Posted by: Ms Morris | June 30, 2009

The Consequences of Looking Away

It is increasingly obvious that Bermuda has an issue with race. While there are some who wish we could sweep the matter under the rug and ignore it, I think it’s safe to say that that stance does not work in Bermuda’s favor. Racial tensions are at a high. It may not be as bad as the 60’s or the 2007 election but it’s not that much better. By not addressing the race issue head on we have allowed incorrect beliefs to be held, feelings to stay hurt and Bermuda to remain divided. Of course, the question then becomes, how do we tackle racism?

The answer is as easy as it is complex. Talk about it. If you hear someone say something racist then tell that person what they said is racist. I’m not saying pick a fight, more a point of order. Let that person know that what they did is construed as racial and why.  Not every person who says something racially insensitive is actually racist. But if we confront racial incidents as they happen then more and more people become aware what is socially acceptable and what is not.

I have to thank my friend Djata for posting this video on facebook while I was writing this post. It compliments my sentiments so well.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc There’s a difference between declaring that an action is racially charged and declaring a person racist. In very simple term attack the message not the messenger. If we never talk about how a string of words put together becomes racially insulting or how a behavior or gesture can be seen as derogatory or degrading to a specific cultural group or even how the way things are done creates a racial and class gap then race will always be a factor in the slowing of Bermuda as a country’s progression. It will also make it possible for the race card to be pulled and used against us.

By ignoring the racial wounds of our recent history the have festered into a foul smelling boil that was pricked in 2007 and is still oozing.  That race can be used as a defense and distraction off a topic that has absolutely nothing to do with race is ridiculous, reprehensible and sad. Ridiculous because race has nothing to do with the Premier Ewart Brown and Sen. David Burch violating section 62 of the Bermuda Constitution http://www.cmseducation.org/wconsts/bermuda.html reprehensible because it is an intellectually dishonest argument, is insulting to any person who has been adversely affected by racial incidents and is just plain disgusting that supposed leaders of Bermuda would knowingly, willingly and continuously use this strategy. It is also sad, because it shows our immaturity as a nation in that we created and condoned this situation.

We cannot continue to ignore race and racism. We cannot continue to have politics steeped in race. Both work against Bermuda’s progress. IF BERMUDA AND BERMUDIANS ARE TO CONTINUE IN HEALTH AND PROSPERITY THEN RACE MUST BE HONESTLY AND ACTIVELY DEALT WITH ON AN INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY LEVEL.

I am supportive of conversation that builds rather than destroys. As such I give credit where credit is due. I am completely supportive of CURB and of note Lynn Winfield who has always kept me aware of the phenomenal work they do. The Big Conversation has hosted some of the most fascinating and eye opening social psychological assessments I have ever seen. There are some who think that we should ignore and not deal with race, we’ve done that for years. It did not work. We need to do something different, like confront race, to not do so would be insane.


Responses

  1. Hi Davida.

    As a scientist, I’ve always been mystified with the preoccupation with race, seeing as there really is no such thing in taxonomy.

    Like I said earlier on our other site, it’s ridiculous to be squabbling over a colour, when it’s just more of or less of the same damn colour.

    Remember, “It takes all colours to make black, just as it takes all colours to make white.”

    Pax

  2. I believe that you’re right about confronting race, but unfortunately the BIG conversation loses all crediblity when you see who it is run by. It is not a conversation so much as an opportunity for like minded people to preach to themselves.

    A real discussion on race has to start with admission by both parties that there have been reprehensible actions against all races, not just one. It takes whites admitting that they inherently have an advantage in Bermuda at the moment, and to be conscious of this in their everyday dealings. It takes black Bermudians realising that the past is just that, and that they now live in a Bermuda where the sky is the limit, as long as they give their all.

    It involves leaders who are held responsible for their actions, not judged by the colour of their skin. It involves senators being honest and not race-mongering. It involves getting rid of the excuse for humanity that is the PLP smear squad.

    It involves Dr. Brown leaving or growing up. It involves him having enough confidence in his leadership to give voters the truth, instead of trusting that black Bermuda will vote for him without it.

    It involves sports clubs taking action against blacks preventing whites from joining, and other clubs preventing blacks from joining. It involves our kids playing with each other, and not reaching an age where suddenly it stops being cool.

    But moreso than anything it’s going to take leadership and action of our most prominent figures. And as long as Dr. Brown, David Burt, Sen. Burch and Rolfe Comissiong are part of that group, we will never have reconciliation. Their livelyhood depends on us mistrusting one another.

  3. While I certainly agree that the concept of race has no legitimacy within biology, it is a very real social construct. And that is what needs to be confronted.

    While I can understand why some people are hesistant to attend the formal Big Conversations due to preconceptions about its organisers and motives, I gotta point out that there is nothing stopping people setting up smaller groups. for instance, I am sure it would be possible (and productive) to start up a discussion group at work – set aside a lunch hour for all of your co-workers and discuss the issue in general and how and if you think it impacts work.

    I am sure that CURE would be more than happy to send people round to help stimulate the discussion. In the past I know that at my former place of work we set aside lunch hours to discuss women’s issues, especially in the month of March. We’d have guest speakers come from the WRC and the like, watch some relevant movies, and jsut generally discuss issues like sexism, wage disparities and sexual harrassment.

    I know that people are often worried that talking about these issues will cause friction at work, and while there is an initialy potential for it, as long as everyone is clear about it being a frank interchange of views, it can actually be very empowering for all involved.

    And of course, the very fact that we’re having this discussion here at all shows that the topic can be discussed in different formats – even online.

  4. Is the current big conversation working? as you say current race tensions are running high.
    So the reason for this is either the Big convesation is not working or something else is stirring up the tensions. S something needs to be changed.
    Also another thought, what percentage of Bermuda is “white”, 40% or more? Now what percentage of “whites” are representing them in the Cabinet or even in Parliament?
    I think simple stopping all the “back to the plantation, lynching mob rhetoric has to stop for the Big Conversation to progress anywhere

  5. “Is the current big conversation working? as you say current race tensions are running high.
    So the reason for this is either the Big convesation is not working or something else is stirring up the tensions.”

    You missed the option that the Big Monologue is working, and therefore racial tensions are running higher. Some of us think that’s the point.

    Why else put Rolfe in charge? He’s not quite the consensus builder is he. He’s there to incite and keep the issue raw, narrowly defined and politically focused.

  6. Great to see another Bermudian addition to the blogosphere – hopefully this will be a space where intelligent views and opinions will be exchanged while practicing respectful behaviour.

    Point of reference for those that care: I am a white Bermudian, with family roots in Bermuda dating back to the 17th century. This doesn’t make me any more “Bermudian” than any other Bermudians. It does make me a direct descendant of slave owners in this country, similar to the majority of white Bermudians whose ancestry here dates back as far. In my mind, it makes me responsible for doing my part to fight ongoing white supremacy and institutional racism.

    I have a few comments on the comments I’ve read so far.

    Renaissance Man said: “As a scientist, I’ve always been mystified with the preoccupation with race, seeing as there really is no such thing in taxonomy.”

    Whilst there is no biological basis for race (in fact, science shows us that there is more genetic diversity within ethnic groups than across them) it does not change the fact that skin colour does have an impact. It’s easy for whites to say that “I don’t see race” or “we’re all the same colour” because for whites the colour of their skin has not and does not negatively impact their access to economic and social advantages. Indeed, due to historical and ongoing white supremacy, whites are overprivileged at the expense of people of colour but many have been conditioned to think that nothing they have is unearned. Also, by choosing not to see colour, it’s easy to perpetuate structural and institutional racism by overlooking the inequalities that result from skin colour.

    LostinFlatts said: “the BIG conversation loses all credibility when you see who it is run by. It is not a conversation so much as an opportunity for like minded people to preach to themselves.”

    This is an argument that I hear from many white Bermudians, most of whom have never been inside the rooms of the big conversation. It is disingenuous. We could arrange for this discussion to take place in people’s living rooms with internationally renowned race dialogue facilitators and people still wouldn’t want to show up and talk about it. It is an inherently difficult topic to discuss, one which causes much discomfort in whites, much denial, defensiveness and anger. But it is a discussion that, for the future of our country, whites must find the courage to engage in.

    LostinFlatts said: “It takes black Bermudians realising that the past is just that…”

    Whilst the past is the past, it is impossible to separate the past from the present in many areas, including (to name just a couple) intergenerational trauma and the accumulation of wealth and capital. In addition, it is a past that many whites have never expressly acknowledged nor apologized for. Black Bermudians should, at a minimum, be given the courtesy of having their past honoured by their former oppressors. We don’t hear phrases like “the past is the past, get over it” when Jews talk about their Holocaust. Why do we as whites seem to get so enraged when blacks share the pain of their people’s past? And at the ongoing injustices? Perhaps at its heart is our ancestors’ complicity in their suffering?

    LostinFlatts said: “…they now live in a Bermuda where the sky is the limit, as long as they give their all.”

    The most recent CURE statistics put us in a quandary. Looking at Bermudians only, whites are disproportionately represented in higher paying jobs. Although some of this results from past discrimination, anecdotal evidence is emerging that, in younger generations (20s – 30s), we are seeing this trend continue in the international business sector. So if we have a situation where people do not seem to be getting ahead at an equal pace we could draw a couple conclusions: (i) black folks are not getting ahead because they are not “giving their all” (i.e. not working hard enough or (ii) there is something inherent in the system that is overprivileging whites at the expense of blacks. I subscribe to the second conclusion, but am also aware that there exists a large number of white Bermudians who subscribe to the first, although they may not admit to it publicly.

    I try to get on the blogs and post when I can, which is not as regularly as I would like. If there is any feedback to what I’ve said I will get to it at some point and do my best to respond.

    Here’s to healthy conversation….

  7. “Looking at Bermudians only, whites are disproportionately represented in higher paying jobs. Although some of this results from past discrimination, anecdotal evidence is emerging that, in younger generations (20s – 30s), we are seeing this trend continue in the international business sector. So if we have a situation where people do not seem to be getting ahead at an equal pace we could draw a couple conclusions: (i) black folks are not getting ahead because they are not “giving their all” (i.e. not working hard enough or (ii) there is something inherent in the system that is overprivileging whites at the expense of blacks.”

    Or the obvious (iii) being that blacks are disproportionately represented/attracted to/more comfortable in the public sector where salaries are lower.

    Check the stats. You have to adjust for that before you can fly to the conclusion that racial discrimination is at play.

  8. Sadly, I am almost at the point of giving up on the debate about race in particular as it relates to Bermuda.

    I am quietly tired of opposing opinions where each is right, but where there is little evidence (empirical or otherwise) to support the point of view. No doubt my views will be opposite of others.

    On the singular aspect of CURE statistics, was it not shown recently that they fail to give a full and accurate picture of earnings in BDA because they fail to include data from ALL employers, i.e. local companies as well as exempted companies?

