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Dr. Brown's rhetoric has finally got white people to pay attention to blacks, according to race activist Eva Hodgson.

But Dr. Hodgson questioned whether blacks are actually any better off than before, because Government has failed to pass any legislation to address economic disparity.

She said from previous race meetings she's attended she's observed white people didn't even think about Bermuda's racial divide; in contrast black people think about it all the time.

"We have to put up with all the oppression and they don't even have to worry themselves thinking about it," said Dr. Hodgson.

"Against that background, the Premier has irritated them enough.

"Blacks and whites did come together, which is unusual, to talk to each other. That happened over several months.

"His ongoing rhetoric has kept whites paying attention to us. He's really indignant to being discriminated against on a personal level, as most blacks are.

"He really is indignant. He's genuinely personally insulted. He's a strong character and can use words well."

However, she added: "We certainly haven't had any legislation to address the disparity under this current administration. With all due respect to his efforts, it's not the first time we have had conversations that didn't last.

"What really matters is legislation. The Economic Empowerment Zone is significant, but really a small gesture towards the overall needs.

"I believe that the most positive thing that this Premier did was to introduce the Mirrors programme. I think it's something he really cares about and has made an impact on the lives of young people."

Dr. Brown's 2006 pledge on race was to start a discussion, which he followed up with the Big Conversation; and that "we will emerge as one Bermuda — divided no more".

PLP supporter Jonathan Starling reflected: "I think there is greater cynicism amongst the general public, both black and white, PLP and UBP. Obviously the whites feel as if they have been deliberately baited, and to a degree that is true. There has been some baiting of them, but a lot of the race problems I put down more to intransigence on the part of the whites, than any organised plan to antagonise them."

PLP central committee member LaVerne Furbert added: "Bermudians will certainly remember Dr. Brown for bringing the subject of race out in the open."

Dr. Brown launched a study on young black males with the Mincy Report, and has stated he's seen more young black men with their heads held high now than he did four years ago.

In 2006, Dr. Brown said he would "seek the creation of programmes to empower our formerly disenfranchised citizens, to give them a chance for a fair fight for their futures" in jobs, businesses, land and opportunity.

Dr. Hodgson and many within the Progressive Labour Party have questioned Dr. Brown's record on empowering black Bermudians while construction contracts have been given to white Portuguese firms as black firms struggle; and multimillion dollar deals to companies like black American agency GlobalHue without being put out to tender.

The Workforce Equity Bill, drafted in 2007 to introduce heavy fines for companies blocking the progress of blacks, "has disappeared into the abyss" according to the Culture Minister who brought it into the public fold, Wayne Perinchief.

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Published October 22, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 10, 2010 at 10:07 am)


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