17 February 2009

Julian Hall makes $200k/year

Heard on the radio this morning that Julian Hall now makes $200,000 a year as a special consultant to the Ministry of Works & Engineering, up from $119,000. I would love to know what he does for them. At least this time it's a local Bermudian consultant...

16 February 2009

What did he mean? Sally Bassett & South Africa

I wrote a letter to the Royal Gazette about Rolfe Commissiong's latest tempest in a teacup (original link to my letter here, Rolfe Commissong's response here):

February 11, 2009

Dear Sir,

In today's article on the unveiling of the Sally Bassett statue, you quote Rolfe Commissiong as saying that the Governor's remarks were "insensitive and racially invidious", because the Governor drew a parallel between our statue and South Africa's Blood River Monument. It is unfortunate that Mr. Commissiong cannot see that there is more than one way to make a point.

As Government's race relations consultant, he has the unenviable job of helping our island understand the past and present of race relations. But, he only knows how to do this one way: by verbally whipping whites. Predictably, this is not getting the desired response from everyone; we all know that honey draws more flies than vinegar.

To me, the Governor was making the point that despite the atrocious events of apartheid, and the importance of the Blood River monument to apartheid's creators, even South Africa's post-apartheid government could see fit to leave the Blood Rver statue standing. And, if this is the case, whites in Bermuda can try to understand the importance of the Sally Bassett statue, even though they find it an unpleasant reminder of history.

Douglas S. J. De Couto Ph.D., J.P.


12 February 2009

It could be worse

Apparently the bad economy is causing ex-pats to leave Dubai in droves, according to the NYTimes.

11 February 2009

The Assimilated Negro

Just came across this blog: The Assimilated Negro. It's funny & pointed & you should read it.

Dynamics of Diversity

A friend recently pointed me to this pamphlet on the "Dynamics of Diversity".  It's about "insiders" versus "outsiders", and although it's aimed at corporations or other organizations, I think it provides a useful way to look at our actions and relations to others when thinking about how to improve race relations.  For example, whites can be though of as the insiders and blacks as outsiders, to use the common stereotypical view (we're off to a good start already here, aren't we?), but it can also apply to women vs. men, or other divisions or groupings.  Within each group people can be of a different type on a ladder of types.  Insiders can be "unintentional offenders", "intentional offenders", "avoiders", or "change agents".  Outsiders can be "assimilators", "separatists", "fighters",  or "change agents".  The goal is to move along the ladder toward being a change agent...

Where are you?

09 February 2009

Truth on Tourism?

I am so confused about what is going on with tourism and air arrivals.

From the Royal Gazette tonight: "Air and cruise arrivals were both down for 2008, Premier and Tourism Minister Ewart Brown announced today."

From the PLP blog, their blurb is titled: "Tourism weathers the economic storm".

Apparently not...

The PLP also writes, "The free publicity and affirmation of Bermuda from an international superstar like Beyonce is worth it's (sic) weight in gold." Well, it wasn't free, we paid a lot of money to get her here.

All I can to say is show me the numbers so I can make up my own mind.

Sally Bassett Statue

Tonight I was able to spend a brief time at the dedication of the Sally Bassett statue at the Cabinet Office. It was a nice ceremony, if a bit cold outside: African drumming, a blessing, singing, a reading from a play about Sally Bassett, speech from the Governor, Jennifer Smith, etc.  Not many whites.

I am still trying to figure out exactly the Governor's speech. He gave three examples of memorials around the world that were not exactly welcomed in their location.  His first example was perhaps the most controversial: the Blood River memorial in South Africa, erected by the South Africans to commemorate the Boer victory against the Zulus. It was thought that with the end of apartheid and the change in government, that memorial would be removed but apparently it still stands, although it is not pleasant to all.  I suppose then the Governor's words were not that complicated: sometimes we need to remember things that are not pleasant to us.

At the same time, I have to agree with other commentators that there are many other statues that could have been erected that would draw support from whites as well.  We ought to have the Sally Bassett statue, but perhaps we can have one about the end of slavery as well. In my view although this government and many of their supporters are correct when they say that "whites" need to face up some unpleasant facts of Bermuda's past, I think they ought to throw some carrot in with the stick... 

We can look forward to another sculpture this year, commemorating the Theatre Boycott. This one was commissioned by the Corporation of Hamilton, and is due to be unveiled sometime this year (which was one reason the Corporation could not accept the Sally Bassett statue for City Hall).