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Race Conversation 'Should Start With Reparations'

Damian Gomez

Damian Gomez

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

Former Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez believes a national conversation on race should start with reparations.

Mr Gomez said he was appalled by the tone struck by former Cabinet minister Brent Symonette, who suggested he faced political barriers and attacks due to his skin colour.

On Wednesday, the former deputy prime minister suggested the country was not ready for a white prime minister and reiterated his call for a national discussion on race and wealth in politics.

In a letter to the editor, Mr Gomez said: “I am appalled at the beneficiary of racism attacking the victims of racism.”

“I am a Bahamian of African descent,” said Mr Gomez, who noted the displacement and genocide of Africans due to the slave trade.

“After the abolition of slavery, the emancipated Africans were forced into servitude for a fixed period.”

Mr Gomez said: “Black Bahamians of African decent are entitled to be outraged at the abuses of our ancestors and of us as individuals. While white people profited at our collective expense, while England collected taxes from the blood and sweat of the efforts of African descendants, no one in the white community ever sought out forgiveness, not even thought us worthy of seeking it!”

Mr Gomez added that the English did “precious little” to acknowledge their debt to Bahamians or West Indians of African decent.

He underscored the legendary “orgy of corruption” that followed after World War 2 by white merchants was documented in a Royal Commission of Inquiry Report.

“Since then the heirs and successors of these criminals have used ill-gotten gains of their forebears to the disadvantage of everyone else, including white Bahamians uninvolved in the corruption,” Mr Gomez continued.

“How can those involved in our oppression question us the victims of racism about our distrust of you who have been at the forefront of our affliction. Yes, there is a need to discuss race in The Bahamas, but let's start talking about reparations. Let's talk about returning lands obtained through Crown Grants while the recipients held public office.

He added: “Let's talk about taxing these people in a meaningful way to enable the just compensation of those who have been savagely wronged.”

Mr Symonette’s comments made in several interviews during the week sparked widespread debate over his privilege and perceived victimhood.

Yesterday, Central and South Abaco MP James Albury told The Tribune the merits of a Prime Minister’s character should matter more than the colour of their skin.

For himself, Mr Albury said he was comfortable with the country never having a white Prime Minister.

Mr Albury underscored that young Bahamians and subsequent generations will not be easily baited or politically exploited on matters of race because they did not hold living memory of the divisive struggles of the country’s history.

“I've always felt that race relations in our country have been more relaxed than what you might observe around the world or even amongst our own neighbouring countries,” Mr Albury said.

“I’m sure there are those who would say I'm not qualified to comment on such things, but that has been my experience as an MP and as a Bahamian.

He continued: “I think it's more important to remember that for myself, and thousands of other young Bahamians, there is no living memory of the UBP, the struggle for majority rule and independence, the 25 years of PLP administration, etc. It's important to remember our history and our progress, but it will get more and more difficult to evoke and exploit that feeling of separation amongst the public as newer generations come up and assert themselves.

Mr Albury said he felt Mr Symonette’s departure would have been controversial regardless of the reason or timing due to his tenure in front line politics.

“This is the case for anyone who has been in the public eye and frontline politics so long. But the spectre of the UBP, and the inseparable role the Symonette family played in the formation of the modern Bahamas, means the lens is magnified that much more,” Mr Albury said.

“There may someday be a white Prime Minister. There may never be one. Both outcomes, in my eyes, are fine.

Mr Albury added: “The merits of a Prime Minister's character should matter more than their melanin content.”

Comments

The_Oracle 3 months, 1 week ago

Quite frankly I'd like to go after the Romans, who enslaved my English forbears, or Spain for forcing Catholic conversion or death on my Portugese forbears. The stupidity of this whole conversation does not surprise me however, Given the collective IQ of the elected. I'm sure most of them have stolen more than they might be due via reparations.

