Discrimination and HATE raises it ugly head in The Bahamas, again…

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Canada Obama  20090219 TOPIX<<< Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean greets President Barack Obama onto Canadian soil for a visit. Jean was born on the 6th September, 1957 Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Nassau, Bahamas — Here’s a story that will tell you a lot of what we’re all about. Like a spirit, this story haunted this writer all night, until it was published today. On yesterday I walked into a food store in the central part of town to collect some items. And what transpired during that visit, will leave in my memory a story for many years to come.

There I was waiting on my items to be cashed with two men standing before me and in front of them both a small young woman. She was of Haitian decent. Her body tiny in structure was clad in a yellow domestic uniform. Her hair was corn rowed and her hands trembled as she fumbled through the pennies trying to collect the correct change for the cashier. She was under the gun.

You see she was headed home from work, and decided to collect a few items at the food store along the way, but she did not have enough money. Exhausted and frustrated with the woman’s inability to come up with the correct change, the cashier lost her cool. She began to yell like a Nazi soldier at the small innocent woman. And having no mercy, she flung the coins back to the Haitian girl saying, “I can’t take these, bring me back the correct change or put the items back and get out of this store.”

The small woman looked confused but she said nothing. Everyone on the line was moved by her pity. The question I asked in my head was this, how much more can such tiny structures endure? Miles from her home, challenged to find a job, struggling to pay rent and feed her family. Settled in a town with RANK discrimination by people of the same hue, and taking verbal abuse in public from another woman. The assaults must seem endless to her.

As I stood there and watched the players of this HATE scene right here in The Bahamas, my mind tracked back to medieval times in Britain. It was after king Richard Lion-Heart’s coronation when the Jewish massacre began. They became a hated people. People seen as different and thus even the British carried a ball of hate for them. By the Middle Period, the British didn’t tolerate the presence of Jews in their community, and therefore by 1290 they had to leave the mother country. Expelled out of British society, Jews fled to other parts of the world and some settled right here in The Bahamas, Jamaica, and Barbados.20immig184

In that small woman’s eyes I saw oceans of my ancestors travelling on a ship bound for the Caribbean, tortured and enslave by the colour of their skin. Weakened and chained by evil forces far away, who preached against and scorned our race. Sold us from plantation to plantation, separated us brothers and sisters and changed our names. In her I saw the wish to be free, a freedom only death can afford from this place of discrimination and hate.

As I saw the venom of hate attacked that small woman, my mind rolled back to Hitler’s army and his refusal to tolerate people with difference. His massacre of 6 million Jewish citizens tells a horrific story of people who only wanted a chance at life. And for some reason we deny people that God given right still to this day.

As the scene of Hate played out in that local grocery store here in the capital my mind went back to the people of Rwanda and the massacre of a race in that African country. At the end of the legal killings, 800,000 men women and children saw their deaths fueled by hate and difference. The world sat paralyzed those 90 long days, and watched children cried for their mothers hacked with machetes. And watched there attackers, transformed into legions of demons, which then made the child a target practice exercise.

I saw in this encounter of hate lastly, a black woman attacking another black woman asserting her heritage over the other as if one was of a different kingdom. And oh that cashier must have forgotten the struggle of women, right here in The Bahamas. A struggle not long fought right here in this country. Women, who saw their voices silenced in this city for years. And others denied an education all over the world. What a waste of history?

And again here was I witnessing this demon of hate raising its ugly head once again in my presence. I was not prepared to tolerate it. And so quickly I intervened and hushed the barking voice of hate attacking that small woman. We in The Bahamas should be the last seen drawing a line in the sand. A line drawn by hate and discrimination, for we to were once a people suppressed and dogged by hate. We should be the last group of persons drawing from the wells of our souls the bitterness and anger towards people who look just like us. People who behave just like us, people who were separated from us many years before. There is but one race, the human race. We are brothers and sisters of the same maker and the world is His, not ours.

