Race and Politics in TnT

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu

For some time now, certain groups and individuals have bandied about the notion, albeit accusation, that they have been the victims/targets of racial discrimination and racial victimization by the PNM government.

However, while there may or may not be any evidence to build a prima facie case of discrimination and/or victimization, any racial connotation in either scenario is a colossal non sequitur.

The fact of the matter is that according to TnT’s 2000 population census statistics, the “ethnic mix” consists of 43.3 per cent Indian, 39.5 per cent Afrikan, 18.4 per cent Mixed, European 0.6 per cent, Chinese and Other 1.2 per cent.

In other words, the majority population in TnT is non-White, non-European and people of colour.

Afrikan-Trinbagonians are non-White, non-European; Indian-Trinbagonians are non-White, non-European, people of colour.

Furthermore, in terms of geo-politics, India is located in Asia and Asians are considered people of colour. They are not White. They are not European.

Ergo, Afrikan-Trinbagonians and Indian-Trinbagonians are of the same racial hue. Therefore, in human interaction terms between these two entities in TnT, race should not be the issue/problem/question; ethnicity is.

To elucidate this point even further, when the genocide took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina between the Serbs in 1992, during which 250,000 people were killed, the United Nations and the international community described that awful incident as “ethnic cleansing.” It was not described as racial cleansing solely because the two warring factions were of the same racial hue— they were White.

Similarly, when wanton slaughter/killings took place in Rwanda in 1994 between the Hutus and Tutsis, those acts were described as “ethnic genocide.” They were not called racial genocide solely because the two warring factions were of the same racial hue— they were Black.

Moreover, when the militants of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed Irish and British citizens, those atrocities were called “sectarian/communal violence.” They were not called racial violence solely because the warring factions were of the same racial hue—they were White.

In May 2005, almost 8,000 people fled, “deadly ethnic clashes around Ivory Coast’s western cocoa town of Duekoue.” They did not flee from deadly racial clashes solely because the warring factions were of the same racial hue— they were Black.

And finally, during the heydays of Apartheid in South Africa, when Afrikans killed fellow Afrikans, those acts were aptly described as “Black on Black crime.” This was a correct description solely because the two warring factions were of the same racial hue—they were Black.

Therefore, in the specific case of TnT, if Satnarayan Maharaj, Secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha claims that his organization was denied a radio license by the PNM government, then that public policy decision can only represent ethnic victimization. This is the truism solely because the two factions are of the same racial hue— they are non-White. Such a decision does not represent racial victimization.

In a similar vain, the action taken by Prime Minister Patrick Manning in any real or imagined personal vendetta to allegedly attempt to remove Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma from office must only be described as ethnic victimization and/or ethnic intimidation. Again, this is the truism solely because Patrick Manning and Satnarine Sharma are of the same racial hue— they are non-White, men of colour.

And this analysis can go on and on and on, ad infinitum, in regard to the two major political warring factions in TnT. The bottom-line is therefore very simple: Indian-Trinbagonians cannot claim racial discrimination and/or racial victimization against the PNM government or the Attorney General. They can only charge ethnic discrimination/victimization.

This same ethnic conclusion also holds true for Afrikan-Trinbagonians if Basdeo Panday was Prime Minister and Kamla Persad-Bissessar was Attorney General.

Indeed, now is the time to relegate the race issue/madness to the ash heap of TnT people’s history as this country strives to achieve a sense of national unity.

As deceased, revolutionary political theorist/practitioner, C.L.R. James once admonished, “The race question is subsidiary to the class question in politics and to think of ( TnT’s neo-colonialism) in terms of race is disastrous.”

In this polyglot, multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society, now is the time for all Trinbagonians to study race no more.

The stark reality is that Trinbagonians are demanding that the race issue be expunged from the nation’s body politic and public discourse. The census population figures back up such a demand.

Commonsense suggests that the focus should not only be on solving the intractable problem of multi-faceted/multi-dimensional crime and violence in society but also on maximizing the Basic Human Needs (BHN) of the people. The public policy agenda of this PNM government is bent on maximizing the Gross National Product (GNP) rather than maximizing the Gross National Welfare (GNW) of the people.

PNM’s public policy actions have not only totally marginalized, “the least of these in society”, especially residents in east Port-of-Spain (Laventille) and Woodbrook, but have also been the most vindictive and contemptuous towards the labour movement in TnT. The government’s arrogant lethargy, indifference and recalcitrance in the full implementation of the Occupation Safety and Hazardous Act (OSHA) speak volumes as to the PNM’s acerbic, defiant and combative anti-people policy posture.

The fact of the matter is that workers’ lives have been devalued under the Manning administration. How many more workers must die and/or loose their vital limbs, Mr. PNM government?

The performance of the PNM has proven that TnT needs a proactive, ex ante government not a “Johnny come lately”, ex-post, reactive government. The Manning administration resembles the latter picture.