    On stats generally, if you simply add up all the base salaries of everyone from (say) 40 CEO’s at the top to (say) 190 kitchen porters at the bottom, then divide the total by the number of people, do you not get a figure that may well be a mean/median or mode arithmatically – yet be fairly meaningless in so far as being a base for sensible pay management and allegations of racism?

    I do not accept that you can simply ‘get rid of the past’ plus I also accept that to some degree, one’s history shapes one’s future. But – had you ever noticed how the winners in society (whether black or white) are those who whilst mindful of their past, nonetheless grasp the issues they face and power out of the mess we white people left them in?

    Where and when does this previous horrendous behaviour of white people towards blacks cease to have effect on a black person’s ability to do better in life?

    Will blogging still be hashing over the same points in 300 years from now? I have a feeling it will.

    As to the Big Conversation, I would suggest every white person in Bermuda is aware of it. I would suggest further that the majority of whites are well aware of the treatment some of their forefathers metered out to slaves.

    My problem is, I don’t know how having a conversation helps black Bermudians today. Maybe thinking that whites are feeling uncomfortable is sufficient. For me, I am no longer uncomfortable (sorry Rolfe), but you pushed the buttons for all the wrong reasons.

    I cannot believe that a Govt could be so stupid as to initiate a BG, without a clearly defined path flowing from it, with careful step by step control of the processes. It can only have been initiated for political reasons; nothing substantive could possibly have flowed from it.

    I don’t believe for one minute that blacks want equality – in just the same way as whites wouldn’t want equality if the shoe was (proverbially) on the other foot. What all races want – and have done since the beginning of time – is superiority. Where is the evidence that this society we live in here is any different. Where is the evidence that Brown has empowered Black people as he boldly told the BBC Carribean correspondant some time ago.

    Has anyone seen Sven? He was supposed to be the trainer.

    The politics of playing to the crows and the smell of bovine excretia is so ripe here – and Black Bermudians accept it.

    Power – raw power – over others, irrespective of skin colour, class or creed. Economic domination. Life really does not change.

    If you want to witness what that means, suggest you watch how the Chinese move forward from here on in. That might bring white and black closer to each other.

  9. What a load of hogwash. “What my ancestors did too blacks”. Hello…The opposite has been going on for hundreds of years and your point is?

    I day old and the site has been abused by the ones that want their point across.

    Same people, same time.

    Only you can prevent forest fires…I swear, 24 hours and it’s still the same.

    I need a rum…………….

  10. God forbid someone should want to get their point across…

  11. To “The Truth”

    I believe there’s actually choice (iv), which is that the education system on the Island has failed to provide the tools needed for business advancement. I would also think that without drilling down into the numbers, there are limits on the conclusions that can be drawn from them.

    To “Martin”

    I’m not sure that the power/domination argument is drawn correctly along racial lines; I believe that it’s part of human nature, without regard to race. Certainly there are exceptions (and some horrific), and I would guess there’s an argument to be made that racial politics is simply the current version of tribal politics from hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. Look at behavior in the Middle East for both confirmation and exceptions.

    To All

    It is striking to me that here, in other blogs and in the news, the phrase is always, “a white Bermudian” or “black Bermudians”.

    I’m not sure there’s anything more telling about priorities and focus than that construction; it clearly is not “A Bermudian, who is white” and “Bermudians who are black”.

    To Bermuda Jewel

    Congratulations on the site, and best wishes for active, meaningful discussion. I hope the dialogue here will begin to address the construction issue.

  12. “I believe there’s actually choice (iv), which is that the education system on the Island has failed to provide the tools needed for business advancement. I would also think that without drilling down into the numbers, there are limits on the conclusions that can be drawn from them.”

    AVP, I agree wholeheartedly.

    The numbers are thrown out there crudely to suggest causation when they show no such thing.

  13. What an great beginning. I’m just going to jump in it then.

    Renaissance Man, I wish we didn’t have to squabble about race but it is an aspect of our society that has huge impact on our lives and we’ve reached a critical point in Bermuda’s story. We cannot afford to ignore the problem. That’s all we’ve ever done and look at how that’s worked out. I wish race didn’t have to be an issue but when you look around, whether we like it or not race is a part of our daily lives. We owe it to ourselves to make it better for ourselves and those who come after us.

    Flatt’s, You make some great points. I didn’t even think about how the clubs practice discrimination but that is something deserving some light shone on it. I would hope that persons who sit on the admissions board of these clubs examine theirselves personally and the instution they represent. By observing how they contribute to the racial divide in this country, hopefully they will begin to make changes.

    Jon, I really like the idea of doing something in the workplace. That’s when most socializing between the races occurs anyway. To take it a step further maybe the EAP could team up with CURE and organize some things that way.

    Mark, thanks for the kind words in regards to the site and even more so for your honesty. I think your points were spot on and I would love to see some dialogue over the points and questions you raised. A question, do you or anyone reading this blog have any ideas on how to bring more white people into the conversation?

    Martin, don’t give up hope just yet. I am determined to have open and honest discussions on race that educates and help to bring both races closer. While the stats on pay differences may not be conclusive it doesn’t change the fact that when you look closer at those 40 CEO’s and 190 kitchen porters the CEO’s tend to be white and the porters non-white. This is where institutionalized racism rears its head. You asked “Where and when does this previous horrendous behaviour of white people towards blacks cease to have effect on a black person’s ability to do better in life?” The answer I suppose is when things like institutionalised racism no longer exists. Conversations on race have as much merit as the persons who are involved in them have. If we have a dialogue of equal parts black and white with the goal of increasing understanding between the races and its done in a respectful manner then I am sure 300 years from now we will not be in the same place.

  14. Ms Morris

    I hope you won’t mis-understand my coolness to this, it’s just that it has been debated ad nauseum.

    Everyone and his dog has commented.

    No-one as yet (unless I have missed it) has laid out an agenda for change. It’s an old and hackneyed expression but it serves the purpose that “the only constant in life is change”.

    Except – here in Bermuda that is. Whether you call it the status quo or ‘payback’ or whatever – the reality is we (BDA plc) aint going forward.

    There are only two directions available in my book – forwards or backwards. You can decide which one you think applies to us at the moment. As I said, I think we are going backwards – and we are doing so for political expediency.

    One can make great strides at the individual level – and those strides must continue. But – to make serious in roads into society-wide issues, you must have a Govt machine that sets out a clear plan that is workable and sustainable.

    The BG is neither – hence the cynicism towards it. Whites do not have to be told about black history and their part in that – we do know!

    When Govt’s play the rhetoric game – it gets the inevitable response from whites and alienates us yet more.

    Your aims and goals are fine. I just have an awful feeling that ‘the establishment’ will not be joining you in the process of change.

  15. “If you hear someone say something racist then tell that person what they said is racist.”

    What is a racist? I think we need to reach a consensus on the definition.

  16. J Galt, that is a really good question.

    I did a search online and found this one for racism.

    1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
    2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
    3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

    I got this from dictionary.com in case anyone is interested.

    I cannot ask someone to do something I would not do myself and as such I have these comments to the truth.

    Your comments: the obvious (iii) being that blacks are disproportionately represented/attracted to/more comfortable in the public sector where salaries are lower could be construed as racially insensitive. Let me be clear this is not a personal attack on you at all. My issue is only with what you said becuase I think your belief is very much off base.

    That blacks are disproportionaltely represented in the public sector is fine (I’m not sure if its fact, I don’t have the statistics) but to say that we would be more attracted to or more comfortable with these jobs is racially insensitive. That belief completely takes out additional factors that exist when a person applies for a job such as the interviewer. This is also where institutionalised racism rears its head. With institutional racism a factor, and in Bermuda it is, it doesnt matter how many black people apply for a private sector managerial position none will get the job because the gatekeepers will not let them in. To make a judgement on black people’s committment and capabilities to work without including these factors is intellectually dishonest and racially insensitive.

    Truth, I hope you understand the point I am trying to make and do not feel that I am attacking you in any shape or fashion. I appreciate your comments on the site and hope you continue to post. My goal has always been to educate and I hope others get something positive out of this discourse as well.

  17. “With institutional racism a factor, and in Bermuda it is, it doesnt matter how many black people apply for a private sector managerial position none will get the job because the gatekeepers will not let them in. To make a judgement on black people’s committment and capabilities to work without including these factors is intellectually dishonest and racially insensitive.”

    I don’t know how to balance all of the factors that go into a hiring decision. To make a blanket statement that a black person will not be hired because the gatekeeper won’t let them in, however, seems an oversimplification and, to a degree, confuses causes and outcomes.

    I have no doubt that there are white employers who act in this manner, and they are, in my view, despicable for holding such prejudiced views, and not placing the needs of the company they represent above their own biases and prejudices. I also have no doubt that there are black employers who hold parallel biases, which is equally heinous.

    But I do not believe it is so prevalent, across all employers, that it can be declared causative; rather, I believe a more significant driver is inadequate education and qualification. The competitive nature of business precludes filling positions with less than fully qualified people, and not selecting the most qualified applicant for a given position. And that is where the indictment of Bermuda’s education system lies, and a more fundamental issue that creates the appearance of institutional racism.

    Clearly, those with the financial ability to do so remove their children from the Bermuda public education system, in favor of other private alternatives. If, given wealth distribution on the Island, that leads to a greater proportion of white children receiving a better education, then a class system of sorts is perpetuated. The only way to break this cycle is to enhance the public education system to a level where it is competitive, in terms of effectiveness, with private schools, both on-Island and off-Island, which is a very slow process. The introduction of the Cambridge curriculum is a step in that direction, but it will take years for it to influence the ability of public school graduates to gain employment.

  18. Ms Morris, I am pleased that you have started this up here. I hesitate to put my hat into the ring here for a few of the same points and frustrations Martin lays out. But I will contribute here and see how it goes.

    I think the problem on this island is not really race so much as politics. People are hesitant to get involved in the Big Conversation because of who is involved, not what it is about. I know Rolf, and he is really not the best choice for a moderator or any sort of consultant on race.

    I will not even get into the difficulties of such a debate on Progressive Minds.

    The Big Conversation needs to be put into the hands of the people. Moderated by people with no political affiliations, ideally two moderators at all times, one white and one black. Take the politics away and I guarantee you this would be a different story.

    The problem arises though, in the solution. Racial discrimination is ingrained in the human psyche, going back thousands of years. Before the Romans, before the Egyptians. Empires were built on slavery. Not just blacks, conquered peoples of all colours and creeds. I will not drag this out but the bottom line is we have only be fighting slavery for the past couple hundred years and equality for all in the past 60 or so. That is not a very long time in the general scheme of things. We have made great strides however and will continue to do so as the world becomes smaller and smaller.

    It is intrinsic to nature to balance itself, heal over time. And that is what this will take, time.

    Blacks as a group are economically challenged directly because this history, but they are quickly balancing out the scales, especially here. Education is a problem, and a political hot potato, but it is the key to the solution and unfortunately until we get that worked out, the majority of blacks on the island will be at a disadvantage.

