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Re: Race and Racism needs to be discussed

I would disagree with you on a number of points.

You said: "The proliferation of race talk in Trinidad is indicative of a crumbling society, despite its unprecedented economic growth, continues to freefall into social decline. By scraping the bottom of the barrel respected members of society embrace racism, nationalism, class differentiation and religious differences in an attempt to rally support for their self serving agenda. The fragmentation of society on the basis of race, class religion etc. leaves in its trail horrific memories of the Jewish Holocaust, Bosnia, India, Rwanda and closer to home, Guyana in the 1960’s to mention just a few. In the end lives are destroyed and the painful pieces are difficult to put together again. The promulgation of social division on the basis of race is a sure sign that a nation has lost its way. Evidently, the lessons of history have been lost upon us."

The creation of Trinidad and Tobago was founded on a hierarchy (division) of races so the attitudes of racial superiority are nothing new in Trinidad. This nation was always divided along the lines of race. It is not so much that society is crumbling (this implies that it was once whole), but the very core of the society was corrupt from inception. What is happening now is that the inherent contradictions brought about by the corrupt core are slowly ripping away the shell that hid the true social reality.

"Canada is perhaps the most successful example in North America of what it means to live in a multicultural society. It is still a work in progress but already it is paying huge dividends in terms of peaceful co-existence in addition to numerous tangible benefits. All things considered, Canada is a model nation. When Canada adopted its official policy of multiculturalism July 21, 1988 during the Trudeau era, it was met with varying degrees of resistance. Since then the policies and practices have become entrenched, creating a more harmonious, productive, civil society. It is a strong nation in which differences are respected and similarities are celebrated. It is a good and decent society in which to live. A model nation rich with diversity, respected throughout the world, inclusive and prosperous."

Multiculturalism is a giant myth and I hardly see Canada as an inclusive and model nation. With multiculturalism, the superficial aspects of the cultural traditions of minorities are incorporated somewhat into the mainstream. This pacifies minorities, fooling them into thinking that there is equality. With multiculturalism, the perspectives that challenge the dominant status quo are ignored and sidelined while perspectives and norms that are most weak and non-threatening are embraced and projected as representing the essence of the particular minority group. An integral part of the multicultural myth are notions such are ‘one love’, ‘no race’ and ‘colorblindness’. The logical extension of there being ‘no race’, is that there is no racism presently. This blinds many to institutional racism and the reality of how deeply racism is embedded in the psyche of dominant groups. As a result, the racism that is deeply imbedded within the society is left unchallenged and unarticulated by the people who experience it the worst.

Anyways, of interest is the origins of the word ‘dougla’. According to the Sankshipt Hindi Shabdasagar Abridged Hindu Dictionary), the word ‘dogla’ refers to the ‘progeny of inter varna marriage’ in the first instance, acquiring the connotation of ‘bastard’ meaning illegitimate, in the secondary instance. The word in its transplanted usage in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana refers to persons of mixed African and Indian descent and in its origins had a decidedly negative connotation. This original negative connotation was derived primarily from its semantic emergence within the context of the Hindu caste system where inter-caste/inter-varna and inter-religious unions were for the most part taboo.

Rhoda Reddock, in a paper titled Douglarisatoin and the Politics of Gender Relations in Contemporary Trinidad and Tobago, cites a survey done in 1991 called the National Mobility survey, in which despite the stated tolerance of ethnic intermarriage, in practice the situation appears to be quite different. Overall from the sample, 14.4 % objected to their children marrying Africans, while only 2.8 objected to their children marrying Indians. So we see that in the society as a whole Indians are seen as acceptable marriage partners by all ethnic groups while Africans are seen as the least acceptable.” These finding reveal some important aspects of the colonial legacy that can be clearly identified in the contemporary landscape. The enslavement of Africans was so economically beneficial to Europe that a wide range of reasons were concocted to justify this continued practice. Out of this period, arose notions of African (dark skin) inferiority. In colonial society, the social hierarchy was one of white over brown over black. The social relations were further complicated with the arrival of East Indians; East Indians were seen as inferior to the Europeans but superior to the Africans. The African phenotype was associated with ugliness, his character portrayed as criminal, lazy and dishonest and his institutions, norms and culture seen as pagan, evil and primitive.

Thus, the negative connotation of the word ‘dougla’ reflects the notion of the inferior African blood dirtying the pure Indian stock.

Talking about race in the open has become politically incorrect, so people shy away form this, but this does not mean that the poor racial attitudes have changed. No, merely, that they have taken a more subtle form. Anti Discrimination laws really cannot change the many deep rooted negative racial attitudes. There needs to be continual national dialogue about race and color issues. Unfortunately, the mainstream media sees fit to only carry sensational, narrow and distorted perspectives such as Dr Elizabeth Sieusarran's while ignoring informed perspectives that can give the nation insight into race issues.


Messages In This Thread

COURTING DESASTER - Racism, Rhetoric & Regression
Re: COURTING DESASTER - Racism, Rhetoric & Regress
Re: COURTING DESASTER - Racism, Rhetoric & Regress
Re: Race and Racism needs to be discussed
Re: Race and Racism needs to be discussed
Re: Race and Racism needs to be discussed
Re: Race and Racism needs to be discussed
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