Catherine Kelly, in a recent column, obviously thought she was dispensing good-natured business advice that would help us during the pandemic-forced shutdown of our tourism economy.
Advocating that we rip up the “all are welcomed here” door mat and replace it with one reading “rich white people only” smacks of insensitivity, ignorance and, sadly, racism.
In one column, she lit a stick of dynamite to all of her previous more enlightened offerings in which she generally sowed seeds of tolerance and enlightenment on the issue of race.
She immediately disinvited TV icon Oprah Winfrey, sporting legend Michael Jordan, entertainers Jay-Z and Beyoncé, entrepreneur Bob Johnson and investment banker Robert Smith, all black billionaires. Not to mention the thousands of black mere multimillionaires next door in the US whose very presence in our islands attracts the type of media attention we crave and now cannot afford to buy.
Presumably, Barack and Michelle Obama’s reported $50 million net worth won’t get them a bly from immigration comandante Kelly.
So too, apparently, she doesn’t want the Bahamian sun to shine on the faces of the over 500 Chinese, Indian, Mexican, African and Middle Eastern billionaires. Nor the thousands of non-white millionaires around the world.
Somehow their money doesn’t resonate through our economy as loudly as that of rich white people. We know that’s hogwash.
So, there must be more in the mortar than the pestle for Kelly. Perhaps she has research that suggests white people stay longer, spend more or are better behaved in public. But that can’t be it. Oprah is still regarded as the doyen of polite society. Beyoncé sets a fashion standard wherever she moves. And Michelle Obama is still good friends with Her Majesty the Queen.
For some Bahamians, white people are still the stereotypical picture of what tourists ought to look like. Back when the world was overtly prejudiced and more unequal than it is today, whites were the typical tourists vacationing here. Since the ‘60s, all of that has changed for the better.
Alas, it is not her black fellow citizens who should be fuming mad with Kelly for her callous confession. It is her white compatriots who must denounce her vitriol.
Having one bad actor “shame the race” applies equally to whites as it does to blacks. But Kelly has let us all down. And this one hurts because of the historically symbiotic relationship between black Bahamians and Greco-Bahamians, of which Kelly is descended.
The late George Mosko, a prominent Greek Bahamian businessman and philanthropist, realized that he had a legacy to protect as his family were master furniture craftsmen operating from their factory on Shirley Street. So proud were the Moskos of their work that they did it in the storefront window, visible to all.
Realizing the family’s name and reputation for quality was on everything they did, Mosko would tell staff, “Do it right, and don’t shame me.”
Kelly ought to retract her comments as well as a follow-up column which attempted to justify the first but still entirely missed the point.
— The Graduate