Category Archives: Racism Watch

A Skinny Black Girl

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
January 26, 2021

“We the successors of a country and a time/Where a skinny Black girl/descended from slaves and raised by a single mother/ can dream of becoming president [of the United States].”

—Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeOn May 31, 1849, Owen Finnegan, Joe Biden’s great-great grandfather from Ireland, arrived in New York aboard the ship Brothers. He was part of an oppressed people who were fleeing their country because of “caste oppression and a system of landlordism that made the condition of the Irish peasant comparable to those of an American slave” (Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White). “America,” Ignatiev explained, “scooped up the displaced Irish and made them its unskilled labor force.”
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A Black Race Position

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
January 19, 2021

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeLast Thursday, in his response to a letter written by 23 Afro-Trinbagonians about the placement of Black students in our secondary schools, Kamal Persad, coordinator of the Indian Review Committee, responded: “It is clear the under-performance of Afro-children in the education system is still at the top of the black agenda. Accordingly, these 23 persons of African descent adopted an unmistakable black race position” (Express, January 14).
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Looking Beneath the Surface

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
January 12, 2021

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeViewers around the world were struck by the Trump-inspired mob that stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday. The Boston Globe editorialized: “‘When did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust?’ That’s what the reviled monster asks Dr. Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s classic novel, but it’s also what the angry mob of thousands who stormed the US Capitol in an insurrection on Wednesday could well ask soon-to-be-former Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans who fled the House chamber” (January 7).

The US has never dealt fully with the monsters of race and racism that is buried deep within its entrails. The white insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol feared that their positional superiority would be undermined and they would no longer control a republic they had dominated since the republic began.
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It’s a topsy-turvy world

By Raffique Shah
December 06, 2020
Posted: December 08, 2020

Raffique ShahThe ethnic mix of the Venezuelan population—51 percent are categorised as Mestizo (blend of White/indigenous/Afro), 41 percent European/Middle East /Whites)—ensures that those who are flocking Trinidad more than Tobago are almost exclusively from the first mix. They are the equivalents of the “Reds” in our population, hence they are widely acceptable, and accepted, to Trinis on both sides of our ethnic divide, as well as the “Douglars” in-between.
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We Must Control Our Destiny

By Raffique Shah
November 30, 2020

Raffique ShahIf there is not now on our statute books a law that empowers us to deny entry into Trinidad and Tobago to any alien, man woman or child, more so persons seeking to enter our territory illegally, then Government must move post-haste to rectify such anomaly that foreigners are using to breach our borders. Further, if some government in the past compromised this inalienable right that every sovereign state in the world must surely enjoy by signing on to some nebulous convention that purports to promote human rights, then unshackle us, damn it if we are deemed inhumane, sub-human or maybe animals.
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Demonizing Black People

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
November 25, 2020

“Me nah know how we and dem a go work this out/But someone will have to pay/for the innocent blood/that they shed every day.”

—Bob Marley, “We and Dem”

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeThere is a notion that Trinis are a happy-go-lucky people, a description that may be more applicable to African-descended people than to members of other groups of the population. Such a description may be more illustrative of those of us whose world view has been influenced by African religions and philosophies as put forth by John Mbiti in African Religion and Philosophy, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, or Chigozie Obioma’s An Orchestra of Minorities.

Such a notion (“happy-go-lucky Trinis”) has led others to believe that we care mostly about the celebration of the flesh and other worldly pursuits as depicted in our carnival celebration. Some have even said that while their people were “beating books, we were beating pan,” a cavalier dismissal of an important aspect of our creativity and identity.
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The Racial Divide

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
November 16, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeWhen T&T gained independence in 1962 we reveled in the possibility that we had set ourselves upon a path to deal with the problems of colonialism, particularly the sinful racism, that had disfigured our society. In 1970, disappointed that Black people were still being denied jobs and position because of their color, the Black Power Rebellion added the struggle of anti-blackness to the national agenda.

Fifty years after independence, we are still plagued with racial discrimination even though it has taken a different dimension. In the 1970s we were faced with white over black racism, today it’s brown over black, the former having inculcated some of the nastiest racial biases of the white ruling class.
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Thinking Race/Understanding Color

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 21, 2020

“Nobody can be properly termed educated who knows little or nothing of the history of his own race and of his country.”

—Frederick Alexander Durham, The Lone-Star of Liberia.

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn his epoch-breaking work Capitalism and Slavery, Eric Williams noted that racism is a product of slavery. “The reason,” he says “was economic, not racial; it had to do not with the color of the labor, but the cheapness of the labor.” On the other hand, in White Over Black, Winthrop Jordan argued that racism predated slavery, citing three distinct prejudices that conditioned the English responses to Africans: our blackness, which signified filth, sin and evil; being uncivilized; and our not being Christian.
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Embracing all our history

By Dr Selwyn Cudjoe
August 31, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIt is gratifying that we are looking anew at many of the institutional arrangements and practices that we have accepted blithely over the years.

Recent articles by Reginald Dumas and Marina Salandy-Brown, the SEA discussion by The UWI scholars, and Theodore Lewis’s brilliant article on the subject have been instructive. Today’s discussion, “A Time for Healing”, sponsored by The UWI Faculty of Law in collaboration with the Catholic Commission on Social Justice, promises to be an exciting affair.
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