The reality is that the people of TnT, especially those in east and central Trinidad, have been the victims of the, “exclusion principle” when it comes to government’s macro social policy planning. The people are always an after thought in the minds of these planners. The people are always invisible. The people become visible in the PNM’s planning schemes only when general elections are in sight.

The record also shows that the PNM government’s decision-making process is totally devoid of any scintilla of democratic and consultative process. The breakfast shed debacle and the construction of the National Carnival Entertainment Centre at the Queen’s Park Savannah are valid evidence of dictatorial PNM public policy decisions.

The Manning administration is acting in the tradition of the Euro-colonial master who automatically assumed upon himself that he knew what was best for the colonized.

Fellow Trinbagonians, “Massa Day” is not done; it only now operates in new and improved neo-colonial clothing to the max.

“The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

In the final analysis, Trinbagonians are just sick and tired of being sick and tired of absentee governance on both sides of the political spectrum in TnT. Thus, the following holds true:

PNM is the Problem
UNC is not the Solution
We, the People, must provide the Resolution
Magnum Sunt Populi — Great Are the People.
We, the People will and must always prevail.

Shem Hotep (“I go in Peace”).

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

http://www.trinicenter.com/kwame/2006/1807.htm

17 Responses to “Race and Politics in TnT”


  • Clearly, the author is clueless about race and politics in Trinidad and Tobago. Firstly, Africans and Indians are two racially distinct groups that exist in the country. Indeed, they are both non-white as the author describes but they are definitely not of the same race. If this was the case, then it would be impossible to distinguish between the two because, phenotypically speaking, they would look the same. Defining all non-whites as Black is a carry-over from the U.S which is an attempt to distort reality and which allows several “Blacks” or non-whites to benefit from racism. On a large-scale, non-whites do share a common enemy and are victims of institutional racism. However, this does not mean that other groups do not endorse racism and do not practice forms of prejudice against each other.

    I agree with the precept that all races evolved from Black, kinky haired Africans completely. Both history and science has proven this. Despite similar physical characteristics common to both Indians and Africans which is mainly the dark pigmentation in some, their phenotypical features such as hair type, built, nasal structures and so on are clearly different. It is in this regard that Africans can be called Africans and Indians, Indians. They both can be distinguished from each other based on their phenotypical differences which evolved from different land masses – Africa and India.

    Secondly, suggesting that being non-white means that both groups automatically identify and unite with each other is a totally bogus idea. Africans and Indians in Trinidad and Tobago have expressed prejudice against each other despite the racial fruit basket that the author tries to paint. The histories of Indians and Africans in Trinidad and Tobago are quite different. Antagonisms have developed in this country as a result of several factors such as the racist structures put in place by Whites in the system as well as Hindu castism which favours light-skinned ones over darker-skinned ones. The caste system dynamics of racism contributes to other factors such as colourism which runs deep in Trinidad and Tobago society (as well as the rest of the world). However, never in the history of this country have these races come together collectively to combat the system. Even in the recent Black Power resistance in 1970, Indian participation was miniscule. Why was this so? It was so because the system impacted on both groups differently and so, there was no real motivation for them to come together to rid societal evils.

    Describing the conflict between Africans and Indians as an ethnic one may have some validity. Ethnicity is a psycho-social concept built on several perceivable commonalities belonging to particular groups such as language, race, genealogy, religion, region and shared history. Although both groups speak the same language, and may belong to a common region (contextually speaking), Africans and Indians do not belong to a single ethnic group

    The term race, which correctly describes the differences between the two groups, distinguishes one population of humans from another based on visible traits such as skin color and facial features. Thus, comparing the situation of RACIAL conflict in Trinidad and Tobago to the ethnic conflicts in Rwanda or Ireland is ludicrous. Therefore, if the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha claims that failure to grant them a radio license was an act of racism on the part of the PNM, they are more than entitled to do so.

    What is more is the author’s attempt to belittle the claims of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha by branding it as an “ethnic struggle” rather than a racial one. Ethnic conflict, where it does exist, is a very grim affair and victims are entitled to react from it.

    I have no doubt that Indians who subscribe to UNC politics and Africans, especially those who are PNM oriented have been the victims/targets of racial discrimination and racial victimization when the other government was in power. This occurs almost daily and is evident in the constant restructuring of the bureaucracy to facilitate racist, economic and political agendas. Bottom-line, Indian and African Trinbagonians can both legitimately claim racial discrimination and/or racial victimization.

  • The early Africans did not have kinky hair (lucie). That seems to be a later mutation like skin colour or lack off. The nose difference came much later 4000 BC from persian invation.

  • I have by now read Dr. Nantambu’s thesis and L. Paul’s comments for about the third or fourth time! These types of intellectual fireworks are ever so engaging.

    Neither is totally correct nor hopelessly incorrect. Both have captured some shades of the objective reality concerning the race versus ethnicity distinction. Both have failed to recognize that these are analytical categories in the context of social theory, and have implications for institutional responses to people who are perceived as distinct within a context of social interaction.

