EDITOR, The Tribune.
Talking fool is a very serious thing.
A cold dish of trash talk was served up a few weeks ago by fellow letter writer Bruce G Raine, who obviously marches to a drumbeat that is out of step with the historical record.
It is fair to say that Mr Raine is not a fan of Majority Rule Day. In his mind it’s much ado about nothing. The factual record, however, seems to states otherwise. To quote former US Vice President Joe Biden, Majority Rule Day was a “Big Fracking Deal”.
Mr Raine posits that January 10, 1967 was not the first time the majority black population voted. In this, he is being intellectually disingenuous. It was the first time that the majority of the black population voted and the outcome reflected that fact.
We therefore celebrate an act of the majority and not an act that certain privileged members of the majority had been allowed to participate in.
Another of his leaky theories is that as far back as 1832 some blacks were afforded some of the same rights and privileges that all whites enjoyed in the Bahamas at that time. That is morally offensive and Mr. Raine ought to know how ludicrous a statement it is.
As far back as the 1600s in the United States there were so-called “free blacks” who owned land and some even owned slaves. But it would be a stretch to try to extrapolate from that statement that blacks as a whole were free from the 1600s.
He then hits us with the twisted logic that black people were electing members to the House of Assembly for 134 years before Majority Rule Day. What he conveniently leaves out is that there were hardly any black candidates vying for those offices. Some blacks voted out of threats of retribution from corrupt white merchant/politicians. And Mr Raine seems to take a giant bottle of “white-out” correction fluid to the prohibition on women in the political process.
Mr Raine needs to be schooled in history as he totally misunderstands the singular importance of the role played by Sir Etienne Dupuch in landing a fatal blow that brought down a key racial barrier. Sir Etienne’s bravery cannot be viewed in a time vacuum.
Sir Etienne’s campaign was on-going. As a journalist he reported on the injustices he saw all around him. As a politician he campaigned to change things. As a man of faith with a high moral threshold he showed us righteous indignation. His actions in 1956 helped pave the way for Majority Rule Day.
It removed the obnoxious practice of discrimination against black people in public places such as hotels and certain restaurants but it no more ended the effects of racism than desegregation of the buses and lunch counters did in the US.
Mr Raine is wrong if he believes that Bahamians of every race, creed, sex and ethnicity cannot find something to celebrate in Majority Rule Day. Majority Rule rendered their country safer, more prosperous, more equal, less apprehensive and more democratic. Why wouldn’t they want to partake in that?
Mr Raine reminds me of the voices of dissent we heard from certain quarters of the United States when that country declared a holiday in honour of civil rights champion the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Some refused to see how the life and times of Dr. King help in forging a more perfect union in the US.
It led to relative domestic tranquility. It is still a work in progress but the holiday allows all Americans, and even non-Americans to reflect on all that Dr. King lived and died for.
I can agree with those who believe that the Progressive Liberal Party has tried to hijack MRD and turn it into a political event. This is wrong. If the UBP never disbanded they would today recognize that their future was as tied up with MRD as their past had been.
Many of today’s proud FNMs marched in favour of majority rule in the 1960s and we all know some of today’s hard core PLPs who 50 years ago wouldn’t be caught dead with a “PLP All The Way” flag in their hand.
People grow and they change.
For useful instruction, we can look across the ocean to South Africa, home of the world’s hero, the late Nelson Mandela. Blacks had voted in internal homeland elections in South Africa in the past but it wasn’t until April 27, 1994, their Majority Rule Day, that South Africa lived up to its true potential.
Theirs is a multi-ethnic society where the economy grew from $135 billion in 1994 when majority rule was established to $323 billion today when all races participate in the economy and more money is spent on education than was spent enforcing apartheid.
Just as interesting is the preamble to the South African constitution that says a lot about honouring the past as a guide vane to the future:
“We, the people of South Africa, recognize the injustices of our past; honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; respect those who have worked to guide and develop our country, and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”.
While our own creed is less poetic, majority rule day, is equally important for us a moral compass.
Mr. Raine should open his mind to the spirit of MRD and embrace it for what it is. It is our statement to the world that the majority of us (black, white, Latino, Asian) support democracy. That the majority of us believe in this country. That we, acting in the majority, vow that we will never let unjust laws, hate speech or political sanctions turn one of us against another.
Interestingly enough the forefathers didn’t define what the majority consisted of. Poor whites were in that majority alongside rich blacks. Christians and non-believers helped form that majority. And I know as fact that rich white women saw common ground with poor black women, creating their own majority on gender issues.
Stop seeing black when you hear the word “majority”, Mr Raine. Think of fairness instead.
February 7, 2017.