    Family is also an extremely important factor in the success of a child, of any colour. The old saying “children having children” is alive and well here, and in an economy where many need 2 and 3 jobs to pay the rent, children are not getting the attention and the love that they need to emotionally and socially grow. This is a vicious cycle and one that is hard to break, but it is possible and there are many examples on this island of prominent blacks who have defied all odds to break out of the restraints holding them back and achieve success, start a family and really provide a good example to all.

    Now, correct me if I am wrong, but these folks, while ideal to get out and participate in the Big Convo, are may be the most hesitant, or least interested as they have other priorities. But they are the ones we need out there. I may be off base here, and I am pretty much just thinking out loud here, is the Rolf’s and Dr. Hodgson’s are consumed by this and are relics from another age, and undoubtably harbour much anger and baggage, and at the risk of getting my hand slapped, in one of those cases it is in his best interests to make sure this Big Conversation is ongoing. Again, we need to remover personal interests and politics from this for it to be successful.

    I would also like to touch on statistics. These are figures from a representative base, usually years old by the time they are published. I’ll pop out another cliché, “Figures Lie And Liars Figure”, numbers can be misconstrued to illustrate any point. They need to be in context and they need to be backed up. For example, I’ll take our 40 CEO’s and 190 kitchen porters. While I do not doubt the racial make up you stated, I would also challenge you to look at how many of those CEOs are expats and how many are Bermudian. THEN look at how many of the Bermudians CEOs are white or not. I think you would get a different picture. As for the porters, do the same, and if you can find any Bermudians among them, how many are black, I’ll wager most are asian or european and there are very few Bermudians involved these days. Just a thought, I have nothing concrete to back these claims up, but it would be interesting to see.

    At any rate, I think what you have here, an intelligent open forum, hosted by blacks and whites, encouraging individual’s viewpoints and open dialogue is a great thing. I do not see or feel any discomfort here, as I was led to believe was necessary, so this forum alone contradicts the success, the method and execution of the current ‘Big Conversation’.

    As you stated, in 300 years, things will be different, and people need to realise that while it is healthy to discuss, there is no magic solution, other than taking control and responsibility of one’s own actions, time is a great healer. People’s expectations need to be managed, a Black Bermudian living on Princess St, is not all of a sudden going to be moving into Tucker’s Town tomorrow just because this discussion was a success…but their grand children may…

    Best wishes.

  19. “That blacks are disproportionaltely represented in the public sector is fine (I’m not sure if its fact, I don’t have the statistics)…”

    Davida, By government’s own admission in goverment’s Economic Report for 2007 ( and repeated for 2008), goverment employees are 79% black and Bermudian. But this 79% applies only to Civil Servants and Industrial employees. It takes no account of the Quangos (BHC, WEDCO, BHB…). Overall, government employs around 6,400 persons and that 79% factor probably holds across the Quangos as well.

    There are only 27,100 BERMUDIANS employed in the Bermuda workforce. Of these (in round figures):- 9,400 are white Bermudians….17,700 are black Bermudian.

    Government employs over 4,000 black Bermudians (includes Quango people).

    Do the math. There are fewer than 13,700 (say 14,000) black Bermudians left over to work in the private sector.

    How many people work in the private sector? Last count (for 2008) said 34,000. So black Bermudians are only 40% of the private sector. Bluntly and plainly – Black Bermudians are a Majority in government employment and a MINORITY in the private sector.

    Over the long haul, as Bermuda’s economy shifted from Tourism to International Business, black Bermudians went from being as much as 70% of the private sector workforce (in the 1970s) to today’s 40%. That is a huge social change. It is a social change that few people are even aware of. It is also a change whose impact few people even consider.

    It has to be considered. It is driving many of the reactions that we see and feel this day.

    Another point. When Tourism was king, Bermudians owned or managed much of the infrastructure. These Bermudian owner/managers were white. They went from being blatantly racist (1940’s to 1970’s) to being more open (1980s to 2000).

    By 2000, Bermuda’s business model had changed. Tourism was dying. International Business was the new king.

    IB consisted of white owner/managers and foreign capital which brought in white and foreign owners and managers and workers. These ran an open hiring policy but they demanded high skillsets.

    Skillset match was the new problem. Pisspoor public Education had been clearly under-educating since the mid-1980s. The result of that began to show and tell in 2000.

    Race as a hiring factor? Look at the ebony black Africa accountants that the big four are hiring to work in Bermuda. Race? Race? Race?

    I don’t think that race is as big a REAL factor as some seem to think it is. Race is a cover and immediately useful and useable answer for a problem that is more complex than it first appears.

    I think we all need to do some X-raying and Cat-scanning and exploratory surgery so that we can find out what is REALLY happening underneath the frothing surface.

    This blog is off to a good start.

    Thanks Davida and Jon….

  20. Ms Morris…

    Hi. Permit me to fly a kite for a moment. Imagine you are white. You arrive in Bermuda and this is what you find out about employment in Government.

    Figures courtesy of Larry Burchall:

    Here’s how 2008 Bermuda actually compares with 1958 Bermuda:

    In 1958, more than 80 per cent of Government employees were white. In 2008, 80 per cent were black;

    In 1958, no black Heads of Department in Government. In 2008, one white Permanent Secretary;

    In 1958, two Members of the eleven seat Legislative Council were black. All others were white. In 2008, three of the eleven Senators were white. All others were black;

    In 1958, there were six black members in the 36- seat House of Assembly. In 2008 there were five white members in the 36-seat House;

    In 1958, the segregated public education system was about 80 per cent black. In 2008, no change, still about 80 per cent black.

    Tell me what you might think – as a white person about racism in Bermuda?

  21. “To make a judgement on black people’s committment and capabilities to work without including these factors is intellectually dishonest and racially insensitive.”

    Huh? Settle down Davida. Where did I comment on committment and capabilities to work? Where did I say the public sector was inferior and civil service lazy? I didn’t. You just did.

    I wasn’t making a judgment. You did. I was simply pointing out that if blacks are disproportionately represented in the public sector they will get paid less.

    You have provided no specific evidence that blacks are being turned away at the door from private sector positions, simply that they are pulling lower salaries. That is a direct consequence of working in the public sector.

    Adjust for that and perhaps we can take the conversation further, not to mention the public education system impact.

    Until you present supporting evidence I have to go off the working assumption that blacks are more attracted to/comfortable in the public sector and whites are more attracted to/ comfortable in the private sector.

    I would suggest it a cultural and social dynamic not institutional racism.

  22. Thank you Letariatpro you’ve given me points to consider.

    You’re right about our politics being heavily steeped in race. Do you think if we got all new parties who’s basis or history was not so involved in race that relations between the races would be improved?

    I like how you said “the Big Conversation needs to be put into the hands of the people”. That’s basically what I’m trying to with this thread. I really want to get to that place where race is not such an inflammatory issue and I am solution oriented in general. Education is defintiely a factor in improving multiple social issues in Bermuda and I’m really praying this Cambridge system is adapted well. I know I didn’t mention it in my original post but I do beleive that good education will definitely help in creating more opportunities for Bermudians in general and especially black Bermudians as this is the group that we are focusing on.

    As for the example, I personally wouldnt have used porter but since I was taking from another persons post I used it. I do agree that there is a disproportionate number of foreign workers in certain positions as well so now my questions become, is it institutionalised racism on the international level? or is foreign companies comfort levels, in that they want their own people in the top spot? I cannot believe that it’s becuase people don’t aspire to those positions because that’s simply not true. There are plenty of professionals in all ages who want the top spots but just can’t get there.

    I am seeing a lot of mistrust in regards to the Big Conversation due to the persons moderating it. I’ve been to a few meetings, not as many as I would like but there was very little active participation by Rolfe in that he welcomed people, introduced the speakers and did the farewells. While his presence may be a drawback I can only say just try go in with an open mind. Its not like youre going there to see him but really for the information. In as succinctly as I can put it take what you need and leave what you dont. That’s just my personal opinion though.

    I also want to say thank you for the kind words in regards to the site, it is very much appreciated.

  23. Thanks LB, you’ve opened up the coversation wider and dropped some really interesting knowledge. I’m studying in the field of social psychology so I really appreciate and need the varying points on Bermuda social movements.

    You said “I don’t think that race is as big a REAL factor as some seem to think it is. Race is a cover and immediately useful and useable answer for a problem that is more complex than it first appears.” So what do you think the underlying issue is? Classism perhaps?

  24. Power. Wealth. Control.

    Cui bono?

  25. “1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others……”

    So can we agree that racism is judging an individual, not by his / her own character or achievements, but by judging them on the character and achievements of a group of people defined by race?.

  26. Interesting discussion on here. Thanks particularly to LB – that is an illuminating view indeed. What I find most significant about it is that it is news to me. And I stay abreast of the big conversation, and the stats cited by PLP releases. They clearly have either not noticed this or decided to ignore it as it does not suit their agenda.

    Another very good point about the development and use of ‘white Bermudian’ versus ‘black Bermudian. Or as the PLP have repeatedly used, the created ‘real Bermudians’ – which I can comfortably assume that they mean to be black. Just another cap in the feather of the PLP’s record of reconciliation.

    Anyway, the PLP’s flagrant use of race is not news, so moving on.

    How can we move towards income figures that are racially independent? Education is the obvious answer, and one that has been discussed at length, but the other means are initiatives such as affirmative action. Which we already have. Giving contracts to black companies is another way.

    But is that what we should aspire to be doing? Does it send the right message? Does it encourage the right behaviour of individuals? I’m not convinced it does.

    The obsession with getting towards equality of income strikes me as the wrong target. Surely the target we should aspire to is that every Bermudian born tomorrow has an equal chance of getting a good education, great job and healthy life. Prejudices and barriers of the past will always skew stats, and unless the policy becomes booting out higher ups because of the color of their skin, that won’t change for a generation. All we can do in the present in ensure that every door is open, every barrier is broken and every path clear for tomorrow.

  27. Truth, be easy. I’m not riled up. Honest. This is dialogue pure and simple. You made a comment that I thought was racially insensitive and I responded. It’s really important for me to make that clear especially in the early stages of this site. Getting swept away in a wave of emotion does not help conversation progress, in fact it makes it digress. That’s not what I want for this site.

    In response to your repsonse. You asked “Where did I comment on committment and capabilities to work?” The answer is from your initial comment “being that blacks are disproportionately represented/attracted to/more comfortable in the public sector”.

    It started like this Mark made some valid points about the Bermuda workforce and how it appeared that some were getting ahead at a faster rate than others and why he thought that was. You added your comment that you felt it was because black people are “attracted” or “more comfortable” with the public sector work. My line of thinking was that it was racially insensitive for the stated reasons. The two quoted words gave me the impression you felt that black persons feelings about the private sector would be different to whites. If that is not the case then maybe you can enlighten me on why you think blacks are “disproportionately represented/attracted to/more comfortable in the public sector”.

    Where did I say the public sector was inferior and civil service lazy? I didn’t. You just did.

    Truth, I made no comparison to the public sector nor did I make any comment on the civil service at all. My comments were on institutionalised racism and that alone. I also did not make any comments regarding salaries as I have no information on that. Please be more careful when making statements.

