Posted by: J Starling | July 7, 2009

Moving the Big Conversation Along?

Ms. Morris started quite a discussion with her post on ‘The Consequences of Looking Away’ concerning race issues in Bermuda. One of the issues that came up in that post were the problems concerning the ‘Big Conversation’ – the Bermuda Race & Reconciliation Initiative.

Alot of comments on that thread criticised the fact that it was initiated by Dr. Brown and formally run by Rolfe Commissiong, basically arguing that these two individuals have no particular interest in actually healing the racial wounds, or if they do are likely to make the wounds worse than anything else.

While there are arguments to be made on both sides (Mr. Commissiong is merely the coordinator and not actually actively involved in the discussion versus Mr. Commissiong’s past causes people to prejudge the events straight away, and so on), I have been curious to know what exactly people would put in there place. In other words, how should the Big Conversation unfold?

I’ve intended quite a few of the BRRI events, and while I do question some aspects of them – in particular how they have increasingly become stage-managed academic affairs and not participatory grassroots discussion, and how talk is fine but we also need some action – for the most part I think they are better than nothing. For one thing, its certainly stimulated a lot of discussion on the race issue, one way or another.

I suggested on the Consequences of Looking Away thread that it would be good for workplaces to set aside a morning, say, once a quarter, and ask CURE to send people to both present on their current stats and also to facilitate discussion on this issue. From there it would be good to see the some semi-structured lunchtime discussions self-organise over the next period. Perhaps even a ‘race-committee’ could be elected to help coordinate such things.

Sure, this is just some more talk. I do think that its important to have such discussions though, to help raise consciousness and clarify thinking about what to do about the problems. There is no reason why such groups cannot go beyond discussing what the problem is towards discussing ways to fix the problem.

This same approach to race can also be applied to the problems of violence, drugs, sustainable development and womens issues (sexism, sexual violence, etc.). Various organised groups, like the police, the women’s resource commission and so on, could all be invited to help get the ball rolling discussion wise by presenting some stats on the issue and even their thoughts on how to best go about resolving things.

I can understand managers being reluctant to support these initiatives, mainly due to its impact on work productivity during the meetings, but also out of a fear of racialising office politics. However, I reckon most managers will also recognise that office politics already have racial overtones, and helping articulate and focus the issues, while risking some initial problems, is more likely in the long-term to actually improve trust and understanding, and in so doing, improve work productivity. Also, the ongoing racial (and other) issues in Bermuda are a continual threat to the profitability of doing business in Bermuda, and the sooner we can start resolving this issues – even a little – the better it is for everyone, including the businesses.

So, how do we go about getting this started? Well, that’s up to the individual to organise it in their respective workplaces. Just do it. Start discussing the idea amongst your co-workers, and from there propose it formally – maybe contact CURE first to get some idea of how best to facilitate it. Or if you want to work on womens issues, or gang violence or whatever, just do it and contact the respective organisation for help. And if there is no relevant organisation, build it. You’ll get support, and, while it may mean some heavy lifting at first, pretty soon you’ll find you’ve got others there willing to help move it forward.


Responses

  1. I think most people resent having the issue force-fed to them. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. To be truthful the answer lies in education from the ground level (kids). Education is a path to a brighter future. Unfortunately you can’t teach those who don’t want to learn anything. Kids are like sponges…. teach them Black Bermudian history in our schools, teach them the horrors of the past and how to overcome them. Hopefully they can take a few tricks home for the parents and grandparents.

    Also, by doing this in the workplace how does that change what people do outside the job? Will they continue to gather in their social systems or will they seek out less “comfortable” surroundings?

    The conversation should always be left open, offer opportunites in education, and personal development. Give people a chance to explore (free at the college maybe?) diversity training, race relations and community support.

  2. Jonathan,

    Let me steal a little bit from an earlier post of yours:

    “Our older generations are too deformed to do this properly, at least not without a huge risk of inflaming the situation”.

    Yes – I think you are right. We all know that some issues become easier to solve as one generation goes and another comes along.

    My question is, looking at this comment within the context of Moving the Conversation Along…are you suggesting that we can actually achieve little with the current generation (political and otherwise), but need to sow the seeds for the next?

  3. Interesting response sparxx. In response to your first paragraph I could say the following:

    The answer lies in education from the top level (adults). Education is a path to a brighter future. Unfortunately you can’t teach those who don’t want to learn anything. Adults are set in their ways and beliefs…., BUT try teaching them the untold or glossed-over Bermudian history, try teaching them the horrors of the past and how, without effort, the lingering effects will not be overcome. Hopefully they can take this knowledge back to their families, friends, jobs, churches, clubs and work to make Bermuda a more equitable place for their children and grandchildren.

    Perhaps we could try both approaches….

  4. I would have to agree that education is key. Education is the only way to defeat prejudice and although it is a very long term process the sooner it starts the better. Simply creating a public school system that is up to standards is the first step.

    However on the other hand I wonder about whether a “Black Bermudian history” heavy education is the best approach. Does focusing on the oppression of Black Bermudians in the past help? Or hinder? Does it simply exhaserbate the racism by promoting a “Turnabout is fair play” state of mind? Perhaps it seems an outlandish claim but, I’ve come across it before. I suggest a balanced education showing the horrors of discrimination Everywhere, not just Bermuda. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Russian Serfs heck even Uighers. An understanding that discrimination hurts everyone, an understanding that the crimes of the past should never be repeated. It is in this way that people can overcome prejudice. Then discussion can be more than what our forefathers did or didn’t do to eachother. It can become a discussion about the real nature of racism itself and an acceptance that it’s the mind that matters, the soul, not the pigmintation of your skin.

