Race and Identity in T&T

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
July 24, 2009


TrinbagoniansDr. Tim Gopeesingh’s recent public baseless and ridiculous accusation of “ethnic cleansing” of Indian-Trinbagonian doctors at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital speaks volumes as to the total misunderstanding of issues concerning race and identity in T&T.

The fact of the matter is that official government census statistics reveal that 42 percent of T&T’s population consists of Indians, Africans comprise 38 percent, Europeans (Whites) are 2 percent, etc.

These figures, therefore, prove that the majority population of T&T consists of Black, non-White, non-European, people of colour.

The stark truism is that people of African descent are not White; they are not European. They are Black, period.

The current Black populations in T&T represents people, human beings, whose ancestors were brought involuntarily, violently and inhumanely from Africa to be enslaved on plantations. These people were neither brought from Afro-Land nor Negro-Land. They all came from Africa; ergo, their descendants in T&T in 2009 are African-Trinbagonians. That’s their correct, historical, ancestral heritage/identity. They are neither Afro-Trinbagonians nor Negro-Trinbagonians.

In fact, the term “Afro” has been expunged from the societal lexicon of the United States since 1984. In 2009, therefore, the descendants of those people, human beings, who were brought from Africa to be enslaved in the United States in 1619 are now called African-Americans. That’s their correct historical ancestral heritage/identity.

They are no longer called Afro-Americans. Barack Obama is America’s first African-American President. He is not America’s first Afro-American President.

The reality is that if one wants to insult, disrespect or denigrate an African-American, then and only then, he is called an Afro-American. In other words, to refer to someone as an Afro-American is to use “fighting words.” This is a totally unacceptable, derogatory term in the United States today.

Now is the time for Trinbagonians “to get with the program” and accept/use their correct, historical ancestral heritage/identity as African-Trinbagonians.

Similarly, the people, human beings, who were involved in Indentureship 1845-1917 came from India. They did not come from “Indo” to work on plantations in the Caribbean.

As such, the descendants of these people are Indian-Trinbagionians in 2009. That’s their correct, historical, ancestral heritage/identity. They are not Indo-Trinbagonians. There has never been a country named “Indo” in world history.

Let’s get with the program.

The fact of the matter is that India as well as Pakistan are in Asia. They are not in Europe and never were. Ergo, according to the international community, Asians are neither White people nor Europeans. They are people of colour– regardless of the lightness of their hue.

The stark reality is that Indian entrepreneurs from India inaugurated and financed the Indian Premier League (IPL). When the IPL was played in South Africa it was still called the Indian Premier League. Now, are Trinbagonians saying that if this cricket league were to be played in T&T, it will be known as the Indo Premier League? Excuse me!

The salient question thus becomes: How can someone and/or something be Indian in India but Indo in T&T?

Now is the time for all Trinbagonians to be proud and respectful of each other’s historical, ancestral heritage/identity. Now is the time for all of us to refer to each other as African-Trinbagonians, Indian-Trinbagonians, Chinese-Trinbagonians, Syrian-Trinbagonians, Lebanese -Trinibagonians, etc.

In the apocalyptic admonition of slain African-American Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Now the judgement of God is upon us and we must either learn to live together as brothers or we are all going to perish together as fools.”

In the final analysis, Trinbagonians are no fools. As long as together we all aspire to the goal of oneness, then, together we may all achieve national unity in T&T. One Aim, One Destiny!

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46 thoughts on “Race and Identity in T&T”

  1. Curtis need to be aprised that black people have no great hankering to twinned ethnically with folks like him. When we present these facts it is just a matter of highlighting the irony of history.

    Adolph Hitler had he same crazy notion of racial exception, modelling his beliefs unto a myth that German Aryans appeared by magic suddenly in this world and were thus pure of blood and superior in all things. Joe Louis and Jesse Owens soon put an end to some facets of those self serving myths, while the Allied Forces bolstered by a lot of mixed blood peoples out fought his perfect humans in Nazi uniforms.

    This world is filled with the Curtis’, supremacist little bastards clinging on to the myth that they were products from the top of the body of their God while those tightly curly haired and darker peoples from Africa was from his lower regions. Without that crutch to get them through the day, they would be screaming little ninnies hiding behind every rock that became available.

