2008-10-27 07:16:59
Racism in the Bahamas Could Lead to Violence
A bus driver who nearly hit a Haitian woman and hurled derogatory insults at her about her nationality refused to let her on the bus claiming: "You have no business in this country anyway!"

The woman now claims that, though she has gone through all the necessary steps in acquiring residency, she can't understand why so many Bahamians treat Haitians like 'dogs'.

Josette Giffrare, 43, said she was attempting to take a route 21 to attend a job interview when the bus driver intentionally pulled off while she was stepping into the bus, and was literally inches away from rolling over her.

Mrs Giffrare said although she only received minor injuries, she wanted to know what caused the incident.

She said the driver told her: "Y'all need to catch the next bus in the back because I off."

Mrs Giffrare replied by saying he should have at least closed his bus door which would have prevented her from attempting to board the bus.

The mother-of-four said although she approached the driver in a fairly calm tone, she can't understand why he, along with other Bahamians, seem to have a negative attitude to Haitian people.

Nicolette Bethel, director of culture and anthropologist; said the economic and cultural shifts affecting both Bahamian and Haitian people could lead to violence.

Although the cultures of Haiti and the Bahamas are intertwined, Dr Bethel added: "People are not conscious of this, Bahamians believe that Haitians are totally foreign, totally alien, and totally unlike us, but that is a myth.

"Here in the Bahamas we have a big gap between the myths and reality, and we don't have any mechanisms which would enable us to integrate the two.

"With the fraternalism that white people had for black people in the past, black Bahamians don't even have that for Haitians. We need to call this racism."

She says when you take the model of racism and "strip it of anything that was humanising in it," the end would be reflective of the conditions many Haitians experience in the Bahamas.

"We are lying to ourselves," Dr Bethel said. "It's not just that we have this gap between the two cultures, but also that we can maintain this gap, because nobody ever admits this gap is there."

Source: The Tribune
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