‘National Day Of Racial Healing’ Event Held

January 21, 2020 | 2 Comments

Bermuda’s first National Day of Racial Healing was held today [Jan 21], with speeches given by people including Lynne Winfield, Cordell Riley, and Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling.

Lynne Winfield said, “CURB welcomes you to Bermuda’s first National Day of Racial Healing. This is an informal opportunity to gather and acknowledge that deep racial divisions exist and recognize that they must be overcome and healed.

“The National Day of Racial Healing began in the U.S. and is part of a national community-based process of transformative, sustainable change, addressing the historical and contemporary effects of racism. The National Day of Racial Healing is a time to:

  • “Reinforce and honor our common humanity, while celebrating the distinct differences that make our communities vibrant.
  • “Acknowledge the deep racial divisions that exist and must be overcome and healed.
  • “Commit to engaging people from all racial and ethnic groups in genuine efforts to increase understanding, communication, caring and respect from one another.

“It is an opportunity for people, organizations and communities to call for racial healing, bring people together in their common humanity and take collective action to create a more just and equitable world. Bermuda’s history of slavery and segregation has many parallels with the U.S. and as part of the Atlantic world, our histories are entwined.

“To realise a society free of systemic injustice, we must come together to heal, exploring and unraveling the deeply held racial biases of the past – the biases that hold us back from unleashing our collective energy and potential.

“Solving our community’s challenging issues will require all voices and experiences to be heard and valued. As a society we need to understand the legacy of the past and respond to the need for increased intentionality to produce more equitable outcomes.

“Through racial healing, we recognize our community, our humanity, acknowledge our truths from our shared history, and recognize our collective potential and shared values. Together we can bridge the divides to transform communities for our children and future generations. Together we heal.

“As CURB begins its fourth year of bringing the Truth & Reconciliation Community Conversations to the people of Bermuda, we hope the public will continue to support us and attend the Community Conversations. Bringing to these meetings their whole selves and own identities, as we continue our honest and open conversations around the legacies of Bermuda’s past, the need for equity and racial justice, and the way forward for us all.

“Thank you to the Kellogg Foundation for their permission to use their materials. And thank you for spending your lunchtime with us.”

In his opening remarks, Mayor Gosling said, “It’s an honour to welcome you all to City Hall this afternoon as we recognize and celebrate this National Day of Racial Healing. The invitation I received to attend today’s event quoted from James Baldwin and said ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’

“I received my invitation as an alumni of the Truth & Reconciliation Community Conversations that have been held by CURB for the last three years, now entering the fourth.

“I joined the conversation last year knowing that the issues surrounding race are the greatest inhibitors of Bermuda’s future and if I wanted change, I needed to be a part of the resolution.

“Now the last thing needed was another white guy trying to set the agenda, but what is needed is for me and others in our community to acknowledge in a structured series of meetings, the racial divisions which are still amongst us; bringing empathy and humanity to the table to listen.

“Listen without having to come up with a knee jerk excuse or attempts at misguided context, or playing ‘match me if you can’. Listen to be able to understand, listen to encourage communication, listen to engage in caring and gaining respect.

“It is not easy; some sessions were emotionally exhausting and the story being told was not mine. But unless you are blindly happy with the way things are today, you have to be a part of the conversation. Your ability to complain should be inextricably linked to your being a part of the solution.

“I’d like to thank CURB for their continued efforts to engage our community through education and conversation, working towards resolution. You get a lot of push back and vitriol for your good efforts and as a white Bermudian I’d like to say thank you, well done. Keep up the good work.”

In his speech, Mr. Riley said, “As was mentioned a few minutes ago, we are here, joining like-minded colleagues in the United States, to recognise the the need for racial healing, which we hope will lead to truth-telling, the repairing of harms and, ultimately, a more equitable society. All of this from healing or, put more succinctly, being made whole.

“Last week at a CURB Truth and Reconciliation alumni get-together, guest speaker Mr. Corey Butterfield took us on an historic walk, stopping at various points along the journey where the healing was supposed to begin, but having failed to launch.

“For instance, just two weeks prior to the Emancipation Act appearing in the local daily, was an advert announcing the auctioning of slaves, a clear signal that nothing much would change post emancipation. Fast forward to the 20th century. The 1959 Theatre Boycott was supposed to bring about healing by removing barriers to integration. That, too, failed to launch.

“And what of the 1968 Constitutional changes, the Wooding Report, the Pitt Report, the This Report and the That Report? Did any of these usher in the Age of Healing? Let’s move on to the 21st century. Did one-man-one-vote of equal value bring about this now elusive healing? We [CURB] have entered the ring with our Truth and Reconciliation Community Conversations, going where many have gone before. Can we deliver the knock-out peace?

“Yesterday, our American friends celebrated the birth of Dr Martin Luther King. I am reminded of perhaps his most prominent speech, I Have a Dream. I wish to share some excerpts from that 1963 speech, modified for this occasion.

“We have come to this hallowed spot to remind Bermuda of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilising drug of gradualism or, I might add, status-quo-ism. Now is the time to make real the promises of equality. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of voluntary segregation to the sunlit path of racial and economic justice.

“Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of nationhood.

“It would be fatal for Bermuda to overlook the urgency of the moment. This freezing mood of discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating spring of racial justice and equality. 2020 is not an end, but it should provide us with a clear vision going forward. And those who think that racial injustices are in the past will have a rude awakening if they maintain their ‘business as usual’ posture.

“There will be neither rest nor tranquillity in these islands until past harms have been repaired. It is then, and only then, that the healing can begin.

“The words of Dr Martin Luther King bear much resemblance to those of Frederick Douglas nearly 100 years before in 1857. In his West India Emancipation speech Douglas stated:

“’Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle there is no progress. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.’

“Returning to Mr. Butterfield’s remarks, he infers that nothing that we have done so far has brought about the very real healing that is required to make us whole, all of us. Our friends in the US struggle with this as well. But we are a small island. Must we continue the struggle and unrest?

“Must we live in two Bermudas where the gap between the haves and have nots continues to widen? Must we continue to live in a country where Bermudians are first-class citizens but treated as though we are second-class men and women?

“There is an African proverb that states that if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. There are those who have had the means to go alone, and thus fast, but have come to the stark reality that they have in fact, not gone very far. That is the Bermuda of today – much motion, little movement.

“But that can change if we are willing to honestly address our past and the harms resulting therefrom. Without this bold step, there can be no healing. Let today mark the occasion that, if it hasn’t happened already, the healing begins in you and in me.”

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  1. Comfortably numb says:

    I sometimes wonder if Curb is yet another propaganda arm of the PLP, along with the Unions and the People’s Campaign. Their hopelessly one sided, bigoted approach to racism only strengthens the two Bermudas doctrine. Where were Curb when a white football referee was racially abused throughout a game recently? Where was Curb when racial and homophobic graffiti was plastered over supermarket walls recently? Curb lost any credibility a long time ago because of their blinkered approach to racism.

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