  2. Wow I can’t believe that someone would type all of that to say nothing. Between the slander and name calling I was able to get a glimpse of the feeble mind of my attacker. Perhaps the reality that I’m more tolerant than your mind could handle allows you to assume that “Black People” are monolithic in their way of thinking when race is concerned.
    It’s strange how I was made out to be the egotistical, ethnocentric, racist because I’m proud of whom I am and am comfortable enough to speak honestly about others with little (I’m only human and not perfect)bias. Some say the present facts, but only few in the world believe or accept the waste that they spew. Most of their sources come from others like them who feel so oppressed they search and search for anything that could link their pathetic lives with greatness.
    Jesse Owens and Joe Louis amongst many others worked hard to get what they got. They didn’t run around searching for ancient writings to talk about pride because they lived it and were symbols of it. It’s a shame that a victim like you would even reference them. You want to give people your time, respect, and loyalty based on what they look like rather than the content of their character (see Ruel Daniels- PM Tells of Plot To Assassinate Him). For someone infatuated with Black Pride and a self proclaimed Afro centric, you disappoint me by not acknowledging that that very same mentality is what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting against.
    That’s what cracks me up on these boards. Some people talk about history, civilizations, and movements without understanding the implications of such. Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Sojourner Truth, Fredrick Douglas, Jackie Robinson, etc… were not fighting to have something given to them, but were taking what was never any other mans to take. All of these fake historians and self proclaimed philosophers are clinging on to stuff that won’t solve any modern day issue affecting Africans of the Diaspora.
    I apologize for taking up so much space on this page addressing this nonsense.
    Last, I would like to say (although it won’t be the last) that for any group anywhere in any forum to get respect, they have to earn it. You don’t get respect for past victories that you personally have nothing to do with rather than creating tomorrow’s victories. The assimilation of Africans in India is irrelevant to the comments made by Dr. Gopeesingh. The fact that he would even make such statements is a testament to the lack of respect that he has for African Trinibagonians. He wasn’t worried about being polarized because apparently the African community (in his mind) hasn’t earned his respect. Go outside tonight and witness the foolery that he and others see. The people having the most fun drinking, smoking, and acting a fool are the same ones that are still waiting for something to be handed to them. Let us be clear that it does not justify his statements. It just speaks to the volume of work that the African community in Trinidad and Tobago has to achieve in order to become or at least stay a anchor for future generations. Without that work, many more “Dr. Gopeesinghs” will be emboldened to make stronger statements less respectful. In the meanwhile, Ruel will be attacking others who don’t share the same thoughts.

  3. I am not a calypso fanatic, as a matter of fact I have some serious issues with the way Calypso denigrates women, but one line from a Sparrow calypso lingers in my head
    “Anything he wants to feel, let the damn fool feel”
    Why do you guys keep arguing with a damned fool? In my years of learning and teaching, I have learnt that you cannot change the minds of insane people, and you cannot eliminate bigotry with logic. I suggest thet reasonable people on this thread, leave ignorance to wallow in its folly. You encourage his verbal masturbation, when you respond to his every idiotic utterance. The taxi-drivers who used to hang out near the Holiday Inn/Crown Plaza hotel, would wolf whistle every time I passed during my stay there in 1989. I behaved as if they had not poken. They stopped. some people need to be ignored, instead of feeding their hatred. Some people profess ignorance, in order that you do their esearch for them. beware. Starve a fool to death.