I to am a proud Bahamians, one that is lost in the generations of this land, but I refuse to be a Bahamian possessed with the hate of the past. Possessed with Hitler’s spirit of supremacy. I urge you the bloggers of this community to CHANGE OUR WAYS! To lift the weak and help those discriminated against in our country. This is the country our forefathers saw. A country marching together in love and unity.

And so to sum up this thought I turn to the words of Michael Jackson. Words he penned in poetic eloquence:

“MAN IN THE MIRROR”

I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer’s Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man’s Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya’ Know
‘Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That’s Why I Want You To
Know

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

28 COMMENTS

  1. As a black man residing in the USA and visiting the Bahamas, I experienced this insensitivity first hand of fellow blacks mistreatment of other blacks. First I was stopped many times at the Atlantis resort entrance (by black security officials) for verification that I was indeed a guest. My wife (who is white) was never once stopped. My mom also experienced similar experiences. It seem that many in the Bahamas still have the colonialist mentality where they believe only certain types of people can achieve the opportunity for luxury. In fact they believe that the only black people that can afford places like Atlantis are celebrities like Oprah, Tiger, and MJ. I am sad to say, I would not recommend any people of color to vacation in the Bahamas.

  2. I have seen chinese funerals. Pinder’s funeral, home and the other funeral home also in the palmdale area where mainly white bahamians go, has had chinese reposed at their establisment. Altec, i agree with you, at a certain chinese restuarant that i used to frequent, top notched immigration officers used to go directly in the kitchen, and quite often you would see many new faces

  3. @Altec

    This thing with the Chinese as me puzzled, I have never even been or heard anybody said they have attended a Chinese funeral. I don’t even see them in the obituary. There has to be something here in this country that Bahamians don’t know about that makes it impossible for the Chinese to die while living here in our country. I know what I said does not make any sense and it sounds pretty far fetch, but this is the only thing I could think of. Do you have any other explanation? I don’t want think they are cooking them….lol…

  4. @Kim Sands
    For as much Chinese restaurants and convenience stores, have you ever seen or heard of a Chinese funeral in the Bahamas? We dont even know what they do with their dead!

  5. @Altec

    We are always focusing our attention on the Haitians and Jamaicans while the Chinese are running our whole immigration department. I notice the Chinese are always living on top of their businesses and every time you visit their establishment you can always find a new face. They are some smooth operators and one of the main reasons why they don’t get much attention as other foreign nationals do, they tend to keep a very low profile. When you look at it we don’t know anything about these people.

  6. @Kim Sands
    Kim and Ronica7, many Bahamians dont know that the biggest smugglers in the Bahamas are THE CHINESE. These folks have bought immigration, defense force and senior governmental officials and move Chinese human cargo through this county by the thousands every year unabated.

    This isnt bull sh**. The Chinese Bahamians used their status to pull strings. I wish i could call names on this blog, but be that as it may, the Chinese own the immigration department. The Chinese opeation is off limits and untouchable.

    Evey Chinese shop and restaurant have an upstairs thats heavily fenced in. Why is that? Evey 6 months the Chinese shop or restaurant has a new Chinese cashier or you see a new Chinese face walking about, 6 months later they gone! Its not only happening in NP and GB. The Chinese done have shops in Abaco, what you think happening?

    The Chinese so connected in government that if i try call immigration on them, they could send immigration for me and i am 100% Bahamian. The Chinese own the immigration depatment!

  7. We have to accept them, because this is a problem that is not going anywhere regardless who the government is. I don’t have a problem with them being here; I just would like to see them abide by our laws. We are in no position to look down on them or discriminate against them; because they are human being like the rest of us. They have feelings the same way we do and we should count our blessing that the Bahamas is doing so much better than some other countries. If anyone of us believe we are better than them, that would be a sin and God will judge us accordingly.

  8. I think we just need to accept it. They are a part of us, whether we like it or not, but it needs to be controlled. Quite frankly, i have many, many haitian friends, if you grew up over the hill, they become a part of you, and their children become your friends. There are good and bad haitians, as there are good and bad bahamians.

