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Response: Courting Disaster

Tyehimba, thanks for weighing in on the race issue in T&T and for sharing your understanding of the origin of the word “Dougla”. I have read your comments on various issues and have developed a respect for your opinions. Much of the information you share is not available in the mainstream and requires some effort on your part. I encourage you to continue to empty the coins of your purse into your mind.

It is true that Trinidad is a racially stratified society historically. The findings of the study to which you referred should be common knowledge to any casual observer even in the absence of a survey. We do not need a light to see the sun. However, when I say, “the proliferation of race talk in Trinidad is indicative of a crumbling society” this does not suggest that it was ever whole as you extrapolated. In fact, I do not know of any “whole” society. All I am suggesting is that whatever structure was these is beginning to fall apart. This is partly due to the “inherent contradictions” which you mentioned as well as other mitigating factors. The problems lie not in the reality of racial differences but more so, in the fundamental characteristic of colonialism which has historically amplified these differences. It is important to note that every country with a colonial past are now integral parts of the “Third World”. Internal fighting over racial, religious or ethnic differences is characteristic of these countries. These conflicts are often cited as the reasons for their underdevelopment. In fact, it was these divisions, which facilitated the success of colonial exploitation.

Whether we are speaking about Africa including the Congo where Patrice Lamumba was murdered with the connivance of Belgium or India where Hindus and Muslims slaughtered each other after the British pulled out, the story is the same. Guyana is also an example where, with US complicity Africans and Indians indiscriminately murdered each other. Why was the US involved in Guyana? They wanted to ensure that socialism would not take root under the government of Dr, Cheddi Jagan. To achieve this end, the United States government capitalized on their racial differences. The result was that two groups of oppressed people turned on each other resulting in murder and mayhem. Mention any part of the globe where colonialism had raised it ugly head and you will find that these social constructs continue to stand in the way of mutual corporation, effectively hindering development. The physical manifestations of colonialism are no longer with us but all indications are that it has left an indelible mark on our psyche. Trinidad is no exception.

To alleviate the endemic problems of race, class etc. honest debate on these issues is urgently required. These debates must not be to determine who is better than who nor who has greater claim to patrimony. That would be an exercise in futility. Instead, the debates should acknowledge the existence of a common oppressor in a mutated form and the possibility of regional co-orperation to ensure political and economic survival and stability What is happening in Trinidad is not debate but confrontation, initiated by self-serving politicians and other interested parties. This racial rhetoric is internalized by the gullible masses that will eventually carry out the murderous work of the puppet masters. Confrontations does not usually end in mutual resolution, instead they are characterized by violent with its accompanying blood and gore. Is it not better to seek mutual co-orperation given the alternative?

Canada’s official policy of multiculturalism is still “a work in progress” as I mentioned. Contrary to what you suggested, it may have started superficially but visible minorities are making real gains. This is evident is every facet of the society and is living proof of the success of this policy. Integration and peaceful co-existence are epic journeys not destinations. The sooner they are undertaken the better. Since we must live together, let us do so as a society, respectful of racial, cultural, religious and other differences but focused on a common vision for the good of the nation and by extension, the Caribbean region.

By focusing on the symptoms rather than on the cause, perhaps we are missing the big picture. Given the proliferation of multinational corporations, particularly in the oil and gas rich energy sector, we should be asking what part these corporations might be playing in stirring up conflict in Trinidad. The horrific situation in Darfur bears unmistakable signs of MNC’s involvement, as does similar situations in Nigeria and elsewhere. In Nigeria, Ken Saro-Wiwa tried to bring to the world’s attention the environmental degradation and exploitation of the Ogoni people by MNCs in collaboration with Nigeria’s military junta. It cost him his life. I do not know who discovered water but I can assure you that it was not the fish. Water is such a natural part of their environment that they are unaware of the forces that make it possible. Fortunately, we are not fish. We have the capacity to examine phenomena and to determine what gives life to racial intolerance in sweet T&T. Before we start hacking each other to death, let us examine the horns. As the folktale suggested, there may be traitors on board. You may be familiar with the story of the three blind men who felt parts of an elephant and each thought he knew what an elephant looks like. If they had compared notes, they may have uncovered the true nature of the beast.

Trinidad and the Caribbean region as a whole have everything to gain by maintaining political and social stability. As a Caribbean trading block, they will be able to negotiate favourable terms for goods and services from the region. What they should be fighting for is regional co-orporation as exemplified by the European Community (EC), not racial domination. The only parties, who will benefit from a disorganized and fragmented society, where oil and gas are abundant, are MNCs and their local cadres. They are the ones who are determined to take more than they are willing to give, even if it means that blood must flow in the streets.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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