Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Independence Myth...

Independence.... it will eliminate racism in Bermuda. It's just that simple. Ok.... it's not just that simple. Independence has not prevented racism in other countries in the world, and it's highly doubtful that it will stop it from happening here. The world has fought this battle for far too long and the plague of racism still exists. In it's most simple form, racism is hatred, an intolerance for anyone who is different. It is projected as Black/White, and in our specific example, here in Bermuda, it is as simple as black and white.

In order for us to grasp the concept of racism in Bermuda, we need to look at our lives, and more specifically how we got to where we are today. Any understanding of the world as we know it, MUST include a concentrated look at history, and how our society has arrived at this point. It may be easy to say that those problems of the past don't exist today, but if the systemic structure has not changed, then those problems that some may believe have mysteriously vanished (for there was no official decree ending racism... note... an end to segregation is NOT an end to racism) have not just been eliminated from our social conscience.

The ramifications of a system that was built over hundreds of years that indeed was racist, are not simply gone because we wish them away. The structure of our society was developed to give Whites a distinct advantage, and it's not just here in Bermuda but in many countries around the world. Most assuredly, even Barack Obama wouldn't admit that his country's racial struggles are over, and the idea that our world is "post-racial" is naive and simply wrong. The White elite still runs the world, and it would be folly to deny it.

Let's look closely at our own island. A Westminster government, with a Queen's representative as the head of state. Our island has been built on White money and Black blood. Front St. is still controlled by the White oligarchy that has existed for generations. While we may miss Triminghams, Smiths and the known 40 thieves, they have been replaced by others. The names may change, but the faces haven't. The Black money hasn't made it into a significant position (if it exists) and there are too few Black CEO's making an impact on our society. It is important to continue the battle cry of Dr. Eva Hodgson, who notes that even though we have a Black government, nothing has been done to eliminate the economic disparity between the races.

It's a difficult picture to envision. A structure that has been built with a clear racist agenda, all of a sudden is no longer racist because that's the way we want it to be. Hate has simply become a thing of the past and we are a new world where everyone is equal, where women get paid the same as men for doing the same jobs, where blacks are welcome in white neighborhoods without a cautious eye or a question as to why they are there (it does happen). We won't begin to note organizations where Blacks can not exceed middle management, and like women, are not paid the same as whites are. It is easy to deny that it doesn't exist because the government, the PLP, historically Black, is now in power.

Strange as it is, they have done very little to break those shackles. It's a difficult proposition stepping into the unknown. Independence. It is a subject that has a strong emotional element to it. People are strongly divided on the subject and for the majority here (as per a referendum in 1995... 16 years ago under a UBP government) seem to be against it. If those results were in the least bit tarnished (only 58% of the electorate voted) and a call for a boycott by the PLP withheld voters in 1995, one would have to wonder if those results might be a bit different here in 2011. There is no guarantee of course. There may be more of a movement against it now. Fear of the unknown allows the worst kind of propaganda to exist. 

The advantages of staying a British Overseas Territory are clear. A cozy relationship with her majesty, an ability to travel to the motherland and into the EU. Protection. Our best interests are always at the forefront of those in WhiteHall. Or so we would believe. Our business relationships are secure because of our relationship with HRH (another myth). An image that we are much more stable with her majesty's assistance than without it. I daresay that even today that image isn't what it used to be. 

While I am sure that there are countless other advantages to remaining aligned with England, I have highlighted those that seem to be the most important. We have enjoyed the benefits of this Westminster government for so long now, and as the old saying goes... if it ain't broke... don't mess with it.

If Independence does anything for us, if it creates peace of mind, if it engages our people on a new level of responsibility and self-determination, if it allows things like equity, and allows us to finally break away from a system that created this problem in the first place, then isn't it worth it? Isn't our freedom worth any price? If those who are tired of the race card being played are truly tired of it, why wouldn't they do everything in their power to prevent that from continuing to be an issue?

At this point we aren't even moving in that direction, all we are talking about is having a discussion. An independence discussion. A chance to learn, share and debate a very important subject. A chance to engage those in the highest echelons of our society and discuss options for change. If I was a White person, I might be truly worried. 

Hold on... I am a White person.... so why am I not worried?

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