Bob Verdun: Racist? Well meaning but culturally naive? Just truthful?

Lots to think about in Ian Bourne's photo of Bob Verdun!

Bajan Reporter says Bob Verdun “can overstep the boundaries of being respectful to his hosts”

Here in Bim race is just below the surface on everything. You can’t blame us for that, we come by it honestly. Have a look at our history long ago and more recently and you’ll see that in Barbados race has had social and economic impact upon individuals for hundreds of years.

The questions and issues about race didn’t just disappear with our independence in 1966 ya know! You can see examples everywhere: a Bajan newspaper reports that “Caucasians” attended a concert, Rihanna talks about being bullied at school for being white, and former Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s favourite slur “Negrocrat” that he uses against enemies real and imagined.

Prime Minister David Thompson is very sick and everybody including the BLP opposition wishes him the very best. That’s very nice, but the BLP tend to forget that during the 2007-2008 election campaign the BLP supporters said that Thompson couldn’t be trusted because he was too white and born in England. The BLP mouthpieces warned that “whites” were voting for the DLP. Horrors!!! Even the newspapers made sly references to Thompson’s mixed race.

This is Barbados where even on a live TV debate we heard a Minister of Government say that a “Caucasian male” had no right to complain about government actions.

Yup. Race is always just below the surface ’bout hey.

So it is that when a person, especially a white foreigner, speaks publicly in Barbados all the warning antennae are up and tuned in to any reference to race or criticism, no matter how innocent or well-meant.

Ian Bourne recently attended a tourism lecture by transplanted Canadian Bob Verdun and published a series of three excellent articles on his Bajan Reporter online news site. The event was totally ignored by the dead tree news media and by the Tourism Ministry, which is too bad because Verdun added some good contributions to the tourism discussions.

BUT… in the opinion of Ian Bourne, Bob Verdun also stepped over a few lines in the sand. Did Verdun make some innocent cultural mistakes? Are we Bajans too sensitive? Or does Verdun have a dark side that just slipped out?

In matters of race on this island I learned long ago that it is better to talk respectfully to each other about apparent transgressions than to let them fester.

What was Bob Verdun’s intent and mindset? Read Ian Bourne’s articles, listen to the audio of the lecture and decide for yourself…

“Granted I may have arrived late that day, but throughout his speech I think it would have gone better if Verdun repeatedly prefaced his commentaries with an advance apology and warning his content may offend some, and that his intent is to inform and not be reactionary nor tabloid.

I spoke to some of the audience afterwards and the older folk were more forgiving in a somewhat reluctant way, while younger members of the audience thought Verdun was a bit extreme. I may be wrong, and people are quick to let me know when they think I am, but for my part – I found this section of his presentation definitely off-colour!”

… from the Bajan Reporter article Canadian transplant’s obsession with sounds & Barbadian ‘heritage’ – Bob Verdun speaks out at George St headquarters (#3 of 3)

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8 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Canada, Culture & Race Issues, History, Race, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

8 responses to “Bob Verdun: Racist? Well meaning but culturally naive? Just truthful?

  1. FISH CAKES AND MAUBY

    “Here in Bim race is just below the surface on everything.” Having just returned from the UK where I spent some refreshing time among Bajans who have been in Britain since the 60’s, I couldn’t help but notice their 360 degree outlook.

    The blessings of living in a geographically larger country, among lots of different ethnicities?

    But here, we live in a goldfish bowl and all we do is swim slowly around in a circle, same ole, same ole, year in – year out….

    What’s new? NOTHING. It’s wuk up, church on Sunday (a social event) – and very little else.

    Ask the ‘average Bajan’ what’s the difference between margerine and butter and they’ll tell you “it’s the same.” ? ? ?

    So what is there to talk about? Slavery…..

    Thany you very much.

  2. Masta Rasta

    Racist or clepto who really knows.

  3. Cyd Witmer

    I sincerely apologize to the Barbodos populace for having to experience the Bob Verdun rant. He is our version of the “ugly american”. I am so sorry that he is now voicing his opinion on your status. Be aware that he is nothing more than a media whore. We have learned that it is best to ignore him, the more attention he gets, the better he enjoys. He will not shut up until you agree that he is right.

  4. Bill Kowalchuk

    Bob Verdun is a self centred know it all who has nbo respect for any other person in this world. He fails to see the human being as a work in progress. He attacks all equally and knows no bounds of fairness and forgiveness. He is a failed human. In my opinion.

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  8. Richard

    I think he is a pig, and I make no apologies.