EDITOR, The Tribune
PLP National vice-chairman Patricia Deveaux’s racist remarks — for which she later had to apologise — brought back many childhood memories.
At the PLP’s rally Monday night Mrs Deveaux meant no harm, she just did what comes naturally in her introduction of Senator Dr Michael Darville to party supporters.
“We have a real doctor coming down tonight,” she chortled. “He’s another light skin, handsome, curly-haired fella – 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.”
Obviously in growing up she was very much at home with these kind of remarks. However, the next day she had to quickly walk back this language as she said: “During our PLP rally at Columbus Primary last night, I introduced Senator Dr Michael Darville using language that I regret, adding ‘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.’”
Immediately I had a flashback to my own childhood. Those were the days that black or “coloured” Bahamians could not go to a movie at Bay Street’s Savoy theatre — all whites, it was said. All hotels were closed to what Mrs Deveaux described as a “bunch of darkies” heating up the place. “Over the Hill” little boys played in their singlets that were not long enough to hide their private parts, but they were happy and no one seemed to notice. You could hear a mother shout for them to come inside so she could comb their “nappy head.”
It was from our maid at home that I learned about the degrees of colour in the black race – grades from black, right up to the “bright” – the category into which Dr Darville would have fitted. It was from the maid’s young daughter — who was an ebony colour – that I learned of the unhappiness of members of the family who had the misfortune of being “black as ebony” rather than “bright”, which I can assure you was no reference to their intelligence, but rather to the colour of their skin! All the best things went to the member of the family who made them the proudest — only because they were “bright.” It was really a sad tale she told – no wonder the darker race has so many complexes, instilled in them by their own black parents.
I remember telling my own parents that I didn’t like going to certain homes, because all they talked about was colour — “bright” this, “bright” that – it was truly very depressing. I preferred to be with my white friends when the colour of one’s skin was never mentioned, and seemingly not even noticed. To me they were normal, around the others I truly felt uncomfortable. Thank God those days are just unpleasant memories. I understand them, because I went through them. Today they are just memories that help me to better understand what is happening today – unfortunately, as we saw at the PLP rally colour still does matter and the “brighter” you are in colour still suggests that doors open more easily for you.
And then Lynden Pindling came along and used all of these inferiority complexes to further divide this nation. It is indeed a tragedy. Don’t blame Mrs Deveaux— she’s only doing what comes naturally — this is probably all she heard growing up – it’s not a new normal.
February 12, 2020.