    I believe this is important to understand before one launches into defending one conceptualization or the other as being correct, because one would be in for shocking surprises.

    Briefly, there is no biological basis for classifying human beings. Scientific evidence has even concluded that there were more genetic variations within groups identified as “same race” than there were among those classified as being from “different races.” This is significant because, as both Dr. Nantambu and the scholarly Mr. Paul have agreed, man had a common origin and ancestry in Africa.

    Given that there was agreement on this subject, and then Mr. Paul even ventured further and got partial marks for his answer that “(ethnicity is a psycho-social concept…,” I cannot understand why he could not determine that RACE too is a social construct. Thus, physical variations among people are in themselves of no significance apart from what is attached through cultural, social, political, legal, etc. practice. Since Mr. Paul made reference to the USA, I would remind him of the historical accounts which confirmed that many light skinned persons of mixed parentage who were classified as “black” in the south could “pass for white” in the north. Also, please do not forget that until America expanded the parthenon of whiteness, early immigrants such as Slavs, Jews, Italians, Irish, Armenians, etc. were not afforded the status and privileges attached to white skins. More on this later.

    The term “ethnicity” did not get into social theory discourse until 1940. This was the period of another major wave of immigration into the USA. Believe it or not, ethnicity was a reformulation of the current understanding of the role of culture and…hold your breath…a repudiation of the prevailing conceptual framework that used race as an explanation of human distinctions. This is rather peculiar! Suddenly, an entire school of social thought was being born and touting ethnicity as not only a description of variations in culture among people but as the prescription for assimilation.

    Randolph Borne had a vision of a “transnational America.” Horace Kallen saw “cultural pluralism” as the grand future of American society, in which people of different cultures lived in cosmopolitan embrace in the melting pot. That’s when the “white ethnics” label was pinned to those groups I mentioned earlier as America reasoned that they were simply ethnic varieties of the Caucasian “race.”

    As with race, the central theme in ethnic theory is whiteness. The latter has been used as incendiary propaganda to prolong the injustice meted out to non-white peoples, particularly those of African ancestry. Thus, ethnicity theory began pointing to “success models” among immigrant populations, after they had overcome an obligatory period of hardships and subordination. Conservative and backward Sociologists such as Thomas Sowell concurred and began to crusade against any need for remedies being applied to ease black pain. The natural social process of ethnic assimilation, not political intervention, not social engineering, and not legal challenges would bring down the walls of discrimination.

    The main paradox embodied in this phenomenological conception of race and ethnicity, is that some characteristics that set apart ethnic groups are racially defined. Thus, consciousness about race may very well be a manifestation of ethnic consciousness, and vice versa.

    These are some of the problems that ought to caution us as we hasten to choose whether race or ethnicity is the main culprit hindering harmonious relations among the people of Trinidad and Tobago. I believe that pursuing this false dichotomy would never lead to any correct formulation of the problem and, ipso facto, no solution.

    In the meantime, however, is there any substantive difference or some measure of comfort to be derived by the victim, if the basis of discrimination were determined to be “race” or “ethnicity?”

  • Philip A. John, your attempt to intellectualize the discussion has not shed any new light on the debate. In fact, you are quite wrong by inferring that there are no clear definitions about race and ethnicity. Any child can differentiate between an African and an Indian or a Chinese or a White person. It is their physical differences that set them apart. That is the basis of the definition of race – PHYSICAL differences that distinguish groups of people. Ethnicity may be a bit more complex, but upon examination one can have a clearer understanding as to what the definition entails. [See my definition above].

    Briefly, there is no biological basis for classifying human beings. Scientific evidence has even concluded that there were more genetic variations within groups identified as “same race” than there were among those classified as being from “different races.” This is significant because, as both Dr. Nantambu and the scholarly Mr. Paul have agreed, man had a common origin and ancestry in Africa.

    You need to revise that study and carefully pick it apart because you have interpreted it wrongly. Although science has shown genetic similarities that run between and among races and that members of various races may share genes that are characteristically more similar to others outside their race, this has nothing to do with how they are defined physically. What it does is prove the common origin of humankind. Still, despite the fact that we are of the same human specie (not human race), this does not spell out how we are treated. People treat us based on PHYSICAL DIFFERENCES and not because we have a common ancestor.

    Given that there was agreement on this subject, and then Mr. Paul even ventured further and got partial marks for his answer that “(ethnicity is a psycho-social concept…,” I cannot understand why he could not determine that RACE too is a social construct.

    Even if the term RACE is a social construct, as every other word and term in use, this still does not negate the fact that people are physically different. Thus, the term race does have validity and I will continue to use it because of its appropriateness.

    Since Mr. Paul made reference to the USA, I would remind him of the historical accounts which confirmed that many light skinned persons of mixed parentage who were classified as “black” in the south could “pass for white” in the north.

