EDITOR, The Tribune
American hegemony and cultural domination looms large all over the world, nowhere more so than here in the Caribbean.
In our region, no country can claim a closer physical and cultural relationship with the US than us.
Yet somehow, miraculously, the obdurate writer Kevan Evans, wants us to believe that when it comes to race relations we exist here in a vacuum, impervious to the earth-shaking demands for equality taking place next door.
He posits that because our fight for racial justice was not as bloody as the Americans, somehow, we have arrived at the holy grail of racial egalitarianism.
It appears that Evans stubbornly refuses to evolve beyond the time when black people were referred to as negro. Nobody is proclaiming that Negro Lives Matter. Tellingly, he didn’t demur in referring to white Bahamians as such instead of using the similarly outdated term “caucasian”.
While few countries practice the level of inequality in their criminal justice system quite like the Americans, we are not above admonishment for incidents where our police have violated the rights of some citizens, ignoring the constitutional guarantee that all are innocent until proven guilty in court.
Recently a judge upbraided our police for shooting a fleeing suspect and another judge chastised the police for violating another man’s constitutional rights (presumably to freedom of speech and from unreasonable arrest).
These were not racial injustice in the classic definition, but we can neither prove nor disprove any role that indifference to one’s own race may have played in contaminating the minds of the officers involved.
Evans gave us an example of how a key fallacy of our home-grown racism still informs too many minds today. He criticised an internet blogger who posted a picture of the white oligarchs who controlled economic and political life here prior to the 1960s. This simple telling of history is somehow “race baiting” in Evan’s fertile mind.
Evans exalts the oligarchs as “highly accomplished” for obviously benefitting from their genealogical connections, exclusive access to power and white privilege.
Few politicians gave up their day jobs back then and most amassed great wealth from government contracts, political favours, cronyism and special consideration that were only available to them. Doesn’t take genius to get rich if someone gives you exclusivity in your chosen business.
Then, in another sign of his ignorance of history, Evans states that the Free National Movement, “merged” with the UBP of the oligarchs. No such thing happened. The night the late Jimmy Shepherd invited friends to his house to form the FNM, there wasn’t a UBP politician in sight, nor would they have been welcomed past Shepherd’s front gate.
UBP members and patrons are Bahamian and therefore entitled to support any party they want. A few joined the PLP and even those that didn’t, prospered under the PLP in ways they never imagined.
So, having set up business courtesy of friends in high places, Evans wants us to now be grateful that these white oligarchs employ blacks. There is nothing altruistic on their part. They get richer and further endow their progeny in the bargain.
Not content with grossly misrepresenting the situation at home, Evans then serves up a despicable homily on the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, which now belongs to the world.
He labels the female co-founders of the movement feminists, as if feminism is bad and only women could be feminists. He even speculates on the sexuality of one of them as if that has anything to do with their fight for justice.
Evans fails to grasp the inescapable fact that the white supporters and street protestors of BLM, now greatly outnumber black proponents. Achieving that was as shrewd as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s strategy to get white people to support the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Then, as now, change happens when a majority of the people demands it.
Evans became apologist-in-chief for the UBP, trivialising the racial injustices that they condoned here as simply “some form of institutionalised racism”.
An uncodified colour bar prevented blacks from many jobs. More perverse is that a mental “shade-of-black” bar still exists today in many areas and is often meted out by blacks against blacks. A syndrome the late Bob Marley called mental slavery.
Because it permeates so much of society, it must be viewed as institutionalised and systemic. The BLM message is just as poignant to get blacks to recognise their self-worth, as it is for those racist cops in the US who demean and snuff out black lives.
Not all blacks in the US will suffer the blows or even the knee of racist police, but that doesn’t exempt them from suffering at the hands of a racist system.
The very fact that black American parents have to instruct their children to act like subservient vassals if confronted by the police should be proof to all that the BLM movement is pivotal.
The precept that total obedience to the police is required from blacks contrasts sharply with the proclamation of their constitutional rights that whites lecture police about when they get stopped, with often no consequences attending.
When a black man’s life depends on his sacrificing his dignity to appease a rogue racist cop, that is certainly proof that Black Lives must Matter to all races.
June 28, 2020.