Looking Beneath the Surface

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
January 12, 2021

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeViewers around the world were struck by the Trump-inspired mob that stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday. The Boston Globe editorialized: “‘When did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust?’ That’s what the reviled monster asks Dr. Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s classic novel, but it’s also what the angry mob of thousands who stormed the US Capitol in an insurrection on Wednesday could well ask soon-to-be-former Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans who fled the House chamber” (January 7).

The US has never dealt fully with the monsters of race and racism that is buried deep within its entrails. The white insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol feared that their positional superiority would be undermined and they would no longer control a republic they had dominated since the republic began.

Trump is the embodiment of white racism. In 1973 Donald and his father Frederick were sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent their New York apartments to Black people. In 1989 Trump placed advertisements in four New York newspapers calling for the state to adopt the death penalty against five Black and Latino youths who were wrongly accused of raping a white jogger in New York’s Central Park.

Therefore, many white people were happy when he announced his candidacy in 2015. His slogan, “Make America Great Again,” seemed to be a disguised appeal to “Make America White Again.” In 2016 he boasted that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters. His first presidential act was to ban Muslims from coming to the US.

Trump’s racist and xenophobic tendencies explain why so many white people saw him as God. Just over 74 million Americans voted for him in 2020 because he spoke to something deep within them. He was the last dying gasp of a white supremacist’s dream.

When Trump lost the election, 140 GOP members of Congress and at least 4 of the 100 senators supported his claim that the election was rigged. By their actions, they played a big part in propping up this unsustainable racist position. They didn’t dare call out his racism until it was too late.

This led the Boston Globe to opine: “It’s the coddling of Trump himself by the Republicans, dating back more than four years that truly created this monster. They looked the other way as Trump courted white supremacists and encouraged vigilante violence in the streets, even as he threatened to send in the military to quell peaceful protests.”

When the peaceful protesters of Black Lives Matter gathered at Lafayette Square in Washington D.C., law enforcement officers used tear gas to disperse them to make a path for President Trump to hold up a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Before visiting the church, he had urged US governors to use the National Guard “to dominate the streets.”

On Wednesday before the US Congress met to count the presidential votes, he urged his followers to march to the Capitol to show their strength. He promised to join them there even though he felt more comfortable viewing the action from the comfort of the White House. His incitement to the rioters led to the monstrous spectacle that was seen across the globe.

Why was the Capitol guarded so poorly?

In the US Black people are seen as bestial whereas white people are depicted as saintly which explain why the latter could walk into the Capitol, ransack the Speaker’s Office, create mayhem, and walk out of the building untouched. They were white and, within the scope of the republic, they possessed certain privileges which no one could threaten.

Michele Obama, an astute observer of American racial relations, reflected as she watched “gang-organized” white people invade the Capitol. “They set up gallows. They proudly waived the traitorous flag of the Confederacy through the halls. They desecrated the center of American government. And once authorities finally gained control of the situation, these rioters and gang members were led out of the building not in handcuffs, but free to carry on with their days.”

She asks: “What if these rioters had looked like the folks who go to the Ebenezer Baptist Church [black] every Sunday? What would have been different?”

Then she compares: “This summer’s Black Lives Matter protests were an overwhelmingly peaceful movement….And yet, in city after city, day after day, we saw peaceful protesters met with brute force. We saw cracked skulls and mass arrests, law enforcement pepper-spraying its way through peaceful demonstrators for a presidential photo op” (“On the Insurrection,” January 7).

That is the story of America: one law for whites, another for Blacks. This is how it has always been. Trump wished to keep things that way but a new generation has begun to see things differently as the victories of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia demonstrated on the same day that the insurrection was taking place in Washington.

Winston Dookeran has noted: “It is tragic the United States, which is seen as the country where freedom flourishes, would have seen an episode of that nature taking place….We in the Caribbean should be proud that we have always maintained the fundamental values and principles of democratic governance” (Express, January 8).

I wouldn’t celebrate so quickly if I were Dookeran. Democracy, as he says, is a fragile thing. We, in Trinidad and Tobago, should examine our society to see how well we are attending to race and racism, the basic fault lines in our democracy.