  9. I don’t have a problem with people coming to our country seeking a better way of life, but they should try to do it through the proper procedures. We have a tendency to feel pity for these foreigners, when we have Bahamians right here catching hell and I feel a lot of time foreigners are allowed to get away with all sorts of things Bahamians cannot get away with. Our laws don’t seem to apply to them, they can sell beers, cigarettes, numbers, front and whatever else from their houses and law enforcement officers can go there and do business with them and nothing is said. You let a Bahamian try that, see how quick they try to throw that person under the jail. We can only make a change, when we learn to be fair in this country.

  10. I put the number of ILLEGAL haitians at 250,000 and i am being generous.
    Haitians turn against the plp which they had always supported, from Sir. Lynden’s time in droves. Because of the actions, and policies of Shane Gibson, where he had put in place policies to avoid those on work permits, having their children schooled here.

    Water, construction, phone cards, restuarants, food stores, hotels, landscaping and other jobs have all been taken over by haitians!
    The sad reality is that most of our students, and parents do not take education seriously, as do the hatians, so the low paying jobs are becoming a toss-up between migrants from haiti, and non performing bahamians, and herin lies the problem

    The other children who were born here of haitian parentage, are taking full advantage of our educational system, and empowering themselves academically, and i do not blame them.

  11. I have followed this dialogue with interest and am glad that it has been brought up as a discussion.The Haitian problem has gone beyond solving as we must now try and assimilate them into our society.Some of them have bad ways and are always trying to get one over on Bahamians.I have rental property in an area over the hill and rent to a Haitian who has rwesidential status.Last year I allowed him to avoid paying me rent for six months as I sought to single the roof.I foolishly allowed him to get the material and the labour which he waas asked to pay out of the rental.Well blow me down I went to collect rent last month and he is now telling me the roof is leaking as the mabn who he hired did not do a good job.I asked who was the man but he claimed he cannot find him.This has convinjced me that the Haitians in our country are very dishonest and are trying to outslick us at every turn.They control Arawak Cay,the numbers racket,the straw market,and the outskirts of New Providence where they have built shanty towns.I am informed that during the last General Elections they made the difference in many of the constituiencys in the South East and west portions of New Providence.As their numbers grow they are becoming more agressive and now have a gang called the Zopound that controls drug trafficking in the Bahamas.They hate former Minister of Immigration Gibson so the present Govt must decide what they will do with them.From East St bounded by Wolff Road to Independence Drive is owned by Haitians.The story is compelling but from my experiencve with Haitians Bahamians they are crafty and conniving.

  12. Altec, the majority of illegals, haitians, and other nationalities, are coming through the airport. I heard the state minister allude to this several months ago. Whenever i visit my tailor there is someone new, in his home and they come in but they never return. Several months later the women are pregnant.

    So while they,(Immigration) is at the docks the plane is at the airport, i am told in the dead of night, bringing in haitians.

  13. The action of the cashier is very disturbing and no one deserves to be treated that way, but what the writer should have done is ask the cashier why she behaved in such a manner. We don’t know if this was the first time this woman came in the store and picked up groceries and did not bring sufficient monies to pay for it. I am not discrimination, but I have to keep it real. On a daily basis I deal with people from different countries and I do have a lot of Haitians coming in my store trying to pull the wool over my eyes. They would come in my store and before they even look around good they would start complaining about the prices. I used to give them all kind of breaks, until I started to realize that some of them were intentionally taking advantage of me. I remember one time a Haitian woman told me she only had twenty dollars in her purse and she really wanted a dress for church, I told myself at least she is not going night clubbing and she want to serve God, so I took twenty five dollars off her bill. When she opened her purse to pay me, I must have counted at least five or more Bahamian Hundred Dollar bills. I said, “I thought you told me you only had twenty dollars.” All she did was laughed and she handed me a hundred dollar bill to pay for her dress in full. Don’t believe every sad story you hear, some of these foreigners have more monies than all of us put together and that cashier might have been fed up with this woman coming in the store doing foolishness. Even though some of my customer is try to swing me, I still treat all of them with respect.

