Well as you can see from my tagline, I’m a Trini ( well in my heart at least) My father was born in the green green hills of Laventille at a time when it was considered prime property and the place to be. I have heard from rumours that my Dad has some Panamanian and Bajan connection – my great grandmother was allegedly Bacra – ( apparently that means a white person who was born in the French West Indies ie a “Creole” and of African heritage ). ok so she was mixed race. My Aunt and my Dad used to talk of “Mammy” with the big plaits to her waist. That was on his Mum’s side. My grandfather was supposed to be a seaman from Panama.
So what does this have to do with the “R” word. In fact what is the “R” word?
Well recently my motherland and fatherland had elections. My Mum is from Guyana and in terms of demography is the closest in population composition to that of Trinidad. Power and politics are divided along the same lines – race.
The racial division is between those of mainly African Descent and those of East Indian descent. There is definite evidence of this within both Trinidad’s and Guyana’s diasphora. I maintain that this is as a result of European Colonialism and the values that that system brought.
You see, the African population had been considered to be property, as in livestock. When Slavery was outlawed in 1834 in these territories, those that owned such “property” carried on a campaign to dehumanise this population. Darwinism, caricature and media propaganda were utilised for this purpose. Blacks were savages, cannibals, dumb and the descendants of Apes. We were inferior and stupid and would not know how to live as a human being. Hence, sowed the seeds for present racist sentiment. As you can see from this simple example, it’s a fallacy.
So, in order to keep the rivalry of the new labour group pumped up the British Government allowed Indian Indentured families to migrate to the Caribbean with the promise of land in exchange for their labour. From the beginning the economic disparity was deliberately created. Of course, the attitudes and views of the Colonizer were passed down to this group therefore perpetuating the racial attitudes. This rivalry exists up to this day.
Unfortunately, until this gap is closed and real effort is made to provide avenues for healing, these sentiments will prevail. Nationhood is still to be achieved even though these territories attained independence from the Colonizer. We have to dispel this fallacy of race and put country first. The challenge therefore is to find creative and innovative ways to create wealth in order for both groups to enjoy. But maybe I’m talking about Utopia…sigh