  4. Thanks for the complimentary comment Roger . The task ahead is challenging and a few would say very daunting as so many divisive agents are at work. The rewards can be quite good if we can find a way to forge a nation with one common goal- ensuring that our 1.3 million or more people “find and equal place,” and achieve their dreams together ,with mutual love , respect, and understanding for each other. Patience is necessary , especially in an embryonic democracy like ours. I too enjoyed the piece on Ben’s Chili Bowl. There is absolutely no better evidence that this to show how socially conscious entrepreneurial efforts can be rewarded. One could sense the pride and joy exuding from the young man as he carried on his parent’s wonderful tradition of service to this community. It should be noted that the people reciprocated the love. The lesson is that if you take care of a community , they’ll always have your back , “through thick and thin.” Mind you , this DC is the place that most Washingtonian politicians have ignored and neglected for decades.
    I think that Ms. L is correct, we got to leave Cousin Curtis alone . When you start to defend the stupid remarks of Tim Gopeesingh with stereotypical condemnation of an entire people then we have a problem.
    Curtis for the final time, when the Prime Minister of our country is accused of orchestrating ethnic cleansing its an extremely serious affair, that in my estimation borders on treason, since it absolutely false in this case.
    You are tarnishing the image of your country internationally and we all have the appearance of bwing a bunch of fools today to the same degree that preposterous refugee status claims in order to invade Canada were in 1986 where when you and others departed our shores en mass with Mr Ralph Maraj as Minister of External Affairs, Basdeo Panday as Deputy PM, and his eight other ULF members in control of the government’s entire top portfolios.
    Once more , a few of us on these blogs have been around the globe a bit , or were exposed to folks who knew and experienced first hand what real discrimination ,terrorism, refugees, genocide, pogrom , and ethnic cleansings are all about.
    Your paltry denunciations as well as other fan base justifications for this Dr. G misdeed is tantamount to Islamic leaders behaving as if ‘cat cut their tongues,’ when known Muslim terrorist thugs are blowing up buildings and indirectly supporting suicide bombings and other forms of wanton killings .

  5. Doctor Martin Luther King’s struggle involved bringing Human kind to common place based on their onness. Your argument consistently takes issue with any onness of people. So, please, thou mayest conceal thy deceit by cunning manipulation of history, but it fools no one one and only add to the of you that I accurately describe.

    Jesse Owens and Joe Louis benefitted from awakening African Consciousness in America that reverbated in the works of Marcus Garvey et al. No black person in the US pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. And even a cursory exploration of Afican American history would enlighten even to most ignorant of the fact that the accomplishments of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens could not be separated from the struggles of those who went before them, breaking down barriers to make it easier for them. Your view Curtis is that of the right wing who were the erectors of the obstacles to be surmounted.

    It is typical of the supremacist pattern of reasoning to divorce the accomplishments of individual Aficans from their consciousness of their history. That link is functional for every other group but not Africans. To allow that would be to deny the Curtis’ of this world that wonderful and ego enhancing mythical belief that Africans were savages running about wild in Africa until slavery civilized them. Sorry, it is 2009 not 1763. Massaging your ego by holding on to myths and ill conceived notions of black history is not on any priority listing.

    And in segue, since you fused the subjects, there is no doubt in my mind Curtis or whatever your real name is, that people ideologued along your perspective would resort to threatening the life of Manning. I am not saying that they made any effort to carry out the act. People of that kind of disposition are extremely leery of taking risk that would alter the comfort of their existence. They will issue those kinds of threats from safe distances, actually and figuratively, because to allows them to vicariously vent the nasty cultural hatred that consumes them, and serves as a catharic remedy for the ailment of having to live under the Governance of a son of a slave.

    Man give me a friging break. The putrid ignorant prejudice that overlays every thought that emanate from wherever it is conceived on your person is nauseatingly obvious to anyone who cares to pay attention. Using Martin Luther King to give credence to your perspective is not only ludicrous, it is frightenly obscene.

  6. 16 I thought to myself, “Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

  7. Rue I would just like to know why? Why is it not true or functional? You stated, “That link is functional for every other group but not Africans”. There weren’t a group of Blacks or Africans (whatever way you want to identify) in the ring with Jack Johnson or Joe Louis. There wasn’t a group of (your choice- Africans, Blacks, Negroes, etc…) on the track with Jessie Owens. There are many successful people of African decent in the U.S. that refused to be victimized by the realities of a different time who beat more threatening social odds than racism such as Black on Black crime, Drugs, Prison, and Economics which is really at the base of it all.

