Tag Archives: injustice

Talking about a revolution sounds like a whisper

It’s been a long time since I was one for debating politics. I’m not saying it never happened. I am a Bahamian after all. But I’ve since recovered from that particular illness. There is little to debate. There is little that is happening worth debating.

OK, so I know that the pundits and the newspapers might disagree with me here. After all, you have only to open a computer or a newspaper and you will see drama splashed across the page or screen. Hit men. Foreign investors. Referenda. Rogue politicians insulting people. The wry satire of political one-liners. The rabid hate of, well, haters. And crime, crime, crime.

But there is nothing to debate about these things. There are simply facts. They are sobering facts. They tell us very serious things about who and where we are as a people and a nation. And yet we do nothing about the facts. Rather, we use them for entertainment. We use them to point fingers at public figures, to rack up Likes on Facebook, to provide “commentary” on what we generously call “politics”, to delude ourselves that engaging in that kind of conversation is making any kind of difference.

We are in decline, because we spend too much time talking about people and situations, and too little time doing anything to bring about change.  We continue to assume that those people who present themselves for election to public office can make any kind of dent in this decline, and waste hours and breath bigging up or tearing down this or the other of those people.

We willfully ignore another fact: that far too many of today’s public political actors are either devoid of any shred of integrity or compassion or intelligence, or else have compromised so much of themselves that integrity, compassion and intelligence have been bartered away for nominations, political ascendency, power. We disregard the very clear truth that virtually all the people we’re currently faced with electing have had to choose between their personal convictions, their values, their goals for their nation (assuming they began with these), and their place in their particular political party—and that virtually all of them have made the wrong choice. What we see in the political sphere are greed, truthlessness, cowardice, megalomania, and lunacy.  When last did we see our politicians display qualities like honesty, humility, or common sense? These days, party politics are a corrosion which destroys everything it touches.

And so I have absolutely nothing to say about political parties. Do not ask me to say anything; do not ask me to comment on any one of them; they are all compromised, all tarnished, all corrupt in many ways, big and small. One or two individuals stand up head and shoulders above the crowd; but even these have sacrificed their ability to bring about real change for the perceived security of remaining tethered to their parties.

But I do have something to say about this:

We need a movement.
I am the first Volunteer.
I am not going to create a new initiative. I am going out from the studio everyday, and I am going to help those who are already helping others; I am going to serve our people and I am going to ask you to send them what you can to help, but more than that, I am going to ask you to join me.

Simply put, My Fellow Bahamians, we are in the midst of an unprecedented national emergency. A crisis of faith, a crisis of conscience, and ultimately, a crisis, not just of leadership but of servant leadership.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Anyone can become great, because anyone can serve. In service is our greatness”. Therefore, my friends, I will do everything in my power everyday from here forward not to permit any Bahamian child to go to bed hungry, homeless or in fear.

I am going to live Dr. Kings message.
And, I am asking you to join me.

–Jeff Lloyd

Amen. I am on board. It’s a new day. Talking about a revolution sounds like a whisper, and I’m whispering.

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.

The Bahamas & Haitians – WeblogBahamas.com

People who read this blog regularly know that Rick and I rarely agree on anything, and that when we do it’s a cause for commemoration. But there is not one thing in this article with which I take issue.

Here’s just a taste:

There has always been a love hate relationship between Bahamians and Haitians. We love them when they do the physical labour we don’t want to do, but hate them when they start to aspire to do more for themselves.

When we consider the reactions to the government documenting and releasing 119 Haitians from the detention centre here as a result of the earthquake devastation to Port au Prince, Haiti one wonders how we can call ourselves a “Christian” nation.

via The Bahamas & Haitians – WeblogBahamas.com

Go read the whole thing.

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.

Terror at Millar’s Creek Fundraiser

I received the email below while I was away in Guyana, attending a regional cultural meeting and hearing about Guyana’s difficulties with crime and civil liberties. As I read it, I found myself thinking Why am I worrying about Guyana? We have problems with civil liberties right here.

And we don’t talk about them.

The email is in fact a press release put out by the environmental community group Millar’s Creek Preservation Group, which had the fundraiser they were holding at the Millar’s Creek community park raided by police, who proceeded to terrorize the patrons at the fundraiser and the organizers for several hours during the night.

I’m not at all sure what the impetus for the raid was. There was an element of xenophobia in it, certainly. Worse, it was a xenophobia which was desperately misdirected. Perhaps not worse. As Lynn Sweeting writes,

Even if that event was packed to the rafters with illegals, a lawful, decent, humane immigration and police operation CANNOT BEGIN WITH MASKED GUNMAN FIRING SHOTS.

And:

We are all in trouble when we cannot any longer tell the difference between the criminals and the police. The party-goers at the Millar’s Creek fundraiser know the horror of this first hand. All of them, Mr. McKenzie told me, are deeply traumatized, especially those legal and documented persons who were still locked up at the time of this conversation. Mr. McKenzie is asking: Who is responsible for the terror and trauma caused to these innocent people?

Here are a couple of excerpts from the press release.  The entire release is below the fold.

Thinking a robbery was taking place I, along with everyone else darted for cover. Some people headed across the creek where we were confronted by several men in masks who pointed guns at us and told us to get down. At this stage I was petrified and feared for my life. When one of the masked men proceeded to place hand-cuffs on me- I realized that these individuals might be law enforcement officers. The men started to drag me and others through the mangroves towards the dirt road on the other side of the creek. I started to ask for some identification and questioned the officers as to why the park was being invaded. I was told by one of the masked men to shut the F—- up or risk getting shot in my head. I immediately complied as these men did not display badge numbers or any other identifying signs.

And

After all the officers had left the scene I began to take an assessment of the past night’s operation. I found out that some of my workers who had work permits had been taken to the detention centre. The persons who were responsible for collecting money at the gate stated that the envelope containing the money was taken by officers. The person who was operating the bar explained that when he was told to lie down, a junior officer attempted to take about two-thousand dollars from his pocket. A senior officer instructed the officer to put the money back without any warnings or disciplinary action levied against this officer. Several cell phones had been tossed into the creek. Someone had his passport torn. Some patrons had been walked on and gun butted by unidentified officers. The most amazing thing I found out that some of the officers had consumed most of the food and drinks that were on sale at this event.

More below.

Continue reading Terror at Millar’s Creek Fundraiser

The Long Silence

I am never sure how to address this question — the question of my silence. It’s not that I am not thinking. It’s not that this blog isn’t important either. The challenge I have, though, is my position as a senior government official. More and more the things I have/want to say seem to be in conflict with that fact. It isn’t that everything that is current is politically charged — but it seems as though there are many things that invite comment, and that comment is liable to be critical.

So the question is, what do I do?

I want to post, for instance, the story of an incident that occurred recently (two of them, in fact), because I think that the responsibility of a writer is to raise awareness, to speak out about injustice, and to point at things that are wrong in a society so that we can fix them. Let me just say this. The two stories to which I refer have to do with the abuse of power of our uniformed branches. Now I am a supporter of the police and the defence force. In my position I see the best of them; they work with us in securing major events and help us with logistics on a national level, and they do difficult jobs very well. But what I have heard on both sides are so egregious that they cannot be kept silent about.

So the question is — how do I do that?

Well, I’m just going to do it, I guess.

Watch this space.