  5. Agreed, nothing will work until we are churning out well-educated, free thinking individuals.

    Black history should certainly be taught to all students as it is an integral part of this island, but it should be in the “History’ syllabus. It should be approached as a key part of history. We may need to have a specific history syllabus written if there is not one that encompasses as thorough account of all history. More needs to be taught here about the Middle East, Africa, the Orient, as well as European and American history. Bermudian history needs to be worked in to the whole syllabus, how we have impacted the world and how the changes impact us.

    You cannot move forward without knowing where you have been.

    As an aside, I found I learned more about the world and different cultures through the study of art. This would be a fantastic way to illustrate the different eras, cultures, dynasties and religions as you can tell so much about a people and their history by the art they produce, and all people produce art. Which in itself is amazing.

  6. The “big” conversation is going to go now where fast when the leaders of our country openly use racism to better their position in the world. They are simply operating at a base level and appealing to people’s raw emotions.

    There is no conservative or labor choice in Bermuda; it simply a case of who can make the most emotive statements that will generate votes.

    Lets say the UBP does disband and a new party rises from the ashes. Who will this party be made up of? Is there army of untainted politicians waiting in the wings that show Bermuda the error of her ways over the last 10 years? I think not.

    If I wrong tell me know and where to sign up!

  7. Of course that should be “If I am wrong tell me who and where to sign up”

  8. There probably isn’t an army of untainted politicains out there – you’re right. But, I don’t think that that is any different a position to that which the PLP faced in 1998. After 35 years in the wilderness, they had to learn to manage.

    They even admitted during that first term, that the learning curve had been steep.

    Others will and can learn.

  9. Just to add……

    The Civil Service run the country (or at least that’s the basic hypothesis) – Government should concern itself with policy.

    New MP’s shouldn’t be too concerned, therefore, about the lack of experience. A good mind, clarity of thought and sincerity to serve for the good of all, should suffice.

  10. I am not one for doing Ltothe Ed, so using this platform to say my bit.

    In the spirit of trying to move forward – a challenge to the Government of Bermuda:

    Instead of the Big Conversation, why not do something practical for a change. Racism must present itself in different ways. Why not identify those, and then clean up the areas of racist practices which you must obviously believe clearly exist in our society. Between all of you MP’s, you must have a 1001 examples of processes and practices that disadvantage blacks, and that you have gleaned over the years.

    Some no doubt will be practices of old that have now disappeared.

    But, since you appear to collectively consider that whites are still racists, then there must be others that exist today.

    Whether it’s Senators, radio DJ’s, Alvin and Calvin and/or Laverne, you all tell us continually and continuously that we are all racists. Ok, so take your evidence that that is the case, and then make the necessary corrections.
    If you are unable to come up with a prioritized listing, I am sure many in the population can assist. Let’s create a level playing field as best we can.

    The changes that you would bring about would be visible, quantifiable and give a clear indication to society that life is getting better. With careful prioritization, you could bring relief to far more than the number who attended the Big Conversation.

  11. Talking about race reminds me of dogs barking. Just a lot of noise. Government is wasting money on the talkers instead of setting up free homeless shelters for blacks. Salvation Army kicks out blacks and gives their bed to indians. Useless corrupt and dumb.

  12. I want to comment on the tendency to exaggerate on the subject of race. Those people who have been named as ones who have labeled white people as racists is one of those exaggerations. This tendency has the effect of doing exactly what these so-labeled people are accused of. It fuels negative responses and helps to deepen the divide. There are certain words that some people over-react to. One is the word “race” in it various forms. Know that the characteristics we dislike most in others we have sometimes to a greater extent in ourselves.
    Having a Big Conversation is practical. It has not always been “comfortable” but it has been useful to those who have cared enough to attend the forums and have participated constructively in the dialogues and as a consequence know how to bring the awareness into everyday life. It is practical and positive that we are talking about this openly for the first time. Is it not? It may have produced some expressions that are hard to hear, nevertheless, there are many positives if we care to look for them.

  13. Frances…

    In fairness we were warned it would not be comfortable, so that is not an issue.

    There will be some for whom it was clearly an eye-opener, and that’s fine too, as I have no problems with that whatsoever.

    As for practical – maybe there is something I am missing here. Where does Rolph et al, think this conversation is going to end up? Does it have a quantifiable objective?

    Let me suggest to you, that there might be good reason for a white-based Big C. Maybe then, and only then, black people can actually start to understand whites. Maybe then, they can see that not every white is a racist or indeed a discrimnator.

    Maybe then – and this is key for me – blacks will stop lumping all whites together as an evil group – IN PARTICULAR – the as yet unborn white child.

    The perpetuation of history is a killer for all. I am tired of seeing people burning up with hatred, based on a history into which they were born.

    It’s as stupid and as naive as suggesting the English should hate Italians because the Romans used Brits as slaves.

    It’s killing society, just in case you hadn’t noticed, and Brown and Co are using it to achieve that end.

  14. Let me address this statement to illustrate a point I was trying to make. First of all let’s depersonalize it. I’m not so interested in whose words these are.

    “Let me suggest to you, that there might be good reason for a white-based Big C. Maybe then, and only then, black people can actually start to understand whites. Maybe then, they can see that not every white is a racist or indeed a discrimnator.”

