Tag Archives: Human Rights

Einstein: The Negro Question (1946) | On Being

Einstein: The Negro Question (1946) | On Being.

In 1946, Einstein wrote the following with regard to white Americans’ prejudice against Blacks. I believe we need to challenge ourselves today to consider the way in which we think about and treat people who migrate to our society from Haiti — and their children and grandchildren as well.

It would be foolish to despise tradition. But with our growing self-consciousness and increasing intelligence we must begin to control tradition and assume a critical attitude toward it, if human relations are ever to change for the better. We must try to recognize what in our accepted tradition is damaging to our fate and dignity—and shape our lives accordingly.

I believe that whoever tries to think things through honestly will soon recognize how unworthy and even fatal is the traditional bias against Negroes.

What, however, can the man of good will do to combat this deeply rooted prejudice? He must have the courage to set an example by word and deed, and must watch lest his children become influenced by this racial bias.

I do not believe there is a way in which this deeply entrenched evil can be quickly healed. But until this goal is reached there is no greater satisfaction for a just and well-meaning person than the knowledge that he has devoted his best energies to the service of the good cause.

Much of the discussion I hear about “illegal immigrants”, which clothes itself in trappings of patriotism and concern for Bahamian sovereignty, has plenty in common with the racist rhetoric directed by whites against blacks. I long for the day when we can discuss the issue of immigration without using the rhetoric of racism to do so.

Response to the homophobic hysteria surrounding the proposed amendments to the Bahamian constitution

I am the founder of the grassroots social media group Bahamas Against Sexual Violence & Child Abuse and, in accordance with my belief in transparency, disclose that I am a member of the LGBT community. I do not “impose this ‘unnatural’ human lifestyle on society”, but do advocate for human rights. No right thinking person can argue that LGBT people are humans, and as citizens of this country, entitled to rights and protections.

“I am afraid of any lifestyle, orientation, preference or behaviour that threatens that very survival of the human race.” – Dr. Myles Munroe

There is no need to be afraid, Dr. Munroe. The world is presently at a greater risk of becoming overpopulated rather than under. Those that choose to be celibate, undergo sterilisation, use contraceptives or cannot conceive naturally are also “abnormal”, but should not be blamed for the feared extinction of the human race. I also guarantee that many of your faithful congregants, international counterparts, family, friends and yes, other  high profile “men of the cloth”, whether known to you or not, have varying sexual practices or preferences they hold privately that you and “the church” would disapprove of.

As you have noted, Dr. Munroe, the homosexual lifestyle has been in existence for thousands of years and is not going anywhere. Wars, poverty, crime, abuse, discrimination, injustice, hate and fear-mongering are also not going anywhere. I encourage you, as a “Kingdom Citizen”, to seriously consider redirecting your efforts toward launching a far-reaching highly publicised campaign strategy toward the eradication of the abuse and assault of minors in The Bahamas instead of promoting your viewpoints related to the private practices of law-abiding adults.

Respectfully,

Terneille Burrows professionally known as TaDa

via thebahamasweekly.com – “Regarding Pastor Myles Munroe’s press release: Homosexuality – Phobia or Principle”.

More on Reparations

The question raised in the last post, regarding Western Europe and reparations, engendered great discussion on Facebook, and also threw up some interesting links. Here are some excerpts from that discussion, and then also some excerpts from the links:

  • Jamaal Charlton I think that we – as a people – need to first look beyond what’s currently being sought/debated. What I mean by that is; we need to first fight to repair own people, until we all get to a point where we wouldn’t need to accept any form of slavery reparations.
  • Gilbert Morris  do not believe that Caribbean leaders, much less African ones, have the moral standing to make the case for reparations. …  the only anchor we have against Europeans COMPARED to other and previous slaving and enslaving is that their values ought to have prevented it. … even when faced with their own vaunted values, they made excuses and often brought their values toward their behaviour, rather than corrected their behaviour by virtue of their values. As such, they sinned against themselves and against foundational principles and failure to recognise this leaves open continued justification of atrocities, past and present. … I do not see Caribbean leaders as credible to call for either recognition or reparations. … Caribbean and African leaders have done more to damage their people than anything in our history … [they] have been the greatest threats to their peoples, stealing their birthright and undermining their prosperity.  … Our region now leads the world in murders and such is our inversion of psychological orientation that we seem to regard the mere possibility of change as a monumental impossible risk; even as every component of civilisation collapses around us.
  • Timothy Treco … NO AMOUNT OF MONEY can bring closure. Wrongdoing, and pain cannot be measured in dollars. Further, when the reparations we speak of move into the subsequent generations, it further complicates all matters. … As John the Baptist said, he who steals should steal no more… It is simply easier to forgive, and to rid ourselves of the atrocities happening again. In the end, God is going to level ALL THE PLAYING field… Revenge is His. WE MUST rest there, and in the mean time make sure that Justice occurs.
  • Rae Whitehouse … ‘reparations’ (i hate that word–it reeks of a panacea that does not exist) need to happen and eventually will happen. what interests me more is where exactly the money will be coming from, where exactly the money will be going to, and what exactly will be done with it. highly problematic, indeed. obviously, just because something is logistically challenging does not mean it’s not necessary, but i see The Clusterfuck to End All Clusterfucks in our future. i’m all ‘ok go’ with the ideals, but the gritty practicalities are distressing me. help.
  • Dillon F. Knowles … financial reparations will probably have the same effect that the estate of a deceased typically has on a family – civil “war”. If you think we are currently unproductive as people with an entitlement mentality, tell us there is a pot of gold to be shared out. Do you think that if we could manage to agree on how to share it, that we would put it to productive use or just enhance our quest for instant gratification. As wrong as slavery is, it cannot be undone, and we decendants of slaves must continue to overcome the hand delt us by hard work and ingenuity.
  • Ava Turnquest … everyone points to other injustices that are threatened if this wrong is put right – or attempted. when something is broken, nowadays it seems like all efforts are focused on ensuring it stays broken, lest other broken items feel entitled to repair.

The links:


Slavery reparations: should aid money be used to pay for past misdeeds? | Jonathan Glennie www.theguardian.com


Project Overview | Legacies of British Slave-ownershiwww.ucl.ac.uk

http://www.independent.co.uk/…/britains-colonial-shame…

Britain’s colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition
www.independent.co.uk

Will Western Europe Pay Out to Slave Descendants? | VICE

The answer is yes. Perhaps not in my lifetime. But if we are all human beings (and we are) the arguments against reparations will fade in the light of the brokenness of the world the slavery built. It’s a brokenness that 50 years cannot begin to fix (answer to the “independence” argument) without some global restructuring of wealth. And it’s not something that can be relegated to the past. The acts may be past but the violence of those acts lives on. If reparations are never paid, Western Europe will be enshrining the fiction it created to justify the enslavement and indentureship of people whose skins were not white & particularly of Africans, and demonstrating that, unlike the Jews, the Maori, and, critically, the white slaveowners, the Africans who were enslaved and their children who were enslaved by their accident of birth are not as human as everyone else. To resist this symbolic action is to perpetuate an institution of hate.

When I spoke to Esther Stanford of PARCOE UK, she argued that “reparations is as much about the battle of ideas and ideologies” as it is about money—and she faults the governments involved for not working with civil society groups to raise “reparations consciousness.” Stanford “It’s not an African name; it’s an enslaved person’s name that I carry to this day” is a lawyer and reparations activist who is currently completing a PhD in the history of the reparations movement. She has called CARICOM’s effort “far too limited, far too myopic.”

via Will Western Europe Pay Out to Slave Descendants? | VICE.

The Gaulin Wife: Making Connections

This is not the crux of Helen’s post, but I chose it to inspire people to want to read the whole thing. It’s crucial reading.

I have to remind myself to continue making connections, and to look for the triumphant in the stories of disaster, to look for the survivance in them, for the ways people continue to refuse to be victims. I have to remind myself, because on the screen the stories being told are told with such potent images, of the dead and the dying, of the grieving, of those who have lost, and they are almost always brown skin people. And the people with microphones in front of their faces, telling the stories, and the people behind the camera lenses, making the pictures, are almost always beige, pale skin people. Beige, pale skin people who appear magically in these places of such pain, while they themselves appear untouched, able to leave when they want to, to smile even, in the midst of it all.

I have to remind myself because I am also beige, pale. And though my socialization is a complex thing – I was raised in a Caribbean country; my way of being in the world, my physical sense of relationship to others is both Africanized and Anglicized and both are rooted in my ancestral Greekness, Greeks from islands, Greeks who were peasants from villages and not aristocrats from the cities – I am still a beige person in a racially polarized society and my imagination is at stake. And what I know is our potential for human transformation depends on our ability to imagine.

via The Gaulin Wife: Making Connections.

Womanish Words: Teach the Children Well

Hear, hear, Lynn.

