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Black on black violence ‘disturbing’

By Matthew Taylor, GazetteNET News, Monday, 13 March 2000

Bermuda, March 12, 2000 - Black on black conflicts have reached a disturbing level of viciousness, according to a leading activist.

Dr. Eva Hodgson, speaking at a meeting on the subject at the Leopard's Club on Thursday, said conflict amongst whites didn't seem to reach the levels afflicting the black community.

She said: "You don't hear the same levels of vindictiveness when they talk about each other."

But she said sometimes inter-black relationships reached a "level of viciousness which was really quite disturbing."

She added: "Very often we treat each other worse than the way white people do who are expressing racism.

"Under a PLP government predominantly representing the black community it's a good opportunity to challenge ourselves on the way we approach each other."

The first speaker, painter and decorator Scott Smith, said Bermuda was in a lot of trouble when it came to black on black relationships.

He said change had to begin from within as each person took the time to ask themselves what they could do to improve the country.

He said: "You can't love anyone else if you don't love yourself."

The menace of drugs was singled out. He said: "I started using marijuana at an early age and it takes you to other drugs and alcohol.

"Now today you hear about nine and ten-year-olds on heroin. But a lot of people are blind to that.

He said: "If our young people are strung out on drugs who will lead us in the future?"

Amnesty International's LeYoni Junos, who told the meeting she was speaking in a personal capacity, said she witnessed black on black racism whilst chatting with co-workers in a Government canteen years ago.

She said her colleague began deriding Miss Bermuda for having natural hair.

She wondered how many black people had been turned down for jobs or had their complaints ignored by other blacks simply because they wore dreadlocks.

And she said: "We have a responsibility. It's very important for us to question ourselves.

"I am sure young people with ability were deterred from shaping our community purely because of the judgment of other black people. We have to ask ourselves why we believe these things."

Ex-policeman and cricketer Neville Darrell said black people tended to come down harder on each other than white people.

He pointed at the crime problem and said it was time for the community to play a part in helping the Police who would always be outnumbered unless they were given the right information.

He said: "It's time to turn in our brothers and cousins."

Carol Bassett of the Venturilla Foundation said her organisation tried to teach moral standards for male teens to form them into model adults who would be less likely to leave their children unsupported.

Businessmen Khalid Wasi pointed out that conflict amongst communities could be found across the world and that it would be a tyranny to assume that people should all share the same perceptions.

He said: "The differences are not our weaknesses, they are our strengths. They can be complimentary."

In the question and answer session one-time PLP candidate Rodney Smith said he got enormous flak from the black community for his talks on buying a house with no money down despite giving away money and food at the shows.

And he said it was time for black people to take personal responsibility and not keep blaming their troubles on white people. Speaking after the meeting, Dr. Hodgson said a number of those present expressed a desire for the dialogue to continue.

"We will definitely have another meeting," she said. "Not only were the sponsors very pleased but so were a great deal of the people who attended.

"We think this dialogue was just one tiny step towards getting the young men who are being violent to think about their actions."

Dr. Hodgson said she expected the next meeting on the topic to be held some time in late April.

Copyright by The Royal Gazette Ltd