The Bermudian government has proposed legislation that would give the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality (CURE) enforcement power over the percentage of Black Bermudians in management positions. Would such legislation inadvertently do more damage than good? Would such a policy make it more difficult for hard working Black Bermudians to get ahead? Could it possibly create a culture of entitlement and potential resentment towards Black Bermudians? Could such legislation ultimately lead to the creation of a “token black guy” of the boardroom?
The above clip is from the movie “Not another teen movie”, which basically was a comedic parody of teen oriented American movies created in the 90s. This particular scene outlines the concept of the ‘token black guy’ which is the stigma of American teen movies that feature a sole black character whose only purpose is to make comments like “damn” and “that is whack”, but otherwise stay out of the storyline. It is this particular scene that comes to mind when reading of the proposed CURE legislation. While the intentions of the legislation are honourable, could it cause more problems than it hopes to solve?
What would happen to the self-esteem of a hard working black Bermudian who begins to wonder if the promotion he received is largely due to the color of skin as opposed to his hard work? Would he continue to work hard or begin to doubt the merits of his efforts by wondering if he had truly earned his place in the management realm?
What would happen to those black Bermudians who realize that they do not need to work hard to get ahead? Would the potential for advancement based upon the color of their skin give them a sense of entitlement to protest at any advancement of non-black individuals on the basis of equality policies over merit? Would it result in unqualified individuals being advanced into arenas in which they are not suited; essentially putting them there to serve merely as a placeholder or ‘token’ and not a valued member of the team?
Would advancement of black Bermudians above other harder working employees on the basis of race create a rift between black and non-black employees? Could this promote undesirable resentment towards black Bermudians? Could such a stigma cause the efforts of hard working black Bermudians to be ignored and potentially make it much harder for black Bermudians to be taken seriously? Could this do more to damage the efforts and ambitions of those who hold the desire to get ahead purely on their own merit?
The government’s intentions to propose legislation to offer a quick fix to our racial woes is an honourable one, but will it ultimately do more harm than good? Will it make it harder for hard working Black Bermudians to get ahead? Could it nurture a culture of entitlement and possible further racial division? Is it likely that we will see the “token black guy” of the boardroom whose sole purpose is to stay silent and add little to the conversation? Is this the kind of advancement we’re truly looking for in order to achieve racial equality?