    Firstly, there have been all-white sessions whereby whites had the opportunity and still do to have a conversation in a non-intimidating environment.

    I think Blacks understand whites more than Whites realize. Blacks have been keenly studying Whites for a very long time because they have had to but the reverse has not been so. The majority of the people who are serious about this subject do not see all whites as racists. This is what I mean about over-reaction or over-stating.
    When people make general statements it is important not to take it personally unless of course it is directed toward you personally. Even then, if you react it means that there is something triggered that is already there inside you. If something is there then the responsibility lies with the individual to make some corrections rather than to point the finger at a person who has made a statement however incorrect. If a person is not guilty of a thing then why the reaction?
    If you want to know where Rolf wants to go with this you need to ask him directly. Ultimately, from my point of view we must all have the same opportunity in this world to reach our full potential. Whatever is standing in the way has to be removed, hopefully by peaceful means. Each one of us must ask ourselves what role we are playing that prevents that from happening.I think that both Blacks an Whites need some assistance in sorting through stuff in order to undo or heal the ways in which all of us have been damaged.
    You may suggest to Rolf that you have this need if indeed you do. Alternatively, you may speak to or write to Cordell Riley who you may find more approachable. I reiterate that we have all been damaged by racism. It is a question of finding out how, and correcting/healing it. It takes a lot of work and commitment.

  15. “Even then, if you react it means that there is something triggered that is already there inside you. If something is there then the responsibility lies with the individual to make some corrections rather than to point the finger at a person who has made a statement however incorrect. If a person is not guilty of a thing then why the reaction?”

    Frances-

    I’m not sure I understand what you are saying here, and would appreciate clarification.

    If someone says, “You are dishonest” to me, I will react strongly, since I feel that honesty is an important character trait. You seem to be saying that I have some responsibility for self-examination and making corrections. I don’t understand what you mean by “corrections”, nor your closing question as to guilt and the basis of my reaction.

    Can you help?

  16. We all have this problem of reacting even when we know what is said is not true of us, or mostly untrue. Have you heard of the saying “Truth needs no defense”? When we react we are in some way confirming that there is something in the accusation that is true. In your example if someone says, “You are dishonest”. You wrote that you would react strongly. Why? Even though you may value honesty, are you honest 100% of the time? Probably not. When we react, there is some inner response. Whether it is an indignant feeling, anger, defensiveness, etc. these feelings are triggered because what we hold to be true about ourselves is being challenged. But the feelings belong to us and not the person whose words have triggered them. So by bringing consciousness to that moment (instead of defending our honesty or reacting) it allows greater awareness and more honesty with ourselves about what is really behind the feelings. By locating and claiming the parts we are responsible for, the tension or need to defend is diminished. We are now in a position to admit to ourselves what we were not previously aware of and this new knowledge can lead to making a change in oneself.
    Oneself is the best place to do changing.

  17. Frances-

    Something to think about.

    Many thanks.

  18. “Maybe then, and only then, black people can actually start to understand whites.”

    “blacks will stop lumping all whites together as an evil group ”

    “I think Blacks understand whites more than Whites realize. Blacks have been keenly studying Whites for a very long time because they have had to but the reverse has not been so.”

    These are all racist statements

  19. J Galt can you explain why you feel these statements are racist? I think it would help dialogue if you did.

  20. Ms Morris…

    I think what J Galt is really saying is that as I am responsible for two of thse staements, then it is me that is a racist.

    My frustrations with the debate continue. Time for me to move on I think.

  21. Martin,

    I am not calling you a racist.

  22. Good bye Mr Galt. Enjoy your life.

  23. Each statement groups individuals. The grouping is not based on individual merit, or achivement but on the colour of the individual’s skin.

    Each one implys that an individual’s understanding or way of thinking is determined by thier race.

    That is racist.

  24. Please do not get frustrated. Why not present your argument or offer a rebuttal as to why you think I am wrong to call those statements racist?

  25. “Good bye Mr Galt”……

    One giant step for man. One small step for mankind…..

    I need a double…

  26. Oh, as for moving the big conversation along…..

    La ilaha illalla………

  27. Labeling people in this conversation is not useful.
    When a person labels another he/she closes the possibility in his/her own mind for that person to be anything else. Reacting to it fuels the accusation and the accuser.

  28. Frances

    I don’t believe I labeled anyone, I did label the statements. I stand by my belief that the statements where racist. Of course if you disagree please give me your reasons I am open and welcome to your thoughts and ideas.

    Perhaps I don’t understand what you meant? For instance you say that “When a person labels another he/she closes the possibility in his/her own mind for that person to be anything else” are you not labeling people as black and white in your statement? ( “I think Blacks understand whites more than Whites…”)

  29. I had not read the whole exchange between you and Martin but you later described or labeled statements I had written as racist. It appears that you have a very different understanding of what is racist than I do. So before this conversation goes any further you may want to define racist for us otherwise we will be talking about apples and oranges to no avail.

  30. Therein lies the problem with this conversation, inevitably you have people speaking from their perspective and everyone’s perspectives and experiences are different. It will always be apples to oranges.

    You can get together in little rooms, big auditoriums and talk about race till you are blue in the face, it does not make a lick of difference to those on the streets or in the back woods, in their living rooms or in the boardrooms who just want to get on with their lives for better or for worse.

    It is idealistic and naive to think that anything other than time and education can make a significant difference. People need to stop teaching their children racism, and this goes both ways. It is far easier to stop it at the youth level than try to ‘discuss’ it away at the adult level. No amount of discussion will correct or eliminate the wrongs of the past. It must be tackled from day one and it will no longer be a problem when those children reach the boardrooms.

