Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer *Photo by Leah Furbert
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer *Photo by Leah Furbert

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1: Do you believe that racism is alive and well in Bermuda?

That’s the question Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer put to the audience at the annual BIU Labour Day Banquet last night.

He made the remarks after reading “vile rhetoric” in comments on the Bernews website. He said that they have a similar site in Antigua, “a place where anonymous commentators can spew some of the most vile rhetoric under a cloak of anonymity that affords them the ability to say what they really think.”

Bernews today declined to comment to the Bermuda Sun.

Mr Spencer read an article on the site about CURB’s seminar for white people which, he said, generated 411 comments with some “terrible racial stereotyping”.

“This sort of stereotype reminds me, quite frankly, of the bad old days,” he said. “For me, these are disgusting, vile and racist comments.”

“And these are not from the history books. They were not describing some dark period in history, they were made anonymously on the 16th of August 2012 right here in Bermuda.

He said he wanted to ask the question: “With this, done on the 16th of August 2012, could we reasonably say that racism is a thing of the past? I want you to ponder that.

“Or do you believe that it’s alive and well in Bermuda, across the region and, indeed, across the world?”

He added that until racism is truly snuffed out, those most victimised by it must stand strong together. “We must educate our fellow brothers and sisters to make sure that they are not confused. These comments are a clarion call to all people – black and white, who believe in justice and equality.”

But it definitely wasn’t all doom and gloom from the visiting dignitary. He told the crowd he could feel the Caribbean spirit in Bermuda. He even chose to visit us instead of Trinidad, saying that he was feeling very much at home on the island.

He went on to say that “we are all in this boat together” when it comes to the global economic crisis.

“I’ve been told that some here in Bermuda are trying to trick Bermudians into believing that the hard economic times that you are experiencing is somehow unique to Bermuda,” he said. “That is absolutely absurd.”

Several hundred people attended the banquet at Fairmont Southampton, including Premier Paula Cox and her husband, Ministers Patrice Minors and Wayne Furbert and the OBA’s Craig Cannonier. The event kicks off a full weekend of Labour Day celebrations by the BIU, and included performances by singer Larrita Adderley and musician Shine Hayward.