    All that I’m trying to say is that you have to have power to defend yourself. Power comes in many forms. Right now if African Trinibagonians had more social and economic power that this so called “DR” would have made such offensive comments? I don’t. As a matter of fact, I believe that instead of being reactive, that as a group of people we should be more proactive. It’s nice to be well informed on history and where we came from. I think for the sake of our children that it is more important to discuss where we are going and how we are going to get there. One thing is for sure, and that is that we need more power.
    Now with that being said, as it relates to how we got into this is that I believe that many is not most African leaders have power, but they are currently giving it a way. Is that a wrong assessment? If not, is it racist or bigoted to say that most of the problems concerning Africans are their own because they allow these corrupt individuals to lead the masses to an untimely death/ extinction?
    Neal spoke of what Garvey advocated. He stated,” self-discipline as the basis of pride, and was severely critical of complainers”. How many years will we continue to allow bad leadership to plague us because of pride rather self discipline? That is when will we say,” yeah he looks like us and talks like us, but he won’t or doesn’t talk for us or walk for us”? That’s just a general question across the board without singling out any one particular leader at any level. It could be a question pertaining to a womanizing male leader of a family.
    When we discuss reasons for our lack of modern day prominence throughout the Diaspora it is important to remember the past. However, when it comes to others who criticize us for our journey because we may have not made their timeline and we can’t respond powerfully enough to at least intimidate anyone else aware of the situation enough to sway them from making the same mistake, it is our fault especially if we aren’t trying our best collectively. Not for the outside bigot, but because we should be proud, and self disciplined. Now which one of you has a problem understanding that?
    I have eaten at Bens on numerous occasions. It’s very, very good.

  8. Curtis the simple reason why you are running into problems with most of your discussions on this board is due in part to what many may view as your lack of objectivity as a result of your obsession with the so called ‘noble tribe.’ I have told you repeatedly that you cannot have it both ways, my friend . Part of East Indians successes in our country might be linked to hard work, self reliance, and fine family values that you and many others enjoy reminding us of. Do not however ignore the fact that it was also due to the fact that African political leadership were prepared to ignore the needs of their own people and constituencies , in simplistic efforts aimed at promoting idealistic inclusiveness .
    In so doing they have virtually bend over backward and done everything to ensure that East Indians and other ethnic groups excel in this country , at others expense.Need I say Tobago , the entire East West corridor , to name just a few of the obvious . It is therefore an affront on our collective sensibilities to stand by today and hear you stake claim for all your successes on your own shoulders, while placing blame on thse same Africans for all your failures and the nations problems.
    There was this interesting study done in the US recently that showed where East Asian kidsprimarily Chinese , Koreans and Japanese were hurting badly from neglect , due to the fact that the perceptions were that they all were doing fine and excelled as A students in these wonderful fast growing model upper middle class families outlets , unlike other dysfunctional in need inner city / often minority families.
    I hope that you and others are not falling into that trap as well, for as we know there are numerous citizens from the East Indian community that like their African counterparts are stuck below the poverty line for all sorts of reasons , and cannot enjoy many of the benefits that only a small percentage of citizens across the nation can enjoy – namely a life of economic prosperity , and social bliss. As such, no efforts would be made to pull them out from such a quagmire , due to this catch 22 situation , where the conclusion is that they are all fine , and it’s all due to Mr. Panday, and self reliance . Let’s try to keep it real , can we?

  9. If you want to keep it real Neal lets do so. Many of our young are so sold on entertainment that they cannot be serious for one minute to think about other ways to succeed. Many of our young don’t even try because they are afraid of meeting the challenges that may arise.
    I personally know at least two dozen young men who right now with opportunities most people in the world don’t have care not to improve their situation because they don’t believe. I read in another post where you spoke of underachievers. I ask you what exactly are our young people if they are not underachievers? Our great African heritage was not created by underachievers. What direction are we headed towards as a people when we say it’s ok to fail because of social ills and a history of slavery? Where are we headed when we say it’s ok to be less or not try to be more than a singer, dancer, or athlete because “they” are not going to allow us to do anything else? We have to take it and do for ourselves because none else is going to do it for us. This song and dance has been going on since the emancipation of slavery or at least National Independence. We can’t keep living in nostalgic time periods without modern action waiting for others to treat as equals when we A) don’t treat ourselves as equals and B) even try as hard as we can to fulfill our individual potential.
    As far as the East Asians and their “neglect”, I can tell you that they (East Asians in the U.S. as a group) don’t worry about being murdered by another East Asian, high drug addictions, abandoned babies, subpar medical treatment, police brutality, etc…. I can tell you that the way that East Asians are raised without always having the ability to spend time with parents because of work is something that most African American children from the inner city would prefer to be raised. Many inner city African American children don’t ever see their fathers and some have drug addicted mothers neither of whom are able or unwilling to provide the necessities for their children to succeed. On top of that they attend the worse schools with no productive after school programs if any. That’s real!