  14. Interesting article. What about your own accpetance, Bahamas Press? In an article about Michael Jackson, you made the point that his doctor (who to my knowledge at time of writing this, is innocent) is from Trinidad and likened him to the CLICO disaster. Or NIB, you pointed out that Derek Osborne, whom I believe has Bahamian citizenship/residency/been here forever and has family here is not from the Bahamas.

    Maybe you need to look in your own mirror?

  15. @Troy Garvey
    Let me tell you something that i have figured out when i worked for the government back in the day. THERE IS A PAPER TRAIL FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS DONE INVOLVING THE GOVERNMENT

    If the government wanted too, right now it could print out a list of all the names and birth certificates in a matter of minutes of individuals born in the Bahamas to non Bahamian parents in the last 20yrs.

    My point being if the government wants to know who ya ma o pa is, they can find out and they do. When immigration does it rounding up and gets those people info they does run their names “through the systems” (Passport office, NIB, CID), they know what the deal is in a matter of hours, trust me!

  16. @ronica7
    Ronica7, i think that the immigration problem isnt too difficult to solve. If the government would simply put a base in Inagua and sufficiently staff and equip it, those Haitian boats would hardly make it all the way up to nassau. If we can borrow money to pave roads, why cant we borrow money to build that base? That base is a matter of national security. There is no excuse as to why that base hasnt been built. Its just another example of lack of political will and bad placement of priorities.

    Secondly, we have to revisit how we dispense citizenship in this country. Only children whose parent(s) are Bahamian should get citizenship no matter where they are born. As long as one parent is Bahamian, that child should be awarded Bahamian citizenship.

    Any foreigner that comes to the bahamas legally or illegally and has children, the law should reflect that that child takes citizenship of the mother or father and not given Bahamian citizenship. This idea of “if ya born here, ya born here” is total foolishness. Bahamians need to stop trying to follow up the US and realize that other developed countries dont confer citizenship so easily and just because the US does it doesnt make it right.

    Thousands of Haitians have obtained a bahamian passport and that should not be. A soon as the mother comes from the hospital they run straight down to the passport office for a passport. Sometimes more Haitians in the passport office than Bahamians.

    As it reltes to children of legal and illegal migrants already born here, if they are 12 yrs and older they should be able to apply for residency, but a prerequisite should be for them to get there citizenship papers through to the country of their parent(s) birth fist then apply to the bahamas for residency.

    As a legal bahamian resident, they would have all the rights of a bahamian citizen accept for the right to vote, work for the government in any capacity or receive a bahamian passport.

    Any child under twelve must go back to their parent(s) country of citizenship. The Bahamas cant naturalize all illegal foreigners or their children. the line has to be drawn somewhere because they orignally broke the law and the government has to impose some type penalty and restrictions one them.

  17. @Altec MY POINT EXACTLY ALTEC,IF THE MINISTRY OF IMMIGRATION PICKS UP ALL THE NON ENGLISH SPEAKING IMMIGRANTS.THEN HOW WILL THEY KNOW IF THE ENGLISH SPEAKING IMMIGRANTS ARE ILLEGAL? SEE,WHAT I;M TRYING TO POINT OUT IS THAT,THERE ARE PERSONS IN OUR SYSTEM THAT IS OF HATIAN DESCEND,AND THEY ARE PULLING THEIR WEIGHT TO SEE TO IT THAT THEIR PEOPLE GET STRAIGHT BY ANY MEANS NECCESSARY.
    QUESTION!!! HOW DO WE STOP THAT? OR CAN WE?

    I AGREE WITH RONICA7,NIPP IT IN THE BUTT!! STOP ALLOWING IT TO MULTIPLY HERE IN THE BAHAMAS.