    I don’t need to be reminded of such accounts. One must note that these persons were not necessarily defined by their physical characteristics (their race), but on their lineage. During that historical epoch, defining people by their lineage had a lot to do with maintaining the economic status quo, rights of inheritance and bogus notions of racial purity. Thus, it not surprising that some who were deemed “Black” were perceived as “White” by people who were not familiar with their lineage.

    Also, please do not forget that until America expanded the parthenon of whiteness, early immigrants such as Slavs, Jews, Italians, Irish, Armenians, etc. were not afforded the status and privileges attached to white skins.

    The more privileged whites or should I say, those on the top of the social and economic ladder have defined (and still do) other Whites based on ethnic considerations and their feeling of superiority over other poor Whites or Whites who do not subscribe to the religion or culture they feel is right. This does not dispel the fact that they are all White. They may have different ethnic backgrounds, but they still share similar physical characteristics.

    In order to debate this properly I think that it is important to have a clear understanding about these definitions and not just dismiss them as “social constructs”. If you disagree with the definitions, please bring to the table other alternatives if you find any.

  • I am not alone in this arena of those who have seen through the thin veneer of deliberate attempts by powerful interests to indoctrinate this belief that there is some objective, scientific basis for classifying people based upon physical attributes. See, for example, Professor LLoyd Best’s article in last week’s Trinidad Express in which he discussed the role of race in the selection of political parties in Trinidad. He too concludes that personal traits such as skin color, etc. are only given significance in a social context.

    In any system of beliefs, there are rules and definitions. Within this system, there might be internal validity; but outside of it is another entirely different matter. Within the rules of logic, for example, it would be valid for me to conclude that MAN is a HORSE if I lay down the premises that (1) Man is an animal and (2) Horse is an animal. Is this conclusion a reflection of reality?

    Race and ethnicity are social constructs and have no validity outside of that limited context which, likewise, does not capture objective reality as confirmed by scientific knowledge.

    I thought that you were beginning to understand my examples of the class essence of the classification system when you correctly made reference to “the more privileged…” and “those on the top of the social and economic ladder…” I also thought that you would see the sometimes arbitrary nature of the classification system in my examples where white skins did not lead to classification as “white” and individuals being classified as both “black” and “white.” At the latter point, you inexplicably retreated into the equally vague and invidious “lineage” fiction, which was constructed to justify the existence of the monarchy and the right of inheritance to property.

    No one has said that people do not have different physical characteristics or are not from different cultures. The issue is the exploitation of these differences and the ideology which has been created to breed distrust, foster division and instill a permanent state of conflict when the differences noted before are inconsequential from a scientific standpoint.

    I don’t have to invent a definition of any of these terms because I would not venture into a dead end which has no solutions for problems confronting the human race, or, if you prefer, the human species.

  • I am not alone in this arena of those who have seen through the thin veneer of deliberate attempts by powerful interests to indoctrinate this belief that there is some objective, scientific basis for classifying people based upon physical attributes.

    While people have used the term ‘race’ badly, race itself is not bad. Simply, it is a way of distinguishing different groups of people in society. And yes, there are objective, and very obvious scientific ways to classify people based upon physical attributes. As I said before, ALL words are social constructs so saying that ‘race’ is a social construct does not invalidate the term, or the use of it.

    See, for example, Professor Lloyd Best’s article in last week’s Trinidad Express in which he discussed the role of race in the selection of political parties in Trinidad. He too concludes that personal traits such as skin color, etc. are only given significance in a social context.

    What other context would you like these to be given in? You keep mentioning that race is a social construct. Is that supposed to imply that there is no scientific basis for race? You are wrong because all these physical differences are a result of genetic mutations. All we could conclude is that you cannot assess people’s worthiness, inferiority or superiority, solely on the basis of these physical differences.

    Also, racial differences would obviously play out in a multi-racial society. Lloyd Best has tried to explain race and ethnicity similar to the way Ayinde and myself have explained it before his article was published.

    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_opinion?id=160986720

    To quote Best, “Everyone recognises what is meant by a West Indian Afro, Indo, French Creole, Euro, Potogee, Chinee, Dougla, Chigro, Syrian, Brown Man and Red Man. Less easily, though increasingly, we are becoming familiar with differences between Guyanese, Trinidadians, Tobagonians, Bajans and Jamaicans-although there’s still difficulty separating one “Small Islander” from another. ” Here, he clearly distinguishes between race and ethnic differences. “Race is a basis of ethnic solidarity but ethnic solidarity is not necessarily racial.” The point is clear.

    In any system of beliefs, there are rules and definitions. Within this system, there might be internal validity; but outside of it is another entirely different matter.

    DUH!

    Within the rules of logic, for example, it would be valid for me to conclude that MAN is a HORSE if I lay down the premises that (1) Man is an animal and (2) Horse is an animal. Is this conclusion a reflection of reality?

    The use of the above transitive property reads as nonsense to me. Further, if I were to attempt to make sense of your perplexing analogy then you are in essence saying that if (1) A European is a human and (2) An Indian is a human, then a European is an Indian. Is this conclusion a reflection of reality? Both [hu] Man and horses belong to the animal kingdom, but they are not the same. Similarly, both Europeans and Indians belong to the same human specie but there are major physical differences which is the basis of the race differentiation.

