Audio: MPs Exchange Words After ‘Boy’ Comment

October 7, 2017

MPs exchanged words in the House of Assembly last night after Opposition MP Trevor Moniz told Education Minister Diallo Rabain he’s “on a front bench over there, so he thinks he’s a wonderful boy,” with Minister Rabain saying that the comment was “racist and derogatory in its tone.”

Mr Moniz was speaking about getting investment in Bermuda, saying that a Minister said how it’s difficult to get an investment in Bermuda, and he said “look at the investments that we’ve achieved in the 4.5 years of the OBA administration,” citing projects like Pink Beach, Morgan’s Point and Desarrollos.

Then someone, which seemed to be Minister Rabain, said, “And look at where you’re sitting now.”

Mr Moniz replied, “See, that’s the difference…he said ‘look at where you’re sitting now.’ I’m not in this for personal benefit, I’m in it for Bermuda. All he cares about is where he’s sitting. He’s on a front bench over there, so he thinks he’s a wonderful boy, but that can change pretty quickly.”

Minister Rabain interjected with a Point of Order, saying if he “calls me a boy again, I won’t be sitting here, I’ll be right over there. ”

Speaker Dennis Lister then interjected, saying, “Let me deal with it. Take a seat. I was slow reacting on that, I’m going to ask you to withdraw that comment.”

Mr Moniz seemed to appear to agree to withdraw it, adding, “He said ‘look at where you’re sitting now.’ That’s just as insulting,” to which other MPs audibly reacted to.

House exchange with Mr Moniz, Minister Rabain & Speaker Dennis Lister

Then later on during the sitting, during the Motion to Adjourn, Minister Rabain addressed the comment saying, “There was some sad language used in this House that I think all of us should be very concerned about.

“Today, we had the eye-opening experience of the honourable member who has left these Chambers, Trevor Moniz, one of the OBA’s older white members, referred to myself as a boy.

“The utterance was predictably met with immediate protestation from this side,” he said, adding that the fact that this “white male allowed that word to slip past his lips speaks volumes to any person of colour in Bermuda.”

The Minister said “this not-so-Freudian slip” from the “white male of the One Bermuda Alliance, not only gives us a glimpse of the mindset of that member, but serves to present us with an even more concerning issue.”

Minister Rabain said that “if a white member has the audacity to speak to a black member of this House, in that tone, we can only imagine” how he speaks about “black people in Bermuda in the comforts of his personal spaces. ”

Minister Diallo Rabain speaking during the Motion to Adjourn

Minister Rabain then said, “A larger issue here has brought a greater concern, and that is that the Opposition Leader, an older black woman, when given the opportunity to admonish that member, only defended…”

Opposition Leader Patricia Gordon Pamplin then interjected, saying, “Point of Order, Mr. Speaker.

“When speaking in the House, I did not defend the comment. I specifically said ‘I am not defending the word that was said.’ So, the honourable member cannot stand there and say that I defended what I did not.”

Minister Rabain then said, “An apologist by any other name is still an apologist.”

He added that the “days of a black man in this country bowing his head, averting his eyes or shucking and jiving for a white man have been passed,” and in 2017 “we will not and should not tolerate that.”

Opposition Leader Patricia Gordon Pamplin speaking during the Motion to Adjourn

Following Minister Rabain’s comments, Opposition Leader Patricia Gordon Pamplin, then spoke during the Motion to Adjourn, saying, “I am perfectly capable, willing and able to accept responsibility for anything which I am responsible.

“The honourable member obviously misunderstood, or chose to misrepresent, what I said when I stood.”

She then said a white member on their side made “tremendously derogatory remarks to me as a black woman”, and she heard “not one word of condemnation coming from any of the members on that side.”

“They can give, and it’s okay, but they cannot take,” she said. “Inappropriate language is inappropriate language.”

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