As we look around, we see the majority of Bermudians are fair or light-skinned, with straight or semi-straight hair.
Why is that you say?
Let’s look at history for understanding.
Mixed racial roots
Bermuda was initially populated by white English shipwreck survivors in 1609. They went on to settle and work farmland to grow crops such as tobacco. To aid with this, they imported African slaves around the year 1620.
In addition, captured Native American Indians where sent here by the British forces in North America. The British had literally wiped out the Native American people of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
So what do we get in early Bermuda history? Female slaves from Africa were forced to submit to being raped by white English soldiers and slave masters, some of whom produced mixed-race children from these acts of rape. Most of the Native Americans sent here were males, who sooner or later had children with African slave women.
Fast forward to the 1870s when the first Azoreans arrived here; they were mostly men who were not allowed to bring their families to Bermuda.
Once again, the black or mixed-race women were targets of their attention and affection.
This resulted in another generation of mixed-race children, many of whom were given Azorean surnames such as De Roza, DeSilva or Moniz. Many persons who we deem “black” may actually claim Azorean heritage.
Now let’s throw in the significant presence of the Royal Navy for over 300 years. As we all know, sailors seek two things when they reach any port, cold beer and beautiful women.
How many thousands of babies were born to black or mixed-race Bermudian women from relationships with British naval personnel? The world will never know. Most of the sailors never knew if they fathered a child, which resulted in many of these children not even knowing their fathers.
By the 1930s, we have a significant proportion of our population that were of mixed ethnicity.
Make love not war
World War II brought us the US bases and literally thousands of single sailors, airmen and soldiers. Again, this brought a whole new set of DNA to swim in our gene pool, producing more mixed-race babies.
During the 1960s we had a massive influx of English citizens via the UBP’s efforts to control the vote.
In a somewhat more newly- liberalized “free love” society, these white English males and females, met and got involved with Bermudian men and women of all complexions, producing more and more mixed-race children.
A swirled society
What do you end up with after 400 years of this constant mixing of multi-ethnic emotions, love, lust and passions?
You get almost every “black” Bermudian who can say they have a white ancestor.
You get white Bermudians who are biologically related to black Bermudians.
You get black persons with Azorean surnames.
You get an island were the vast majority of persons are biologically of more than two ethnic groups.
You get an island full of what we used to term as “yella skin” people.
No one can claim to be 100 per cent black or 100 per cent white. Skin tones and hair texture are not the determining factors of one’s ethnicity. Nor does one’s ethnicity define one’s character or ability.
There are a growing number of interracial relationships in Bermuda, where many will see “swirling” as a good thing. Naturally we will see a growing number of “multi-ethnic children”.
As the old Sunday school song goes: “Red or yella, black or white, we are all precious in His sight”.