The PLP and the race bogeyman

Dear Editor,

Back in the 1960s, the United Bahamian Party (UBP) was in full bloom.

It emerged after the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and was comprised of what was then known as the Bay Street Boys, who were mostly white or “Conchy Joe” Bahamians.

Of course, there was a small number of black Bahamians who embraced the UBP for whatever reasons.

The PLP really came into its own after we achieved internal self governance in the mid 1960s.

During that decade, the social and racial issues were in full swing in the United States of America.

No doubt due to our proximity to the USA those issues were also playing out here at home.

Americans like the late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell and Rev. Doctor Martin Luther King used to frequent The Bahama Islands, as we were then known, especially Bimini and New Providence. They threw their support behind the emerging PLP.

Racial overtones were in full swing during this period and the PLP and it’s leadership, headed by the late, great and deeply-missed Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling (who was black just like me); the late Cyril Stevenson (a light-skinned man); Henry Milton Taylor (another light-skinned man) and the late William Cartwright (yet another light-skinned man), et al, played the racial card to the hilt.

“Lilies of the Field” with a black man — Sidney Poitier, who is descended from Cat Island — in the starring role had just been released. This movie, along with the classical films “Roots” and “Gone with the Wind”, did much to galvanize the message of the PLP that blacks were equal to whites.

Their message was that the members and supporters of the UBP were inherently racist and wanted to keep blacks in servitude.

The PLP rode that message to success in the general elections of 1967 and again in 1972.

We became independent a year later in 1973 and our black population was of the mindset, collectively, that heaven had arrived on earth.

Sadly, this was not, in fact, the case.

While the races have been reconciled and we all get along well, there are still some among us who are living in a time warp and playing the bogeyman of racial discord.

While no one is trying to rewrite history, the much ado about nothing reaction by the PLP and its leadership relative to the knighthood awarded to Sir Godfrey Kelly, a former member of Parliament for Cat Island and distinguished minister of education, is just that – much ado about nothing.

Over the years, I have come to personally know Sir Godfrey as head of chambers at Higgs & Kelly.

He may have come from a privileged background, but so what? So did I.

He had no say in the selection of his Bahamian parents or the color of his skin.

Sir Godfrey is associated with businesses that employ hundreds of black and white Bahamians. Sir Godfrey represented Cat Island for many years and did a wonderful job, according to many.

It is unfortunate that today there is a handful of black Bahamians who should know better but are still beating the long-dead and decayed UBP horse.

One would have thought that by now we’d have emerged from the days of racism and rehashing old bogeyman issues.

Yes, racism does exist today but if you check it, it is more economic than anything else. Yes, color does matter, but I must say that within the PLP a light skin is still an apparent advantage.

Had Perry Christie not lost his seat in Centreville and if the PLP had won the 2017 general election, my good friend and patron, Philip Brave Davis, QC, would never have emerged as leader.

Prior to Christie’s ignoble departure, he was seen as the great white hope within the party.

Few in the Christie-led PLP saw Davis as an alternative. In my view, neither Christie nor Hubert Ingraham had any love, politically, for black Davis.

Now some within the PLP are cussing out Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis for his recommendation to the Queen. Why?

With all of the critical issues that are available for the PLP to attack this regime on, political capital is being lost and wasted on racism?

It is what it is and this is the one major reason why a white Bahamian will never become prime minister in this lifetime.

Bahamians like T. Brent Symonette once held ambitions to become prime minister. (He told me so at his real estate offices some years ago). This is so sad, but a fact of life.

The color of one’s skin should now be passe but, alas, it is what it is.

It is truly a good thing that God has no color, as He is a spirit.

It is equally good that He is not a respecter of people and does not need to crease up under bogus political personalities.

If Davis were to hold his head and simply focus on real issues, he could unseat this regime and become prime minister in 2022 or whenever Minnis dares to come back to the unwashed masses.

– Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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