    There is a disproportionate amount of black person in the public service but black persons are on all levels of management etc. In the private sector however, there is a disproportionate number of whites to blacks again and one can infer pay grades due to the disproportionate amount of blacks to whites in middle and uppermanagement.

    You ask for proof as to the existence of institutionalised racism. I would say the proof is in the numbers. That there are more whites in upper management positions than blacks is an indication. Understand I’m not talking about salaries though I’d guess there are disparities there, I am talking about positions. Please re-read my statements.

    Yes, our education system is in a state of disarray but that doesn’t mean there are no black persons who have gone through the public or private education system and furthered their education and entered the work place with high goals. We have persons of all ages who dare to succeed and do, up to a point. Just as there is a glass ceiling and old boy’s network, there is institutionalised racism.

    You say you believe that “blacks are more attracted to/comfortable in the public sector and whites are more attracted to/ comfortable in the private sector” What is your reasoning behind this conclusion? Is there evidence to support your belief? Are you not willing to entertain the thought of institutionalised racism?

    To lay the causation strictly at the feet of culture or socialisation is again racially inflammatory. Do you really believe that there is something about black culture and how black people are socialized that causes them to want to work in the public sector? I personally do not hold that belief and would say that it is more due to the doors in the private sector being closed. I also would urge you to look at the comments from LB. I think their points enhance and shed more light onto this topic.

  28. Wow,

    Some interesting dialogue going on here! Lots of points but, in the interest of time, I’ll only make a few:

    Regarding the public meetings of Big Conversation (as opposed to the planning and logistical work) Rolfe’s involvement is, as Ms. Morris stated, quite limited. He introduces the speakers, reads their bios and closes things up with a few words at the end. I’ve never seen him moderate any of these meetings. I will agree that Rolfe can be a polarising figure for many people, both black and white. I have seen him have the occasional outburst which, whilst I understand where he’s coming from, has the effect of alienating whites in particular. Whilst I attend the BRRI sessions regularly I have my doubts about their efficacy as a medium for substantive and lasting change. Subsequent to 2007 they have evolved into meetings where not much dialogue takes place. The presentations can be quite academic and it becomes easy to intellectualise the topic and to not take ownership of one’s place in the system. When the Big conversation started in 2007 the format was quite different – Bob Jensen and Bernestine Singley came in monthly to facilitate dialogue and exchanges, really digging in to the issues, which became quite uncomfortable for some of the participants. In hindsight, perhaps the BRRI should have started off with the academic type meetings to educate people about the history and development of white supremacy globally and its perpetuation in Bermuda. The importance of building relationships cannot be underestimated – once a common knowledge and language exists and relationships have been formed, we can move on to some more intense guided discussions around race and privilege.

    What I think is really needed is an extended period of properly facilitated dialogue. As a Council member of CURB (Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda), which by all appearances has been on a hiatus for the last 9 months, I’m keenly aware that there is a sizable group of people that want to continue the discussions that we were hosting in 2007 and 2008. We (CURB Council) have been drowning in, and distracted by, the strategic planning process for the last year but it has become clear that we need to get public meetings back up and running. People want to be in the room, but right now there is no room for them to be in. My hope is that we can begin having meetings soon and continue the frank, honest sometimes difficult and uncomfortable conversations that are important for healing of both the black and white community.

    I agree that there are significant challenges in the arena of public education and given that at least 80% of the students are black the ramifications are obvious. I’m also aware that the poor public education system is another of the non race-based answers for why disparities continue to exist across racial lines. This is one reason we need to fix the public system – if we make the public system one of the best in the world and disparities continue to exist then some of the other rationalisations may become more prominent (“it’s cultural”, “they want to be in lower paying jobs”, etc). But fixing public education should still be a priority. I’m quite disappointed in the choice of the Cambridge system as an “international” program – it’s a white British program. I think the International Baccalaureate would have been a better option – it also has a middle years element that dovetails nicely into the senior program. We should think outside of the box with regards to curricula – the Ashay Program that was in place at Dellwood is a fantastic program that includes African values and history in the curriculum. This does not need to be done to the exclusion of European history and thought but can be included alongside the current curriculum. Given the racial makeup of our public system, we should not be afraid of instilling pride in young black people about their rich history, culture and ingenuity – this deserves so much more pride of place than simply setting aside the month of February and attaching, almost as an afterthought, the moniker “Black History”.

    Finally, some CURE statistics from the 2006 survey (sorry that’s the latest numbers I’ve seen). These are for Bermudians only, so when I say x% of people I mean x% of the Bermudian people. I’m not going to draw any conclusions here, just adding these as food for thought and further discussion.

    Blacks hold 62% of the BA degrees held by Bermudians, whites hold 38%

    Blacks hold 76% of the MA degrees, whites hold 24%

    Blacks hold 66% of the PhD degrees, whites hold 34%

    As a percentage of Bermudians identified as holding “Senior” or “Executive” positions blacks/mixed race represent 50%, whites represent 50%

    As a percentage of Bermudians with salary > $96,000 blacks/mixed race represent 45%, whites represent 55%

    As a percentage of Bermudians with salary < $24,000 blacks/mixed race represents 86%, whites represent 14%

  29. I think that would be a fair definittion J Galt. I would take it one step further and include judgement of a group based on the actions of individuals as well.

  30. You know guys, I for one struggle with statistics that are one liners.

    You cannot – and indeed should not – distill significant chunks of data down into one number, unless you also provide the data so that all can see; something which is not possible on a blog I accept.

    Mark – in your example of $96,000 salary, how many people are we talking about?

    Is it 10…..or 50…..or 200. I am sure you would agree that there is a bigger problem if it is 200 as opposed to 10. Are we dealing with 1 person – or 20 as it would be in the 200 group.

    Do we know ‘why this one person (or 20) is/are paid differently?

    Are their differences of experience – know how – application of know how – Breadth and depth of management experience – performance differences – basics, i.e. goes to work and do so on time?

    We must look behind these one liners, if only to understand and therefore tailor our approach to solving any issues there mught (or might not) be.

  31. “Blacks hold 62% of the BA degrees held by Bermudians, whites hold 38%

    Blacks hold 76% of the MA degrees, whites hold 24%

    Blacks hold 66% of the PhD degrees, whites hold 34%”

    These look fair as there are significantly less whites than blacks.

    “As a percentage of Bermudians identified as holding “Senior” or “Executive” positions blacks/mixed race represent 50%, whites represent 50%

    As a percentage of Bermudians with salary > $96,000 blacks/mixed race represent 45%, whites represent 55%

    As a percentage of Bermudians with salary < $24,000 blacks/mixed race represents 86%, whites represent 14%"

    Again, everything looks pretty even, until you get to the lower income bracket. Now there is a bit of inequality apparent in the fact each category does not represent exactly the same proportions as the population, but that is pretty unrealistic at present, and if you look at it over time, it is certainly headed in the direction of correction.

    The huge disproportionate lower income, is representative of the growing social problems we are facing. This gets back to the failed public education system, of which we are starting to see its severe impact. There is a strong correlation to the quality of education vs the age and quantity of children a family has, which directly impacts their economic strength, and the future of those babies.

    I have alot to say about the public education system but perhaps we can start another thread on that.

    I don't think there is any argument that the effects of racism still reverberates through society despite our best efforts, but I think if we track our progress, with the right people in command of the ship, we should progress even further and faster than before. With the wrong people we shall stagnate in a cesspool of politics and greed a while longer before we can continue to make progress.

  32. Hmm, I made a lengthy reply, which did not seem to get posted. Rather than type it all again, please imagine I said something profound and interesting here.

    I also have quite a bit to say on the public education system, but that might be better served by its own thread.

  33. Regarding racism “definitions” I’ve very often seen in the dialogue rooms whites having to have all of the terms defined before a discussion can even begin. This may be based on the European axiology (philosophical study of goodness, or value) of placing highest value on the object, hence the requirement to measure and define things. “If we can’t define it, it doesn’t exist”. It would be problematic for us to expect people to have a discussion about a topic where the terms of reference are not defined, but we shouldn’t allow the topic to be derailed before it even starts because people can’t agree on a definition. We may never be able to come to full agreement on definitions but here are a couple definitions of (institutional) racism that make sense to me:

    Racism is racial prejudice plus institutional and systemic power to dominate, exclude, discriminate against or abuse targeted groups of people based on a designation of race. While racial prejudice can result in mistreatment, racism results in a special type of mistreatment: oppression. Oppression results when:

    i) racism is a part of the dominant culture’s national consciousness;

    ii) it is reinforced through its social institutions; and

    iii) there is an imbalance of social and economic power within the culture.

    RACE PREJUDICE+POWER=RACISM, the theory or idea that there is a casual link between inherited physical traits and certain traits of personality, intellect, or culture and, combined with it, the notion that some races are inherently superior to others. Racism is a socially constructed system of domination, which benefits whites at the expense of People of Colour.

    So what we’re really talking about here is not just internalised racial superiority but an institutional power structure that allows for the implementation of oppression through white supremacy. Often in antiracism work we talk about intent versus impact. In my own case, when I was coming into my understanding of institutional racism, white privilege and white supremacy I often struggled to come to grips with my own (unacknowledged, passive) complicity. My wife would bring issues of white privilege and racism up and I would react vociferously with outrage and defensiveness (“I’m not a racist”, “I treat everyone equally”, “My parents worked so hard to be able to get me a good education and I’ve worked hard to get where I am today”, “Anyone who works hard can get ahead”). My intent was non-racist (in fact considering myself against racism) but the impact of my ignorance was the perpetuation of a system of inequality and injustice that I could not grasp. By buying into the colour-blind philosophy and trying to treat everyone equally I could become blind to the fact that inequality existed on the basis of colour. I could also then not have to examine my place in that system and how, through doing nothing, I was allowing the system to continue.

    This idea that racism is an explicit philosophy is a defense mechanism that allows whites to not have to examine their unearned privileges. Sure there are people who are explicitly racist (think people in white robes & hoods) – I’m sure we we have a small number in Bermuda. We like to point to them as what a racist looks like and it’s one reason we get angry when people accuse us of racism. What I’ve seen in most of my interactions with white Bermudians is a very subtle internalised racial superiority that is, in most cases, so deeply part of our psyches and so ingrained that we can’t even see it. It’s like the fish that doesn’t know it’s wet. This superiority sometimes becomes explicit through coded conversations. “These companies don’t like to hire Bermudians because they have an attitude, a sense of entitlement and they’re lazy” – I’ve heard this spoken by white Bermudians and it was obvious that they weren’t including themselves in that “Bermudian” category. But much of the time the internalised superiority isn’t explicitly expressed, or even known or acknowledged to one’s self. It just IS, it just EXISTS, and it keeps us shrouded in the belief that we all have equal rights and equal access. And ultimately it perpetuates white supremacy.

  34. ah nevermind, there was a delay I guess, so my missing post is now exposed as not overly profound and probably not very interesting either.

