Monday, May 25, 2009

Whitey Is Scared

The Bahamas' murder rate is alarming, and sadly this is not news for anyone reading this blog. The news outlets are keeping track of the year's murder count, personally, I don't. It's too high, but in my book, even one would be too high a number.

Today, I won't speculate as to what causes this small nation to suffer from such a high murder rate, rather I'd like to look at one particular murder that occurred on the island of New Providence last month. On Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009, Hywel Jones, a British expat banker, was shot, and later succumbed to his injuries.

Let me say this loud and clear: the murder of Hywel Jones is tragic, and killing a fellow human being is an atrocious crime. However, it was not just yours truly who lately got the impression that many in this community are outraged about this particular murder, that many in this community seem to think (and some even say so) that this particular murder is somehow "worse" than the dozens of other murders that occur all too frequently in our society.

One argument to support this notion is supposedly Mr. Jones' profession, as a banker he is - so they say - a member of the most "productive" section of our society. Ouch! Do you hear the slap in the face of nurses, teachers, and hard-working policemen, just to name a few. Granted, Mr. Jones' made more money than all those examples, but is he therefore a more valuable member of society? Who taught him his skills? Who cared for him when sick, and tried very hard to save his life after the shooting? And who is searching for the murderer to bring him to justice?

Sadly, as the title of today's column suggests, I think the outrage over Hywel Jones' murder is owed to the fact that most murder victims in this country are Black, and of these Blacks, most come from the lower strata of society. For too long, upper class Bahamians, particularly White Bahamians were complacent and thought that they were somehow immune to bullets, and that crime remained a problem only of certain segments of society. Now, Whitey is scared.

Now, White Bahamians realised that ever since 1967, they focused too much on their own economic well-being, but, as the economic elite of the country, participated too little in civic society. Once they could no longer control social and political development, many of them refused to even participate.

The crime wave we face today is not the result of the PLP's or FNM's actions in government, rather, it is the result of an unhealthy social construct with roots deep in the colonial era. For a change, it came to haunt the upper class. For a change, the victim was White. At this point it is irrelevant whether he was Bahamian or expat; Whitey is scared. Hopefully, this will serve as a wake up call for ALL Bahamians, and by that I do not just mean citizens, I mean residents, to work together to transform this society and bring about more civility.

May Hywel Jones rest in peace.

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