Four years ago I participated in a programme for young leaders from Canada and the Caribbean, with Bermuda as usual, ‘lumped in’ with the Caribbean. Prior to this programme, I was a loyal member of the ‘we aren’t part of the Caribbean and in fact are superior’ choir. That song was taught to me and I mindlessly parroted it with nary a thought.
Then, in the faces of my fellow programme participants, I saw my own. In their stories of their islands' social and economic struggles, I heard many of Bermuda’s woes. I realized that we are quite similar and was so disappointed in myself for foolishly coming late to this quite obvious ‘epiphany’.
It wasn’t until the recent CURB presentations that I fully understood the ‘divide and conquer’ tool oft-used by the rich had been wielded on our shores. Their fear of us being strong together led them to implant feelings of ‘better than them’ into Black Bermudians' heads so that we would not mix with the migrants coming from the islands to our south. It worked.
Instead of recognizing the ‘WE’ of our Caribbean heritage, we saw only US vs THEM. Instead of accepting the reality that these are our sisters and brothers who were on the same slave ships, just dropped off in different locations, we saw competitors and criminals. Instead of connecting and planning and dreaming collectively across the island diaspora, we celebrated the Atlantic Ocean and our slightly British accent that kept us separated.
Today, as we prepare to celebrate Bermuda Heroes Weekend Carnival, an expression of our Caribbean connections, naysayers will accuse us of ‘stealing someone else’s culture'. Yet, many of these same complainers love cricket and admire the latest trend of African-inspired fashions. #colourmeconfused
If we can embrace English colonial traditions and celebrate our African heritage, why wouldn’t we want to do the same with our Caribbean ties? Why would we deny the MANY Bermudians of Caribbean descent the right to celebrate the music and splendour of the carnivals from their homelands?
Why are people so reluctant to realize that although we aren’t in the Caribbean, the Caribbean is in us?
This weekend, I’m gonna jump and wine and eat roti and doubles. I’m also gonna drink swizzle (with rum formulated in the 1850s by an Englishman called Gosling), yum up some mac n’ cheese as only a Bermudian nana can make and might get me a malasada too. #obrigada Maybe someone will give me a game of spades (created in the US of A) and, I’m sure I'll be hula hooping at some point as well (Native American origins). Imma dish myself up a GINORMOUS bowl of cultural melting pot stew.
And, you know what?
It’s gon be well.