Surprisingly, the wind opened a deep wound
On September 1, 2019, hurricane Dorian made landfall on Abaco Island as a category five hurricane with winds of up to 215 miles per hour and then made landfall in Grand Bahamas a day later with the same speed and ferocity, causing flooding in its path and uprooting other latent hazards.
Weather specialists estimate that the damages totaled around 3.4 billion dollars, with at least 70 deaths and 14,000 families affected.
Tens of millions of dollars were donated by a variety of organizations, and ex-pats, have donated to the island’s reconstruction efforts and governmental agencies as millions of people watched the devastating impact photographs from reporters and locals.
Many people would have preferred to see The Bahamas return sooner rather than later, but experts warn that some of the most popular tourist destinations will remain a hilly enclave until things return to normal and they can enjoy the area’s natural splendor.
However, given the reported impact, it will need time, investments, commitment, and understanding, as, in other devastating hurricanes elsewhere.
The Reality of the decades-old debris
This storm has revealed a deep schism that has existed since colonization.
While philanthropic donations may be able to address the infrastructure problem, another anchor has been lifted, and hurricane Dorian has revealed a widespread problem that seems to have been in the surrounding waters for decades in the region.
Yes, classism, ongoing social stratification, and even racial discrimination still exist along many of these shores, and Dorain has eroded it.
Unfortunately for many Haitians, multiple accounts claim that as a result of Hurricane Dorain, local officials treated them as second-class citizens, stranded on an unsafe boat and unworthy of basic necessities such as food and water or a place to live.
It’s a difficult subject that many people in the region believe should be avoided or left alone. This time, however, it will not wash away to the coasts.
Many tourists, especially those arriving by sea or plane for a week’s vacation, or those who live in the private multi-million zones and are met by a chauffeur upon arrival, are frequently unaware.
Furthermore, while civil engineers will be able to address infrastructure issues, the same cannot be said about the social difficulties that have emerged.
Sure, some people dismiss the social struggles of the poor, immigrants particularly people of color, whether consciously or unconsciously, because they may cross paths on the same beach, deck, or street during a national holiday or carnival, but this time it cannot be ignored.
The never-anchored Caribbean new ships
Many Haitians who fled to the Bahamas risked their lives at sea due to decades of political upheaval, a lack of preparation for their never-ending catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes, corruption, insufficient infrastructure, crime, violence, and other tragedies caused by a poor governance system.
It is a matter of personal opinion who is to blame. Nonetheless, the few who survived long voyages in quest of a better life characterized themselves as an outcast, with social isolation, prejudice, minimal assistance, and mistrust that is reflected via protectionism,
This storm has sparked decades of conflict and the unspoken animosity that came rushing out in the open after hurricane Dorain’s cloud disappeared
Hurricane, Dorain has laid everything out in front of everyone to view and discuss no matter how many husbands and wives are taken when natives hire migrants as domestic assistance as some locals argued, or taking local jobs.
According to economists, even in industrial countries, migrants do not take jobs away from people who live in the same country in sufficient numbers to cause concern.
They carry out jobs that natives may not even consider and these service jobs are vital to the local economy.
Many people claimed that it made their arrival on the Bahamas island even more difficult. They realized their path to a new life was still littered with social debris.
Rebuilding will cost more than money.
Several Haitians claimed that mainstream media rarely reported their stories. Even if some estimates put their population at 20%, they had to turn to the media for an assessment of their community in order to get some aid they need.
The topic of how best to help people who are already disadvantaged, particularly those who claim they have been neglected for help, even in locating loved ones who have died based on local reports due to their lack of citizenship status, remains unanswered.
Many people claim that once an area has been labeled as a shantytown, the promised genuine support has yet to be brought to their neighborhood after the photographers left with leaders, portraying a picture that is not representative of reality.
Many migrants face exclusion upon arrival, as previously indicated, not only in the Bahamas but also on other Caribbean islands and beyond.
