Recently the unspoken issue of racism has been one of national interest and public debate! Four separate incidents occurred at Tambearly School where racially charged statements were made by students to other students and regrettably the school in question has no policies in place to speak out or reprimand students against such ill behaviors.
Shortly after the story was published in The Tribune (local newspaper) on Tuesday, May 13th, 2014, Lyford Cay School (an international school), (and most recently Barry University , May 25th, 2014) published their school's diversity policy in a letter to the editor in The Tribune on Thursday, May 15th, 2014 to clarify any misconception that they might have been the school which was unnamed in the original article.
Almost a week later after suggestive emails to resolve these issues, numerous attempts for response to the claims, the schools's Principal, Mrs. Langford held a private news conference. During this conference she released a response, where she again reiterated that the parents of the children on the receiving end of the racial slurs were free to leave if they were unhappy with the manner in which the school operated or dealt with the issue.
In light of this, we researched the Education Act governing schools in our country. In it, there is no obligation placed on "independent" schools, as there is on public schools, to mandate or implement anti- discriminatory policies. To this end, we have created the cause, a movement called Super Mommas Against Racism, Bullying & Discrimination (SMARBD). SMARBD seeks to get a minimum of 2000 signatures to endorse our cause which will be present to The Ministry of Education along with a proposal to implement diversity/tolerance policies in ALL Bahamian schools to ensure sensitivity training against racism, bullying and discrimination!
There is a great possibility that Tambearly School is not the only "independent" school without such policies, therefore SMARBD is seeking to have said policies in place where they are lacking. In this unique situation there was no due process. In the absence of such policies, if a single instance of racism, bullying or discrimination is perceived or reported in any educational institution, once it is brought to the attention of the appropriate persons, it deserves to be addressed with utmost urgency and resolved. Thus, SMARBD is urging the need for sensitized diversity training along with the respective policies against racism, bullying and discrimination to be initiated in ALL schools. The training will prepare our children for the real world and the policies will protect them while left in the care of the institution setting rules and corrective measures while making the individual schools' management accountable under said circumstances.
In our estimation, these recent events have placed education in The Bahamas at a critical crossroads, to stay on par with our regional and international counterparts and now to effectively ensure that racism is not allowed to be embedded in the culture of our schools. Surely, we cannot progress as a country if it is allowed to become entrenched again. In retrospect is our belief that these events were inevitable (occurring daily but simply ignored) therefore they had to be experienced by one who knew that in a democratic Bahamas, in 2014 this would not be taken lightly! As Super Mommas we faced what we did and the decision to rise up and create awareness is a forgone conclusion, now we must take action to remove any obstacle that may impede our children's growth and success as the future leaders of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
This recent experience has solidified us to ensure that "independent " schools should be held accountable or obligated to a higher authority with standards requiring them to set these policies with training and corrective actions (penalties). This also demonstrates a larger reality; that in 2014 racism still exists in The Bahamas and it should not and must not be tolerated in any sphere of life; especially not in educational institutions.
Currently there are policies against weapons, illicit drugs, fighting and swearing in all schools, the same MUST extend to bullying, racism and discrimination. To know that there are institutions that do not have said policies in 2014 is disappointing and deeply concerning. SCARBD no longer sees this as one family's issue, but a national issue behind which ALL Bahamians should stand united against RACISM, BULLYING & DISCRIMINATION! Sign our petition... Support Super Mommas Against Racism, Bullying & Discrimination... Join the movement to ERASE racism, STOP bullying & END discrimination! My FIGHT... Your FIGHT... Our BAHAMAS!