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Cas0072 3 months, 1 week ago

Well your Portuguese forbearers have quite the reputation as the most brutal of all the European slaveholders in the Americas. I guess that is one way to recover from a slave past. Most black Bahamians don’t steal. In fact, they are not anywhere near the pot to steal. This is nothing but condescending gibberish from someone who mistakes his misguided sense of superiority as intelligence.

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Tarzan 3 months, 1 week ago

Gomez is a joke who fills an empty suit. "I am a Bahamian of African decent." Really? Has he produced DNA test results to confirm that he is not someone who needs to be paying reparations if indeed any such ludicrous scheme were foisted on society. Who is "African"? Who is "White"? Isn't this exactly the kind of totally unscientific, hyper discrimination that landed us in this mess in the first place?

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Cas0072 3 months, 1 week ago

Gomez is a joke, I agree. I hope you are playing dense or you are a bigger joke than he is and that’s saying something.

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bahamian242 3 months, 1 week ago

Yes I would really like to see Gomez's DNA! I wonder how much Caucasian blood he has in him???

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bahamian242 3 months, 1 week ago

Furthermore this the Native land of the Lucayans! Where are they now, and what about THEM!!!!

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ohdrap4 3 months, 1 week ago

A certain activist lawyer is the last lucayan, let them pay him reparation.

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Gotoutintime 3 months, 1 week ago

I guess we should start with Christopher Columbus---His record as regards slavery is not the best.

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truetruebahamian 3 months, 1 week ago

Actually Columbus had nothing to do with slavery. Read two enlightening books - Search for Jerusalem and his own writings - Christopher Columbus the four voyages. These are factual and scholarly researched, not some knee jerk blame thrown out without truth or merit.

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Cas0072 3 months, 1 week ago

Disgusting comments and exactly the reason why we cannot have a serious discussion or progress on race relations. The fact remains that white people benefitted from slavery and that set future generations up for prosperity. The facts remain that well into this generation, black people are suffering from the effects of being dehumanized, enslaved, and marginalized once again for generations. Too many black people still have an inferiority complex, and apparently, your superiority complex is still going strong. You guys would love to believe that black people are inherently inferior and that slavery and colonization has nothing to do with black people being at the bottom today, but those are not the facts. Slavery gave white people one heck of a head start whether you admit it or not.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 1 week ago

My friend you were long ago freed but your mind still has you shackled. The political elite in both the PLP and FNM have played the shackled minds of all like you for decades and just look at what that has got you compared to what it has got them. Gomez is already well steeped in reparations from the taxpayers coffers as are many others of the corrupt political elite who keep playing the race card to weak feeble minds while they go about raping, pillaging and plundering our country. Descendants of African slaves who dwell on that part of their heritage and use it as a crutch are only holding themselves back in life. Good not to forget, but bad to dwell on that part of our ancestry.

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Cas0072 3 months, 1 week ago

I am very much free, can't say the same for people living in denial. Facts are facts. You can choose to deny the fact that there was a psychological and social conditioning component to slavery that did not magically disappear after slavery and colonization. It worked like a charm and as intended to create a low self esteem underclass. Sorry, but I cannot pretend otherwise when everyday I see black women in hideous euro weaves, tearing up their skin to be lighter, and placing white people on a pedestal as if certain negative behaviors are exclusive to black people. Like I said, you all prefer to believe these things are inherent, but it is thanks to the psychological and social oppression doled out by white people well beyond slavery. Lastly, no Bahamian politician can be trusted as far as I am concerned. I mean from the UBP to now. You are again off the mark thinking I will waste my time defending any of them.

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truetruebahamian 3 months, 1 week ago

Maybe some, but not most. It is so wrong and so easy to blame the ones who we were told to blame. The old early settlers were farmers and boat builders, not slave owners. Easily attributed hatred is like a scatter gun, it hits more innocents than those deserving of scrutiny.

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DualCit68 3 months, 1 week ago

Wake up. Here as we approach another day of Independence you go for blame. Is it whites that have kept us from becoming a great nation that is run by black leaders? No. It's us. Our own people holding us down and tief'n from us. Lest you forget that Egyptian black pharos enslaved tens of thousands for thousands of years. Stop being a victim.