    Time and patience. All you can do is check yourself in the mean time.

    I hate to be a pessimist, perhaps it is just recent events getting me down, sorry.

  31. Right that would be great, however, this Government is the leader in putting the colour of one’s skin in our face every day.
    The kid’s are watching and what are they learning to hate each other because of skin colour.
    So the cycle will start again.
    Great going Government you are supposed to be the leader’s who set an example for the youth. Wow you are doing a great job, Not!!
    When are they going to wake up. You are poisoning our society with this filth. The colour of ones skin makes no difference as in God’s eyes we are all human beings, flesh and blood.
    It is now proven that the core of the PLP do support this divisiveness as shown last night as they supported this line following the leader.
    A sad day for the human race.

  32. From another thread.

    “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?.

    How would you define racism?

  33. Gadt, I will not provide a definition because I don’t think you would agree with it based on your interpretation of the definition you provided. We would simply have more back and forth. I think it would be more productive for you to do some more research from a number of creditable sources on what racism is. May I add that a definition is only the start. To really understand it one has to do a lot of reading and honest self-examination. It is more important to examine one’s own belief system than
    someone else’s.

  34. Frances-

    Perhaps you could identify two or three of those creditable sources? It would be unfortunate to lose the benefit of dialogue simply because terms couldn’t be defined.

  35. Look, this pussy-footing around the issue of definition is nonsensical. There are no credible sources, it’s all open to personal interpretation. Just because someone’s view might be parallel to yours doesn’t make them any more credible than another.

    If you treat people differently based on their ethnicities, then you’re a racist.

    Case closed.

  36. As a man of science (likely familiar with the weight of ducks), I would expect that you value dialogue and the exchange of ideas, whether there is consensus or not.

    The definition you’ve posited is a conventional one; Frances seems to believe that there are others that are more fitting. I for one would be interested to learn what those are; I’m not sure you (or I) would agree with them, but articulating them keeps the dialogue open, and with that, the possibility of learning and understanding.

  37. Sciences fosters the exchange of ideas, but these must be presented with facts and not opinions. Opinions aren’t worth anything

    Consensus is a non-issue, it’s about what can be demonstrably proven.

    The problem is that anyone who actually believes in the concept of race has their own definitions of what a racist is. No-one will admit to being a racist because of the negative connotation. But, if someone says, “I’m not a racist, but I don’t like those people,” then they are racist. All the additional equivocation about the definition is just excess verbiage.

    FWIW, I’m prejudiced against two kinds of people, the unethical and the willfully ignorant. There’s no ethnicity associated with either of those.

  38. The thing with trying to pin down a definitive definition on racism is that it’s in and of itself a concept that may (or may not) lead to consequences – whether physical, verbal or mental. For lack of a better phrase, in almost all cases, it’s a feeling that can manifest. Racism is not the cause of the pain, hurt et al… it’s the discrimination that occurs as a result of this concept or feeling that is the issue. But that’s just my opinion. this doesn’t mean we cannot discuss it like adults, it simply means that you have to accept that the way you see something may not correspond to some others and judge your responses accordingly.

    Labelling people by their colour is not the issue (again to me). I love being the colour I am and I love that my cuz above, of the science bent, is a different colour. I tell my daughter all the time that she’s my “lil white girl”. The issue is attributing to a particular label certain criteria based purely on your own opinion. It’s treating people differently because of the labels. Like in the case of my daughter, she is curious as to why she is a different colour from mommy, and mommy makes damn sure that she glorifies in that. Your skin colour is simply that, like your hair texture or your gait… existentialism at its best. These things help explain her but never define her. Case in point, (RIP) MJ went from being black-skinned to white-skinned in his lifetime, it didn’t make him any less MJ, did it? Or indeed, any less of the black “race”?

    But this would all be moot if people simply treated others as they wish to be treated. Succinct and basic.

  39. Right back at you, cousin!

    Life’s too short for the various hang-ups that people have.

  40. It is quite likely that there is no definition today that all will agree on. The meaning has evolved and the word is applied in ways that was not used in the past. It is now being used to include different ethnicities and even religious difference but originally it was a term coined in relation to the system that defined and treated Blacks as inferiors which justified treating them as chattel and therefore as a property asset to be sold, used , bought at will.
    In other words racism contained within it more than a skin issue, it had an economic power component.

    Renaissance Man, I agree that the concept of race has no scientific basis but unfortunately at some point in history some people made it so and the world bought into it especially those that benefited. We have the task now of undoing the damage that resulted. We cannot undo what was done before but we can do something about the residue that still exists today.
    The residue is substantial.

  41. Mrs. Eddy,

    No-one is denying that atrocities occurred driven by the concept of race. The same thing happened in Spain and Portugal for 700 years when the Moors enslaved the Iberians. It just doesn’t make sense to redress the imbalance by perpetuating a different form of racism. As for the definition, Occam’s Razor will suffice: treating someone differently based on ethnicity is racist.

    Holding on to hate is the same as holding on to a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.

  42. Not sure we need to agree. Etymology aside, you and I may have differing connotations of racism; that’s our prerogative. Clarifying those connotations, and how they affect behavior, makes for a clearer conversation.

  43. “May I add that a definition is only the start.”

    Then please provide your definition and we can get started.