  10. You seem to be tough on the young ,particularly what you see as the numerous frivolously African males -afraid as you claim of meeting challenges , and grasping opportunities for improving situations . You touched on the slavery blame game mindset , and even lamented about the penchant for the entertainment fields as opposed to solid careers by some African Americans . It is interesting that you use as a backdrop for your data , only examples from noble East Asians community living in Europe , and USA , then you mix up African immigrants with indigenous African American without even a mention of the former’s work ethic and different family values into the mix. You even choose to ignore the fact that all immigrant coming to some major develop countries are not created equal , as far as hat they bring to the table. The young lady or male for example that can go to the best school abroad and have daddy send her 20,000 a week in spending money , and upon completing school a work at a top firm or political position is waiting at home or on wall street.
    Contrast that with a mother that did three jobs after from her husband and kids , sell her soul to white uncaring exploitative bosses and unscrupulous immigration lawyers , then bring the already indiscipline / dysfunctional kids to live in a small apartment in one of the crowed disjointed Cities abroad, then can give them no time as she has to do two jobs to keep the house, and a step father , or un ambitious boyfriend from eying her daughter, while trying to keep her son away from gang bangers.
    The irony is that after you said all of this you turned around and said the following:- “ Many inner city African American children don’t ever see their fathers and some have drug addicted mothers neither of whom are able or unwilling to provide the necessities for their children to succeed. On top of that they attend the worse schools with no productive after school programs if any.” Here a nice story worth following , in a country that’s proud to have the Muslim bomb , but few decent health care services for the poor , or public schools and public transport. I know of what is related here , as I had the honour of visiting on several occasions Curtis.Hundreds die violently per day from both violence and political neglect , but you wont know Curtis.
    This is a very comprehensive subject , and it requires more than a few quick lines , as you already , I can see have a pretty narrow, ill informed ,and inflexible mindset that would need some time to be convinced as to causes , and possible ‘non quick fix / head in the sand solutions.’ Have no fear however , your requests are noted, and hopefully we would be able to address them in due course via a more effective more comprehensive forum.
    In the interim , do me the favor and never subscribe to the view that East Indian immigrant kind in the large Metropolis or even in our country are doing better where applicable ,simply because they have better , more caring parents than there African counterparts . Life is not that simplistic. It is difficult to convince a young man whose dad was just laid off in the Detroit Car plant that he should work hard and be a Professor of Economic or History like Professor Gates , so that he too can get arrested in his own house. La Bron James , Kobe Bryant and 50 Cents seems a much better option – foolish a s it might seem to us who know that is better to be employable than illiterate and un employed wit two baby mamma by 20 , dreaming to be the 1 in 100 to make it as a star.
    Let me give you a few quick stories and have you chew on them for the moment. Approximately 5 years ago a young Indian male had just graduated from St. Johns University NYC , and was driving his brand new SUV somewhere in Queens NY, when he was flagged down for a ride, or perhaps some help from an African American mother with her child in tow. He pulled aside to be a good Samaritan only too late to realize that it was a set up , and so he was robbed , murdered by the boyfriend of the girls ,and his SUV stolen. He was awaiting a reply from his mom in India , who was looking to find him a suitable wife to join him in America. 120 credits to earn an education , and yet so obedient to follow a cultural norm to the letter , and have the family find him a wife.
    Four years ago I sat in a Sociology Graduate class with a young lady from Bangladesh . You could see that she was over her elements with the subject , and would use every opportunity to solicit my help which I was willing to offer where possible. The only problem was that she had to run home immediately after class , and had no time outside of class due to the strict social enforcement codes at home where she resided apparently with a bevy of male relatives .
    I eventually switched majors , and did not see or hear from her for a short while , only to run into her one day and she had a big smile on her face ,and a ring on her finger. I am married she excitedly said , and my husband lives in Texas. Our parents brought us together , and we saw each other the first day we married. “Good for you , now how is the degree coming along?” I enquired.
    Johnny was a tough Cop from the Lavantille Rd Febeau Village Trinidad area , and from what I heard would lockup every Tom , Dick, and Bridgelal even if they were his life long weed smoking neighbors. Eventually, like most of us he got tired of the Trini grind ,and decided to go abroad with his family for a better life taking his teenage kids . In his first week , his high school son while in a rough neighborhood got into a taunting fight with some African American kids in school. This saw the intervention of the NYC COP and a quick ride up to Rikers Island for processing , as his dad could not get the necessary bail on time. That day , he had decided to wear his sister’s Michael Jordan Nike shoes , and for that he was almost beaten and stabbed to within an inch of his life in Prison , because he refused to hand it over – a first lesson in the importance of networking solidarity with the usual gang suspects. Welcome to America , Curtis!
    Then we have the gruesome murder of a much older African American male by his over ambitious and uncaring Trinidadian wife . She is presently convicted and doing time . I am not sure what would become of her 7 year old daughter, as the statistics revealed that 60% of the kids whose parents are incarcerated , also end up behind bars. Paying attention as yet , Curtis? An old Trini teacher I once had described Statistics as a kind to a woman’s bikini ,as “it reveals quite a lot , but conceals that which is vital.
    To grabble with these issues Curtis , it takes the same scientific approaches one would use if one was confronted with a dangerous epidemic like for example the swine flue epidemic, or the Aids virus . In this cause you’ll utilize the Social sciences of History , Psychology , Anthropology, Sociology, and of course Political Science for effecting changes. Some when some two bit idiot tells me I am too obsessed with land and economic disparities as a precondition for curbing terrorism , I know that such a character is either a phony, misguided , or confused .
    Have an open mind Curtis , and you’ll recognize that the Unabomber Professor was white , so are most Skin Heads across America , Timothy Mc Veigh, and the Columbine shooters. The Virginia Tech shooter was East Asian , and thousand of South Asians are committing some of the most outrageous acts in their society and likewise their nations . It is just that the gullible media chooses to gloss over some facts as opposed to other , and even this has a reason., but given time I’ll be quite prepared to enlighten you as to why.

