I have said that I’m done with trying to teach white folks about racism like fifty-leven times. I declared, proclaimed even, that I had given my last fuck about white nonsense.
How-hever… I keep tryna break up but white nonsense won’t stop texting me, asking my friends what I’m up to, sliding into my DMs. White nonsense won’t let me be!
We saw a whole heap of it after the election. I steered clear, even when some sad Sally came on my page saying my quick summation of the night was ‘mean spirited’. Um sorry what? FYI it wasn't. But even if it was... *sings* How. Did. You. Get. Here. You’re not supposed to be here. She was in mourning, plus I’m a new ‘zero fucks about white nonsense’ me, so I decided to just let that comment go.
But then…on what was supposed to be a restful Sunday afternoon, this video was posted up on a Bermudian tourism discussion page.
The poster commented, “While I appreciate the exposure...I feel, at least have a Bermudian bartender telling the story.”
As we know, suggesting such a thing is clearly ‘racist’. One dude posted, “there is your inbuilt racism, if BERMUDIANS did the jobs only outsiders would be TOURISTS, so stop bitching and learn a trade.”
Blink Blink. Of course, I didn’t even pay that fool no mind.
But then… along came this gem.
“Maybe they thought no one would understand a Bermudian's accent.”
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??
FIRST OF ALL... (Imagine me rolling my neck here because it definitely near snapped off in real life.) You all watched that video right? Everybody got a dang accent! Guy making the drink's accent was strong as fucks. I ain’t hating on him. (Other than when he said 'in Bermuda THEY believe' instead of WE cuz if you are here, be here dude.) More power to him! He obviously speaks a whole other language. He’s here seeking out opportunities, doing his thing. And for all I know he could be married to a Bermudian! (In fact, I sure as shit hope so because bartender is a closed category work permit wise so there surely wouldn’t even be a non-Bermudian making drinks at this establishment, right? #sideeye)
But when this was pointed out, this lady still felt that the Bermudian accent is just too hard to understand dagnabbit. She conceded that perhaps a Bermudian should have been used in the commercial, but I guess she means one that does not have an accent.
I tell her she sounds ridiculous as fuck (nicely), because ‘in what crazy world do we say a video advertising a country should not show a person from that country because others might not understand that country's accent?’
So she asks me would I watch an ad in German.
Well the answer is yes I would watch such an ad; because there is such a thing as subtitles, but also, is this loon comparing an accent to a whole separate language? She then went on to say that she’s likely more open-minded than me cuz she’s spent the last 30 years living outside of Bermuda.
At this stage I exited mother-fucking stage left because a) why is she lurking on a discussion group about how we can improve our tourism product when you ain’t lived here for three decades? But also b) I needed to get this shit off my chest.
Hard to understand? Okay, that’s fine. I get that nobody knows what we are saying when we ask for mayonnaise. But you cannot tell me that a Bermudian making a drink would be hard to understand. I’m not even going to listen to that nonsense. That is just foolish. You coulda even had a drunk Bermudian making the drink and errybody woulda known what he was saying. That particular drink too? A Dark n’ Stormy? Shiitttttt… I could make that drink in my sleep and not even cut my finger slicing up the lime.
But there’s an underlying issue here and THAT’S what got me riled up.
Anyone that has a Bermudian accent knows that when we travel, people love it! The only place they don’t love it? Right here in Bermuda.
A few years ago, serving on a government board, I would notice that one of the other members would put on a Bermudian accent whenever she wanted to mimic someone who she thought was not bright, or trying to scam us. It used to irritate the crap out of me. But I didn’t call her out on it and regret that to this day. (Side note: This is why I now snatch anyone, black or white, that does it. Making up for lost time. )
People do that shit ALL THE TIME.
So now I'm here to have a serious discussion about the ceasing and desisting of people in Bermuda talking smack about Bermudian accents. (Please understand the use of the term 'discussion' is loose in that I'm not at all interested in going back and forth with someone who disagrees.)
I know that this is an issue in larger countries as well, where regional accents have specific stereotypes. And that’s wack too. Bermuda isn’t a region, though. This is literally the accent of the nation. So to write it off – I don’t get how people can’t see how classist, how racist that is! We value it neutralised, because then it sounds more British. Squeeze the Caribbean out of it. Erase the African out of it. Delete the Black out of it. Show off your colonial dialect to demonstrate that you left the island for education or work.
And, yes, of course there are white Bermudians with strong accents. The ones I know went to public school at least for part of their lives, or hung around black people a lot. Or they’re old men - one deeng an old Bermudian white man's accent is the STRONGEST.
[PSA If you are a white person with a strong Bermudian accent who is not an old man, didn’t go to public school, and has no black friends no need to message me #allaccentsmatter style. I get it. You win.]
But that said, it is mostly black people who are code switching up the ying yang, trying to squeeze the Bermudianness out of our voices lest we be unable to find a job. When you say you don't want a strong Bermudian accent, you are saying, even indirectly, that you don't want a black person. And we already know that there is distinct lack of proportionate representation in our island's promotions.
So while that lady probably didn’t intend to suggest that the Bermudian accent is somehow undesirable IN A BERMUDIAN ADVERTISEMENT, that’s exactly what she did. She probably wouldn’t even see the resemblances between herself and dude that posted – but they are one and the same to me. And I’m fucking done with it.
I’m done with the accent being shamed but then trotted out for NBC.
I'm done with people sitting idly by, content with the erasure of black Bermudians in Bermudian advertising, and then riled up when we dare to mention it.
I’m done with our dialect being mass-produced and worn by people who don’t talk like that and would likely not hire someone who did.
I’m done with Black people who have bought right into this mess and wiped their island from their tongues. Sigh. No, I’m not done with you lot. I understand. But when you get into hiring positions, don’t pass over your fellow Bermudians who haven’t done the same. Okay? #stillloveyou
And one day, one day, one fine day, I am really and truly going to be done with White Nonsense.
ps. If you want to see some interesting dialogue about this topic, there was a great chat about it on my page 2 years ago spurred on by a lecture on the Bermudian dialect. There are a couple newspaper articles (and commentary) about one of the panelists here and here.