Antigua’s Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer said racism remains alive today and the Caribbean must continue to fight this White scourge in order to build a just and equitable society.
Spencer argued that “silent racism” continues to blight Caribbean society, pointing to “vile online commentators” as evidence.
“Some say that racism and discrimination are relics of the past. They claim that, because legal discrimination is a thing of the past, that somehow silent discrimination has also gone away. I do not share that conclusion,” said Spencer.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) Labour Day Banquet after reading “vile rhetoric” in comments on the Bernews website.
The following remark was singled out by Spencer. It read, “For those who blame White people for the situation they are in, don’t. You should blame your ancestors, they were offered a chance to go back to Liberia and they didn’t go.”
The anonymous comment continued, “Stop complaining because you are a thousand times better off than Africans and people from the Caribbean. There is nothing stopping you from receiving higher education, speaking proper English and getting a well paying job and being a pillar in the community, nothing.”
Spencer said, “For me these are disgusting, vile and racist comments. This sort of stereotyping reminds me quite frankly of the bad old days. These comments are a clarion call to all people, Black people who believe in justice and equality.”
He added, “We have overcome many great obstacles in the past but I wish to remind all of us that we still have much work to do.”
The Prime Minister was clear that he did not intend to bring up any old wounds and instead called for greater unity.
“Until we truly sort out racism those of us who are most victimised by it must stand strong together. There are those who seek to divide us and confuse us but we must not be divided,” said Spencer.
The comments on the Bermudan news site were made under a story on a workshop entitled, “What It Means to Be White,” hosted by the racial conciliation group CURB. CURB said their aim was to “build a socially just and equitable society in Bermuda by more fully understanding the social construct of race.”
Spencer also took a shot at an unnamed media entity in Antigua & Barbuda which he said allowed similar such contemptible remarks to be made.
“They have a similar (web) site in Antigua & Barbuda, a place where anonymous commentators can spew some of the most vile rhetoric under a cloak of anonymity that affords them the ability to say what they really think,” said Spencer.