Despite having more in common with locals in terms of history, music, customs, skin tone, culture, food, and in the future, stronger homes will be built, some on higher ground.
However, if deep animosity and division toward those who entered without a boarding pass continue, as reported, how strong are they?
There is little doubt that those on the outside looking in will be told that everything is OK here and that they are dealing with their own problems.
Unfortunately, the next wind will not decide where people live, how much money is donated, who they should seek assistance from, or who is counted first.
The protected zone
While these islands must take precautions to protect their citizens and maintain public safety, discrimination, class, and color stratification are all prevalent along these coasts.
It is woven systematically from slavery, and, it is an issue that many people would prefer to ignore.
Unfortunately, slavery and its anchor have left a psychological wound that may be difficult to heal today.
Because they frequently cross paths and greet each other daily, the hierarchy of wealth, education, and isolation when the sun sets may often be misread, making it appear normal.
Many people who flee Haiti and other countries in search of a better life perish in the seas and never make it to the Bahamas, other Caribbean islands, or other parts of the world.
Those who survived noted that obtaining a work visa on many Caribbean islands is also more difficult than in many industrialized countries. However, this is not an opinion about the country’s immigration policies.
Many of them appear to have been trapped for years, suffering from loneliness and resorting to drugs, alcoholism, and violence.
Because of a lack of upward mobility, some people believe that being stranded in one area seems like drowning on land.
Slow amalgamation can occur in the Caribbean, and many find themselves in the “hoods” or shantytowns, where people live in overcrowded conditions.
The fact is, many of these islands are like a whole pizza or pie and with several people who would like a slice.
Being a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which was founded on the principles of integration and collaboration, much like the European Union.
Its members are free to travel, work, live, and study anywhere in the region.
In the Caribbean, it appears that this policy is only on paper.
The unsettling tides before Hurricane Dorain.
Before Dorian, the region as a whole had come to terms with the fact that the British had ruled since 1492, and again since 1717, until the country gained its independence in 1973.
For centuries, the economies of colonial masters have been constructed on the backs of people who labored for nothing.
The isolation caused by where those ships docked has created a barrier that prevents these nations from achieving greater social integration.
Despite the island’s modern cultural diversity, mental health issues from its colonial past persist. Some people think of them as people who are from over there.
People don’t know each other well because their only connection appears to be through colonial paperwork. Since then, there has always been a gap, which may have been unintentional.
The fact that people are still struggling to be recognized as one, even decades later, is not surprising.
After a century of being instructed what to do, these islands are still modernizing to strike a healthy balance between the haves and have-nots, especially people of color who are often left behind.
If these issues continue to be a problem, one should not use comparable coloration as a guide.
Many people may have a better chance of moving up in some industrialized countries, where employment and language barriers can be more difficult.
There is no doubt that not everyone in these locations feels the same way.
As I have noted prior, even if the locals are friendly and share common customs and even religion in many of these service-based economies.
However, If you plan to stay past the end of your tourist dollars or if you can’t fill a financial gap there, it appears that you should probably leave.
Today, despite the fact that blacks make up more than 80% of the island population, there is still a large gap in business ownership, as if it were the ancient colonial period.
The delicate balance on these coasts
The rule of law, as it is in every other country, must be upheld. Even whether you are a king or a native-born citizen of a country.
According to reports, there has been an increase in crimes committed by immigrants, including robbery, gang activities, rape, and murder.
While the country’s leaders cannot be held responsible for everything, the amount of aid they get to avoid or limit further social and economic catastrophes must be held accountable.
Migrants who are accused of committing crimes, for example, should be held accountable in order to keep the country safe, as some argue that crime increases when migrants arrive.
Some crimes, however, are difficult to solve because of the region’s socio-economic imbalance and isolation according to experts.
In addition, some migrants are afraid of being deported due to their immigration status, so they keep quiet. Undocumented victims of domestic violence are less likely than others to come forward, according to experts.
