By FARRAH JOHNSON
A PLP official has issued a public apology after coming under fire for controversial remarks about “darkies” she made at a PLP rally on Monday night.
While introducing PLP Senator Dr Michael Darville at the party’s campaign launch on Monday night, PLP National Vice-Chair Patricia Deveaux bragged about the party having attractive members, rather than a “bunch of darkies.”
“We have a real doctor coming down tonight. He’s another light skin, handsome, curly-haired fella,” she said.
“You see we have plenty nice looking people here in this party. We don’t have a bunch of darkies all over the place heating up the place.”
A video of her comments immediately went viral on social media prompting an apology from Mrs Deveaux, as well as a statement from PLP leader Philip “Brave” Davis.
“The public is advised that I have seen the unqualified apology issued by PLP National Vice Chair Patricia Deveaux for comments made at a PLP sponsored public meeting,” he said.
“I am satisfied that she has dealt with this matter responsibly and it is now in the past.”
Still, Mr Davis said it is important for the public to “remain focused” on “larger national issues” like the “consistent delivery of poor governance” and the “miserable performance of the FNM,” which he claimed was the “source and cause of much of the misery Bahamian families continue to suffer today.”
“I caution Bahamians not to be distracted by the FNM propagandists and social media trolls who seek to cast an excellent and invigorating public meeting of hope and inspiration in a negative light,” Mr Davis said. “I again thank the Bahamian people for their overwhelming support and confidence reposed in the PLP by their great numbers last evening as we move forward. There is much work to be done on their behalf.”
In her apology, Ms Deveaux also admitted to using language which she has now come to regret.
“During our PLP rally at Columbus Primary last night, I introduced Senator Dr Michael Darville using language that I regret,” she said in a separate statement. “I meant to suggest that the PLP is a party that embraces all, but I ultimately made comments that alienated and offended some members of my own race.”
Ms Deveaux insisted she was a “proud black woman” that has worked with the PLP for a number of years for the “upliftment of all people.”
She said she hopes the message of the rally, which she described as “conveying the failed policies of the Minnis administration” and its attack on the poor and middle-class in “favour of rich special interests,” was not overshadowed by her “misstatements.”
“I apologise unreservedly to the leadership of my party and to the Bahamian people,” she said. “I hope that we can all move forward as Bahamians to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Still, Free National Movement Chairman Carl Culmer said he does not believe Ms Deveaux’s apology was genuine.
Labelling her remarks as racist and divisive, he told The Tribune: “I believe after she saw the reactions and heard the comments from persons (she issued an) apology just to smooth over what she said. Her comments were most definitely racist and like the Bible says, out of your mouth comes your heart.”
Mr Culmer also said he believes the PLP has been a racist party from its “inception.”
“They are very divisive and whereas we in the FNM see all Bahamians as one, the PLP try to divide and conquer,” Mr Culmer said. “(They try) to have the blacks on one side, the whites on the other side, the lights on another side and darks on another side. We don’t believe in that, but they use the race card for a political advantage which is totally wrong.”
However the FNM has also faced similar backlash. Last year, Bennett Minnis, a Water and Sewerage Corporation board director, came under public scrutiny after making a number of racially insensitive remarks against several PLP leaders.
In a voice note widely circulated on social media that summer, Mr Minnis, the FNM’s Mount Moriah constituency association chairman, called the PLP a party of “corrupt, thieving, no good, bastard, homosexual, African monkeys.”
In response, the PLP called for the government to force Mr Minnis to resign from his WSC post, and for the FNM to condemn his remarks.