  44. I think my comments have been misinterpreted by Ren. Man. End of conversation for me.

    Chio

  45. Ms Eddy

    I do apologize if you feel that you are being misinterpreted but you are yet to define how you are defining racism as compared to others. Olive branches much be extended so that conversations of this magnitude can occur. If you feel it is better to leave the dialogue than to attempt to meet in the middle, that is totally up to you. Please do contribute anytime you wish, your opinion is just as valued as anyone else’s. We simply ask that people try to make themselves as clear as possible and not use the “you simply do not understand” gambit. This is a volatile subject and thusly, people will get het up. But if solving our issues is the point, then you have to allow for that… and have patience.

    Have a great day, and I look forward with hope to seeing you contribute again.

    Tia

  46. Where are your guidelines please?

  47. Ms Eddy,

    I’m sorry, guidelines for what? Our moderation policy is under that tab on the front page but as this is an open comment blog, there are no guidelines per se. We simply ask that people do not resort to personal attacks against each other as we feel it dilutes conversations. Please clarify?

    Tia

  48. Your response will do.

  49. Mrs. Eddy,

    I am not trying to drive you away. I just don’t see the point in fighting over a definition.m This is just another form of cherry-picking, which is what all too often occurs when this subject is raised. Seeing as my family has done more than any other group I can think of to redress the imbalance, I take personal offence to being labeled because I’m not as dark as my father. That’s just not good enough for some.

    It’s pretty obvious that treating people differently based on ethnicity is racist. I’m at a loss as how any other interpretation is anything other than spin.

    I am only too well aware of discrimination, and that’s why I don’t want to see it in any form.

  50. I’m not sure any one was fighting over a definition, I do think it is important to define racism, so we can, as Ms. Morris suggested in her post on ‘The Consequences of Looking Away’ have the what you did or said conversation instead of the what you are conversation.

    I was trying to have that conversation about these statements

    “Maybe then, and only then, black people can actually start to understand whites.”

    “blacks will stop lumping all whites together as an evil group ”

    “I think Blacks understand whites more than Whites realize. Blacks have been keenly studying Whites for a very long time because they have had to but the reverse has not been so.”

    but perhaps my approach was wrong? I did try to clarify that I was not calling anyone a racist, just saying the statements where.

    In the end the converstion didn’t happen, and I feel saddened by that.

  51. Galt,

    “I think Blacks understand whites more than Whites realize. Blacks have been keenly studying Whites for a very long time because they have had to but the reverse has not been so.”

    This, to my mind is not a racist statement. It is a historical fact that Blacks had/have to pay close attention to the behaviours of Whites for their own safety and survival. My statement does not say that Blacks understand Whites, only that they understand better than one might realize. Keep in mind that this is a generalization but one that can be substantiated.

    There is certainly a great need for all of us to understand each other on many more levels than before but I think it is always a good idea to let it begin with me. We would like others to understand us but how much effort have we put into understanding them? Indeed how much effort have we put into understanding ourselves?

    My statement did not address the desire expressed by Martin for Blacks to understand Whites. It might have been more appropriate for me to have asked what it is that you would like Blacks to understand about Whites or more specifically- you. No one likes to be lumped into one box.

    Ultimately we are simply humans. The task is how do we get from where we are now to where we want to be? Where do we want to be? Looking at history in an objective way as we can is but one of the tools we have available to us. What tools do we have to uncover a vision of possibilities for the future starting now? What tools are available to fix/heal that which is broken now? What tools are available to identify what needs healing?

  52. “Ultimately we are simply humans.”

    Thank you Mrs. Eddy. That statement bears repeating again and again.

    It’s only those that seek to further classify us that leads to the division. An objective look at what happened is a start.

  53. “This, to my mind is not a racist statement. It is a historical fact that Blacks had/have to pay close attention to the behaviours of Whites for their own safety and survival. My statement does not say that Blacks understand Whites, only that they understand better than one might realize. Keep in mind that this is a generalization but one that can be substantiated.”

    Putting aside the term racist for the moment, I don’t understand the import or implications of the generalization. What does it mean to say that blacks understand whites better than one might realize? What exactly do they better understand? How does it lead to anything actionable? Unless one believes all white people are identical, it can’t be predictive. Unless one believes that all white people carry the same beliefs, it can’t form the basis of engagement.

    It almost seems contradictory to your thought that we are all humans. Humans relate to each other as individuals, not as monolithic groups, with all of our flaws and baggage. It seems like the most effective way, which I think is consistent with what you’ve said elsewhere, to overcome issues and misunderstandings, is through introspection and constructive engagement, which happens between people, not between races. I would fear that any broad generalizations about race, by whites or blacks, impede that engagement, not encourage it.

    Am I missing something?

  54. The statement was never put forth as a any kind of thesis. It is not central to this discussion. It is a distraction to my mind. In my last response I returned to the original comment to which I had responded, which I have acknowledged, was not on target. I do not see any contradiction. As humans we are capable of a wide range of behaviours which are inconsistent with our true nature and with how we view ourselves as individuals.

  55. Fair enough.

  56. “..It is a historical fact that Blacks had/have to pay close attention to the behaviours of Whites for their own safety and survival.”

    can you elaborate on this statement?

  57. big conversation is a joke…a distraction used to draw peoples attention from the real issues….eliteism and the growing economic divide

    the plp are worse than the white man

  58. Well said AVP,

    I am curious, Racist, do you think it applys to the statements?