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TalRussell 3 months, 1 week ago

Ma comrades, admit to my confusing me history if I have been made understand wrongly that not a single sale was ever known have set sail from Africa for the Colony of Out Islands. In fact by time first "former" slaves got here they came aboard ships of the Royal Navy and only after they had already been "freed" by the British. They were African American slaves and Seminoles who had escaped from Cape Florida to the Colony of Out Islands - so, is comrade Damian planning on suing the US government, yes, no........ now what happened after former and by then freed:" landing in we colony is calling different law suit, yes, no..........I will defer to the much learned comrade King's Counsel Freddy who could then have he self be eligible file 'two' separate nationality writs personal compensation.......but does begs question - at what stage after done "freed american" slaves land in colony did they become 'British subjects,' yes, no.....

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DDK 3 months, 1 week ago

"The earliest African inhabitants of the Bahamas came during the 1640s from Bermuda and England with the Eleutheran Adventurers, many were also brought from other parts of the West Indies.

In the 1780s after the American Revolutionary war, many British loyalists resettled in the Bahamas. This migration brought some 7000 people, the vast majority being African slaves from the Gullah people in Georgia and the Carolinas. Some Africans earned their freedoms and immigrated to the Bahamas by fighting for the British during the American Revolutionary War as members of the Ethiopian Regiment. This migration made the Bahamian population majority of African descent for the first time, with a proportion of 2 to 1 over the European inhabitants.

There was also an additional 9,560 people brought directly from Africa to Bahamas from 1788 - 1807. In 1807, the British abolished the slave trade. Throughout the 19th century, close to 7000 Africans were resettled in the Bahamas after being freed from slave ships by the Royal Navy, which intercepted the trade, in the Bahamian islands. Slavery was abolished in the British Empire on 1 August 1834.

In the 1820s, hundreds of African American slaves and Seminoles escaped from Cape Florida to the Bahamas, settling mostly on northwest Andros Island, where they developed the village of Red Bays. In 1823, 300 slaves escaped in a mass flight aided by Bahamians in 27 sloops, with others using canoes for the journey. This was commemorated in 2004 by a large sign at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Some of their descendants continue Seminole traditions in basket making and grave marking."

This from Wikipedia so I am sure there are inaccuracies. The history is interesting and that is what it is, HISTORY, something from which to learn and understand.........

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TalRussell 3 months, 1 week ago

Comrade DDK, this reparations.thing is all the brainchild CARICOM. My own recollection is that Colony of Out Islands have never expressed official position on suing for $318 billion in reparations, yes, no....

.

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DDK 3 months, 1 week ago

I think you are quite right, Comrade! Thought you might enjoy the read with your coffee and brownie!

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avidreader 3 months, 1 week ago

Let me start off by stating quite plainly that Brent Symonette does not represent the average white Bahamian who suffers subtle discrimination and resentment on a daily basis based in the past experience of the nation as a whole. That said, in the matter of "reparations" for slavery, it was David Cameron, the former British Prime Minister, who, a few years ago, floated the idea of reparations for slavery then shot down the idea just as quickly as he had floated it. Why is it that so few people refer to the large trade in black slaves conducted by Arabs based at the island of Zanzibar off the coast of what is today the nation of Tanzania on the east coast of the African continent? The difference here is that the Arabs castrated their male slaves so as to prevent their reproduction, a practice that was not instituted in the Atlantic slave trade. By the way, with a surname like "Gomez" it seems more logical to seek reparations from His Majesty Felipe IV the present king of Spain. After all the Spaniards learned about black slavery from the Portuguese who started the whole nasty business on a large scale with their colony of Brazil where the system was not ended until as late as 1888.

