CURB: Solutions Must Be Multifaceted & Inclusive

April 11, 2022

[Column written by Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda]

The recent tragedy of the loss of life of two young Black males has once again brought grief and mourning to a community already reeling from too many violent deaths over the last few years.

Two families traumatized by the loss of a beloved spouse, father, son, brother, nephew and the struggle left behind.

CURB joins the community in grieving for the loss of these two young men and extends our sincere condolences to their families, friends and neighbours.

In 2011, CURB made a submission to the Joint Select Commission on Violent Crime and Gun Violence, and over 20 recommendations were made in that report including

  • A complete review of the criminal justice system, including laws and legislation [with the establishment of a Youth Judicial Advisory Council].
  • Introduction of African-centred education in our schools.
  • A ‘truth and reconciliation’ process [which CURB has had underway since 2017].

All of these items were included in CURB’s Racial Justice Platform, first published in 2012, which now has over 50 recommendations to repair and heal the traumas and legacies of the past.

We understand that the past provides us with root cause of today’s breakdowns in society. Today racial ideology, a systematic, institutionalized set of beliefs and attitudes, still permeates our society and frames our experience of race, blackness and the idea that one [wo]man has less value than another purely based on skin colour.

Racial identity is externally imposed: “How do others perceive me?” And internally constructed: “How do I identify me?” Understanding how our identities and experiences have been shaped by race is vital. We are all awarded certain privileges and/or disadvantages because of our race, whether or not we are conscious of it.

Despite race having no genetic or scientific basis, societies continue to use race to establish and justify systems of power, privilege, disenfranchisement, and oppression.

These acts of public violence have one unfortunate trend: 99% of the victims have been black men and all the perpetrators have been black men. When one has no self-worth, no hope, it’s easier to kill someone who looks like you. The racial and gender specificity of these acts provide a lens to understand them, and that lens cannot be ignored.

Justice Sonya Sotomayor [U.S. Suppreme Court] said, race matters. Race matters because of persistent racial inequality in society – inequality that cannot be ignored.

Within this value system, inherited from a colonial, punitive past, a Black life is viewed as expendable and less than human – a Black life does not matter.

We can historically go back and establish why this came about, e.g. Dr Eva Hodgson, in Second Class Citizens: First Class Men, states that “Bermuda’s policy of segregation was intended to ensure that black Bermudians believed themselves to be as innately and inevitably inferior and powerless as the Bermudian oligarchy made certain that they were, economically, politically and socially.”

We look backwards to understand why we are where we are today, to prevent us [hopefully] from making the same mistake, but also to guide us in what needs to happen to heal and restore those affected.

As a society we must seek new ways of being and doing. CURB realizes that solutions must be multifaceted and inclusive, and our volunteers have been taking action in the background on the following:

  • CURB is currently putting together a Task Force specifically to address the tragedy and trauma of gang violence, as well as to propose legislation introducing restorative justice into Bermuda’s criminal justice system, and are in the process of inviting specific people to join the committee.
  • CURB’s Racial Justice Platform, updated every two years, contains concrete recommendations for reparative actions that can be taken across society and legislatively to bring about change.
  • Introduction of restorative practices into Bermuda’s education system. Since 2017, CURB has trained hundreds of educators and administrators in restorative practices in both public and private schools; and has a proposal with the Ministry of Education to bring restorative practices to all public schools. Restorative practices provide children [primary through high school] with ways to navigate relationships, build community and find ways to resolve conflict through means other than violence.
  • Introduction of restorative justice to the criminal justice system. CURB has trained police officers, correction officers and others in the criminal justice system, in restorative practices and restorative conferencing and has submitted a proposal to the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of National Security proposing how to introduce this training to all police officers and throughout the criminal justice system.
  • Bermuda Truth & Reconciliation Community Conversations, began in 2017, offered free to the public, have reached hundreds of people via free workshops helping people of all races to meet, build community and relationships, while learning about Bermuda’s history, what racism is and how it manifests and most importantly to share their stories in a way that moves minds and hearts to new ways of thinking.
  • Workshops on racism, diversity, equity and inclusion are being held in international companies, businesses, organizations, faith communities, schools and across the Bermuda community bringing greater understanding of the need for change.
  • Free public webinars are held several times a year to offer new perspective and understanding on matters of race, media and anonymity, reparation, black masculinity, and black history.
  • Publication of Black History in Bermuda: Timeline Spanning Five Centuries – the compilation of black history drawn from the work of Bermuda’s historians.
  • Collaborations with:
    • Ashay University to introduce African-centered education;
    • Imagine Bermuda bringing Empowerment Circles to Westgate Dept of Corrections;
    • InterAgency Committee – restorative practice training workshops;
    • Future Leaders of Bermuda – mentoring programme for young Bermudians

These young men dying in ever increasing numbers and those who commit these crimes are all our children, our future and our responsibility. Attackers and victims alike share a historical legacy rooted in injustice where power was expressed through hierarchies of subjugation and a willingness to inflict harm and pain. As a society built on oppression, today we are accountable for repairing the harm.

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  1. watching says:

    This is all good but it ALL begins in the home.