My mother used to say: “When yo’ neighbor house is on fire, wet yours.” We would do well to heed this advice.

24 thoughts on “Looking Beneath the Surface”

  1. There is a strong undercurrent of hate that rises to the top from time to time in America. Systemic racism “knaw” at the core of the fabric of Americana.

    To exemplify that America has a prison population that is the highest in the world where overwhelmingly black citizens populate the dark entrances of these steel cages.

    To kill a mocking bird portrayed that inequality in their justice system as the one arm black man dies mysteriously whilst climbing a wall after he was tried for rape of a white girl. He was dead in the eyes of the white man from the time he was caught.
    Innocent as he was.

    Yes one look at Trump cabinet and the blue eyed blond hair stands out as the leaders of choice.
    Arnold Schwarzenegger of terminator fame touched on Trump’s behaviour rooted in his European DNA. He understood the effects on racism from the Hitler death camps and liken what Trump was doing is no better. He should know having lived through the horrors of post war Europe.

    Trump managed to tap into the white evangelical community to such an extent that it was and is very difficult to have a conversation without being labelled as anti American. They prophesied his win, pray for angels to come from Africa and South America to seal his victory. Meanwhile the Dems were labelled as baby killers an anti American. But words do matter and the criminalized Mexican, the ban muslim, the supporters of McCain , civil right leader John Lewis, and those who suffered from Trump rhetoric had their day of retribution. And what a day it t’was.

  2. Today is my birthday and I am inclined to be generous. Racism occurs at all levels and exists all over the world. We have the Dalits in India, Aborigines in Australia, the Indigenous peoples in North and South America and of course Black people in most countries in world who are are abused, discriminated, and denied of opportunities because of race and color.

    Fortunately Black people in Trinidad and Tobago for the better part of the last century through the PNM have been able to capture the levers of power, and enjoy unprecedented wealth, privilege and power and are now the new ruling class and crack their whips at will on the lower classes. Great is the PNM.

    1. Haha you too funny. The PNM has been the biggest blight on TnT. They taught their supporters (1) to hate Indians, that Indians are thieves. And if they get into power black man dead. (2) To stay in power they gerrymander the boundaries, imported over 50,000 islanders giving them ID cards and telling them vote PNM. (3) They pillage the treasury, presently emptying the HSF to pay government employees, 75% of government workers support the PNM. (4) The PNM support Maduro a dictator whilst Caricom rebuke Maduro for his desire to take Guyana lands. What a convoluted policy. (They like it so!). Seeing Rowley is the head of Caricom. Over 5 million Venes are set to leave Venezuela.

      When Kamla was P.M. unemployment was down to 3.5%, she increase HSF by $30 billion extra, built 106 schools, teaching hospital, Couva hospital, point Fortin and Arima hospital, El Dorado nursing training school, built the Debe UWI university campus, the Aquatic Center, the cycling velodrome, had the sea bridge to Tobago running as smooth as oil, started work on the Point Fortin Highway, fixes hundreds of roads, gave baby grant, increase scholarships to 400, gave baby grant to poor mothers, built 8 police stations, built thousands of houses, NESC centres. Camden airport, Caroni green. Just to name a few.

      I asked inconvenient truth and now you to say what Rowley did with the same amount of money since he in power! Allyuh like black man in power but look carefully who controlling the government.

      1. Mr Mamoo, looking back at the glory days of Kamla will not get you anywhere and most likely you and the rest of the UNC sympathizers will end up like Lot’s wife in the Bible story of Sodom and Gomorrah.
        On an aside, elections like wars are won by leadership and strategy and KPB has not mastered either.

        Right now the world is in complete turmoil and what worked quite well for us in the past will not work in the future. We need a Made in T&T solution and until we stop seeing each other as separate tribes we will all end up like crabs in a barrel pulling each other down as individuals try to escape.

        What is this Made in T&T solution. The first step is to make racism illegal with severe consequences. Avinash Sawh, jail for him. Calcutta Boat jokers, jail for them too.
        This will take time but in the long run things will improve and we will learn to work together for our collective good. Remember slavery was legal not too long ago.

