Some Food for Thought on Black Power & White Guilt in Bermuda

Pauulu Kamarakafego – one of Bermuda’s most important Black Power advocates

The other day I picked up a book that I have been meaning to read for about a year, Black Power in Bermuda: The Struggle for Decolonization by Dr. Quito Swan. The book explores the history of Bermuda’s Black Power Movement, which was a “transnational, pan-African youth movement” which “sought freedom for blacks from the island’s white oligarchy and independence from British colonialism.” As someone who grew up in Bermuda (because my father is Bermudian) I can attest to Dr. Swan’s assertion that the history of the Black Power Movement is so suppressed within Bermuda’s colonial White power educational system that many Bermudians are actually unaware of it’s existence.

As I have been reading it over the last several days (I am in Canada for the week), the following quote from page 7 really stuck out to me and was bookmarked for later use. It struck me so because I feel it sums up beautifully not only the historical stance of much (if not nearly all) of Bermuda’s Whites when it comes to the question of African liberation, but the stance that they, old and young, hold to this very day. In particular it draws out what Malcolm X called  “the white man’s guilt complex” and the interaction that that particular piece of White cultural psychology played in its stance and reaction to Black Power. Comrade Swan also makes clear the material basis for White power/White privilege, which is the oppression and exploitation of Africans aND other colonized peoples. 

I present it below for some food for thought:

Whites in Bermuda were generally hostile to the Movement [Black Power]…For most Blacks, Black Power represented freedom from White oppression. However, as White people had used power to abuse others for personal gain, they saw Black Power as a messenger of karma, and in it the possibility that Blacks would do to them as they had done to Blacks. To some degree, their negative and often ignorant perceptions of the Movement reflected their own guilt-ridden self-images. More historically conscious Whites probably recognized – as did the government – that Black Power truly posed a challenge to White privilege, which was based on Black oppression. Their attack on the Movement was also a refusal to part with the material and/or social wealth that they had accumulated over the centuries. The response of Whites to the Movement in the Royal Gazette (Bermuda’s daily newspaper) oft times amounted to tirades bordering on fanatical paranoia, displaying a White population grossly ignorant of Black people, Bermuda, and Africa’s history yet profoundly arrogant enough to believe that they actually knew what was best for Blacks on the island.


Posted on June 13, 2012, in African Struggles, White Power and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Some Food for Thought on Black Power & White Guilt in Bermuda.

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