The grand denial: the practice of identity politics

Dear Editor,

Bahamians have yet to achieve the founding principle that was promised before and after the advent of majority rule. Any gains Bahamians have made thus far have come through identity politics.

For the purpose of this brief foray, identity politics are political activities or movements based on or catering to the cultural, ethnic, gender, racial, religious, educational and economic interests that characterize a group identity.

The identities of those sitting at the tables of power in The Bahamas prior to majority rule were remarkably similar: white, male, middle and upper-class and able-bodied. These males, who occupied the seats of power, were prepared to hold onto power at all costs, even if it meant permanently locking out the majority and thus denying them that which they had for themselves.

On the other hand, it would be an attempt to prove history a liar if attention, no matter how cursory, was not given to those who sat at tables of power post the advent of majority rule and independence.

While those who sat at the tables of power looked like the majority of the population, with a few exceptions, they, in retrospect, were proven to be seekers of power like their predecessors who held tight the reins of political power that were snatched from their hands by the onslaught that was visited upon them at the advent of majority rule and confirmed by The Bahamas becoming independent in 1973.

It is one thing to give the majority political power and the feeling of being independent.

However, it is another thing to discover that those who first sat at the tables of power, despite losing political power, maintained a steely grasp on economic power in The Bahamas.

And so it is to this very day. Those who represent the majority control and make a mockery of the political freedom and with great pretension give the impression that there is and has been an introduction and deepening of democracy by the changes that supposedly took place with the introduction of majority rule.

How sad, because those who parade around, like the emperor who had on no clothes, in their nakedness still have to pay homage to those who still have a stranglehold on the economic purse strings of the country. Indeed, if the electorate follows the money and the appointments of substance after each election, it would become crystal clear who is truly in charge of the economic sector of The Bahamas.

I firmly believe that individuals and groups cannot deny others (for very long) that which they want for themselves. Any attempt to ignore the needs (and wants) of the dispossessed eventually leads to insurrection and anarchy.

It is clear that all administrations in The Bahamas, prior to and since the achievement of majority rule, have been guilty of denying Bahamians of that which they wanted and kept for themselves.

In most instances, when those who sit at the tables of power acknowledge that the majority has been deprived of that to which they are entitled, it is seen and often dismissed as political correctness, but it still remains a fact of daily life because those who feel it know it.

The decisions made at the tables of power affect the lives of those who do not have a place at the tables of power. The use of exclusion by those who sit at the tables of power does not depend on willful intent; they do not have to intend to exclude for the results of their actions are proof positive have become commonplace in all facets of the Bahamian way of life.

History is regaled with examples of failed peoples and nations, and the study of groups of people who were denied the opportunity to benefit from participating fully in the democratic process.

The majority of the people of The Bahamas are no exception. The practice of identity politics has endured and thus the deprivation of the majority continues despite the achievement of majority rule and independence.

The minority, within the majority, has enshrined in its practices and through the institutionalization of the practice of identity politics the majority will only experience and see the tables of power from a distance and they will never benefit from the fruits of the tables of power.

Dr. Donald M. McCartney, DM-OL

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