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avidreader 3 months, 1 week ago

Let me start off by stating quite plainly that Brent Symonette does not represent the average white Bahamian who suffers subtle discrimination and resentment on a daily basis based in the past experience of the nation as a whole. That said, in the matter of "reparations" for slavery, it was David Cameron, the former British Prime Minister, who, a few years ago, floated the idea of reparations for slavery then shot down the idea just as quickly as he had floated it. Why is it that so few people refer to the large trade in black slaves conducted by Arabs based at the island of Zanzibar off the coast of what is today the nation of Tanzania on the east coast of the African continent? The difference here is that the Arabs castrated their male slaves so as to prevent their reproduction, a practice that was not instituted in the Atlantic slave trade. By the way, with a surname like "Gomez" it seems more logical to seek reparations from His Majesty Felipe IV the present king of Spain. After all the Spaniards learned about black slavery from the Portuguese who started the whole nasty business on a large scale with their colony of Brazil where the system was not ended until as late as 1888.

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Clamshell 3 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Gomez speaks of an “orgy of corruption” while whistling past the reality that he recently served as the MP for Central and South Eleuthera — despite the reality that he is not a native of Eleuthera, has never lived on Eleuthera, has no holdings on Eleuthera, and seldom visited Eleuthera while purporting to “represent” the people of that district.

“Orgy of corruption” — yes, indeed.

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pablojay 3 months, 1 week ago

I am all for your foolishness Damian, you are a QC,go for it. Just remember that your skin is lighter than mine and your hair better, so i expect to receive more than you.

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hrysippus 3 months, 1 week ago

Reparations, free money, what a great topic. Do all Bahamians get some even the white Bahamians? What about a well known attorney whose mother was British? Does he have to pay or does he get some of it? What about a previous prime minister whose grandfather was a white Bahamian, does he have to pay or does he get some? Do the British people have to pay even though their navy intercepted so many slavers and liberated the slaves to settle them in the Bahamas? This court case going to go for a long time. Are there any black Bahamians without white dna or white Bahamians without black dna? I doubt it.

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Gotoutintime 3 months, 1 week ago

If this goes to Court, one thing is for sure---The lawyers will get theirs before I get mine!

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birdiestrachan 3 months, 1 week ago

I love Ryan Pinder he could be PM. It is not so much the hue it is the character,

The all for me crew. the eleven families who own the shipping port. the FNM papa closed that deal. And it seems to me they will also own the cruise port.

And any human being that says quieting poor people property is small things. has no character. only greed. Meaner than the grave and cold.

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banker 3 months, 1 week ago

Ask Ryan Pinder's wife about Ryan Pinder.

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Clamshell 3 months, 1 week ago

Maybe the people of Eleuthera should get “reparations” for the hospital Mr. Gomez promised but was never built. $700,000 was spent to clear a vacant lot that is still a vacant lot. The “groundbreaking” was one of the few times he set foot on the island he “represented.”

Maybe Mr. Gomez got some “reparations” from that contract, eh?

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TalRussell 3 months, 1 week ago

Populaces priority over very long time passed race reparations should be start with a more urgent need conversation over the appearance controversy conflicts interests hard go unnoticed as to financial benefit selective Law Firms most favoured by comrade members Imperialists red shirts cabinet, and must also include a close examination their most favoured political appoints and indirect individuals serving at the expense PlacePublicPurse, yes, no....... it just doesn't looks right......

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DiverBelow 3 months, 1 week ago

Slavery is a horrible consequence of tribal conflict since before men started walking upright. Animal behaviorist have observed the same activities in many lesser mammalian groups raiding their neighboring populations for food, space & propagation. The world history indicates that NO RACE HAS BEEN FREE OF SLAVERY IN SOME FORM. African, Irish, Roman, Greek etc. Whites on Blacks, Whites on Browns, Whites on fellow Whites, Whites on Yellows, Whites on Reds; Yellows on Whites, fellow Yellows, Blacks, Browns & Reds; Blacks on fellow Blacks, Whites, Browns, Yellows & Reds. And all other combinations of people TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. Someone mentioned the Arabs started the practice, I doubt that it was so simple; someone had to capture the captive & benefit from the exchange to the seller, the distributor & end user. Not much different to the commerce of any ill-gotten product. The savagery & brutality of the process is where the crime is and should never be repeated.