    Race and ethnicity are social constructs and have no validity outside of that limited context which, likewise, does not capture objective reality as confirmed by scientific knowledge.

    (Refer to the second paragraph for the appropriate response.)

    I also thought that you would see the sometimes arbitrary nature of the classification system in my examples where white skins did not lead to classification as “white” and individuals being classified as both “black” and “white.”

    Because the European system classifies and reclassifies people in a confusing or arbitrary manner, this does not mean that we are all confused. There are races and people of mixed races.

    No one has said that people do not have different physical characteristics or are not from different cultures. The issue is the exploitation of these differences and the ideology which has been created to breed distrust, foster division and instill a permanent state of conflict when the differences noted before are inconsequential from a scientific standpoint.

    If you have concluded this, then you are in fact acknowledging race and ethnicity. Your problem seems to be how these are “…exploited to breed distrust, foster division and instill a permanent state of conflict…” But these differences are not inconsequential, even from a scientific standpoint. These differences allowed human beings to adapt to a variety of conditions, and how people related to those conditions have contributed to diverse cultures or in other words, ethnicity.

    Also, the fact that people have been abused by those who have exploited racial differences has made educating people about these differences alongside our common human origin a primary concern today. It is absurd to tell people who are victims of racial abuse that race is insignificant when they are denied every day on the basis of their race. One can’t even convince the oppressors that race is insignificant. So the solution cannot be about misrepresenting the concept of race or telling people that race is insignificant, which can come across as an insult to some. The solution would have to be along the lines of people becoming educated about race and ethnicity so they can learn from the positive aspects of our differences and in so doing develop respect for themselves and by extension, other people.

    I don’t have to invent a definition of any of these terms because I would not venture into a dead end which has no solutions for problems confronting the human race, or, if you prefer, the human species.

    It is because you don’t have any clear definition of the concepts of race and ethnicity that you are in a dead end situation and therefore cannot realize solutions to the problems affecting the human specie.

  • I hope you have not mistakenly gleaned from my discussion that there are not severe implications on account of racial ideology! It is not my intention to pretend that racism does not exist because this would be a denial of a significant part of human history.

    The entire point of my commentary is to demonstrate that “race” and “ethnicity” are social constructs—I know you resent the term—created to account for differences between people. “Race” came first and was followed by “ethnicity,” a term coined in the 1940s.

    What drew you to the conclusion that I was oblivious of the brutal and tragic consequences of racism? I am attributing racism to race doctrine which has resulted in slavery, genocide, apartheid, and invidious discrimination. You could not seriously believe that I would deny the existence of racism and the need for a broad struggle—involving people from all cultures and of every skin color—to eradicate this disease from our world.

    You completely missed the point of my man-horse analogy, but I was gratified that your European-Indian example was in total agreement with
    what I demonstrated to you was an internal rule bearing no relationship to reality. You also agreed with me, of course without admitting it in words, that the classification system is absurd. “There are races and there are people of mixed races.” Now you are saying that there is this amorphous category of people who are “mixed,” for want of a better term. I guess in your view every conceivable “mixture”—I think you mean the children of persons with different skin colors and from different cultures?—constitute a different race, since you used the plural and not the singular. By your argument, the number of “races” can be infinite. That’s about the furthest you will be able to go if you are bent on accepting the white man’s ideology about race. That is the dead end I was referring to.

    I am a staunch advocate for people knowing their history and taking pride in their culture and heritage. What I am against, is the “ethnic” and “race” ideologues using inherent differences such as culture and skin color to foment conflict amongst the people. Of course people have distinguishing physical characteristics and different cultures. These variations should not be the basis for discrimination.

    By the way, when I use the term social construct, I am referring to an artifact in a social system, which was invented or constructed and continues to exist because people in the society or culture behave as if it exists.

    I want you to recall where this discussion began. It was about Dr. Nantambu’s proposition that ethnicity, not race, was the proper term for describing the difference between Indo- and Afri-Trinbagonians. I said that we ought to be careful in ascribing any label because both terms have ideological connotations and are inadequate to explain the political situation. Then Professor Best stated, ” race is a basis of ethnic solidarity but ethnic solidarity is not necessarily racial.” Is this not the point of the entire dialogue; to demonstrate that the concepts of “race” and “ethnicity” are incapable of explaining the prevailing politics in Trinidad and Tobago?

    Finally, you are absolutely correct in your assertion that one cannot convince the oppressor that race is insignificant. After all, he invented it and it has served him faithfully in his mission to divide, conquer and rule without any threat from those who have been indoctrinated to believe that they cannot unite because of skin color or their different cultural origins.

  • I hope you have not mistakenly gleaned from my discussion that there are not severe implications on account of racial ideology! It is not my intention to pretend that racism does not exist because this would be a denial of a significant part of human history.