It upsets me when I hear the little children I know and love speaking in the the racist/religious/hateful language of the local Bahamian press/the moneyed elite/the generally ignorant. There are probably more than a million orphan children struggling to get through the day today in Haiti. It is natural for children to want to help. That natural inclination in our children is at risk. It is hard to hear a child you love speaking about Haiti with no compassion, no natural wanting to help. We Bahamians who enjoy wealth and privilege (and that means anyone not in Port au Prince right now with time and ways enough to read this blog) must wake up and face the fact that we were mis-educated when it comes to Haiti, stop defending the ignorance and selfishness and get on with doing some reading, some learning, some changing and transforming, and some GIVING. Because our innocent children are watching. Teach the children well.

via Womanish Words: Teach the Children Well.

Follow-up to African Reading Challenge

The fate of migrants is the same – Mediterranean, Atlantic Ocean, does it matter?

Laila Lalami linked to this photo-essay taken in Italy of North African migrants.

The similarities between the essay and what we see here with Haitian migrants are striking.

I’ve been carrying around Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits for days now, trying to make time for it.  I will keep you posted.

There are days

There are days, Mama, when there is far too much to do to do anything much at all.

This week has been pretty much like that.  It’s a week when I wish I was like earthworms or amoeba — slice me up and let me regenerate into six or seven mes.  (Biologists, don’t bother — leave me wallowing in my ignorance!)

So it was with some relief that I read the following post by Helen Klonaris, which pretty well covers some of what happened this week, and more:

Wellington’s Rainbow

Here are some excerpts.

The conversation about the rights of gays and lesbians in this country is stuck in a Christian fundamentalist scriptural war that cannot see gays and lesbians, bisexuals or transgender people as integral to the wide spectrum of human existence. And the few (read one or two) public spokespersons for the GLBT community who dare to engage in this conversation publically are time and time again hooked into a circular argument which begs the question: how can you ask for human rights if God says you shouldn’t exist at all?

And by presuming firstly that all Bahamians are Christians, and assuming, secondly, to know God as absolutely as they do, Christian fundamentalists not only reduce and limit that God, but reduce and limit the scope of what it means to be human. And I cannot help but see the metaphor: It is God lying in a pool of his own blood, head severed, and no one has been held accountable.

Hear, hear.

I am often struck by the raw hatred that we so often spew in the name of God in this country, so much so that I’m glad that I didn’t turn on my radio to hear the discussion about this crime today.  Homosexuals, after all, like Haitians (try not to be anything beginning with “H” in this Bahamaland, people, else we’ll toss another “H” your way), are easy targets.  In anthropology, we study the phenomenon of witches, who are not what we think they are when we see the word.  In anthropology, witch-hunting tells us far, far more about the society that is doing the hunting than it does about the objects of the hunt.  The salient point about the process is that societies create scapegoats out of individuals who fall outside the social norms, who make the status quo uncomfortable, and every bad thing that happens in the society is transferred to them.

When people call in to radio talk shows to talk about “them” (all those deviants beginnings with “H”) and invoke God and divine law and the Scripture, I always wonder where and when the Gospels fell out of their Bibles.  Like where these bits went, or this bit, or this.

But I don’t need to say a whole lot more.  Helen’s already said it.

Go read it for yourself.

Womanish Words: Amnesty International Report 08

Womanish Words: Amnesty International Report 08

Lynn Sweeting reviews Amnesty’s 2008 report.

What’s most interesting, and relevant, is this part of her post:

But here is the biggest shocker of all:

“The Bahamas has the highest rate of reported rapes in the world, according to a joint report issued in March by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Latin America and the Caribbean region of the World Bank.”

This horrific fact means to me that our Bahamian goverment is the most failed of all the world’s governments when it comes to stopping the violence.

This fact makes me stop and think — as it should make all of us.  Lynn, after all, has already commented on my post about trees. She said:

You’re experiencing the continuing rape of the feminine divine, as are we all, by the patriarchy and it’s misogynist god, in my humble, eco-Wiccan, womanish opinion. it is no coincidence that a country number one in the world for reported rapes is also the place where all the woodland is vanishing.

But there is one small ray of hope here. Note that the Amnesty Report refers to the highest rape of reported rapes. While rapes are clearly high here in The Bahamas, can we really assume that we are that different from the rest of the world?  Surely the reporting of the rapes shows us something else, something equally powerful — that our women are resisting the violence, and are reporting and talking about the rapes?  Is that not something to highlight as well?  Agency is as important as victimization, to my mind.

Which isn’t to say we need to address the issue.  But it’s to add another perspective to an already complex situation.