        Today the founders of Ben & Jerry icecream
        announced that that white people in the USA should take responsibility for their White Supremacist attitude and make amends to their fellow black Americans.
        In order for T& T to move forward, maybe it’s time for the ruling class in T&T to acknowledge their part of our current problems make amends instead of jumping up and down every five years shouting “Alluh Coolie Lorse”.

        1. What would you say about Tobago “great is the PNM” within 17 years $30 billion passed through Tobago as a former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley once said about Trinidad money it pass through like “a douse of salt”.

          In 2005 the accounting book was checked and $1 billion could not be found. The PNM rise in Tobago spelt the demise of the black man. First thing they did was get rid of the Galicia and killed Tobago economy. 2014 about 500,000 arrivals for the summer months from Trinidad. PNM took over and soon you could not get a boat to go to Tobago. They took boat people and put them on CAL.

          I remember visiting the sister isle in 2018, the place was dead, at the resort 90% was Calcutta ship people from south.

          Today Tobagonians are all employed by the THA. So despite the pressure like and abused wife who getting her husband money they will vote PNM. Which Rowley increased as soon as he got into office.

      2. Mamoo (Stephen) says that the PNM , a party founded in 1956, “taught” africans to “hate” indians. Although that is an obvious malicious lie designed to gaslight africans and their politics into indian subservience…what are the implications of the FACT that the religion Brahman-ism a.k.a Hindu-ism, that is ancestral to all indians (regardless of their halfway conversion to islam & christianity) and is the bedrock of indian politics IS WORLD REKNOWNED for it’s 2,500 year old anti-african HATE & SCORN?

        1. I wish it was not so but from experience I remember my father going to government office to pay land tax and told to come back tomorrow. The humiliation of it.

          The PNM had gangs during election time would go and beat up people. I saw what the PNM did to people who were my friends. Took them and converted them into a “we versus them”. There was that wall that was created. I lost too many good friends.

          I remember sitting in Service Commission with some Indian girls and seeing only a certain type of people getting preference. Why?…

          Even today the Minister of Education is denying rural children electronic devices. Many are sent to the back of the line. Kamla would have never done that. She gave laptops to everyone. But your prime minister call the children “Duncy head, hyenas, etc” shows his low opinion of them.

          I prefer not to dwell too much on that because there are good people in all races. And we must not be so eager to think of the bad ones… after all inconvenient I am sure you are a decent human being. Peace out.

        2. Inconvenient Truth what we do know about tobago is they were told “the calcata ship was comming” please ecxplain to me what that statement means because to me thats wa a racist and dont play the game of what the indians are doing to africans as an excuse to the statement

          1. Hi Raymond,
            The “calcutta ship” reference which all right thinking trinbagonians agreed with, is that the then government 2010-2015 (your cult) , was facilitating the flooding of tobago with indian trinidadians and indian guyanese for the specific malicious and diaboloical purpose of an hostile ethnic takeover of the island via settlement colonialism as has been and continues to be done by the indian community in trinidad since 1975. Essentially state land is stolen as a group in the form of strategic, squatting en masse, resulting in exclusively indian communities (UNC Votebanks) and also exclusively indian “business centres” e.g. The entire “Bamboo” area, was land allocated by the then PNM Government for FARMING ONLY, as a way to be a “bread basket” for the east-west corridor….Guess who moved in an squatted? Guess which political party that community worships?(UNC) AND guess which party it blames for not having enough infrastructure i.e lights, water etc.?(PNM)!!!
            Imagine that…stealing land from the people of T&T collectively (The State), then cherrypicking which administration in charge of the state to blame (PNM), for not spending the states funds to provide roads, lights, drainage etc. FOR THE SAID ILLEGALLY OCCUPIED STATE LANDS…for the thieves!! The Bamboo is merely one of thousands of illegally occupied state lands by the settlement colonists who are encouraged and emboldened by their party (UNC) spending STATE funds to validate these thefts by providing infrastructure 1995-2001 and 2010-2015!!
            THAT Raymond is “THE calcutta Ship” referenced by Hilton Sandy and it was NOT racist to dog-whistle that information. NOTICING another ethnic group’s intent to maliciciously and surreptitiously disenfranchise your ethnic group from it’s home politically, economically and socially as in the case of hilton sandy’s “Calcutta Ship” speech was NOT racist!! However, saying that he was, is a despicable form of psychological abuse known as GAS-LIGHTING!!!