    My apologies…

  35. Letariatpro,

    If you’d like to start a new post please feel free. Send it to us in an email we will post it. Due to the newness and nature of the site this is the best method. Our email address is bermudajewel@gmail.com

    Thanks bunches. Looking forward to it.

  36. Don’t worry guys…Ms. Morris has it under control. As for J. Starling, he thinks it still “CAF”. Apparently J. dropped the box of matches and Ms. Morris is about to start a fire.

    Good on her. Never trust a Starling. We brought them here to clean out the lizards and the rest is his-tory.

    Have a great day all.

    Ps. I must admit, it’s great to see dialogue, really. This is what will break or make or create.

    Rummy.

    Pps. As for you ‘Let”..appology accepted.

  37. Ms Morris…

    Sorry to be tenacious about this, but taking one of your responses below and then looking at it in the context of what I wrote earlier, do you have a view?

    You said:

    “You ask for proof as to the existence of institutionalised racism. I would say the proof is in the numbers. That there are more whites in upper management positions than blacks is an indication”.

    I had said:

    “Here’s how 2008 Bermuda actually compares with 1958 Bermuda:

    In 1958, more than 80 per cent of Government employees were white. In 2008, 80 per cent were black;

    In 1958, no black Heads of Department in Government. In 2008, one white Permanent Secretary;

    In 1958, two Members of the eleven seat Legislative Council were black. All others were white. In 2008, three of the eleven Senators were white. All others were black;

    In 1958, there were six black members in the 36- seat House of Assembly. In 2008 there were five white members in the 36-seat House;

    In 1958, the segregated public education system was about 80 per cent black. In 2008, no change, still about 80 per cent black”. (Larry Burchall)

  38. “I would take it one step further and include judgement of a group based on the actions of individuals as well.”

    I’m not sure I understand. Could you provide an example?

  39. “Racism is racial prejudice plus institutional and systemic power to dominate, exclude, discriminate against or abuse targeted groups of people based on a designation of race.”

    No it is not.

    Racism is much simpler and requires no power. It is simply a belief system. To argue otherwise has no basis in social science but is a construct to fit political agendas.

    Prejudice, racism and discrimination. A continuum. Only the final one involves power, and that doesn’t have to be institutional or systemic.

    We’re going nowhere if you start with that kind of falsehood. Mark, you’re reading way too much of Tim Wise’s nonsense.

  40. Hi Mark,

    How would you define a racist?

  41. No problem Martin, didn’t skip it intentionally and depending on the context tenacity is a good thing.

    Taking into consideration the information that LB shared it looks to me like as tourism started to fail and international business was introduced and/or between 1958 and present, a percentage of black people moved from the tourism industry into government.

    Now the questions pop up. Did they move to government because the doors in international business were not as welcoming as one would like to think they would have been? Did the doors to gov’t become more welcoming? Was gov’t the better option at the time for black people and why? Did white people move out of gov’t becuase black people moved in?

    The education aspect annoys the breath out of me though. The change in systems in ’98 was my largest problem with the UBP I might add. The education system has been a bit of a roller coaster ride to say the least. you’ve got the closing of the technical education school (for being too successful, WTF?), the introduction of the college, then the scrapping of the old system. I think time and money would have been better used to improve the schools we had than to incorporate a system from another country that had already been deemed ineffective. With the previous system I could definitely see that black people could definitely go far. There was a strong foundation. With this new one I cannot say the same. Why did the UBP give us this crap system? Are the whispered thoughts of some black persons true? that the adoption of this education system was a deliberate and intentional act to sabotage black youth in Bermuda? (extreme thought I know but can you see why the argument has merit?)

    Improving education is most definitely a key factor in improving the present race situation but when you look at the history of it in Bermuda public education keeps getting the short end of the stick and ultimately so do the students.

  42. Just a couple of clarifications on your post, Ms. Morris.

    The UBP is not entirely to blame for the education system, nor the removal of technical education. Both were done at the request of the civil servants responsible, and were viewed as a cost-cutting measure (schools consolidation), and not necessary in our more academic climate (removal of the Tech). The UBP was more clueless than calculating, but deserves a good portion of the blame for not doing their job. Oh, and the system was the Ontario system, which they were phasing out there, but it wasn’t the country (Canada) system by any stretch.

    As for the civil service, the reason it attracted so many “black” people was for the educational and other opportunities that it made available to them. Once it was desegregated, opportunities for Bermudians abounded. IIRC, a great number of the civil service employees were actually English, and not Bermudian, in the early days.

    As someone with a family history of education and integration initiatives, I understand only too well the hurdles one faces with improving the situation. The entrenched stubbornness in the civil servants responsible is far more of a problem than the political scope. They don’t want the responsibility.

  43. Ms Morris – thanks for your thoughts.

    Whilst you haven’t said it specifically, can I presume that the ‘numbers’ in so far as they affect Government, do not suggest institutionalised racism to you?

    Maybe it’s easy to explain? Maybe Govt see it as a ‘responsibility’ to hire black over white, a kind of “we need to take care of our own”?

    Maybe it’s a case of “those who look like me”…for example.

    Maybe blacks working with blacks, works better? Less friction? Easier relationships in a working context?

    I don’t know – just grasping at what could be. Maybe ‘good’ reasons, but discriminatory nonetheless.

    Maybe Govt don’t set out to discriminate, but does so subconsciously? On the other hand, maybe they do set out to discriminate against whites?

    Can you imagine me as a white guy applying for a job in Govt and getting it – when the other applicant is black and all other factors are equal?

    One thing that amazes me, is that the PLP has been in power since 1998. If (within the context of employment) discrimination was/is so pernicious and damaging, why do we not have appropriate legislation to protect people? The UK 1976 Race Relations Act could be a model.

    Maybe it would control the parties too much? Maybe there is no political will, or supportable evidence is not significantly large enough. Maybe (as with gay rights) the numbers affected are small, and as such does not warrant the heavy weight approach of legislating against the problem?

    Here’s a thought. We all accept that it is the ‘right’ thing to employ a Bermudian where one can over other applicants.

    Is that – per se – discriminatory?

  44. To Ms. Morris-

    “Did they move to government because the doors in international business were not as welcoming as one would like to think they would have been? Did the doors to gov’t become more welcoming? Was gov’t the better option at the time for black people and why? Did white people move out of gov’t becuase black people moved in?”

    I think at least a portion of the answers to your questions lies in the different skill sets required by IB, tourism and government, and the base level of education necessary to fill the requirements of a given position in any of them. A hotel has a very broad range of skill and education requirements, from maids and groundskeepers to front desk staff to management. The distribution of jobs for an international reinsurance broker is skewed differently. I would think government positions fall somewhere in between. Looking at racial distribution by number of positions may obscure these differences.

    “Why did the UBP give us this crap system? Are the whispered thoughts of some black persons true? that the adoption of this education system was a deliberate and intentional act to sabotage black youth in Bermuda? (extreme thought I know but can you see why the argument has merit?)”

    It is an extreme thought, and a highly provocative one. And I don’t agree that the argument has merit. It ascribes a level of bias, prejudice and maliciousness that is ugly and repulsive, across a sufficient number of people to facilitate enacting those changes. Is it possible? Certainly. But raising it, even with caveats, but without any kind of support, risks the kind of emotional and angry reactions that are anathema to a reasoned dialogue.

    And while the UBPs actions can now be seen to have weakened the education system, and should be condemned, I would say that, given the time that the PLP has been in power, neither party has covered themselves in glory in this area. And Bermuda has suffered for that. The most critical thing is to quickly and objectively assess what needs to be done and do it.

  45. Davida,

    OK, you’ve got the idea that there was a population flow and social change.

    Fact:- Bermudians – of both colours – moved around in the economy. Between 1985 and 2008, this movement saw government get decidedly ‘blacker’. Another blogger has quoted the stats for 1958 and 2008. The majority of the movement that actually occurred over those fifty years was concentrated in the last fifteen years. That’s when blacks displaced whites to the extent that an 80% white Civil Service became an 80% black Civil Service.

    That’s an historical fact. It is also a racial fact.

    Why did that happen?

    International Business and all its supporting services needs people who are numerate, literate, who can think critically and who, when doing business, are at least as good as a person of equivalent business status in another company in any other part of the world.

    Succinctly – an IB operator working in Bermuda has to be at least as good as any other operator in Ireland, USA, India, you name it….

    Once IB arrived and took off and started hiring people, IB ran into a Bermuda fact. From 1970 onwards, Bermuda’s PUBLIC education system had begun to under-perform and fall behind Bermuda’s private education system. Bermuda’s private education system – which operates at about the ‘average’ level of the UK public education system kept on chugging along doing its average best.

    By 1985, it was clear that the public education system was not doing as well as the private system. The March 2007 Hopkins Report showed that the public system was a failed system. So from the start of the decline (in the 1970’s) to the admission of failure (2007), the public system had been under-performing.

    Go back to that blogger who quoted my figures saying that the public system was 80% black in 1958 and still 80% black in 2008.

    Do the maths. Put the maths into the 1958 to 2008 timeframe. Put both into the education reality. The clear result is that BLACKS were consistently under-educated and under-prepared for a business that was hungry for people who were numerate, literate, critical thinkers.

    Those blacks who managed to extract something from the public system would have found, and did find, that they were at a disadvantage when they competed – in Bermuda – with better educated Indians and Africans and Barbadians and Jamaicans and Englishmen and Canadians and Americans and Australians and Pakistanis and Sri Lankans and….

    Coupled with the above, was that IB was hiring and growing faster than Bermudians were being born. THERE WERE NOT ENOUGH BERMUDIANS. Much less enough ‘educated’ Bermudians.

    Do the maths. Put those facts into the picture.

    What happened to educated Bermudians who were not good enough for IB? They flowed into government and displaced whites.

    My analysis that the educated black Bermudian went into government because he/she could not get into IB represents my conclusion. You may draw a different conclusion. But the unchanging facts are the facts of Education, the Growth of IB, and the displacement of white Bermudians.

    Race is an apparent problem. I do not believe that Race is the core problem.

    When considering Education remember this:- Bermuda’s Public Education System has been black-staffed and black-run by black educators and black administrators and black professionals. I find it hard to believe – or even dream – that black people such as Mansfield Brock and Dr Marion Robinson and Michelle Khaldun spent from 1977 to 2005 deliberately screwing up the public education system at the behest of some mysterious white power. I cannot believe that.

    Race? Look deeper. Let go of the black bear.

    If you want a more clinical look at changes in Bermuda, go to http://www.bec.bm and download the report:- “The Shift”. It’ll give you a good and honest look at what’s underlying much of this discussion. That report is not an ultimate report. It simply looks at something that had never before been looked at and analysed, and, in a sense, ‘The Shift’ goes just below the surface to examine some key facts and factors.

    lb

  46. “What happened to educated Bermudians who were not good enough for IB? They flowed into government and displaced whites”.

    Absolutely. The question is, where did they go to? Were they all sucked into IB? Unemployed?

    Hope that this doesn’t muddy the waters – but give this some thought. It achieves 3 things, as well as upsets the picture as we know it.

