Opinion Writers

A few inconvenient truths

That white males earn 70 per cent more than black men in the category of personal income with respect to full-time employment of those aged 16 and above in the 2016 census should be pause for significant concern.

Similarly, the companion statistic that both black females and men showed great declines in median income of 12 per cent and 13 per cent respectively should not have resulted in a concerted attempt to play down or, worse, delegitimise the data in question by some Bermudian commentators.

Moreover, the argument made by some that those stats that do illustrate growing racial disparity are illegitimate or “skewed” because they include the incomes of high-earning white males on work permits, especially in the financial services, should be viewed as extremely dubious by the reader.

These individuals in that sector are part of the resident population and their incomes have a significant impact, especially as it relates to the growth of income inequality, which statistics show has a significant impact upon low-income Bermudians, particularly black Bermudians, who are disproportionately represented in the relevant, low-income bands.

This argument, besides being egregiously specious, also speaks to an argument that can only be characterised as racist by some of those who wield it.

The upshot being that many black Bermudians cannot handle the facts, and somehow by talking about these issues around racial disparity, it will only lead to greater division and enmity.

The reality as indicated by these arguments is that it appears that there are too many white Bermudians who even in 2018 are not prepared to handle the facts. Thus, the predictable campaign on the part of certain commentators to undermine and delegitimise the irrefutable facts contained in the report in question.

The fact that some of those commentators are not white does not obscure the racist origins of such comments.

As stated by me, these types of comments are also pernicious in that they can have the effect of undermining the public’s confidence in the integrity of our highly trained and extremely professional civil servants at the Department of Statistics, who have simply laid out the facts in question that now appear to have become inconvenient truths for some.

Will they also question the facts contained in the so-called Mincy Report (2009) from Columbia University on our young black males, which stated: “After accounting for differences in education, the racial differences in the predicted unemployment rates of Bermudian males were unchanged. Race does account for 29 per cent of the racial gap in predicted earnings between young black and white males.”

I could go on because these type of gross racial disparities are replete throughout our society, hiding in plain sight and have been for some time.

Also note that these statistics are not reflective of a full decade-long census period, but one that represents only a six-year span from 2010 to 2016. I am tempted to say at this point: that’s scary. But I won’t.

This Progressive Labour Party government is determined to address these pronounced racial disparities, which this census indicates are widening — even precipitously so — and will use public policy to achieve these ends because our social cohesion as a society ultimately depends upon it.

Rolfe Commissiong is the government MP for Pembroke South East (Constituency 21) and the chairman of the parliamentary committee looking into the living wage