  59. Black Press, Would you stand by those words with your real identity?

  60. the plp represents white supremacy in black face…because they have not chenged the system, and they still run “bermuda inc” like the upb did…..we were better off voting for the white man

  61. Galt

    “..It is a historical fact that Blacks had/have to pay close attention to the behaviours of Whites for their own safety and survival.”

    In the past it was essential, now it is a conditioned response on both sides. This is a general statement and not true of every individual. This is one of many
    damaging behaviours that need to be corrected.

  62. “I am curious, Racist, do you think it applys to the statements?”

    Will answer the question this way. If, on a beautiful clear day, the person next to me says, “What a pretty red sky”, I can respond in one of two ways: I can tell them it isn’t red, it’s blue. Or I can say, “Yes, isn’t it?”, and know that what I consider blue, the person next to me calls red.

    Either way, it’s a beautiful day.

  63. just a thought.

    The idea that blacks understand whites better than the other way around comes from the idea that blacks have always been asked to assimilate to the white man’s world and for the most part the white man has NOT returned the favour.

    In almost every aspect of life the black man supports white initiatives, businesses and social systems, but whites do not reciprocate when it comes to supporting black initiatives, businesses and social systems.

    If the conversation is only working one way then it it the equivalent of screaming in space.

  64. “In almost every aspect of life the black man supports white initiatives, businesses and social systems, but whites do not reciprocate when it comes to supporting black initiatives, businesses and social systems.”

    I am not sure that is an accurate statement sparxx, at least not in Bermuda.

  65. it is LP… it really is.

  66. I guess it is just a very broad sweeping statement. Perhaps it may be true for the majority, but I am pretty sure it is not true for everyone. Sure I would concede that you are not going to find too many businesses on Court St. filled with light faces, but one, that’s not really their target market, and two, that is not the only place where black owned businesses are found. there are black owned businesses from Front St to Court St and I would wager they are becoming close to the majority these days.

    I will give you social systems, as that is largely centered around culture, and general like cultures gravitate together, that is true all over the world, and I am not sure there is any way to conquer that, except further homogenisation, which will take time.

    I am sure many whites support black charities and initiatives, at least financially. If a cause is good enough or in line with a persons philosophies, but that is a very personal decision. Many people don’t support anything except working to pay the bills and raising their kids, black and white.

    It is not that the statements are completely wrong and they may be true in some cases, but to make such broad sweeping generalisations, just doesn’t make sense. Even if there is involvement in a small way, that is a start, and a good thing.

    It takes time to change behaviours, and encouragement.

  67. “It is not that the statements are completely wrong and they may be true in some cases, but to make such broad sweeping generalisations, just doesn’t make sense. Even if there is involvement in a small way, that is a start, and a good thing.

    It takes time to change behaviours, and encouragement.”

    Let’s try and see if we can make it “make sense” LP. Until we, as whites, are able to move beyond “the uncomfortable” feelings we get when we are asked to “assimilate” into the black world, we will always have this “problem”.

    Certainly things are changing. By sheer numbers alone, more blacks are becoming empowered, and as each day passes, white Bermuda is being faced with the reality that the days of old will never come back. I agree we are beginning to see change in certain sectors, but we still have a long way to go.

    Blacks are not going to make it easy for us. We didn’t make it easy for them. We still don’t. While I am inspired by groups like CURE and CURB who are asking whites to get involved, these grass-roots initiatives are still not as important as they should be.

    Remember, we are only just beginning. Progress is slow and undefined. There is no finish line. Each day whites will be asked to take steps that are new, uncomfortable, and challenging. Each day we will be asked to move beyond “Front Street”, beyond UBP/PLP, beyond the Court Street/42nd street stereotypes that hold us back.

    We need to hope that in our evolution, we will one day move beyond “race, creed and culture” as issues that divide us.

  68. Well, I think we can quite comfortably say that, after last night, Farakhan was not a great choice at moving the BIG conversation forward.

    He did, however, provide suitably cringe-worthy quotes for the PLP faithful. Decry the queen? Yep. Refer to Dr. Brown as Prime Minister? Check. Reference slavery? Check. Call it the ‘Nation of Bermuda’ – Check.

    I’ll be honest, I initially wanted nothing less than him coming and speaking to Bermuda, because I feared he would only continue to serve Dr. Brown’s divisive agenda. But then it was reported as a speech on gang crime, and I figured, hey any advice is welcome. Wrong.

  69. LIF…

    Maybe he decries the President of the United States too?

    Although, given Obama said recently that given the number of Muslims living in the US, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to call the US a Muslim Nation.

    That must have made this guy feel more at home.

    The whole thing makes me really wonder what we are doing and also why.

    We have debate after debate about the white role in this society, what we should do about discrimination and so forth, and then along comes this guy – sexes up the crowd – and we all go back to base!

    Ah well – nice try I guess.

    On a secondary note – no doubt Michael Dunkley is feeling kinda ill this morning?

  70. Your perception of Farrakan’s presentation bears no resemblance to mine and no doubt many others. There is no truer statement than “The world is as you are.” If this is not clear I will elaborate. You can only see the world from the level of consciousness that you have. There is no other way. The principle thing that needs to happen with people who distort truth is to become more conscious. Another truism:
    “Truth will set you free”. I implore all to seek the truth.

  71. Hi Frances…

    Well, I just quickly read the RG online. I am hoping the quotes are justthat – quotes and correct ones too.

    Much of wha he said makes sense, but I am really not sure how the following help:

    “If Government doesn’t step up to the plate and educators don’t give them an education that awakens their talent, soon it will be the army and the Police. And if revolt comes, the Queen will send the armed forces here as they once did to kill our children in the streets”.