  18. Altec, not only that but you do not know who reside in your country which for me is the scariest part. While i do not deny hatians their right to be here, and many have assimilated here, it has to be controlled.
    Where i grew up in mason’s addition, and all parts of over the hill, has been taken over by haitians, illegal, and otherwise. It is reported that some seven out of ten babies born at the hospital, are of haitian parentage. This is serious.

    I think that all ILLEGAL, haitian, women who become pregnant should be deported as soon as they come forth to the clinics! The stem of ILLEGAL haitian births must be stopped.

  19. I agree with this writer that what the cashier did was wrong, but i would like to know how is it that this incident of a cashier mistreating a Haitian woman caused the writer of this post to think about Jews being massacred by Richard the Lion heart, Hitler and Rwanda refuges? Thats a bit much.

    Was she mistreated, yes, but i dont see how this writer went from there to the Holocaust and Rwanda. I think there is a bit over dramatization goin on here.

    @Troy Garvey
    Troy, i totally disagree with you! Parts of Abaco and Exuma are already haitian dominated. There are many little Haitian conclves in New Povidence, Grand Bahama and Andros. The primary schools are stretched thin because so many of the children are of haitian parentage and dont speak english. I wont even talk about how the illegals are stretching the resources of PMH thin.

    If something isnt done soon to stem this tide of Haitians, the hatians will do to the bahamas what the Cubns have done to South Florida and the Mexicans to California.

    France just changed its immigration policies some years ago and now the UK is clamping down on its immigration polices as they realize that they cant sustain the influx of migrants. Pres Obama wants normal relations with Cuba and once that is achieved, the “Wet foot, dry foot” policy will be gone. That was a bad policy and South Florida has paid the price.

    A country has to be able to control its borders and the flow of migration. If it doesnt, that country will loose its identity and cultural norms. Uncontrolled immigration, more than anything, causes huge financial strains on an economy.

    I agreed 100% with what Shane Gibson was doing.

  20. As the child of Bahamian immigrants who arrived in the U.S. during the late 50s, I grew up during a time when whites discriminated against blacks. This was an awful time for African Americans, but it was worse for Black Bahamian immigrants. We were not accepted in the country and were often the focal point of ignorance. The treatment American blacks tried to place upon us was much akin to the treatment Bahamians place upoon Haitians. It is not a good feeling. When you are being ostracized by individuals who look just like you, the feeling is indescribable. I extend my sympathy to this young woman, I can only imagine how degraded she must have felt. We must remember to treat others as we want to be treated.

  21. @S.Moss AMEN & AMEN
    YOU DID’NT HEAR BP SAY IF THEY HELP PAY 4 HER GROCERIES AYE?Hmmmnnn!
    BP, WHAT DO U SAY? DID U? OR DID U NOT HELPED?

    TRUTHHURTS,THEN WE NEED TO COLLABERATE TOGETHER AND FIND OUT FROM MINISTER WHAT DOES HE HAVE PLANNED AND IF THE PLAN INCLUDES WHAT YOU ARE SUGGESTING? GOOD SUGGESTION THOUGH!!1!

  22. I read your heart wrenching account of how the young lady was treated. The problem in our country is that so many, Bahamians and non-Bahamians, Christians and non-Christians are no longer Christ like. Jesus said that whatever we do to the least of these, you do it to him. When we are judged our nationality will not matter.

    I trust that the young lady walk out of the foodstore with her pockets running over with money that the observers collected for her. I also trust that the cashier was reported to management.

  23. @troy garvey

    i do agree with you that discriminating against haitian nationals and their descendants is wrong. our ancestors all came along on the same slave ships. so i will concede that. besides many haitian descendants do more for the bahamas than many actual bahamians.

    i just think that we have to make (demand that) haiti take an integral role in solving OUR illegal immigration problem, which in all honesty they have helped to create and done almost nothing to alleviate the strain.