  11. Neal, those were indeed some tragic examples. I have been especially critical of all immigrants migrating to NYC as the beacon on the hill. I’m not blaming the victim, but who doesn’t know that you can’t trust New Yorkers? That’s the most competitive swindler city in the world at all levels.
    I also know of the stories of the African Trinibagonian who immigrated to the U.S. from a tin shack who didn’t get caught up with the dysfunctional aspects of the African American population and worked as hard as he could to be successful who is living very comfortably.
    There is another who was orphaned by age ten when his great grandmother had passed away in Port of Spain. His grandmother died two years before he was born and his unwed mother of 16 years old fled to England weeks after in 1949. He maintained a positive outlook on life and continued to be humble, grateful, polite respectful, and thoughtful of others. He then made his way to Washington D.C. where he struggled and his life had many ups and downs including divorce from a Yankee woman separating him periodically from his three sons. By the end of his life, he owned his own house in Florida, and two of his sons were college educated with families while the third was learning a trade. All of his sons use his story as an inspiration to remain driven because someone always has it worse.
    The last is a guy who was brought to the U.S. under false pretenses as a infant who was fleeing poverty. He stayed focus and driven only to be set back by immigration status that was threatening to have him deported. He got his citizenship and passed the BAR to become a Naval Lawyer.
    My point is not to get our patriots to think about fleeing, but to inspire us to make our nation a place that has opportunity for those who want it regardless of background. Those examples may have been successful in TNT regardless of situation because of their inner drive and determination. However, I know for a fact that the BET culture of our youth is weakening them. They are not trying as hard as they can in anticipation that they cannot make it. All of those who aren’t swayed by the lack of current resources go on to bigger and better things. We have a responsibility to guide them and not instill fear and apprehension into their hearts, but they to have a responsibility to us as a community to make the best of them selves.
    I am convinced that the so called “radicals” of yesteryear had a much more difficult struggle than today’s youth, but it’s today’s youth who aren’t reaching their potential. Neal, I may not be absolutely right, but I’m not absolutely wrong either.