    I am by no means a royalist, but I can’t quite see how The Queeen killing children moves the issue along.

    On Education:

    “How are we educating the children of Bermuda? Are we giving them standards which just came out of Manchester, England? A colonial education is not what we need. You need an education away from your colonial masters and to make you think outside of the box.”

    That I have some empathy for. It might work in Manchester (although I am not that sure about that to be honest) and I have read quite a lot that says children of African descent learn in a different way to white children – so maybe he has a point.

    Thoughts?

  72. Frances…

    The other general point is this. There are extremes in all societies. There are extremists in religious societies too.

    And we are seeing that more and more with the fanatics in the Muslim world and their Jihad.

    Whilst I suspect Farrakhan is not an extremist in that sense, how does he square up what The Queen might do – with what the fanatics in his religion do today?

  73. I wish both of you had been present. You would have been able to hear the context in which this statement regarding the first quote was made. I am glad you see the folly of a Manchester education, Martin. I think there is likely to be a DVD recording of this event. I encourage getting a copy when it becomes available.

    There is a persisting negative perception based on Farrakan’s previous image. What I saw is a man who in his words “speaks truth to power” and who has evolved.

    The press, has a tendency to focus on any statement that will provide a trigger for the public. In other words they search for the one statement that will trigger emotions. Why? Because this is what we respond to. The bulk of the presentation was about Black responsibility. I have not seen the coverage so I cannot say how accurately it was reported on. I do, however, empathize with reporters who cannot be expected to be more evolved than the rest of us.

  74. I appreciate that the Press cannot distill two hours down into a newspaper column.

    There are a number of quotes in the article and we must be careful not to take them out of context.

    My question re: the Queen still stands though. I don’t see how it either moves the conversation along or assists with the gang issue (amongst others).

    As I said, I am not a royalist, but I struggle to imagine the Prime Minister of the day (ie the Queen if you like) saying…”Send troops to Bermuda – Kill the children”.

    Inflammatory and unhelpful.

  75. Frances – As I don’t have the DVD just yet, perhaps you could shed some light on the context of the image of the queen’s soldiers massacring Bermudian children.

    I’m sure within context it made lots of sense.

    Your argument against the press by definition goes both ways. Yes they will report on the most controversial thing said, but the speaker knows this and chooses his words.

    Having read more of his perspective on gangs I agree with him. Had he restricted himself to staying on topic and not littering an otherwise useful speech with racial rhethoric, I’d be more than happy to deem it a success. But as you correctly point out, the public will not focus on the good he said, they will focus on the divisive. That is not the publics fault, it is his for muddying his message.

  76. To Sparxx:

    “The idea that blacks understand whites better than the other way around comes from the idea that blacks have always been asked to assimilate to the white man’s world and for the most part the white man has NOT returned the favour.”

    With regard to this and your subsequent posts (and at the risk of sounding polly-annish), I think a significant part of the issue is defining the view as a white man’s world and a black man’s world. Think the right path is assimilation into the world we want, and not one defined as belonging to whites or black. Each of us needs to make progress towards that world, which carries no racial identification. If it’s couched in black and white terms, then concepts like capitulation, winners and losers, and resentment are allowed to flourish.

    To Frances and Martin:

    “I am glad you see the folly of a Manchester education, Martin.”

    I’m not sure I’d dismiss this outright as folly. I think education, and the curriculum selected for Bermuda’s schools is a very complex and difficult issue, which demands finding the right balance between (i) ensuring that children going through the education system come out equipped to compete effectively for jobs in Bermuda, the US, the UK and elsewhere, (ii) are aware of their history and heritage, with a clear appreciation of where they’ve come from, and (iii) have sufficient confidence in themselves, measured by good grades and achievement, to be successful at whatever they aspire to.

  77. Having read Amanda Dale’s report of the event last evening, except for the lead in paragraph, I thought it pretty good. Obviously it takes skill to capture the essence of such a lengthy, and to my mind quite brilliant, speech in so short a time before going to press. It ended near 11pm. Another reporter might have chosen another poignant moment as a lead in. Even Ms. Dale might have chosen a different one at a different moment, so I would not criticize Ms. Dale’s reportage. The written word is the least effective means that we have of communicating but we do our best.

    My impression of the comment to which you refer was said as a warning, if we do not take the necessary steps to correct the present state of affairs right where the corrections need to take place. I think also that his intention was to point out that if we do not take responsibility for our own mess we will eventually end up calling on the colonial master/mother for help. Which of course, would be pathetic. Perhaps it was his intention to paint a scenario that would be unacceptable to us to get us to act without delay.

  78. Frances

    Thanks for the response. I can see your point, except that “there is always more than one way of skinning a cat”…so the warning could have been sold differently and in a less provocative way…imho.

    You are right in one thing – we should be capable of sorting out our own issues.

  79. It is not necessarily that he was being provocative. That someone is provoked could be because they have interpreted it as provocative. I, and I would guess many others did not find it provocative. It is only because you and perhaps some others say so.
    What he said is what he said and nothing more. What matters is how we respond to it.

  80. Frances

    Well – not exactly – but no wish to argue. Perhaps reassure – that if the riots do come, then Bermudian children will not be killed on the streets courtesy of the Queen.

  81. AVP..

    Hi,

    Yes I know that Bermudian children need to be educated for the ‘wider’ world – but only if they wish to be part of it.