    The entire point of my commentary is to demonstrate that “race” and “ethnicity” are social constructs-I know you resent the term-created to account for differences between people. “Race” came first and was followed by “ethnicity,” a term coined in the 1940s.

    If race and ethnicity do not exist, or as you say are merely social constructs, then why speak of racism? The term “racism” is also a social construct. The etymology of the term is described subsequently:

    The word “racism” itself appeared in the 1930s, both in the English language and in French. Such racial prejudice usually includes the belief that people differ in aptitudes and abilities (such as intelligence, physical prowess, or virtue) according to race. Most individuals who use the concept of racial categories believe that different races can be placed on a ranked, hierarchical scale. It is also be defined as the act of separating groups according to these ascribed race categories. In doing so the term receives the appropriate -ism ending. Meaning the practice or act of doing such as desribed above. By definition one who practices racism is known as a racist.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism

    I am attributing racism to race doctrine which has resulted in slavery, genocide, apartheid, and invidious discrimination.

    What exactly is “race doctrine”? Are you saying that because people acknowledge the different races in existence that that is the cause of racism? Understanding and recognizing the physical differences in humans does not make one racist. A racist is one who discriminates against another based on another’s physical features (race) and THAT is where the problem lies.

    You completely missed the point of my man-horse analogy, but I was gratified that your European-Indian example was in total agreement with what I demonstrated to you was an internal rule bearing no relationship to reality.

    Your point was not well stated so if I missed it, that was no fault of mine. And obviously you did not get my point because if you did, then you would realise that I DID NOT agree with you as you stated. It was quite dishonest of you to state such in a vainglorious attempt to buttress your argument, or lack thereof.

    You also agreed with me, of course without admitting it in words, that the classification system is absurd. “There are races and there are people of mixed races.”

    I said: Because the European system classifies and reclassifies people in a confusing or arbitrary manner, this does not mean that we are all confused. There are races and people of mixed races.

    If you paraphrase what I say, do it correctly. Note “European system” and not simply “classification system”. I have no problem with the classification of people based on their phenotype – Chinese, African, Indian, European, Mixed.

    Now you are saying that there is this amorphous category of people who are “mixed,” for want of a better term.

    Mixed race people are people who have VISIBLE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS belonging to two or more racial groups.

    By your argument, the number of “races” can be infinite. That’s about the furthest you will be able to go if you are bent on accepting the white man’s ideology about race. That is the dead end I was referring to.

    People may possess physical features that can point to more than one racial group. The broad category of “mixed race” is quite sufficient in describing those people. Human beings are still evolving so people can still evolve uniquely distinguishable physical characteristics to be thus classified as different races in the future. The fact that this is open to an infinite amount of possibilities negates your notion of it being a dead end.

    To evolve unique physical characteristics to be thus classified as a race means that such people would have experienced a particular set of conditions over a period of time, and this would have impacted their perception and culture among other things. This could never be inconsequential.

    There is also a wide range of mixed race people. We can have Indian and African, Chinese and African, Indian and Chinese and many other mixed race people. All of this says something about the direct influences in people. All of this variety allows for diverse perspectives to bear on all situations so the greatest amount of truth can be realized.

    I see no contradiction with all of this.

    I am a staunch advocate for people knowing their history and taking pride in their culture and heritage.

    Note that many racists may feel the same way too.

    Of course people have distinguishing physical characteristics and different cultures. These variations should not be the basis for discrimination.

    People should not use race (distinguishing physical characteristics) or ethnicity (different cultures) to discriminate against each other.

    By the way, when I use the term social construct, I am referring to an artifact in a social system, which was invented or constructed and continues to exist because people in the society or culture behave as if it exists.

    Well as I said, and for the millionth time, ALL words are social constructs. People do possess different physical characteristics and subscribe to different cultures, so using words such as race and ethnicity are quite valid because they DO exist.

    I want you to recall where this discussion began. It was about Dr. Nantambu’s proposition that ethnicity, not race, was the proper term for describing the difference between Indo- and Afri-Trinbagonians.

    Yes and my position was that he was inaccurate in his assumption that Indians and Africans did not comprise two different races, which they obviously do.

    I said that we ought to be careful in ascribing any label because both terms have ideological connotations and are inadequate to explain the political situation.

    And I disagree.

    Then Professor Best stated, ” race is a basis of ethnic solidarity but ethnic solidarity is not necessarily racial.” Is this not the point of the entire dialogue; to demonstrate that the concepts of “race” and “ethnicity” are incapable of explaining the prevailing politics in Trinidad and Tobago?

    People who form ethnic groups are USUALLY of the same race but this is NOT ALWAYS so. That is the clear point. Also, even if race and ethnicity are not the only factors that can explain the politics in Trinidad and Tobago, they are crucial factors in understanding how the Trinidad and Tobago politics operates.

    Finally, you are absolutely correct in your assertion that one cannot convince the oppressor that race is insignificant. After all, he invented it and it has served him faithfully in his mission to divide, conquer and rule without any threat from those who have been indoctrinated to believe that they cannot unite because of skin color or their different cultural origins.

