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Black Empowerment

Thomas C. Famous. Photo: Provided
Rt Hon Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Photo: Provided
Rt Hon Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Photo: Provided
Thomas C. Famous

“Up ye mighty race, accomplish what you will”- Rt Hon Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Last week, on national television, the Premier of Bermuda, The Honourable E. David Burt JP MP, stated a few harsh truths about our historic and present-day systematic racial issues. Not surprisingly, some folks got upset and claimed that he was politicking.

As a black man, I want to thank the Premier for not being afraid to speak on these issues.

Far too often persons in leadership are, quite frankly, afraid to speak about Bermuda’s centuries of racial segregation and the long term effects it still has on our entire society.

The cold hard truth is this, systematic racism has made more blacks, both worldwide and locally; financially bankrupt, suffer with poor health and cause premature death, than Covid-19 ever will.

We have more to fear from this home grown pandemic, than anything that comes in via airlines.

Ironically, it seems that the only people who believe that talking about race is political, are the very same people who believe that, racism, would just magically go away, if we simply don't talk about it

Over the last month, worldwide and locally, both blacks and whites are starting to openly speak up about racism. Most encouraging, is that the young people, of all ethnicities are coming to the frontlines to stand up.

So, yes as leaders we must never be afraid to speak up on this disease, especially when we ourselves have fallen short over the last few decades.


Now that the historic Black Lives Matter (BLM) march has passed in Bermuda and other islands, we need to face up to the ugly truths.

One of the realities is that we as black people, globally and locally, have to own up to is that in many areas we ourselves have dropped the baton handed to us by our ancestors.

We find ourselves as a black people, far too often, depending on the benevolence of wealthy whites for our economic survival via charities or seeking employment. 

If anyone was to take a look around Bermuda. The vast majority of both residential and commercial buildings were built over many centuries by black tradesmen.

Generations of black men learned skills such as; masonry, carpentry, plumbing, excavation and electrical installation. With these skills they were able to find full time employment, open their own businesses and build their own homes.

Yet over the last fifty years, we have abdicated our place in the construction industry and are now begging persons to employ our sons.

Baton dropped.

During the era of segregation, many persons built businesses from the ground up. Here are some prime examples of black entrepreneurship in Bermuda; guest houses, corner grocery stores, upholstery shops, automotive repair garages, gas stations and landscaping.

Here in Bermuda one has to take an honest look and see how many businesses are presently owned by blacks and more importantly, how many black owned businesses are supported by blacks?  

The answer is not very nice.

For a variety of reasons, over the last sixty years, we have abdicated our place in business ownership and are now begging persons to employ our daughters.

Baton dropped once again.

Move forward

Now that we, as a country, once again, realise that black lives truly matter, let us also realise that we have to move beyond slogans and chants. That is if we truly want to see progress for black Bermuda.

The first step towards recovery, is to admit where we, the people, have gone wrong as a community. I say we the people, as no government can tackle systematic racism on its own.

  • We need our people, of all ages, to get skilled up via the Bermuda College and other routes that government provides
  • We need our people to start their own businesses with the help of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC)
  • We need our people to take better charge of their health by lowering their sugar intake
  • We need our people to support black businesses that offer competitive rates for their products and services
  • We need our family and community units to expect and encourage accountability of each other.

These are not the only steps that we have to take; however, they lay the foundation for the social and economic survival and success of the next generation of black Bermudians. Outside of that, they will constantly be dependent on the benevolence of others.

Economic unity

If we need examples of blacks owning and operating large and small businesses such as; car rental agencies, hotels, rental agencies, insurance agencies, construction companies and restaurants, we need only look to our cousins in any given Caribbean island.

We need our people to be honest about what we have to do for ourselves.

Our future existence and success, will never happen via charity handouts or by being dependent on any given government.

Essentially, the  success of Black people, globally or locally, depends primarily on how we interact with and support each other.

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