Some may call it happenstance; I call it providence.
I began this article about two weeks ago and was uncertain as to whether it would be erroneously seen as unnecessarily “digging up the past”.
Then I picked up a copy of the January 28 Tribune, and in it was an interesting, intriguing feature story of the invaluable personal contributions of the late Sir Etienne Dupuch.
A bold step
Sir Etienne was obviously bold and courageous. The article credited him with raising and leading the fight against the established, structured inequality and racism in our Bahamaland.
The specific point that motivated me to raise the issue of interracial marriages was that the article cited the fact that Sir Etienne, a man with African heritage, married a caucasian woman by the name of Marie Plause. Clearly, racial integration for Sir Etienne was not an esoteric philosophy, but a way of life.
My mother, Nola the Baked Crab Lady, and Sir Etienne were friends; so, I witnessed firsthand his contributions to the country. However, the efforts of Sir Etienne and other social and political giants are being diminished by the racial reality of our present day.
Let us face the issue
To speak of race in the “Christian Bahamas” is sometimes deemed sacrilegious. Yet, even a cursory view of our society reveals that racism still exists on almost every level in our country. The complex tension of race relations is exacerbated by dismissing it as “the past”.
The Jews, Greeks, Italians and Chinese reference their past – both the historic atrocities and their triumphs – to help them to shape and reshape their present state in the world.
More than 25 million Africans were savagely uprooted from their homeland and brought to the “New World”; yet every time, any reference to that horrific historical event is scorned or diminished.
To control any social group or race, you must first control what they think of themselves and how the world regards their history and their culture.
When those who “discovered us” made us ashamed of our past, our culture and even our skin color, they did not need a prison to hold us. Racial superiority and racial inferiority are both insidious and demonic.
Race in our Bahamas has more to do with economics than to do with color. If a white person marries a black person, the white person has married “down” and the black married “up”. Such conclusions are puerile, but still a part of the general Bahamian thinking.
The racial divide in our Bahamas is most pronounced at national events, but it is even more pronounced by the socioeconomics in our society. Our white brothers and sisters can socialize their children better than blacks do.
Even our sins are the same, but we respond to them differently because of economics. Some believe this is due in part because of the prevailing economic reality that existed in our Bahamas during the United Bahamian Party (UBP) and the Progressive Libera Party (PLP) regimes.
All of the island nations of the Caribbean – less developed than The Bahamas — are very heterogeneous. I have concluded these nations have not merely prayed over the vexing issue of race relations, but have dealt with them directly by openly encouraging and affirming the human worth of each human person, regardless of race, gender, religion or economic status.
I believe we in our beloved Bahamas must be more intentional in making our Christian faith more practical and relevant by affirming the human worth of all persons.
The Bahamas that Sir Etienne, Sir Lynden and Sir Milo dreamed of has not yet been fully realized. However, when we take note of our children, we see glaring and pronounced possibilities.
Notice their innocence and freedom from naked prejudices among the children in our society today.
Our grandchildren interact freely with persons of other races.
The only danger is, race prejudice is a learned response that children acquire from their racist parents. We should teach our children to follow their heart, rather than certain asinine, preconceived racial absurdities.
Our Christian faith affirms the intrinsic worth of each person – red, yellow, black or white.
After proper guidance, we should accept and bless all persons who come to us to be married — male and female — and let them live happily ever after.
It is up to us as believers to help to establish reflections of what His kingdom will be like.
If we do not work to lift ourselves and our country above the race problem and other issues, then some of us would be uncomfortable in heaven.
— Bishop Simeon B. Hall
New Covenant Baptist Church