    2. Tariqandalus is a disingenuous, dim-witted LIAR, whose objective is to divorce the global reality of racism FROM Trinidad, Guyana and the caribbean. His anti-african, self loathing, indian, white supremacist lies about race/political reality is designed with exactly the same intention that the incessant lies that the white-extremist republican leaders tell their supporters about BLM, ANTIFA and the recent elections….to rile/heat them up into a trinidadian version of what transpired at the capitol building in the U.S. ! THIS is tariqandalus/mamoo/Tman’s true character!! Anyone of both integrity and intelligence could easily observe and discern the truth of these societies regarding african oppression socially, economically, educationally and politically (PNM included), vis-a-vis the BENEFIT of indians and other non-africans in the caribbean !!

      Isabel Wilkerson’s ‘Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents’ – The White Review

      1. Greetings Mr Inconvenient and Best Wishes to you and your family for the New Year. Glad to see you are alive and well during this turbulent time. VS Naipaul once inferred that people in the Caribbean were ‘Mimic Men’ which I always felt was a bit unfair and arrogant of him. Now years later it appears he may have been partly right especially in regards to some segments of the Black Trinidadian society who feel the need to copycat every thing that is happening the US without relating it their own circumstances in our in little corner of the world, sweet T&T.

        Préjudice, discrimination and racism exists in all human societies and is most dangerous when it institutionalized and promoted by the state. Institutionalized racism will take us on the slippery slope to genocide and ethnic cleansing.
        We do have to read history books for evidence of this, consider the continuing ill-treatment of ROMA peoples in Europe , the concentration camps during WW 2, struggles of Black Americans to achieve equality in the USA, apartheid in South Africa, and Hutu vs Tutsi in Rwanda.

        Fortunately in T&T, we have been able to avoid serious racial incidents, and hopefully we as a people will soon realize that racism against any person is immoral. Also maybe it’s time for ruling class in T&T to look at other successful countries with multi racial populations, Mauritius, Singapore, and Canada come to mind, and adopt some of their policies to combat racism.

        I am optimistic since God is a Trini, we can develop a made in T&T solution which will be the best in the world.

        Over to you brother, consider hanging up your “Great is PNM” gear, and joining the “All ah we is one” movement.

        1. Mauritius is a typical raceist and casteist indian controlled society. Similar to, but MUCH WORSE than guyana, africans had been enslaved there for centuries by the french before physical enslavement was discontinued and surprise surprise indians were brought in to SWAMP the africans economically, socially and politically.
          RACE, NATIVITY, AND MULTICULTURAL EXCLUSION | Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race | Cambridge Corehttps://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/du-bois-review-social-science-research-on-race/article/abs/race-nativity-and-multicultural-exclusion/67B208FDECB9E92E0CC5F5398B7BED46

          Singapore is all Lee Kuan Yew, who purposefully put laws in place to prevent brahman-ism’s caste/varna/race hierarchy from flourishing legally in any sector of that society. Also, the BLACKEST people of singapore are indians, and of course intermarriage with light skinned, straight-haired, asians is not seen as problem for indians as with africans (un”mixed”)

          Canada is a ” Perfect Paradise” for indians…NOT Aficans! Indian(South Asian) racism is a hinderance to genuine progress there as well! Open Your Eyes:

          The Reality of Anti-Black Racism in Canada | BCG

          Addressing the persistence & foundations of South Asian anti-blackness | The Journal

          Anti-Black Racism South Asian Community Canada

          Wherever south asians migrate to on the planet, their religiously rooted, anti-african HATE (racism), follows like chewing gum under a shoe…along with denial, deflection, GAS-LIGHTING, what-about-ism and the oppression olympics

