Barritt on Shirley

I listened to John Barritt on Shirley Dill's radio show today, and I thought that John did a very good job of addressing some of the accusations currently out there, as well as describing political life as a member of the UBP.

I'm not going to rehash the whole thing, but I thought that the most interesting and revealing exchange was when Dr. Eva Hodgson called in.

Dr. Hodgson, as she usually does, gave a pretty good summation of the problems that the UBP - and whites generally - have in criticising the PLP. I probably won't say this as eloquently as Dr. Hodgson, but she pointed out that she 'feels sorry for white liberals like Mr. Barritt', because when whites are critical of blacks, what blacks hear is not the criticism but an 'echo' in their heads telling them that they're only being criticised because they are black.

Sound familiar? Jamahl's branch say he wasn't performing so they wanted to replace him, Jamahl says they wanted him out because he's black.

Gwyneth says she was being challenged internally and interpreted it as racial as her critics were white.

This goes back to what I've written about previously: perception is incredibly important; the actions of whites are often misinterpreted as racial when they're not.

But, here's the kicker.

Mr. Barritt, specifically asked Dr. Hodgson this:

What would Dr. Hodgson suggest he change in order to prevent this misunderstanding when criticising Government's policies? How should he approach this going forward? How can he be critical of policies/programs that the PLP are presenting without invoking this 'echo'. How should he couch his critique so as to raise valid concerns without them getting swatted aside as racial?

And here's the problem:

Dr. Hodgson unfortunately never responded to that invitation, an important invitation I thought and one of someone reaching out to say "What can I do to stop this?" Instead, Dr. Hodgson went off on a tangent, an interesting one, but not a productive one if you're trying to change the racial dynamic of Bermuda politics.

Therein lies the problem.

Maybe Dr. Hodgson doesn't have an answer? Or maybe she's hung up on identifying the problem as opposed to remedying it.

But for me, that summed up the catch 22 that we find ourselves in in Bermuda politics.

We can't have a situation where a self-defined 'black Government' is immune to criticism. But that's the implication of marginalising whites and telling them that all of their criticism is racist.

That's what I mean when I say that race is better as a political issue to the PLP than simply an issue. If they can perpetuate this 'echo', then they become immune to criticism and accountability.

The number of times I've been critical of the PLP Government's actions and policies, only to be told that my criticism is racial in nature and therefore should be dismissed out of hand, are too numerous to count.

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