  12. “There are no truths , only perspectives” Anon

    The resiliency in the human spirit can be amazing indeed Curtis. We should therefore do everything in our power to try and maintain hope in people where possible -especially the young. One such way is to chronicle the thousand of self made success stories like you have highlighted and bring them before the masses so that they can be hopefully emulated. I am one who always advocated the notion of ‘piggy backing success.’
    Two major points . There are those – irrespective of age – that can pull themselves up simply because they ‘got it ,’ that “no one would do for you what you won’t do for yourself .” Others need a nudge, and must fall six, and seven times before hitting rock bottom , only to then recognize what is necessary to get out of their seeming un escapable social quagmire.

    Immigrants are a unique people Curtis , and collectively operate in a much different manner to indigenous people ,and others that were brought to a region against their will. The first, second, and third generation kids and families , tend to do things a bit differently to parents who initially came sometimes .There are also pros and cons to assimilation, and of course language that was brought , as opposed to what is used in the main stream society can all impact success or failures. It is also imperative that kids can look to parent , to gauge their successes , as this tend to shape their own attitudes with respect to adherence to any social , economic and political values that these parents in turn try to pass on. It is in this social microscopic context that one must view our country as we too try to comprehend success and failures , and then decided what political will is necessary if all are to get on track.
    Tell you what , that Ostrich head in the sand, and piglet building house s of straw and sticks won’t save us when that greedy wolves, with the growling stomach starts blowing my friend. Time for a few more bricks constructions. Remember ,pontification alone won’t cut it , neither is the condescending , insensitive mantra. The desperate can see though it. There is work to be done , and time is of essence. If the art, sports etc and other expressive outlets via the media outlets is what we have to use to get our message across , so be it. The average kids on the street don’t give a hoot about Aristotle, Plato and similar philosophers that aimed to keep the noble savage in all of us in check. Sometimes to get from point a to b one needs to swim or drive around obstacles that presents themselves depending on the end goal. Do we enjoy the way of our great Yankee Northern friends with it’s mammoth ‘prison industrial complex’ cash cow, that leads the world in prison expenditure and lags behind most of the industrial world in education prioritization spending.?


    Read the Thesis of Michelle Obama the young 20 year old idealist that grew up on the South Side of Chicago , with the hard work ethic , bright future and dream . Is she in a position to make a difference , and must action only evolve from the political front ? How important are personal choices , including the ones we make involving a life partner? Some cultures are high in recognition that often young folks squander that first opportunity as they fall for the superficial factors , with limited care for the future. As a result ,they try to play a critical role in their children’s life by taking that initiative away from them – and most importantly the kids allow them to. This commentary becomes moot if many kids are growing up in home without parents.
    I say all this to say Curtis that these are complex issues, but with effort , we can make it happen throughout the global village. It’s simply takes a rearrangements of the pieces so that the power brokers can recognize where their real interest lies.

