EDITOR, The Tribune
The spinning sound we heard this week was not a carnival ride, rather, the late patriot and statesman Sir Milo Boughton Butler turning in his grave.
We got a glimpse of toxic colourism from none other than the National Vice Chair of the PLP. Colourism is a form of prejudice where black people with lighter skin are perceived to be ethnically better than darker skinned people.
It was not just that the Vice Chair has an obvious fascination for lighter skinned blacks, subconsciously she may suppress a trailer load of unsettled issues surrounding race.
That Patricia Deveaux quickly apologised doesn’t end the story. No doubt her comments resonated with more than a few people no matter how galling they are.
The PLP leader, Brave Davis didn’t seek to put distance between the party and its out-of-touch Vice Chair, rather he accepted her apology and tried to brush off the transgression.
But it is not merely a distraction to be brushed off, rather it is a symptom of a larger rot in the party and in society. The fascination with “light skin” and “curly hair” runs deep. But almost 60 years after Sir Milo stormed into the Royal Bank of Canada main branch on Bay Street to demand that they offer more teller positions to people Ms. Deveaux views as “darkies”, portends that we have not progressed as far as we had hoped.
The history of the PLP and the struggle not just for “darkies” but for a more equal and just society for all Bahamians is perhaps lost on the Vice Chair.
She now holds the office that was first occupied by John S. Carey in 1953. And she probably never had a conversation with William Cartwright, Cyril Stevenson or Sir Henry Taylor – all light skin, curly haired men who were fed up with how darkies were being treated in the country.
They formed the party she is now privileged to serve and which she has stained by her oblivion to its history. How sad.
This is not a PLP or an FNM problem. It is a Bahamian problem and simply accepting an apology and moving on will never help us eradicate it.
We need to look at how our recent history is being taught in schools. Perhaps we spend too much time glorifying Christopher Columbus and Woodes Rodgers and not enough time on Bill Cartwright or Milo Butler.
Ms. Deveaux needs now to atone for her ignorance. Her apology bus tour must make more than just the one stop at PLP headquarters for she offended more than just party supporters.
Instead of coming to regret her language only after she was called out for it, she needs to demonstrate that she gets why her language was so offensive.
She needs to study our history so that she can fall in love with our diversity, our tolerance and our forgiveness.
She can start by looking at the love story that is the real history of the man who she was so gushingly, but yet so naively, trying to introduce.
Dr. Michael Darville was too polite to call her out immediately for her insensitivity. But his own family is a prime example of true colour blindness. His late mother did heat up any room she was in, but she used her charm, her smile and her boundless generosity to do so.
Come on, Madam Vice Chair, you must be better than this.
February 12, 2020