Is The Bahamas ready for a white prime minister?
That was the thought on the mind of now former Cabinet minister Brent Symonette yesterday as he talked to The Tribune.
“I think if I had run as leader of the FNM there would have been a barrier, if I tried to run as PM,” he said, “But I’m Bahamian. You see the backlash against my resignation and all the comments, maybe The Bahamas isn’t ready for it.”
Race is often the elephant in the room in The Bahamas. We know it’s there, but as a society in The Bahamas we don’t talk about it like we should.
It’s not just race that would count against Mr Symonette, as he acknowledges – his father being a part of the Bay Street Boys, the white elite of the United Bahamian Party, carries with it plenty of resentment from voters.
In the current landscape of Bahamian politics, there is no white person of the seniority of Symonette who might be considered a challenger to Dr Minnis so the question for the moment is rhetorical – though the issues it raises are not.
If Mr Symonette wonders whether he was viewed through a different lens by some because of his race – despite having won election to Parliament repeatedly - well then so does many a black Bahamian too. As he notes, prejudice doesn’t end there but can be found against the Haitian community, the Indian community, the Chinese community. Even within the black Bahamian community there are debates over light skin and dark skin and which will get you further in life.
The roots of such prejudice stretch back further in some cases than others – but tell anyone who experiences bias that someone else has it worse and you’ll receive no thanks. Nor should you.
There is no conclusion drawn by Mr Symonette – nor by this column. It is too big a question for that.
But for every one who is deterred by prejudice, our nation suffers a disservice.
When Dr Hervis Bain designed the Bahamian flag, he included the colour black. Some old white Bahamians were angered by the lack of white to represent them but the colour does not only represent the skin colour of the people. It represents the strength of the people, and that knows no colour, no origin, but a people rising together.
We should strive to ensure we don’t live in a country where anyone thinks someone is better than them or worse than them, where no one is favoured or impeded because of the colour of their skin. Is that wishful thinking? Likely so, but we should strive nonetheless. It is in the attempt that we show our strength, not in the sureness of our success.
We said this column would draw no conclusion – rather we will raise a question instead, for you, the readers, and it is this: Where do we go from here?
Christian Council, help bridge the gap
We applaud the Bahamas Christian Council for speaking up on the issue of crime – and for calling for more to be done in order to tackle it.
When Bishop Delton Fernander says, “If we don’t quell it, it will fester into something that will be much harder to quell now that we know it’s starting” and we agree – though we fear the starting point was long ago.
He calls for massive police presence in areas, and so do we. His words, about an intrusion into our freedom, will cause discomfort – but not as much discomfort as we feel when we bolt our doors and hide away at night.
So we support the council’s enthusiasm as they call for more searches, more police responses to intelligence and more.
We also called for more community involvement with the police and we would say this to the churches – you can be a voice that can reach people the police cannot, your voice can speak to communities that the police cannot. Help the police to cross that bridge – encourage people to call the police, the authorities, if they know where these high-powered weapons are. Together, let’s take these weapons out of our society.