  13. Some very wise words from my friend, Martin George.

    Social evolution in race relations
    Martin George
    Published: 9 Aug 2009
    Martin George
    In Toronto, last weekend, for the annual Caribana pilgrimage, I had the chance to speak with some of my Indo-Trinidadian readers resident in Canada who follow the news online.
    They agreed with my comments in last Sunday’s article, but also pointed out that the same was equally true for the way some of the Indo-Trini action groups have evolved and developed in Trinidad. Their theory is that some of the Indo-Trinidadian action groups have also boxed themselves into a corner, away from mainstream society, and though they may have a numerical majority, they continue to act and behave like a “recalcitrant minority.” It is a technical and complicated issue, but one well worth analysing, because when you clamour stridently and incessantly about equality for your group, sect, clique or clan, the more you become classified and viewed as a sub-group of society. You are never viewed as mainstream; you are always the protester, the outsider trying to get in, and you actually run the risk of becoming a victim of your own success.
    The Maha Sabha and other groups like GOPIO and the ITEC have all preached the gospel of seeking equal treatment for members of the Indo-Trinidadian community, and have managed to successfully imprint these ideas on the consciousness of the nation. The flip side of this, however, is that you are also successful in separating and segregating your group from the rest of society, because everything is eventually viewed as “us” versus the rest of society. Your group eventually gets the recognition and respect it deserves, but then the problem is how do you move from being viewed as Indo-Trinidadians to being viewed as nationals of T&T?
    It is not the type of debate or discourse which one would expect most people to be able to understand the implications of, or even to be interested in, as a theoretical or esoteric discussion. However, it has long-term implications for us all, as we seek to shape a nation of Trinbagonians, not a nation of Africans, Indians, Chinese, Syrians or Lebanese. So the powerful Indo-Trinidian pressure groups have stereotyped and categorised their members as part of a sub-group of society, in the very same way that groups such as Selwyn Cudjoe’s and others are doing. This bodes ill for the future of this country, because, as a friend of mine likes to say, there are no Trinbagonians living here any more. It is only, Indians, Africans, Chinese and Syrians who all occupy a space called Trinidad.
    Contrast this with the fierce loyalty and nationalism of Jamaicans, who don’t pigeon-hole themselves into sub-groups of Chinese-Jamaicans, Indian-Jamaicans or Syrian-Jamaicans. They are all Jamaicans and they are each able to do this without losing touch with their heritage. Of course, we must be aware of and pay due homage to our ancestry and our roots, but at some point we need to recognise that our roots are beginning to take shape, form and fashion here in T&T, too, so how do we straddle this divide between Trinidad and Africa, Trinidad and India, Trinidad and Lebanon?
    How do we remain faithful to our roots, culture and ancestry, while still remaining uniquely and completely Trinbagonian, and as David Rudder sings, “Trini to de bone”? These are some of the challenges for the leaders of these social action groups in our society, as they seek to evolve, grow and develop to meet the needs of a changing society and a changing world. Evolve and change they must, otherwise these groups will be reduced to irrelevance and left behind by the youth of this nation who often view these issues of race relations very differently from their parents.
    It is a tide which we cannot stop, no matter how much we try to keep everybody compartmentalised and segregated in their own little groups. Today’s youths have their own ideas and thoughts on everything, and do not necessarily feel they have to be constrained by the views of their parents. They have access to information, news, ideas and knowledge, way and above whatever we as adults had at their age, and they are quite capable of analysing and making their own judgments and decisions. So Dr Gopeesingh and his anachronistic, archaic, outdated way of approaching the issue of race relations will go the way of the dodo or the dinosaur and be relegated to extinction or complete irrelevance. He has already felt the backlash from his rather inelegant choice of language from which folks have been distancing themselves.
    We are in the age of laptops, PDAs, Blackberrys, and cyberspace, and Dr Tim comes lumbering out of his cave, club in hand, and grunting in unintelligible gobbledegook. The society has clearly evolved and passed him by, and, like Rip Van Winkle, he appears to have been asleep through it all. Like it or not, a new dawn is breaking, and Dr Tim and all those social action groups, whose thinking is outdated and outmoded, had better wake up and smell the coffee, or be left behind on the ash heap of history, as there is an evolution in race relations taking place before our very eyes.

  14. R”So the powerful Indo-Trinidian pressure groups have stereotyped and categorised their members as part of a sub-group of society, in the very same way that groups such as Selwyn Cudjoe’s and others are doing”

    Seems like the party is never over for M. George.
    How disappointing his Caribana report turned out. Maybe he will come back to reality during his report from Miami carnival in a few months. Maybe he will remember those ‘pressure groups’ in Miami that struggled so he can enjoy his 5 star hotel stay on Miami beach.
    I think he forgot that Jamaica is 92% African and their black pressure groups caught on early to indentureship and mobilized against it… That’s one headache Jamaica does not have to deal with.
    The struggle continues Martin George.

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