When most people fled their homeland in Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean, many were fleeing violence, whether in their homes, the community or in search of a better standard of living.
Again, leaders must do what is best for their citizens, but where the line is drawn in many other places remains a delicate dance.
Unfortunately, as I previously stated, this is not just a Bahamas/Dorian issue.
Beyond the Caribbean coastlines, similar wave issues exist.
This is not a history of the region, but rather an examination of what Hurricane Dorain has brought to light through the lens of other coastlines.
These stories have echoed for decades along these coasts, where people of color are still looking for an anchor, and I will highlight a few more just to show the hidden debris and wreckage that has never left.
Dorian’s bombing raids blew up a lot of socioeconomic and equality debris that had been hidden away from view. Besides, I wanted to look at a few other pieces of debris that have washed up on a few other coastlines in the search for an anchor down the coast.
Several other Latin and South American countries have been seeing the same trend, according to some observers. I only selected a few from the reports that arose during this storm.
Despite the fact that many people in the county practice the same religion, it has been a rough ride since the first slaves were brought there.
According to several studies, as a result of the alarming rate at which black Brazilians are being killed, others are still living as if the slave ship has just docked. “If black Brazilians could jump on a boat and flee, they would.” some argued.
Even though homelessness exists everywhere, with a continuing divide and widening gaps between the haves and have-nots, studies have shown that people of color are more likely to be on the street.
Unfortunately, it does not require a hurricane or political unrest to see this.
Sure, these are not the waters of the Bahamas, but the persistent social and economic challenges, as well as the lack of political representation to address their social, economic, and political issues, cannot be swept away by the storm.
Unfortunately, many people have found it difficult to recognize that these difficulties persist as a result of daily interactions rather than complete seclusion.
Following the storm, I discussed with a friend what it would be like in places like Peru, and how black fear would manifest itself there. That is still an open question.
In Lima, Peru, the custom of using black and native pallbearers exists; some believe it is simply a matter of employment, while others argue that it is a matter of racism, with only those career options reserved for black people.
Researchers report that “blacks are virtually non-existent among Peru’s corporate and political elite” since the country’s abolition of slavery in 1854.
The majority of the work is done on the country’s west coast, which is covered in sugar cane plantations are still performed by blacks.
Only 4% of Peru’s black population attends college.
However, because there appears to be a pattern throughout the region, I will return to the Caribbean region to conclude my thoughts.
They’ll be able to dance again after the storm and the allure is not dead.
As a non-historian or expert on The Bahamas’ open economy, low crime compared to other Caribbean islands, strong tourism, sound financial management, and competitive rankings.
The Bahamas is one of the safest places in the Caribbean to do business, live, invest, or simply visit.
These beneficial aspects, as a socioeconomic and safety network, continuously grab outside interest.
There is no doubt that The Bahamas will recover, thanks to its people’s bravery and tenacity. The people are resilient and they will overcome this setback with vigor.
Despite the challenges ahead, the Bahamas will rise again, but the old garbage must be removed.
Division and inequality issues, which are often minimized or overlooked, are equally important and should be discussed more in order to be addressed.
As more tourists arrive, I hope the city and its surrounding communities, including shantytowns, seize the opportunity to become more welcoming to those in need of a ray of hope while maintaining its reputation as one of the region’s safest and most desirable places to live and retire.
Not just the Bahamas, but other islands in the region, and that infectious smile will continue to say: how can I help you, rather than going back to your country or being treated less than?
With these indiscriminate winds and rain, as well as the loss of loved ones, communities must ensure that everyone is counted and prepared to deal with the current and future storms.
In this new global economy, tolerance will be essential for success. Life would be boring if we were all the same.
Set aside our prejudices and ignorance and learn to embrace one another so that we can all grow together.
Even if it does not bring everyone together for personal reasons, it may serve as a platform for reconstruction.
Storms like this one serve as a timely reminder that some, if not all, of us could use a little assistance now and then.