  24. @truthhurts DON’T GET ME MISTAKEN,I AM AWARE OF THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS THAT WE ARE FACED WITH IN OUR COUNTRY,BUT YOU HAVE TO AGREE WITH ME ON THE FACT THAT SOME OF THOSE WHO ARE ILLEGAL, BY LOOKING OR LISTENING AT SOME OF THEM.YOU WOULD NOT KNOW THAT THEY ARE ILLEGAL.SO MY POINT IS.THAT OUR COUNTRY HAS ABSORBED THE MIGRANTS FOR SO LONG, THAT THEY HAVE ACTUALLY BECAME A PART OF THE BAHAMIAN SOCIETY AND THEREFORE THEY ARE HERE AND WE JUST DON’T KNOW WHO TO CALL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS,BUT TO AD TO THAT,THE SYSTEM IN THE BAHAMAS IS FLOGGED WITH THE HATIAN NATIONALS WHO HAVE BAHAMIAN STATUS.

    SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THEM?WE HAVE TO ACCEPT THEM TRUTHHURTS!!!!

  25. @troy garvey
    i respect you and how you have fought for children’s rights but you sound somewhat naive when you speak about illegal immigration.
    i understand your desire for everyone to treat each other equally and with respect and for all to join hands and sing kumbaya, but you are mistaken if you think the Bahamas can sustain the current level of illegal immigration – specifically illegal hatian immigrants.
    also let’s not pretend that there are not exponentially more illegal haitian migrants than all the other countries put together.

    the bahamas is THE most tolerant nation in the caribbean when it comes to allowing illegal immigrants to live in its society without serious repercussions. period.

    haiti, as a country and with the help of the united states, has refused to take care of its own problems in the past half century.

    i know you will say that haiti has never recovered from its gold debt to france that it had to pay after the slave revolution. but haiti with all of its riches, must at some point, like the US says of iraq, take responsibility for its own people and its own circumstances.

    why are the children of haitian parents (who by law are not automatically bahamian) not accepted into haiti, even though they are by constitutional right haitian citizens? that is much more ludicrous than them not being allowed access to our immigration facilities and automatically being granted citizenship.

    the bahamian people rejected the notion of the regularization of bahamian born children of haitian nationals, and i don’t hear any overhwelming support calling for that in any significant way nowadays.

    the bahamas, along with caricom, the un and the us, MUST petition Haiti to take more responsibility for its own citizens and those confused few out there must stop blaming bahamians for the fate of haitians and their descendants who chose to escape their homeland of their own free will.

  26. WE HAVE TO WAKE UP IN THIS COUNTRY AND KNOW THAT WE ALL ARE HUMANS FIRST,AND THAT GOD HAS ALL OF US HERE FOR A PURPOSE.SECONDLY,OUR PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THAT OUR COUNTRY HAS MANY FOREIGNERS IN IT AND THEY ARE EMBEDDED THROUGH OUR SYSTEM BECAUSE MANY OF THEM WERE BORN HERE AND IS BEING DENIED ACCESS FOR THE PROPER PROCEDURES THROUGH THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES IN ORDER FOR THEM TOO NOT BE ILLEGAL.WE HAVE TO ACCEPT THIS FACT AND MOVE ON BECAUSE WHEN YOU ANALYSE THE WHOLE CONCEPTION OF THE FOREIGN SITUATION,THEY ARE NEEDED WHETHER WE WANT TO BELIEVE IT OR NOT.IT’S ONLY SHOWING US THAT WE DO HAVE A DIVERSIFIED CULTURE OF PERSONS IN OUR COUNTRY.

    LET’S STOP THE FUSSING AND FIGHTING AND FIND THE WAYS POSSIBLE TO GET OUR COUNTRY ON THE RIGHT TRACT,AS A PEOPLE.WE NEED TO STOP LOOKING AT THE GOVERNMENT ALL THE TIME AND START DOING SOME THINGS AS CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY TO BRING SOME RESOLVE TO THE ILLS OF THIS NATION.

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