Category Archives: Racism Watch

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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Race is not my compass

By Raffique Shah
August 24, 2020

Raffique ShahIt pains me to return to the issue of race and politics in Trinidad and Tobago, but since it seems impossible to dismiss its impact on not just elections, but on the body politic of the nation, I feel obliged to address it. Note well how racism reared its ugly head as we got closer to the recent general election, and it peaked in the few weeks before and after polling day.

Much like the Covid-19 super-virus, race and racism disturb the equilibrium of the country in waves, peaks and troughs, some more damaging than others. Worse, it seems there is no cure for racism, no vaccine to halt its contagious nature. And, as if these virulent strains weren’t scary enough, there is an abundance of evidence to suggest that racism is contagious, even hereditary, possibly part of the DNA of some people.
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Emancipating old narratives of ‘emancipation’

…and examining colonials’ ‘deceitful bait-and-switch’

By Claudius Fergus
August 16, 2020 – wired868.com

Photo: ESC director of regional and African affairs Khafra Kambon (right) poses with the Emancipation monument.In defiance of the rapid community spread of Covid-19, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, kept the promise he made on Emancipation Day 2019 to unveil T&T’s first emancipation monument—the only live public event on Emancipation Day 2020.

Like many thousands of other Trinbagonians, I missed the commemorative spectacles of the longest day in the Pan-African Festival’s calendar. But instead of regrets, the occasion motivated me to reexamine the intellectual underpinnings and contradictions of Britain’s 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act.
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Destroying democracy

By Raffique Shah
August 17, 2020

Raffique ShahOne of these not-so-good days, some fool will vent his or her racial spleen on the anti-social media or in some public place once too often in a rant that has gone too far; another fool will feel sufficiently aggrieved to react with more than mere racial epithets, possibly summoning idle but willing hands to take up cutlasses and defend the domain of the tribe; and the tribal leaders, coming from a manure-fed lineage that nurtured the fires of hatred for generations, would, by word or deed, ignite an eruption that will wreck what passes for civilisation in Trinidad, not necessarily Tobago, sending this island back into a future filled with hatred, bile, sewage and all things negative. A potential paradise will never be allowed to bloom. It will instead be strangled by the patricidal savages who inhabit the wasteland.
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In defeat, defiance

By Dr Selwyn Cudjoe
August 12, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeLast Tuesday, Joseph Biden, the nominee of the Democratic Party, selected Kamala Harris to be his running mate in the next US presidential election. If she is elected, she will become the most powerful woman in the Demo­cratic Party and a strong candidate to become the first US woman president.

Harris was not selected primarily because of her academic brilliance, political acumen or prosecutorial experience, although she possesses all these attributes. She was selected because black demo­crats demanded that a black woman be selected because they saved Biden’s candidacy when it was floundering.
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Sorry, Not Sorry: The Business of Racism in T&T

By A. Hotep
August 15, 2020

No RacismThe Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT), and by extension the business community, was never interested in addressing racism. Poor working conditions and poor remuneration packages are all part of class and racial discrimination which, at the very least, renders many members of the business community complicit. Now that people are prepared to take action to deal with racism, the business community should not be allowed to set the standard for redress. This was made clear by SATT’s quick backpedalling of its boycott of Ramsaran-branded products after calling on the company to “[seek] the appropriate remedial action in a consistent and satisfactory manner.” Aside from the Ramsaran’s text-book apology and “firing” of the owner’s daughter, how has the company demonstrated appropriate remedial action?
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