    How did the oppressor invent race? That is nonsensical. The oppressor, just like everyone else recognized that there are distinct physical characteristics belonging to different groups in society. What the racist oppressor did was discriminate against members of other groups based on these differences.

    It is RACISM and not RACE or ETHNICITY that is the problem.

  • I have failed to convince you that race and ethnicity were invented in order to explain differences existing among the diverse peoples of the world. I have also failed to convince you that racism is the exhaust fumes of racial ideology which was predicted upon the very fact that people were physically and culturually different. Differences, varieties, how ever you want to put it, are natural phenomena, but in the case of people, have been used to foster conflict.

    I want that we part as persons with different views on this subject and not as enemies in different camps. I have observed that your decorum has become rather aggressive and a bit insulting and really not conducive to this type of serious discourse.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  • I have failed to convince you that race and ethnicity were invented in order to explain differences existing among the diverse peoples of the world. I have also failed to convince you that racism is the exhaust fumes of racial ideology which was predicated upon the very fact that people were physically and culturually different. Differences, varieties, how ever you want to put it, are natural phenomena, but in the case of people, have been used to foster conflict. Maybe you would be able to offer a better reason for the existence of racism.

    I want that we part as persons with different views on this subject and not as enemies in different camps. I have observed that your decorum has become rather aggressive and a bit insulting and really not conducive to this type of serious discourse.

    (CORRECTED)

  • I have deliberately kept out this debate as I found it difficult to follow your language. But I think I have gotten some idea of the points you wish to put over.

    You said:

    I have failed to convince you that race and ethnicity were invented in order to explain differences existing among the diverse peoples of the world.

    Why would you attempt to convince L.Paul of something that the person has already explained?

    One of L.Paul’s responses:
    “People may possess physical features that can point to more than one racial group. The broad category of “mixed race” is quite sufficient in describing those people. Human beings are still evolving so people can still evolve uniquely distinguishable physical characteristics to be thus classified as different races in the future. The fact that this is open to an infinite amount of possibilities negates your notion of it being a dead end.

    To evolve unique physical characteristics to be thus classified as a race means that such people would have experienced a particular set of conditions over a period of time, and this would have impacted their perception and culture among other things. This could never be inconsequential.”

    I can find more instances where L.Paul is saying that “race and ethnicity were invented in order to explain differences existing among the diverse peoples of the world”, although not in the exact words you are using.

    ###

    You said:

    “I have also failed to convince you that racism is the exhaust fumes of racial ideology which was predicted upon the very fact that people were physically and culturually different. Differences, varieties, how ever you want to put it, are natural phenomena, but in the case of people, have been used to foster conflict.”

    Well you cannot convince me of that either. Recognizing that people are different and labeling each other as such is not being racist. People recognized these differences long before Racism became an issue. The fact that some people used these differences to claim that people were either superior or inferior solely based on these differences is what is wrong, but that does not make acknowledging these differences wrong.

    Racism is acting on the belief that people are either superior or inferior on the basis of their different physical characteristics (race). Racism is not as a result of recognizing that people have major differences and can be grouped by those differences.

    ###

    The part about whether you all are enemies or friends is inconsequential to the debate, and you can accuse anyone, including me, of being aggressive because I firmly disagree with you also. That does not help your argument though.

  • You have made some good arguments. I am not denying the existence of physical, linguistic, cultural, etc. differences. Variations are natural phenomena occurring in the evolution of the human and other species.

    I believe, however, that it is precisely because of these physical and cultural differences that the ideology of racial superiority and inferiority was created. This has been happening since the late 15th century. Charles Darwin, acclaimed as the pioneer of evolution theory, is also the author of the most racist treatise, entitled ‘The Descent of Man.’

    What other “reasons” have you come across for slavery, genocide and discrimination against people? No matter how you search, you would find that racism is at the root. And I am of the opinion that this began with the taxonomy system. Today, it is virtually impossible to look at some one’s physical attributes and determine their “race” or cultural background.

    This argument that we are still evolving and the number of “races” could be infinite, therefore when the irrationality of the classification system is exposed, we simply call people “mixed race,” does not seem to me to be a logical approach. That’s why anthropologists, biologists and geneticists are abandoning the “race” ship. They are now talking about CLINES and CONTINENT OF ANCESTRY as alternative models for understanding what they thought they could explain using the PHENOTYPE + GENOTYPE + ENVIRONMENT model.

    I am not looking for friends and never indicated such when I made my comment. I expect that we would disagree on a subject that has no known experts and such a wide array of opinions. I believe we can communicate without disrespecting each other or it does not make sense to continue.

  • “I believe, however, that it is precisely because of these physical and cultural differences that the ideology of racial superiority and inferiority was created. This has been happening since the late 15th century. Charles Darwin, acclaimed as the pioneer of evolution theory, is also the author of the most racist treatise, entitled ‘The Descent of Man.'”

