CURB To Share ‘Shackles Of The Past’ Book

May 14, 2021

Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda [CURB] announced that the family of the late David Critchley have given permission for his book Shackles of the Past to be offered as a download at the CURB website, free of charge under a Creative Commons license.

A spokesperson said, “David Critchley was an early activist against discrimination in Bermuda. A white Bermudian, he joined a group of black Bermudians in the early 1950s to advocate for full racial equality.

“The group secretly wrote and then distributed the landmark document An Analysis of Bermuda’s Social Problems. Other co-authors were Wilfred Allen, Alphonso Blackett, Yvonne Blackett, Edward de Jean, Marion de Jean, Carol Hill, Georgine Hill, Hilton Hill Sr., Leon Parris, Norman Pogson, Eva Robinson and Walter Robinson.

“Analysis took aim at the Island’s property-based voting system and racial segregation, calling them ‘props’ that allowed powerful white male leaders, known as the Forty Thieves, to ‘maintain their unchallenged position.’

“Critchley graduated in 1948 with a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Toronto. After working with disadvantaged youth in Toronto, he returned to Bermuda in 1951 to serve as a government youth organizer. During this time, he desegregated youth facilities, including the National Stadium.

“But in 1953, he left the Island after growing frustrated with the slow pace of progress. As he explained in a later interview with the Bermuda Sun: “There was no way that I could see my child growing up in a Bermuda where life was lived according to such clear-cut racial barriers.”

“He worked in Canada for the next two decades, including as an Associate Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and as a contributor to CBC Radio and TV.

“In 1972, persuaded that the Island had made important progress on race, Critchley returned to Bermuda to take a position as the island’s first Director of Social Services. He spent the next 16 years in government, rising to Permanent Secretary for Health, Social Services, and Prisons.

“Following his retirement in 1988, Critchley published 1989’s Shackles of the Past, which explored Bermuda’s continuing racial divide and called on Government to improve social policy by basing it on the best available evidence. All too often, he wrote, decisions were made based on untested assumptions, political influence, or personal biases.

“Reliable information is the lifeblood of effective decision-making,” he wrote. “We are polarised by our prejudices and ideologies because we lack sound data, which is the only reliable antidote to such divisive and destructive forces.”

Too often, Critchley wrote, we fear such information: “Don’t ask the questions for fear of the answers and what harmful use might be made of them.” A related problem, he argued, was paternalism, which he described as “authoritarianism with the gloves on.”

“After describing these and other ‘shackles’ that he believed were still holding Bermuda down, Critchley closed the book with recommendations for finally breaking free. Chief among these were: teaching communication skills known to build connection and understanding; deploying education as the most potent weapon against inequality and disenfranchisement; and raising standards, compensation, and respect for public school teachers.

“In 2015, Oxford University acquired a copy of Shackles of the Past along with other books about race relations published in Bermuda.

“In 2016, Critchley was one of the honourees recognized by Government’s Emancipation Committee in a ceremony at Ruth Seaton James Auditorium.”

click here Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda

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  1. saud says:

    ““In 1972, persuaded that the Island had made important progress on race, ”

    …he was fooled.