          1. Mauritius is a racist, anti-african society, where brahman-ism’s caste/varna/race hierarchy (“the caste system”), has been implemented by indian immigrant labourers, who arrived centuries AFTER africans had been enslaved and trafficked there by the french, to BUILD THE WEALTH & INFRASTRUCTURE of that french colony. The indian immigrants were intentionally invited in as labourers to economically, socially and politically undermine the formerly enslaved africans. The indian immigrant population was purposefully brought in in greater numbers, and as a result, only indian, brahman-ist(“Hindu”), anti-african, anti-black parties have been elected since independence!!! Africans have been marginalized from any sort of dignity and power in that society, no access to any job with power.THIS is why indians in trinidad and guyana who are racist and despise africans, will reference mauritius as a “model” society. Mauritius is like apartheid south-africa in many ways.


          2. Mr Inconvenient I hope you will forgive me for taking a page from your playbook and cutting and pasting stuff from the internet. The first is from Uganda titled the Last Indian in Uganda. Enjoy. Maybe you can challenge Dr Rowley for leadership of the PNM and become the next Idi Dada Amin clone.


            I also agree with your comment regarding Canada being a paradise for Indians. The next video is from Canada and is titled My Manager’s Retirement Party and was posted by a Chinese Lady. Only in Canada you will see Black, Chinese and White people singing and dancing for a lowly coolie man.


            My best regards to the moderator for allowing us post our often controversial opinions on this newsblog.

      2. I was under the impression that T&T was on country, one nation which afforded rights to its citizens which included freedom of movement , trade and settlement. Tobagonians seem to conveniently forget this fact when it coms to Indians, except at budget time when Tobago is demanding an unfair dollar allocation for its comparatively lower population per capita and low tax contribution to the nation.
        The THA has repeatedly and intentionally exploited racism against the “Indian threat” to win elections, because the PNM knows that it works every time. They are presently trying to link the UNC as a symbol of Indians to the Opposition party in the upcoming THA elections. IT works every time. Like Inconvenient Truth, people of African descent in T&T constantly feel threatened and outnumbered by the Indians and their increasing economic and intellectual successes. Do you know of any other nation in the universe in which the largest minority population is so under represented? Just look at the demands which Blacks are making in the USA with a population of approx. 16%.

        1. Tman
          …LOL “Intellectual Successes”?? Also, on which community’s support ( back), has “economic succeses” been gained in the indian community??? Not Africans?? African trinidadians consciously ENRICH indian businesses out of love, with only scorn, hate and malice in return (politically, educationally and socially)! Furthermore, EVERYONE on both islands know that the UNC and indian politics in trinidad, is funding and puppeteering opposition parties in tobago. Listen to Tman’s (sieudath) rationalize racist minded indian migration to tobago society and politics. The fact is, indian racism is easy to observe…they migrate to tobago, not in search of comradery and kinship with those who have inhabited it for centuries after enslavement, but to USE the innocent youth as a labour force for their legal and illegal businesses, while trying to SEGREGATE themselves and their children and install their caste system with the native black africans at the bottom and the mulattos, fellow indians, whites and middle easrerners ON TOP! Obnoxious entitled racism! There was NEVER any indian indentureship on that island, not a single vessel from india arrived in tobago, and yet, they start celebrating “indian arrival day ” there. No African arribal day ever celebrated after centuries of enslavement and free labour that EARNED them that island, but willing, paid, immigrants from india want to indoctrinate the descendents of enslaved africans to celebrate THEM and politicized, fake, fabricated history! B***S***!!
          African Arrival(FORCED) early 1500’s
          Indian Arrival (EAGER TO ESCAPE CASTE IN INDIA) 1845

        2. Human migration is the movement by people from one place to another, particularly different countries, with the intention of settling temporarily or permanently in the new location. It typically involves movements over long distances and from one country or region to another. … Migration can be voluntary or involuntary.

