Video: Sir John Swan On Race Relations

March 2, 2017 | 21 Comments

“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.

Sir John Swan on Race Relation TC 3

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.

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Comments (21)

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  1. no vision says:

    If Sir John had addressed race relations and the social fabric of the community when he was Premier, instead of many times saying we did not have a black and white issue in Bermuda, we may of moved on but because of his support to the elitist, he missed the boat, IMHO. Sorry he's part of the problem we are now in 2017 facing such discrimination. If the people's campaign did not include him in the negotiations last year, a different outcome may of prevailed. 'Winning the black votes is what has him out in the public. OBA pitting one black former leader against the other. and of course he allowing himself to their poster child.

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  2. Paradise Reclaimed says:

    Sir John's is always worthy opinion. He is wise. Bernews - Great job!

    Like(21)
    Dislike(59)
    • So Blacks have to sell ourselves out and bow down to be economically secure.

      Like(66)
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    • no vision says:

      If Sir John had addressed race relations and the social fabric of the community when he was Premier, instead of many times saying we did not have a black and white issue in Bermuda, we may of moved on but because of his support to the elitist, he missed the boat, IMHO. Sorry he's part of the problem we are now in 2017 facing such discrimination. If the people's campaign did not include him in the negotiations last year, a different outcome may of prevailed. 'Winning the black votes is what has him out in the public. OBA pitting one black former leader against the other. and of course he allowing himself to their poster child.

      Like(0)
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    • Eyes wide open says:

      JOHN SWAN WAS USED BY THE UBP TO WIN VOTES FROM A CERTAIN PART OF THE COMMUNITY, PERIOD.

      THAT'S WHY THEY CHANGE THE NAME TO OBA TO GET AWAY FROM THEIR DARK PAST!!!!!!!!!!!

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      • Eyes wide open says:

        WHY DON'T YOU TELL BERMUDA HOW THEY ALL TURNED ON YOU WHEN YOU TRIED TO BRING MACDONALDS restaurant hereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

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  3. know your history says:

    Honestly what has he really done to help?! Other than help himself and make his pockets fatter! He has done nothing to truly help the community! Does he even offer scholarships?! All we hear is blah blah blah! People are suffering and our sons are killing each other. Quit it with the lip service John Swan and we are not interested in hearing it or put your money where your mouth is, or just keep quiet.

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    • Point boy says:

      @ know your history. Do (you) have any great ideas of how to (make Bermuda great again)?

      You should listen to the man.

      Personally, I hope he runs again. He'll get my vote

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  4. reddamtibi says:

    Why is it that whites are mere economically well off Sir John? What is your opinion on this?

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  5. Terry says:

    Sir John is the Donald Trump of Bermuda.
    Manipulator is his forte
    Reality.

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  6. N/A says:

    I respect John Swan a great deal. However, blacks and whites will never "come together" because whites have historically always exploited and taken advantage of every culture who isn't white. Blacks need to create our institutions and practice group economics in order to catch up to the 400 year financial and economic head start whites have enjoyed. Until then foreigners will continue to come to our island and take jobs locals could do. The same locals who's ancestors helped make this island what it is.

    Like(66)
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    • Rumsoak says:

      crabs in a bucket is the reason

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      • Psychological abuse is worst then physical abuse,so it gonna take a while before we realize that we are a Mighty People.

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    • bdaboy says:

      "blacks and whites will never "come together" because whites have historically always exploited and taken advantage of every culture who isn't white."

      So do black. Who do you think brought natives to Bermuda, as slaves? Why don't you ever talk about your own sordid past?

      "Blacks need to create our institutions and practice group economics in order to catch up to the 400 year financial and economic head start whites have enjoyed"

      But, they won't. They're sitting on a wall expecting handouts.

      " Until then foreigners will continue to come to our island and take jobs locals could do. "

      Have you, or anyone you know, ever 'taken' a job? Unless the business is your own, you're given a job, based on your skills and willingness to work.

      This seems to be what a large majority of Bermudians don't understand....you have to work for it, don't expect it to be handed to you.

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  7. La-Verne Symonds says:

    Well said Know your History

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  8. bdaboy says:

    "Honestly what has he really done to help?!"

    What have you done?

    "People are suffering and our sons are killing each other"

    Sounds like a parenting issue, perhaps you should take some responsibility for your children.

    "He has done nothing to truly help the community! Does he even offer scholarships?!"

    demanding handouts again?

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  9. nopower says:

    John is part of the root race problems as when he was Premier he was noted to say there waasn't a black and white challenged in Bermuda. Now's he parading touting this rubbish

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  10. bdaboy says:

    As you can see, the plp click machine is working overtime tonight.

    do you get paid per click?

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  11. Hope Berg says:

    If our black males stayed in school, and went on to further education, they would be right up there with their white counterparts.

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