“We are a divided community on economic grounds,” Sir John Swan said, adding that until “everybody feels as though we’re all working together to get benefits, we’ll always be this divided community.”
Sir John Swan, who served as Premier from 1982 to 1995, recently sat down with Bernews for a live interview on a wide range of topics, with race relations in Bermuda one of the matters discussed.
When asked about how he feels about the state of race relations in Bermuda, Sir John Swan told Bernews, “Well, I think race relations is a fact of economics. We keep thinking it’s a fact of sociology or anthropology, which means the historical background of things that have happened.
“I think economics is the big factor, and I think that we have a unique society here, or a society here, which your dominant force here, firstly international business, predominantly controlled by the white community.
“You look at the composition of Bermuda, where the population, black versus white. The black community, numerically, on a purely Bermudian basis exceeds the white population, but when you get down to putting in the foreign population that live day to day in Bermuda, it’s about a 50/50. In one case, they have the political power, but in another case, the economic power switches around the other way.”
Video excerpt from the live interview showing Sir John discussing race relations:
“The whites seem to be sitting on a great deal of wealth,” he said, adding that “the white community in Bermuda is now starting to feel the effect because Bermuda’s slowed down so much.”
“The dynamics of racism is not just a straight black white issue. We’re the most integrated society in the world in terms of marriage,” Sir John said. “The issue is economics…and give me a chance to do something, give me a job. You’re hearing the word job. Give me a job.”
“And there is less opportunity for all Bermudians, black or white, because the economy is stagnant,” he added. ““Therefore racism will stay there, emotions will stay there…”
“I once said to a group of people, 1976 or so, what I said is, ‘Until blacks and white partner and try to build the Bermuda that everybody feels as though we’re all working together to get benefits, we’ll always be this divided community.’ That’s what we are now. We are a divided community on economic grounds.”
“We either make this ship work, or else we’ll see our standard of living just go down,” Sir John added.
The video above was extracted from the full interview, in which Sir John discussed a wide range of topics including the current political scene, the waterfront, America’s Cup and more. We previously posted an excerpt of Sir John’s comments on the airport redevelopment as well as an excerpt of the discussion on same sex marriage, and to watch the full 1-hour live interview replay, please click here.