    1) We identify on a one-for-one basis, which Govt employees could be transfered from Govt to IB.
    2) We move them across to IB.

    Outcome:

    1) We reduce the number of expats on the island
    2) We reduce the cost of Govt
    3) All Bermudians remain employed.

    Game set and match!

  47. Reading over this thread, something just occurred to me. We have established the fact that “professional” blacks emigrated mostly into governmental positions and the question is why not more into IB. At least, that’s what I’m wondering right now. Could it be, at least one of the myriad reasons, that those blacks working in IB would have to work with foreign educated whites who are asked to come here to do what “we” can’t… and not resent them for that fact. Yeah, I know that is simplifying it quite a bit but working in IB like I do and superimposing that with this near on anger that I’m seeing manifested by quite a few blacks in bermuda nowadays for the white expat (as if they are the only ones), it leads me to think that part of the issue is simply attitude…

  48. Interesting premise there, cousin.

    My personal guess would be the initial push was for the civil service because IB wasn’t here in any real form in the early days, excepting AIG. Also, the civil service was offering those professionals training, while IB expects them to already be trained.

    To piggy-back on your original premise, there is often a sense of superiority in the expat community. I call it the bwana syndrome. I could not possibly count the number of times expats have said to me “Are you really Bermudian? You seem so educated and hard working.” I know that many times the atmosphere is less than welcoming.

  49. Indeed the civil service 50 years ago offers opportunities well beyond any other career in Bermuda 50 years ago, for all kinds of bermudians, whether intellectually inclined or manually inclined. Which really is what a good civil service in any country should strive to do.

    And yeah, I’ve experienced the same with the added black female who happens to talk “proper” thing. But it’s never irritated me It’s just one more way for me to push myself harder.

  50. “You seem so educated and hard working.” I know that many times the atmosphere is less than welcoming”.

    That is very condescending. But, if it helps, it isn’t just white on black.

    I’m a Brit, and I became very tired of Americans suggesting that Brits not only don’t work ‘as hard’ as their US counterparts, but that we were clearly not team players either. Presume this last remark relates to standoffishness (is there such a word?)

    A simple (simplistic) example …”Just look at the holidays you Brits get compared to us”.

  51. Working hard is (at times) a nonsense. Working ‘smart’ is the answer.

  52. Martin, as all prejudices are at their root, this is about ignorance. No one nationality, gender, religion, or ethnicity has a monopoly on that. All are afflicted.

    *restrains self from poking fun at Americans*

    Best to confront ignorance and misinformation at every opportunity. Only then will we progress.

  53. Actually Truth, Mark’s defintion is accurate. What you have defined more accurately defines prejudice because it is about thought and cognitions alone. Racism deals more with actions and behavior.

    I would also take your supposition one step further and postulate that a person who holds prejudiced beliefs gains a bit of power from holding that belief; that is the power gained from feeeling superior. There is definitely a power exchange in racism because within some institutions are designed methods to take away power, (economic, socially or otherwise) from a racial group and of course discrimination because it is the act of taking away power from a racial group.

    Truth, I think Mark makes some excellent points from a POV not often heard. Do you not agree that his points have merit? Do you not feel that Tim Wise makes some very valid observations?

  54. No his definition is not accurate. Racism is a belief system. That’s it. No power needed. You don’t need power to have a belief. The other definitions are quite simply political not one from social science.

    And no, Tim Wise peddles a whole pile of tripe and is in the business of race. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about in the US context, let alone ours.

    And as a final note, the idea that Rolfe doesn’t have much involvement in the Big Conversation because he only introduces and wraps up is mind-boggling naive or disingenuous. He decides the entire content. He hires speakers who push a very specific agenda. It’s his baby.

    The whole thing is him. He doesn’t need to speak or contribute. He’s defined the whole parameters of the event. He knows what will be said because he hired them to say it.

    To suggest otherwise would be to say that a head chef has no involvement in the food cooked in his kitchen because others actually cook it. Sure, but they’re following his recipe and doing it his way.

  55. By the way, I know I’m coming across as quite hard headed on this issue. But that’s because to even debate it’s definition is to play into the hand of those who want to redefine it. The definition of racism is well settled in academia and the social sciences and has been for some time. The effort to both expand what it is and narrow who can do it comes out of North American politics and pseudo-academics like Wise.

  56. A simpler, and more accurate, definition of racism is when someone else’s race matters to you. If race matters, then you’re a racist. It’s that simple.

    It’s all about the content of one’s character, not melanin content. Have we not learned anything in the past 40 years?

    Affixing blame gets us nowhere. Why should anyone feel guilty for something they haven’t done? Why should anyone seek restitution if they don’t know who wronged them?

    Things WERE unfair many years ago. Before any of us posting here were born. However, if you can find people today who are still practicing those same misguided ideals, expose them and shame them.

    The way forward is to give everyone the same access to education. Then it is on the individuals to make something of themselves.

    FWIW, most of the problem here is transference. People look at the huge disparity between blacks and whites in the US, and interpret it for Bermuda. Endless CURE surveys have shown it not to be the case, but that’s forgotten most of the time. And part of the major problem we have with local disparity, is that it’s not local. We import almost all of our skilled managers in IB from Canada, the US, and the UK. Each of those countries is overwhelmingly white, like 85%, so are those expats. But when you break it down to the stats by nationality, you’ll find Bermudians are very equivalent racially.

  57. As soon as you add ‘power’ to the definition you are talking about a completely differing situation. While racism may be the actions or results of racial prejudice, as soon as you imply that ‘power’ is required to qualify, you open a whole new can of worms, that could potentially backfire and cause more problems than it solves. While being a racist in power, or a person with the power to exercise racist behaviour it certainly makes the behaviour more potent, but one certainly does not need to have power to be racist.

    And when you get into a situation such as ours where we have a predominantly black government of a predominantly black population, then you find that definition of racism being further tailored, or it would be moot. It becomes ‘economic power’, or even more bizarre, racist mobs, angry because of their ‘loss of power’. It is a disingenuous definition at best a direct contradiction at worst.

    In order to have a conversation about race you have to keep the definitions as pure and precise as possible. As soon as you start adding adjectives, you run the risk of diluting the meaning and purpose of the discussion.

    I think this is part of the problem, the conversation cannot even make it past the definition stage. Keep the definitions simple, then identify where the problems lie, discuss and work to find solutions. But there are many out there who would gladly cloud the waters to keep the discussion from moving forward, this is what we need to be aware of.

    Hope that makes some sense.

  58. LOL – Just to be pedantic here, the Kiskadees were brought up from Trinidad to take care of the lizards, the Starlings came here as a result of being intentionally released in New York by some deranged Shakespeare fans who wanted to have all the birds mentioned in the Bard’s plays present in the USA.

  59. “Regarding racism “definitions” I’ve very often seen in the dialogue rooms whites having to have all of the terms defined before a discussion can even begin.”

    I’m going to say call Mark out on this, and suggest that it, is a racist statement.

    The statement appears to suggest an inherent difference of those who have white skin and those who do not.

  60. Boy did I opne a can of worms on this one. Lolol. Its ok though I was expecting it.

    AVP, I must admit I was surprised by the words used to describe the point I made about the education system. While I did know that it was extreme understand it was not meant to incite. It was merely my train of thought at the time. It was one of the questions that came up. The reality of the matter is, this is the thinking that we are up against. The beleif that the education received by the majority of black people in Bermuda has been sabotaged or pruposely made inferior is not my original thought. It is what I have heard from black people and I’m sure many will find this suprising but I have heard these thoughts outside of the PLP.

    The fact is there is mistrust between the races. The fact is there are some black folks who truly believe this. A discussion of this kind sheds light on the situation. While you do not believe the argument has merit there are those who do. We will not move forward by denying people their beliefs and not provide the evidence to disprove it. While you may see it as counter productive I see it as an oppourtunity for some dialogue and fresh information. That is what has happened. Please don’t take yourself out of the dialogue becuase ugly things are said. There are beleifs on both sides that need to be worked on. I’m willing to share all levels of info. and I suppose instigate a bit, (though my intentions are noble, I hope you realise) I hope you are willing to do the same.

    Got more to say, but got things to do.

  61. I’ll try not to write a book but basically it has and had to do with economics.

    IB has really not been around that long. We had a few large foriegn investors and money managers that employed a few hundred locals.

    Civil Service jobs provide security. Health, pensions, basic 9-5 stuff. Pick a Government Department and see what they do. The only ones that work outside this area are Customs/Immigration/Police/Marine and Ports. The first two on shifts and not that late at all.

    Plus in IB in reality, theres more too do and lets be fair, in Government jobs at certain times you can ignore, turn a blind eye, punch out and thats that.

    I’m sure that this will be taken out of context but I really don’t care. Half the population or more don’t care. But they will somewhere down the road when the effects really hit home.

  62. Ms. Morris-

    I see now that what I wrote could be read to mean that I assumed it was your thought; that was not my understanding or intent. My reaction was to the sinister and destructive nature of the concept, and the suggestion that there could be such willful handicapping of black youth. I have no doubt at all that there are those who believe it to be true, with or without any evidence proving or disproving it occurred, and expect that it will continue to be believed by some.

    I understand the importance of historical context, and how events in the past shape people’s view of present day events. I don’t trivialize history, but believe there is a critical balance between honoring the past and looking to the future. My concern in this case is that a focus on the past, on assigning blame and re-opening undocumented assertions surrounding events long ago, diminishes the chances for progress and remediation in favor of bitter argument about water that may or may not have flowed over the dam years ago. To me, this assertion is very different from, say, the events leading to the Theatre Boycott Demonstrations or other events that have some tangible (even if not conclusive) basis for belief.

    But consider this- suppose, for argument’s sake, it is entirely true; that years ago, members of the UBP intentionally weakened the public education system to preserve their privilege and position. Has the UBP not already been sufficiently discredited, and removed from any meaningful political power? What more is to be gained from examining this theory, absent new evidence or documentation to support it, especially at the risk that such focus will only strengthen the racial mistrust you have identified? Whether or not it is factual, it remains that the public education system in Bermuda is not providing the tools necessary to its students. And the thought at the end of my comment is what I truly believe- for the future of Bermuda, it makes little difference if the current state of education is a UBP failing (or worse) or a PLP failing. I hope that focus of discussion and energy goes to improving that system, rather than who is at fault for its weakness. I’m guessing that we agree on that.

    And I guess I need to take issue with one other thing: the definition of racism. The discussion in this thread has been very interesting, and I have seen ideas that I have never seen before. I’m troubled, though, by the extended definition that you and others have proposed. By that definition, the group of white men sitting around the barber shop in Nowhereville, Georgia telling jokes about black people and otherwise expresses their dislike for blacks are not racist, since they have no institutional or systemic power. I also fail to understand a definition of racism that on its face seems to assert that, if I have read portions of Tim Wise’s philosophy correctly, only white people can be racists.