    I think all I was trying to convey is a thought that many have that African children “learn” in a different way, and indeed may even have different educational goals and ideals and that the UK curriculum might not be appropriate for some.

    One of the things society does which irritates me is we impose our views on people “because we are right”. Like Bush saying “we should take democracy to those countries that do not have it”.

    Nonsense. Made more so when Americans say, “we would like some that please”.

    Ok – I am stretching it a bit, but you get the idea.

    On education, I suspect the Ministers of the Crown who chose to have their children educated in the private sector could see the wider ramifications of ‘doing it the Manchester way’. But it doesn’t suit everyone is the key point.

  82. AVP, I quite agree that the Manchester system might not be outright folly (there we go again making a word mean more than was stated) to apply to a Bermuda situation. I confess that I don’t know what it is. What I suspect is that it is a model that has worked in Manchester and no doubt better than what we have. While it may provide the things you outlined can it teach a child to know himself/herself? Will it teach the true history of his ancestors? Will it be relevant to his surroundings? Will it teach him how to think for himself and solve the problems that are pertinent to him? These kinds of questions is what Farrakan is getting at. It is not meant as an outright rejection of it.

  83. There are much better countries to emulate than Britain for stellar educational results. As someone who has taught in the Canadian system, I would recommend theirs. And I’m not the only one.

    http://www.oecd.org/document/60/0,3343,en_2649_201185_39700732_1_1_1_1,00.html

    Finland takes number one spot in OECD’s latest PISA survey, advance figures show

    29/11/2007 – Finland once again takes the number one spot in OECD’s three-yearly PISA test of the abilities of a sample of 15-year old secondary-school students, followed by Hong Kong (China) and Canada in second and third place, according to advance details of results that will be published in full next week.
    The PISA survey, based on tests carried out in 2006 in 57 countries that together account for nearly 90% of world GDP, is the most comprehensive and rigorous international yardstick of secondary-school students’ attainments. After focusing in 2000 on reading skills and in 2003 on mathematics, PISA 2006 tested students on how much they knew about science and their ability to use scientific knowledge and understanding to identify and address questions and resolve problems in daily life.
    Comparisons between the results of the 2006 tests and those of previous years are not strictly valid, as the nature of the tests varied.Full PISA results will be published on Tuesday 4 December 2007; advance details are being made available following the publication by a Spanish magazine of partial leaked figures.
    Commenting on the PISA survey, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría noted that it is a tool to assist governments in their policy choices on education. “In today’s competitive global economy, quality education is one of the most valuable assets that a society and an individual can have,” he said.
    In that context, he added, “PISA is much more than just a ranking. It is about how well individual education systems are equipping their young people for the world of tomorrow. First and foremost, it tells countries where their strengths and weaknesses lie.”
    For advance details of individual countries’ performance in the PISA 2006 survey, see the table below. Full details and analysis will be published by OECD at 10.00 a.m. Paris time on Tuesday 4 December 2007.

    FWIW, New Zealand placed fifth, if Canada is too foreign. Britain was 15th, the United States 30th. But Canada had the best test scores for immigrants, only 13% outside of the Canadian norm. If we want to fix things, this is where we start.

  84. “These kinds of questions is what Farrakan is getting at. It is not meant as an outright rejection of it.”

    “How are we educating the children of Bermuda? Are we giving them standards which just came out of Manchester, England? A colonial education is not what we need. You need an education away from your colonial masters and to make you think outside of the box.”

    Frances- I absolutely agree with the questions at the end of your post; they are important and relevant to determining how to structure a curriculum for students.

    Sadly, I can find none of your insight in Minister Farrakhan’s comment. I find only a rejection of a recognized curriculum based solely on the city and country of its origin, not on the actual curriculum itself.

    I find more to support our common point of view in Minister James’ comments in this RG article, in which he endorses the curriculum:

    http://www.royalgazette.com/siftology.royalgazette/Article/article.jsp?sectionId=75&articleId=7d95eb730030043

    Martin- I think separating educational content and method is important. If there are differences in how groups of children learn, then the method in which they are taught should be adjusted to their needs. But that doesn’t speak to the content, nor does it speak to what the goal of the education process should be.

    And I’m afraid I don’t understand your question about, “only if they wish to be part of it.” It’s fine to identify “different educational goals and ideals”, but only if the consequences of those choices on students’ future are made clear. If those consequences are reduced opportunities for Bermuda students, on the Island or abroad, whether in business, research or any other field they wish to pursue, then the cost of those different goals and ideals is very high, indeed.

  85. AVP…hi there,

    You are right – the costs will be high. But – my point in part is that we ‘assume’ that the road you and I might follow is appropriate for all.

    I don’t think it is, and I think all we can do is point out the realities of life which you can miss living on a small island.

    Having spoken to many here over the years, the bulk of whom earn a reasonable salary – I have been utterly amazed at how many would be seriously content with life in a different economy altogether.

    They don’t care about “how wealthy Bermdua is” or “what would happen if IB left the island”. They know that they are not happy now, doing what they are doing.

    They would happily give up the grudge of work and settle for a much more straightforward, less complex and less demanding life.

    It isn’t my style – but then it clearly is for some.

  86. AVP, you will not find the insight in the newspaper article because it is not there. I do hope you get to see/hear the whole speech. Newspaper reports often do nor do justice to an actual event. Farrakan did not speak those exact words that I wrote but it is what I extrapolated from the whole of the presentation.
    Context means a lot and because those questions are important to me I pay attention to where they are reinforced..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: