Silencedogood has written quite a brilliant comment in the discussion for my “token black guy” of the boardroom? piece. Portions of which I found worth sharing for those who don’t follow the comments.
the United States is not Bermuda. … The differences in the economics of the US and Bermuda are some of the most significant. The Bermuda economy is skewed to knowledge worker jobs, i.e. those where the individual needs to be highly educated or trained. Think about it—accountants, lawyers, IT professionals—these are all jobs where you need to go away, study, work, acquire those skills before coming home. This shift has occurred at the same time public education has taken a nosedive in quality. This is why [so many people are] focused on education … and why quotas won’t work. If you put someone unqualified in a job that requires skills you can only get by going away to study you are never going to see success and it will undermine those who have invested in themselves.
We also can’t ignore the population size and demographics. To expect a population of 60,000 to produce numerous high level executives for companies drawing human resources from around the globe is presumptuous at best regardless of colour. Therefore if we are going to compare colour we need to do so using only Bermudians not Black Bermudians vs. White Bermudians and White Expats. There probably is a disproportionate split there which needs to be addressed, but it will be smaller than a flat black/white split and more representative of the problem.
Which brings us to the original discussion of “What is the best way to empower black Bermuda?”
My personal opinion is that education is the foundation of everything. It gives you options. It gives you self-esteem. It’s something that, once you accomplish it, can never be taken away. To me that IS empowerment and that is what all Bermudians, but especially black Bermudians, need to realize and embrace.
To really address the issues this island faces we need to have higher standards in the public education system, we need to work our butts off as teachers and parents to make sure our kids meet and exceed those standards, we need to have a fully functional student loan program and we need to encourage our kids to go to the best schools they can get into. This will benefit everyone, but will disproportionately benefit black Bermudians who represent the largest demographic of public education customers.
Unless we start valuing education, and believe me we don’t right now, we will always lag behind. Setting up a quota system is the worst possible thing we can do. We are already seeing the outsourcing occurring from the restrictive immigration policies (which act as a quota-lite type system). The more restrictive and artificial the system, the worse it’s side effects will be. Fix the biggest problem first and then we can see what else needs to be done.
Very well said.