The next generation of racial politics

By Dr Sheila Rampersad
January 20, 2013 –

Trinidad GuardianThat Indian/African racism and racialism predate Hilton Sandy, that racial baiting has been ubiquitous in T&T politics, and that it is practised by PNM and UNC are by now undeniable truths. So to swelter inside that cocoa house with repetitive back-and-forth accusations of who said what, when, and who responded then but not now and vice versa is unproductive, unhealthy and, quite frankly, unbright.

Politicians are easy targets; it’s easy to say they are the ones mobilising racial responses and inflaming Indian/African tensions. Of course, they are blameworthy, doing and saying too much for too long that aggravates tensions and consolidates stereotypes (observe how, while stereotyping the other group, they also often reinforce stereotypes of the group on whose behalf they claim to be acting/speaking).


7 thoughts on “The next generation of racial politics”

  1. ‘Race at its worst’

    By Richardson Dhalai
    January 24, 2013 –

    Jack WarnerNational Security Minister and UNC chairman Jack Warner yesterday described the results of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election as “blatant tribalism” and “race at its worst” which played on the fears of the predominantly African population in Tobago.

    PNM swept the election winning all 12 seats on Monday, with TOP, a member of the coalition Government, losing the four seats it previously held, including that of former Minority Leader Ashworth Jack.

    Speaking to reporters following a free medical clinic at his Chaguanas West constituency office yesterday, Warner said the THA election results reflected “how palpable the emotion of fear among the African population” could be since there was “very little” to show from a party they had traditionally supported.


  2. Warner: ‘Tribal’ votes
    United National Congress (UNC) chairman and National Security Minister Jack Warner has said the people of Tobago voted on the basis of “tribal instincts” and the fear that a “Calcutta” ship was coming.

    Rowley calls for removal of Equal Opportunity official
    … wrote to President George Maxwell Richards, calling on him to fire Equal Opportunity Commission member Dr Indira Rampersad

    Equal Opportunity Commissioner: Talk of ‘Calcutta ship’ planned PNM strategy
    Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr Indira Rampersad believes that the racist “Calcutta ship” statements made during Tobago’s election campaign was a well planned PNM strategy which played on the fears of Tobagonians. Speaking during a television panel discussion yesterday, Rampersad said it seemed Tobagonians were still focused on political parties and personalities rather than issues.

    Sandy out as Deputy THA Head

    London removes Sandy as deputy THA succession plan kicks in

    London said he will call for an amendment to the THA Act in order to give the President the power to appoint two independent councillors within the Assembly. Such councillors, he said, would form an independent voice, in place of a Minority Leader.

    Duprey wants out of Clico enquiry
    Ex-business magnate invokes self-incrimination right

    …London: Tobago voters considered ethics, not race
    “An insult to the intelligence and integrity of all Tobagonians. And if you examine it carefully, it is a racist statement.”

    Analyst: Orville must now listen to people
    With no formal Opposition elected to the Tobago House of Assembly, Chief Secretary Orville London is being strongly advised to listen to the opposition voices on the streets and social media.

    President to swear in new THA executive today
    Kamla accepts invitation to attend

    Daly: Jack’s political future in doubt

    ‘No TOP vacancy’
    Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) MP Delmon Baker yesterday said the issue of the place of TOP political leader Ashworth Jack in the party is for Jack to decide.

    Carolyn: TOP party lost its identity in Govt
    Tobago issues not addressed, says COP chairman

    Different PP strategy for local govt polls—Jamal
    The People’s Partnership Government will be adopting a different campaign plan for the upcoming local government elections due by July…

  3. Well said. I agree wholeheartedly, especially with respect to the Sandy treatment. I too believe Dr Rowley missed a golden opportunity to demonstrate a PNM departure from racial politics, and broaden the party’s appeal at the same time.

  4. Race will always be the “underbelly” of political meandering, however there is an over excercise of it by a few. The few unfortunately gets all the attention. Mr. Warner bought in the highest number of votes of any politician in a majority Indian area. Errol Macleod won Oropuche on a ULF ticket. People tend to vote along party lines because the party simply better represent them in Parliament. The PNM failed to reach out in areas where they don’t have traditional support and when they did they won some votes and then failed captalize on that good will.

    The Tobago result was not totally unexpected because performance was discounted and replace with fear of the other tribe. Orville had been an abject failure engaging in practices that is questionable, however the PNM demonstrate their skill in mobilizing their base, using whatever means necessary. Tobagonians in Trinidad hop accross to shift things in the PNM favour. It must be noted that the PNM won 21,000 votes, the TOP won 11,000 plus making it 2:1 victory in favour of the PNM. Which is not bad considering it could have been worst.