    Ms. Morris, you and I disagree on things, and I am respectful of your points of view, as you clearly are of mine. I am educated when I read your posts and thoughts; I am hopeful that some of that education flows the other way, too. We may never come to a complete alignment of our thinking, but we are both better able to understand each others views by expressing and critiquing our ideas in a reasoned dialogue, not at the top of our lungs. I appreciate the opportunity that Bermuda Jewel provides for that discourse to occur, and grateful for the articulate posts that you and others have made.

    To Renaissance Man:

    “*restrains self from poking fun at Americans*”

    Your restraint is much appreciated. 😉

  63. No problem AVP. I could also have poked fun at my fellow Bermudians, but most wouldn’t take that as well as you did.

    But there is an issue with just affixing all the blame for the education debacle to the UBP, and that is because it is incorrect. The education ministry civil servants have always been involved at every bone-headed misstep made. And they are the ones that have perpetuated the problems. The UBP just helped.

    As for Tim Wise, his attempts at making whites self-flagellate in paroxysms of guilt are just way too far gone. And those of us with “blended” families are always left wondering about all the fuss.

    Anyone who choses to treat someone differently based on ethnicity is a racist. Any other definition is crap.

  64. Once again Rolfe has confirmed my suspicions that he is about as useful as the official consultant on race as a wolf is a shepherd.

    I expanded in the other thread, still amazed that this crap goes on in this day and age.

  65. “Education was sabotaged or purposely made inferior…”

    I can see that setting a standard that is lower than one might find outside of Bermuda might be classed as “making education inferior”, but sabotage?

    That’s a kind of big word isn’t it. Is there any evidence of this?

    Where were the trade unions on this at the time or subsequent to the time?

    Where were the voices of the teachers on this?

    Where were the voices of parents?

    Did all this really just happen – silently? Did the entire black population with children at school just say..”Ah well – not to worry”?

    Could we put some substance around this please??

  66. By: J Galt on July 6, 2009 at 11:27 am:

    “Regarding racism “definitions” I’ve very often seen in the dialogue rooms whites having to have all of the terms defined before a discussion can even begin.”

    I’m going to say call Mark out on this, and suggest that it, is a racist statement.

    The statement appears to suggest an inherent difference of those who have white skin and those who do not.

    ——————————————–

    J Galt:

    I don’t consider what I wrote to be racist – it is an observation: that I have seen many times in the rooms whites that feel we must all agree on definitions before we can move forward. There is no inherent difference; there is an actual difference in that I’ve never seen the same stringent requirement on definitions from black folks.

    In reference to the definitions of racism I quoted above, I recognise that there are other, more established, more “academic” definitions of racism. When I define myself as an anti-racist I am saying that I am fighting, within myself and within society, that which I described in my post on racism definitions. I believe that internalised racial superiority exists in whites and that internalised racial oppression exists in blacks. I believe that, without some form of intervention, the white supremacist system in Bermuda is perpetuated. I believe one form of intervention is dialogue within the races and between the races. As part of that dialogue I feel that whites should own up to the history of oppression in this island that benefits most, if not all, whites in this country today. I think whites should apologise for the past and acknowledge that some of the racial discrepancies in current economic and social conditions are the direct result of that history and that some of the disparities result from ongoing structures and practices. I don’t deny that some of the disparities result from issues other than race, but as an antiracist it is the racial aspect of the disparities that I’m interested in understanding and overcoming.

    So often I hear whites talking about blacks playing “the race card” – whites invented the deck!! This whole idea of race was created by whites to provide benefits to those deemed white at the expense of those deemed not. From its inception race has been used as a construct to “scientifically” show supposed superiority of the white race – a justification for the horrors that were being inflicted by whites upon people of colour around the world under the guise of “progress”.

    Although we live in a racialised world, whites are not subject to the “death from a thousand cuts” experienced by blacks who are subject to racism on a daily basis. Sitting in a room and listening to the black experience without having to contradict or explain away individual acts of racism experienced by those speaking is a start.

    Just consider for a moment: what if EVERYTHING that black folks have been saying about racism and inequality in Bermuda was actually true and, for some reason, whites have not been willing or able to see it? What if there was no “race card”, but simply institutional racism and white supremacy? Would you care? I’m sure most of us would. Maybe we can agree, as a start, that the “truth” lies somewhere between two ends of a spectrum (the everything-is-imagined, “race card” scenario vs. the all overarching-racism-and-white supremacy scenario). If the “truth” does lie somewhere between these two poles could we not start a dialogue around how we can (i) come to identify those (sometimes hidden) individual beliefs and opinions and those institutional norms and structures that perpetuate inequalities on the basis of race and then (ii) work to dismantle those beliefs, opinions, norms and structures for the betterment of all?

  67. Mark, those things were true re your last paragraph for both sides many years ago.

    It is not a staple diet today. For some it is and thus we find ourselves here.

    The real world is at your door. Open it and be confronted with reality.

    It’s your choice or are you easily led.

  68. “whites invented the deck!! This whole idea of race was created by whites to provide benefits to those deemed white at the expense of those deemed not. From its inception race has been used as a construct to “scientifically” show supposed superiority of the white race – a justification for the horrors that were being inflicted by whites upon people of colour around the world under the guise of “progress””

    Mark, I am going to have to call shenanigans here, racism, prejudice, discrimination and slavery has been around long before Caucasians were even thought of.

  69. Mark you are writing that, you have observed individiuals, and have chosen to believe there is a difference between the way those with white skin and those with black skin think.

    You don’t think that is racist? Can you explain?

    Do you think the difference in the way individuals with black skin think can hinder them when it comes to education?

  70. J Galt:

    I have not chosen to believe anything that whites think, other than this: during a dialogue about race a white person says something like: “I really think we need to define racism and agree what we’re talking about before we can really discuss this…”. I have seen this from numerous white people. I have chosen to interpret that as whites not wishing to discuss the topic of racism until definitions have been brought forth and agreed upon. I have not heard blacks express a desire to confirm definitions before the conversation can begin – I interpret this to mean that black folks are comfortable with not needing a definition before a discussion can begin.

    I don’t see that as racist, perhaps you can explain why you do?

    Letariatpro:

    Regarding your call of shenanigans, I’m certainly not attempting any trickery, nor seeking to be deceitful or mischievous. I’ll agree that prejudice, discrimination and slavery existed before Blumenbach introduced the classification Caucasian in 1775.

    I assume that discrimination has existed since humans were capable of rational thought. Discrimination in itself is not problematic – I discriminate when I choose an apple over a pear or a bus ride over walking. Prejudice is more problematic in that the implicit belief is often directed toward religion, social class, sex, race, etc. However, even prejudice requires some overarching power structure before systematic oppression can be implemented. Slavery has existed as far back as recorded history. I’m not going to get into a deep discussion of this now, but the chattel slavery perfected by Europeans was horrific and depraved in the dehumanisation of its victims and not comparable in any meaningful way to prior forms of slavery.

    Not sure I’d agree with you about racism existing long before Caucasians were thought of, although the roots of racism were in place. Blumenbach was a student of Linnaeus who, in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae (1758), defined the “four races of man”. “Linnaeus describes Homo Americanus as reddish, choleric, obstinate, contented and regulated by custom; Homo Europeaeus as white, fickle, sanguine, blue-eyed, gentle and governed by laws; Homo Asiaticus as sallow, grave, dignified, avaricious and ruled by opinion; and Homo Afer as black, phlegmatic, cunning, lazy, lustful, careless and governed by caprice.” (J.S. Haller – Outcasts from Evolution, 1971).

    These were leading scientists of the day, indeed Linnaeus is still referred to as the Father of Taxonomy. These pioneers of scientific racism laid the groundwork for the resurgence in popularity of physignomy and the development of phrenology. Again, these “sciences” were used to “prove” the implicit inferiority of people of colour. This is the foundation upon which racism and white supremacy are built.

    For anyone interested in reading more about these matters (and other forms of stereotyping and oppression) I would highly recommend “Typecasting” by Ewen & Ewen.

  71. Mark,

    I see what you have said as racist because you are chosing to group individuals by race, and you believe that the race of an individual determines the way they think.

    Wondering if you could answer my other question thanks.

    Do you think the difference in the way individuals with black skin think can hinder them when it comes to education?

  72. To Mark:

    “I have chosen to interpret that as whites not wishing to discuss the topic of racism until definitions have been brought forth and agreed upon. … I interpret this to mean that black folks are comfortable with not needing a definition before a discussion can begin.

    I don’t see that as racist, perhaps you can explain why you do?”

    You’ve taken the behavior of a group of white people, and generalized it to apply to all white people. You’ve done the same for black people.

    I watched a professional basketball game last night. Most of the players on both teams were people of color. I interpret what I observed to mean that all black people are at least 6’10” tall and can shoot jump shots.

    Make sense? Brush seem a bit broad? Should I apply the attributes of the group of people that I watched to all of the people in that racial group?

  73. Yes indeed – I have obviously misspoken here. What I meant (and what I should have expressed more clearly) is that I ascribed the requirement for agreed-upon definitions prior to discussion to those specific whites that raised the concern of definitions. I don’t believe that all whites in the room required any agreed upon terminology. I also stated my belief that because no blacks had publicly expressed the need to clarify definitions that they (blacks as a group) were comfortable proceeding in the discussion in the absence of agreed-upon terminology. This was a broad generalisation and an assumption on my part.

    I interpreted whites’ explicit behaviour on an individual basis but then interpreted a lack of behaviour from the black folks in the room on a group basis. Ultimately this was done on the basis of race and for that I apologise. Thanks to both AVP and JG for pointing it out to me.

    Whether I would refer to it as racist, I’m not sure but it does display a differential interpretation, which was based on race. It certainly wasn’t my intent to be offensive but I can appreciate that the impact may have been offensive to some and am sorry if that was the case. As a developing antiracist I am not (and never will be) immune to the 35 plus years of social conditioning of white supremacy. I have made such slips before and, thankfully, I now have authentic friendships with people of colour who will call me on this when it happens.

    J Galt: regarding your question “Do you think the difference in the way individuals with black skin think can hinder them when it comes to education?”, sorry I didn’t address this earlier. It was close to 1 a.m. and I was looking to get to bed.

    I’m not sure what you mean about differences in the way individuals with black skin think. Perhaps this question is more based on my misstep and misspeaking that I tried to clear up above? I’m not sure that blacks and whites necessarily think differently per se but I do believe that our perception is shaped by our experiences and that this impacts on education.

    I’m somewhat out of my depth on this topic but I’m aware of research showing that blacks and whites may learn differently. Certainly there has been a fair bit of research on stereotype threat. Quoting from Wikipedia: “Stereotype threat is a type of confirmation bias, and can be either positive or negative. A typical example of stereotype threat manifests when a categorical group is told or shown that their group’s performance is worse than other groups before giving them a test; the test results are often abnormally lower than for control groups. For example, on a mathematics test, if you remind a group of girls that boys tend to do better on this type of test, it is likely that the girls will do more poorly on the test than they would have had they not been told.”

