion, many black Bermudian youth and black American youth suffer from the same negative economic and social impacts that make it more difficult for us to be mobile socioeconomically.”

He said there had been some progress in recent generations. Mr Darrell added: “With the lifting of segregationist laws to the less punitive approach taken by courts on minor offences, we are seeing a society that better expresses the utilitarian and equal-access ideals that are at the heart of all democracies.”

He said: “I believe that Sunday's protest should aim to bring us all together, whether Bermudian or expatriate, black or white, to say that we recognise the underlying issues caused by the centuries of racism on this island and we will fight against them because all Bermudians deserve equal treatment and access to opportunity.”

Mr Darrell added that people had to break down the “us versus them” mindset, which too often dominated discussions on race, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia, as well as racism.

McKenzie-Kohl Tuckett (Photograph supplied)
Nizae Douglas (Photograph supplied)
Ywione Darrell (Photograph supplied)

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Published June 06, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated June 06, 2020 at 9:05 am)

Youth parliamentarians call for unity

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