  5. “Mr Warner brought in the highest number of votes , in a majority Indian area….Errol Mccleod won Oropouch , on a ULF ticket.”Ok Mamboo,so what’s your real point ,in citing Uncle Jack , or Papa labour king MC Loud, to prove that racism is dead in thosesaid enclaves, of La Trinity? Or dat Her Majestick Queen K , has surpassed her immoral mentor Basdeo , and in actuality ,reached Eric Williams staus . Let me refresh your memory , as he also,idly boasted dat,” if I put a Crapuad up in one oh dem seats, in can win.”
    In contrast , real politicians , and servants of the people in ,Errol Mahabir, Kamaludin Mohammed, Ralph Maraj , and Dr Linda BAboolal , were beating folks left, right , and center , across the racial divide, long before donkey cart went out of existence in aformentioned enclaves.
    Most mportantly , our loving Cannan/BonAccord brother in Tobago, Ranjit Singh ,proved that de foreign element of ugly racism ,is an alien concept , as far as de Island Ward goes , since -trust me, when I say -he could not have had ,more than five INdo-Tobago members,in his constituency , four of which ,most likely , were his own family members, and the other ,his driver from Penal. Give it a rest my friend, for what it took elite ,ULF/UNC labour union activist ,turned politicians ,45 years to learn/ figure out, other unmentionable ,anti racial ,yet astute , though sometimes flawed , political progressives, were indulging in , some 57 years ago, eeeeh?
    Long live de Rebublic ofT&T! Up next , de contentious task of finally choosing , a non contentious , above politics! Ntional President,to suceed Professor Richards,which would of course discredit all the lifetime Party hacks, that are suddenly brought out of de woodwork.
    Our country presently needs healers,not polarizing/ divisive agitators. Someone with a philosophical bent , as far as thought process, with a history of fostering national unity, and in possession of what ,1st Post Cold War,US President ,in GH BUsh , Euphemistically called,”The VIsion Thing.”
    I would like to see someone with a deep tradition of selfless ,Philantrophist leanings, and service to others- especially across the lower echelons of society.
    Enough with more of dem fast talking lawyers, agreed?
    I was just on de verge Mamboo, of saying dat you Progressive Canadians had nada on us , but then I stumbled on this gem of an article. Oooooh Canada is all I can say, leading de way eeeh? What other good stuffs , ‘you alls,’are hiding from us ,across here in T&T , aka Baby America ,Mamboo?

  6. This is an excellent analytical article especially relating to the behaviour of some politicians. The disconnect between how people relate as individuals and how they relate as groups also has a history. Let’s go back to Eric Williams and Rudranath Capildeo. Both men had mutual respect for one another for their history and scientific minds. Amazingly, Erica (daughter) and Capildeo lived at Clapham, London for some time almost as neighbours. Cap as he was called by his colleagues at Imperial College of Science and Techology was recognized as a ‘Giant’ in his field of vector mechanics, nothwithstanding he was a lawyer, politician, linguist (spoke 6 languages), physicist and mathematician. Both men worked in unison at Marlborough house in getting the terms and conditions for the achieving of Independence for T&T in 1962. When Cap died in 1970 at the age of 50 there was a requiem mass for him at Chalk Farm London. Half of the audience was was mainly academics (world wide) and the other half mainly citizens from the Caribbean. Notably absent was a government representative from the T&T embassy at South Audley St.(not Belgrave Sq.). I understood when Eric died in 1981 at age of 70 he desired to be by himself because he was dissapointed with the ministers who was surrounding him at the time at La Fantasie Rd. Both men left groups viz PNM and DLP led at times by pseudo-intellectuals since then. The remnants of the thinking and actions from that time both by some politicians and public followers, how different is it today setting aside some minor refinements e.g. the n word and the c word? That which was and is will continue.

  7. “Keith Rowley missed a brilliant opportunity to point his party in a direction that would make it attractive to more than its core supporters, who by themselves cannot win a general election.”
    The problem with so-called intellectuals in Trinidad (not Tobago because generally Tobago people are more humble), is that because of the titled privileges they feel that they can write and publish any type of garbage and an unknowing public will gabble up the cess pool of excrement and consider it ‘literature’, written by a face of authority. It will do the writer well to note that the brains and minds that read their product are generally open-minded and looking for information that would in the end enlighten them. But when a quote as that stated in the opening of this writing faces you squarely in the eyes, you can either ignore it or express what I feel is disgusting portrayal of “academic freedoms”. To try to convince me or anyone else that the PNM cannot or have never won an election on its own is a mere exercise in wishfulness than a factual expression of history. I needless ask the question, who has been winning general elections since independence?. It certainly is not Kamla, it certainly is not Panday, it certainly is not Jack Warner, it certainly is not the PP or the UNC or the COP or for that matter no such entities. It therefore means that the writer was writing for those citizens born between the years 2010 and 2013. For my part, I see this kind of writing as vulgar because it assumes that the writer either disrespects the readers or take them for fools or worse dont care what the reader thinks because there are those out there who would swallow this information as though it just came from a hot dirt oven with all the refreshing smell to entice our taste buds. It is all well and nice to like a party or favor it over its competitors but when you do so with the authority of being on the EEOC or Integrity Commission or so-called boards that expects impartiality or fairness as it’s modus operandi then you become delusional in spouting political garbage for us as consumers of information to accept. The emergence of this current regime has destroyed the fabric of good governance by the many actions they have taken without the benefits of offering sober and thoughtful explanations. We are yet to understand what was the motive behind the naming of a Reshmi appointment to be the guardian of our national security means. We are yet to know whose great idea it was to name the AG, PM and others as “SCs”. We are yet to learn why Sat Maharaj plays such an important role in government without the benefit of going to the polls to have gotten the nod to represent them. We are yet to learn who was the owner of the drug ladden ship in the ports of our beloved shores. We are yet to learn whose idea it was to pass “Section 34” in the dead of night without the benefit or knowledge of MPs knowing that it was a declaration. When one signs on to impartiality their behaviour should reflect that expectation. A passing of deficit journalism expecting a receptive result has become the norm rather than the exception nowadays.

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