    As regards race and stereotype threat:

    “During the 1960’s, psychologist Irwin Katz suggested that stereotypes could influence performance on IQ tests. Katz found that Blacks were able to score better on an IQ subtest, if the test was presented as a test of eye-hand coordination. Blacks also scored higher on an IQ test when they believed the test would be compared to that of other blacks.[2] Katz concluded that his subjects were thoroughly aware of the judgment of intellectual inferiority held by many white Americans. With little expectation of overruling this judgment, their motivation was low, and so were their scores.[3]

    The phenomenon was later examined by the social psychologists Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson, who articulated the mechanism of “stereotype threat” that contributes to test performance of minority groups. In one such study, Steele and Aronson (1995) administered the Graduate Record Examination to European American and African American students. Half of each group was told that their intelligence was being measured, while the other half didn’t know what the test was measuring. The European American students performed almost equally in the two conditions of the experiment. African Americans, in contrast, performed far worse than they otherwise would have when they were told their intelligence was being measured. The researchers concluded this was because stereotype threat made the students anxious about confirming the stereotype regarding African American IQ. The researchers found that the difference was even more noticeable when race was emphasized.”

    I do have a couple of books in my library yet to read that appear to cover this subject quite well. For anyone interested, you might wish to check out “Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Achievement Among African American Students” by Perry, Steele & Hilliard and “Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys” by Jawanza Kunjufu. Dr. Kunjufu was a keynote speaker at last year’s White Privilege Conference and I found his ideas on improving the educational experience and outcomes for blacks (particularly boys in his presentation) promising.

  74. “I’m somewhat out of my depth on this topic but I’m aware of research showing that blacks and whites may learn differently”

    Is this not likely the result of social factors vs. race?

  75. remember:

    race is nothing but a social factor. evaluate it accordingly,

  76. remember:

    Race is nothing but a social factor.

    It;s one of the ways societies determine how people should be treated. Like gender, like age, like economic status. Just as powerful, just as silent, just as deadly, just as irrational.

    Evaluate race properly, like the undeniable social factor it is, and Mark’s perspective immediately makes way more sense. Actually, do that and BDA will make way more sense.

  77. Does it ever worry you, that here we are talking about (amongst other things) education, and how key that is to getting a job and advancement thereafter etc – yet we assume without question, that Bermudians (Black or White) want to (a) work, and (b) want to work in IB.

    How many times have we seen the remark from IB along the lines….”We would love Bermudians to apply and be employed, but they don’t”.

    Maybe they don’t join – because they don’t want to. Is it not unreasonable, therefore, that the numbers which earlier on we were hanging onto as a key indicator of failure – are skewed? Of course, there are disparities.

    Just a thought!

  78. “…Ultimately this was done on the basis of race…Whether I would refer to it as racist, I’m not sure”

    This is why I think it is very important for us to define Racism and Racist. Maybe another thread could be set up so readers can share their thoughts.

  79. Hi Kindred,

    I’m a bit confused,

    I read your post and you seem to suggest it is irrational to determine how people should be treated based on race, then appear to be asking us to “Evaluate race properly” as a social factor which I take to mean I should take race into consideration when dealing with an individual is that correct?

    Can you clarify for me.

  80. Its irrational for peoples potential and experiences to be summed up by these arbitrary markers. Race, gender, sexuality, etc.

    However it happens every day and in doing so shapes how our society treats everyone.

    Admitting its irrational doesnt mean that it doesnt happen. What is more irrational is to suggest that because its nonsense it doesn’t actually affect anyone.

    You shouldnt take race into consideration in terms of how you value any individual. However you should always take race into consideration like any other socialising marker when talking about macro issues since it as many as any other factor affects these issues.

    More important than that, on an individual level, in accepting race matters, you should work until you succeed at understanding how race has affected the people you interact with. It takes empathy, commitment and objectivity but thats the only way to get any resolution.

    If a woman tells you something is sexist, believe that she’s telling the truth and in turn take it in(not on) to understand her world view better.
    If a gay person tells you something is offensively hetero-normative, see above.
    If a black person tells you something is racist, see above.

    It doesnt mean you should always agree with the sentiments presented. But if youre truly interested in having honest and meaningful relationships you have to try to understand. Otherwise youre dismissing their legitimate reality and experiences. Which is just as immoral as assessing value based on skin colour.

  81. It is sad when you have to have job application forms filled out by the applicant in front of you to ensure they can read and write. Some taking 30mins to fill out a o few questions on the form, including the name.

    It is sadder to have an applicant tell the interviewer directly, ” I don’t wanna work, but I need to get paid.” While I admire his honesty, it says something about the culture we are fostering.

  82. ‘If a black person tells you something is racist, see above.’

    Yet, when a white person says something is offensive towards them, it is defended and rationalised away, even turned against the complainant.

    If you are going to call for honesty and clarity, call it from both sides of the fence.

    There is a double standard developing and it is being nurtured for selfish purposes.

    Until that is curbed and politics removed from any race debate, this conversation is going nowhere.

  83. “Admitting its irrational doesnt mean that it doesnt happen. What is more irrational is to suggest that because its nonsense it doesn’t actually affect anyone.”

    I think you missed my point, as I have stated before Racism is irrational, I am not suggesting that an individual or a group of individuals irrational actions can not have an effect on another individual.

    “You shouldnt take race into consideration in terms of how you value any individual. ”

    I think it is safe to say we agree so far.

    “However you should always take race into consideration like any other socialising marker when talking about macro issues since it as many as any other factor affects these issues.”

    Here you are losing me, can you explain what you mean by macro issues and maybe give an example or two of how race should be taken into consideration.

    Thanks for your time.

  84. “Yet, when a white person says something is offensive towards them, it is defended and rationalised away, even turned against the complainant.

    If you are going to call for honesty and clarity, call it from both sides of the fence.”

    You are right. However, a black person calling a white person racist without effective qualification is not inherently a racist statement. It’s unfair, maybe even purposely so but not racist.

    White people suggesting that a collection of black people are apathetic, ignorant, corrupt, immoral, etc. without effectice qualification is far more likely to have some basis in racism. Its not guaranteed of course. But the possibilitys a lot more strong, and questions to that effect should be handled without all the self-righteous rancour and kneejerk defensiveness.

  85. “Here you are losing me, can you explain what you mean by macro issues and maybe give an example or two of how race should be taken into consideration.”

    Women are underpaid as a matter of general principle across the world. Not because individual male employers intentionally value female employees less than their male counterparts and adjust their compensations accordingly. But because of the social expectations and denial of opportunity that women have always had to work through in patriarchal societies.

    So, the macro issue is gender affecting pay, which means that individual women’s complaints to men about this problem shouldn’t be denied or ignored or dismissed by the “accidental” beneficiaries of the inequality even.

    Swop out men and women for blacks and whites and it is the same situation.

  86. An interesting read I found…

    Modern humans – all of us – emerged in Africa about 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. Bands of humans began migrating out of Africa only about 70,000 years ago. As we spread across the globe, populations continually bumped into one another and mixed their mates and genes.

    So what about the obvious physical differences we see between people? A closer look helps us understand patterns of human variation.

    If we walked from the equator to northern Europe, we see that visual characteristics vary gradually and continuously from one population to the next. There are no boundaries, so how can we draw a line between where one race ends and another begins?

    We also learn that most traits – whether skin color, hair texture or blood group – are influenced by separate genes and thus inherited independently one from the other. Having one trait does not necessarily imply the existence of others.

    We also learn that many of our visual characteristics, like different skin colors, appear to have evolved recently, after we left Africa, but the traits we care about – intelligence, musical ability, physical aptitude – are much older, and thus common to all populations. Geneticists have discovered that 85% of all genetic variants can be found within any local population, regardless of whether they’re Poles, Hmong or Fulani.

    Skin color really is only skin deep. Beneath the skin, we are one of the most similar of all species. Certainly a few gene forms are more common in some populations than others, such as those controlling skin color.

    We have a long history of searching for innate differences to explain disparities in group outcomes – not just for inherited diseases, but also SAT scores and athletic performance. In contrast to today’s myth of innate Black athletic superiority, a hundred years ago many whites felt that Black people were inherently sickly and destined to die out. That’s because disease and mortality rates were high among African Americans. The cause was poverty, poor sanitation, and Jim Crow segregation, but it was easier for most people to believe it was a result of “natural” infirmity, a view popularized by influential statistician Frederick Hoffman in his 1896 study, Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro.

    `Racial beliefs have always been tied to social ideas and policy. After all, if differences between groups are natural, then nothing can or should be done to correct for unequal outcomes. Scientific literature of the late 19th and early 20th century explicitly championed such a view, and many prominent scientists devoted countless hours to documenting racial differences and promoting man’s natural hierarchy.

    Although today such ideas are outmoded, it is still popular to believe in innate racial traits rather than look elsewhere to explain group differences. We all know the myths and stereotypes – natural Black athletic superiority, musical ability among Asians – but are they really true on a biological level? If not, why do we continue to believe them? Race may not be biological, but it is still a powerful social idea with real consequences for people’s lives”.

    If we remove the conditioning and the perceptions of old, what have we got. Are we mailgning our own ancestors?

    Interesting!

  87. Read the same article in National Geographic.

    Amazing. Were still moving and wondering but in the wrong direction. Mankind with never learn with regards to past journeys and accomplishments.

    Sad.

  88. Hi Martin, I think its important to note again that race as a biological category is indeed a discredited notion. However, for various historical reasons, it remains a valid social construct. Its like class, it exists, its a social creation.

    Certain social groups today, as a direct result of past historical injustices, are still affected in a system where the legacy of these injustices have not been corrected.

  89. Indeed…

    I was also struck with the succinct and almost simple way this guy had laid it out.

    We all sometimes fall over words we use – so it was good to come across it.

  90. In the light of earlier comments here, I thought this was interesting.
    —————————————————–

    http://www.theroyalgazette.com/siftology.royalgazette/Article/article.jsp?articleId=7d974be30030000&sectionId=60

    The Bermudian work ethic will be the next thing tackled by the Ministry of Labour.

    Senator David Burch, the Minister of Labour, told a press conference today that his ministry would be looking to “upgrade the work ethic” because he has heard of several instances of “unacceptable behaviour”.

    “Some don’t think it’s necessary to go to work every day,” he said. “Some don’t think it’s necessary for their boss to tell them what to do.

    “One employer wrote me a four-page letter on issues she has had, including one of my perennial complaints about Bermudians, the widespread acceptance of the smoking of marijuana.”

    “The woman told me an employee was most put-out when told lighting up a spliff in her van was not on.”

    The Minister said he would be speaking more on his plans and the initiative in next week’s session of the Senate. For more on the Minister’s plans and upcoming presentation on the Employment Act read tomorrow’s edition of The Royal Gazette.

    —————————————————

  91. Kindred thank you for the example. Bear with me here.

    Are all the employers male or are there female employers who are guilty of adjusting the compensation?

    You say that the individual woman’s complaint is addressed to men. Why is that?

    And what in your example would the woman’s complaint be?

    Again thanks for taking the time to explain your point of view.


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