Letters to the Editor

Remark was regrettable, patronising and childish

  • Trevor Moniz (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Dear Sir,

This is with reference to your article in today’s edition (October 7, 2017) about the spat in the House of Assembly. While Trevor Moniz’s remark was unpleasantly patronising and rather childish, I doubt very much whether he intended any racist or even any racial meaning when using the word “boy” in the way that he did.

The incident, while unfortunate and regrettable, is nonetheless interesting in a number of ways: for example, the difference between British-English and American-English ways of speaking — it seems fairly obvious that Mr Moniz intended a schoolboy context to his figure of speech, rather than a racial slur — and the cultural resonances that particular words may have in one versus the other.

Also, the way in which many black Bermudians — whether through studying in the United States, or through the heavy influence of Americans in the AME Church here over the years, or through an understandable interest in and sympathy for the civil rights struggles of black people in the US, or otherwise — have evidently assimilated the black American experience into their own way of thought.

Even though Bermuda, at its segregationist worst, was thankfully by no means an exact match for “Dixie”, and though the black American experience is really only partially relevant to the black Bermudian experience, despite the way in which many simplistically, or propagandistically, conflate the two.

It is also interesting how thin-skinned and threatening Diallo Rabain seems to have been in response to Mr Moniz’s remark.

Particularly bearing in mind the extent to which Progressive Labour Party politicians, although not Mr Rabain, as far as I recollect, have sometimes dripped racial venom and malevolence, and the extent to which PLP politicians were sometimes mixed up with violent-minded, anti-white extremism in times past, this seems unnecessary and inappropriate.

More broadly, it is unfortunate that our parliamentarians do not conduct themselves with greater dignity and mutual respect, given that they are paid quite a lot of money for attending to the people’s business.

It is also regrettable that The Royal Gazette no longer provides verbatim or detailed reports of proceedings in Parliament because in this case it might have shed light on how Mr Moniz came to make his remark, which one regrets that he did not have the presence of mind to avoid.

JONATHAN LAND EVANS