    If you are saying that racism was created because of physical and cultural differences, then you appear to be blaming indigenous people for racism because they migrated to different regions in search of food and better living conditions and evolved to adapt to their environment (this is how different races and cultures evolved).

    Contrary to what you are saying, Charles Darwin, through his book ‘The Descent of Man’, was attempting to show the commonalities in life forms and how the survival of all these life forms depended on their diverse interactions. Some people later used his works in a racist manner, but that was not his doing.

    “What other “reasons” have you come across for slavery, genocide and discrimination against people?”

    GREED!

    I believe the idea of one race being superior to others that spawned the racism we have today was initially an attempt to justify the rape of Africa and enslavement Africans, as well as other people, based on GREED.

    Not because many people drive badly means that we should stop making or driving cars.

    Today, it is virtually impossible to look at some one’s physical attributes and determine their “race” or cultural background.

    This is not true for most people. Determining people’s race is quite easy by the definition of race.

    Race is a group of people who share very observable physical characteristics, like hair type, skin color, facial structures etc. (that can be transmitted via their genes). Race is also annexed to the land where people developed their uniquely distinguishable physical characterizes.

    “That’s why anthropologists, biologists and geneticists are abandoning the “race” ship. They are now talking about CLINES and CONTINENT OF ANCESTRY as alternative models for understanding what they thought they could explain using the PHENOTYPE + GENOTYPE + ENVIRONMENT model.”

    If you call the tail of an ass a leg, then how many legs has the ass?

    “I believe we can communicate without disrespecting each other or it does not make sense to continue.”

    If I disagree with you, and you extract a part of what I said and claim that I am agreeing with you, I would think that you were attempting to disrespect and insult me. I saw firm responses to you with a strong disapproval of how you claimed L.Paul agreed with you, but no disrespect. That is a thin-skinned red herring.

  • Well, no disrespect, but I disagree with your analysis as you disagree with my own. I am not about to keep going in circles about whether greed preceded racism and the absolutely erroneous conclusion that I am blaming my ancestors for their own victimization.

    We have disagreed and we would continue to disagree and I am going to leave it at that.

  • “… Well, no disrespect, but I disagree with your analysis as you disagree with my own. I am not about to keep going in circles about whether greed preceded racism and the absolutely erroneous conclusion that I am blaming my ancestors for their own victimization.”

    I am not playing ‘tit for tat’.

    I disagree with what you stated and I have given my reasons. It is only once I implied that GREED preceded RACISM, so you are “not about to keep going in circles about whether greed preceded racism” as you said. To “keep going in circles” as you said, would suggest that you gave several rebuttals with follow-up counter arguments from me.

    In your statement, “I believe, however, that it is precisely because of these physical and cultural differences that the ideology of racial superiority and inferiority was created.”, you do appear to be blaming indigenous people for racism.

    “We have disagreed and we would continue to disagree and I am going to leave it at that.”

    This sounds a bit like whining. We are discussing something and I am not aware that it is a contest. Make your case and I, and hopefully others, will do the same.

    It’s a blog for heaven’s sake!

  • Because of time constraints, I was able to give only cursory attention to your initial tirade on behalf of L. Paul and yourself. After more careful examination, however, I apologise for mistakenly stating that you had made some good arguments.

    I recognize now your main contention is that racial taxonomy is good science and it’s only that people with bad motives have used it to create racism. And then you proceeded to accuse those who disagree with this notion, of blaming “indigenous people for racism.”

    Clearly, you are not confused that I have stated ad infinitum that race ideology was formulated by those who had a vested interest in the exploitation of free labor, in the case of slavery.

    Then, when you came to the defense of Darwin’s ‘Descent of Man,’ I became aware that you either had not read it or you were an avowed apologist for racism. I am also remided here that “not because people drive badly we should stop making cars.” In other words, we should allow the racists to proceed in manufacturing their divisive propoganda regardless of the destructive effects on humanity. To the Skinheads, the KKK and the Neo-Nazis, that’s a thought that was made in heaven.

    Many opportunists who claim to be “nationalists” endorse the white man’s theory about race, while maintaining that they are fighters against the racism which is it’s offspring.

    Please excuse me for not wasting time to respond either cynicism or pointless attempts at sarcasm.

    This is my final comment on the subject. I am sure you have reserved the right to have the last word.

    Thanks for the dialogue.

  • I will not address many of your obvious distortions and mean-spiritedness.

    It is you who previously said,
    “We have disagreed and we would continue to disagree and I am going to leave it at that.”

    You could not even honour your word.

    You returned and pointed to your own obsession about having the final say when you said, “This is my final comment on the subject. I am sure you have reserved the right to have the last word.”

    This is commonly called a projection (the unconscious transfer of one’s own desires or emotions to another person).

    I did not conclude that we could not debate further, and I certainly did not imply or state that I was through with the debate. I am sure I will have reason to respond further.

    Well at least you thanked me for the dialogue (I doubt you were genuine there too).

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