Reparation is a convenient destabilizing topic pushed by many manipulating political types, same as the Race Card. Reparations in the form of funds should have a time limit. If the damaging event occurred recently as 50yrs OK go for it. Should our family be at fault for the actions of our great-great-great grandfathers? Should we acknowledge the tragedy & wrong? DEFINITELY YES. Learn from the wrong? DEFINITELY YES.

Reparation must be paid by Equality & Opportunity; not by Capital, nor political benefiting tribal separation. Irrelevant of how much melanin in one's skin!!!

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Giordano 3 months, 1 week ago

We should not waist our time talking about racism instead we should talk about human characters or behavior of public elected officials while in public office. I totally agree with Mr. Albury and related melanin remarks. We should be talking about world new order and ideas regarding finding solutions to the world immigration crisis under a global consensus where we could analyse the possibility to eliminate nationality and work it out only with place of origin without taking into account the color of the skin in any human which should not be illegal anywhere EXCEPT in your private property or home without your permission or consent.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 1 week ago

Forget Damian. He is what he has always been and will always be - utterly despicable!

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tom1912 3 months, 1 week ago

I enjoyed the various comments, being an +70 year old White male UK citizen ( Of old working class status) married to a bright, sharp, by no means subservient and well educated +69 year old Black Bahamian Lady, so I think I'm talking from a racially neutral position. Although when walking holding hands and shopping in New Providence we do get strange looks, whether it is our positive and negative hew, our height difference or two old people acting as 16 year olds or maybe a varying degree, my wife is of the opinon it is mire the racially difference. While I agree the Arab traders were a large influence in the slave trade so too were the West African Tribal Chieftains [ Shaka Zulu didn't treat his people very well ether!] who sold their subjects to them and Europeans. Of course the Arabs were in to slavery for themselves, visit the Middle East and you will see the progeny of that trade never mind that trade that was still going on until 1962 on the Arabian Peninsula!

Now over the years both in the UK and overseas I have been constantly blamed for the rape and slavery of the subjects of the British Empire over the past 200 years or so, mostly West Indians,Africans, Indians, Pakistanis and Phalistinans ( 1912 Balfor promise) I try to point out that my forefathers, the working class during this time in the UK were being treated as bad an in maybe in some respect worse, by the same minority Ruling Elite [ Apart from some autristic Quakers] that was controlling the Empire and slave trade.

During the late 50s and early 69s a mixed economy of capitalism and socialism developed. unfortunately it's now very much following the US model by tipping towards the followers of mamom, accereared by Mrs Thatcher. I always thought one of the diffentiions of civilisation was the strong helping the weak! The two world wars decimated most of the ruling class and those left made the mistake of starting the Educated the masses who of course started to ask difficult questions. :-)

It would seem nationalities and race get confused, over my travels I have found that certain nationalities have particular mind-sets and it is nothing to do with their race. Some I do not like or seek their friendship regardless of whether they are white, pink, purple, black, yellow, red or sky blue pink!

So Mr Gomez he needs to remember the old turn of phrase People in Glass Houses shouldn't throw stones, having become very familiar with Nassau perhaps he should provide reparations from the tax take and for the help of the every day Bahamians to repair all the pot holes in the roads, of recent date, proper drainage for those same roads and removal the various dismembered and wreaked motor vehicles littered about various areas. The Bahamas is the third richest country in North America with great potential, it's general population have a friendly aire about them why isn't Mr Gomez concentrating on make it shiny law abiding light in the west Atlantic/ Caribbean.

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adriennecleare@hotmail.com 3 months, 1 week ago

Damian Gomez appears to be... Very Proud of his... QC Title... bestowed upon him by Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain. Confused?

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adriennecleare@hotmail.com 3 months, 1 week ago

Damian Gomez seems to be ....Very Proud....of his...QC Title....bestowed upon him by Her Majesty The Queen of Great Britain. Anyone confused?

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