          Freedom of movement within one country is perfectly legal and permissible regardless of traditional and historical rights.
          Can we use your argument, Mr. Inconvenient to stop the building of HDC houses by the PNM in traditional, first settled Indian areas of Trinidad to accommodate Africans for the purpose of voter padding?
          There is a difference, Mr. Inconvenient, between strong advocacy for one’s group and expressed antagonism against another. You seem to be confusing both concepts.

  3. America, from its inception, appeared to have two tendencies. One, a genocidal, white supremacy ideology that resulted in cutting down native Indians like trees and brought in enslaved Africans to work on plantations. The other tendency was a democratic sense of the equality of all human beings that imagined an America where all men and women would live together in peace and prosperity. These tendencies have at times coalesced so that some would imagine that America could work to create that “more perfect union” in time because they imagined the “arc of history would bend towards justice” and so history would resolve these antagonistic tendencies. At other times these tendencies have been pulled apart so that two polarized nations would exist in America at odds with each other and at each other’s throats. It is this latter condition that describes America at this present moment. But at no previous time has a mob descended on the home of American government, intent on destroying their political opponents and the Capitol, the home of government. For this, according to the impeachment articles voted for in the House of Representatives in Washington, we have to blame Donald Trump. How should we, as citizens of the rest of the world, view this? Because that is what we are – citizens of the rest of the world, we don’t have a vote to influence what is going on in America, but we are affected by what goes on there.

    The United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad. Its military budget in 2020 was 732 Billion, more than China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, UK, South Korea, Japan, Brazil combined, countries whose total combined budget is 726 Billion. If a genocidal, white supremacist government were to get into government in America and have no restraints on its action, what would happen to the world? In particular, the non-white world? Trump from 2016 to 2020 was constrained by the Democratic Party, by the judicial system, by the media (not the conservative media) and by many activists’ organizations, what would happen if he took over power via a coup, and decided to rule totally autocratically like Adolf Hitler? In the 15th Century, Europe acting on the basis of its white supremacy ideology took over the land resources of a huge portion of the non-white world, today there is a similar contest for the resources of the world, for oil, for water, for minerals, etc., what would constrain a white supremacist, in total power in the USA, from going after those resources militarily or through threats. Remember what Trump said about the invasion of Iraq, if it were him he would have taken the oil from Iraq after the invasion. It is a dangerous state of affairs, maybe this time an autocrat failed in his attempt, but what about the next time? What we need is not one super power that can dominate the whole world, we need a balance of power and that is what the rest of the world should focus on. We used to have something like that, with the Soviet Union and America facing each other in a cold war and the Non Aligned Movement having an important voice in that balance of power. We cannot leave the USA as the world’s only super power having in its hand the destiny of the world; that would be a pathway to disaster.

    1. Thought provoking comments there birdie. Might I further add that Trump has a lot of loyal people in the military. The level of hate I have seen in Fox News Facebook commentaries against Biden since the election is astounding. They actually believe the election was stolen, Trump announced he won on election night and due to the large crowds he attracted as compared to Biden no crowd he entered the election thinking it was a walk in the park.

      Trump has raised temperatures with his rhetoric and don’t be surprised if there is a military attempt to take out Biden and re install Trump. The white supremist movement has been dealt a severe blow and they are in the military and secret service. They are capable of anything. My first rule to sending soldiers there is to only to allow them 2 bullets instead of these heavy loaded magazines or for the majority not to carry heavy weapons but only hand guns.

      As they have been saying the 20th will prove to be a dark day as Americans see their beloved president leave the White House.

      1. We are programmed to see the world through the ethnic lens that we have lost the capacity to think logically.
        What did Obama do for African Americans?
        Is Obama a deep state puppet and did he,the CIA and the Vatican have a role to play in stealing the elections?
        This is about preserving democracy and having free and fair elections.

    2. Good Morning Birdie.

      You raise some excellent points. I suggest you do a similar analysis in T&T where we have two tribes at each other throats with one controlling the levers of power for what seems like forever.

    1. Inconvenient you must be an expert on so called caste system and all the jibberish you posting. You are usually way off topic and very predictable. It seems as though race is all you have, and that is sad.

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