Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Well, the internal PNM elections are over and,as expected, Dr. Keith Rowley and his team swept the polls. Even if one were to accept that each and every allegation of fraud and/or unfair practices made by the Penny Beckles team was true and all those "lost votes" were added back in, Dr. Rowley would still have been victorious. It was/is a convincing victory and only the most churlish would not recognize this.

But, (and it is a big "but") the problems that I wrote about last week are now going to come galloping to the fore. If Dr. Rowley and the PNM can convince  non African people that the present  perception that is held by them is false then I predict a landslide victory for the PNM next year. However, if they can't, then the PNM will probably lose. And it is as blunt as that!

If you read the political pundits in the newspapers carefully you will see that one or two of the smarter ones have recognized the perception of racism that exists in the society  and that it ought to be addressed sooner rather than later, although most everybody keeps pussy footing around the topic and trying to bury it. But it does exist and you will hear it being muttered in Port of Spain and almost shouted out loud south of the Caroni river. Trinidad is dividing into two clear camps: Africans and the rest, with a few "nons" (i.e., non Africans going into the African camp but with most of the "nons" ... with the exception of the majority of the Syrian community) going into the rest of which by far the largest is the Indian camp.

I have been told that I ought not to raise this matter because all that I am doing is making matters worse by highlighting the problem of the racial divide. That argument is attractive on the surface, but the reality is that although this topic of race and the perception of racism is not discussed openly, the truth is that it lies there just under the surface and just about every Trinidadian and Tobagonian is aware of it.

And yes, I am also well aware that there is a mirrored perception in the African element of the society that the Indian community and the UNC is just as racist as they are held out to be.

And that is my whole point! Put another way, I believe that it is high time that we put these raclail bogeymen to rest once and for all. And I am making a call on ALL the politicians of every colour, creed and religion to come out and clearly denounce racism in all of its forms. Dr. Rowley has to come out clearly and in the most graphic language condemn that nasty  "Calcutta ship" remark. (He did condemn it three days after it was made, but the perception then was that the condemnation was half-hearted and not sincere.) He has to stop saying things like "I am a proud black man.". Good grief! If I said on public television that I was a proud white man I would be pilloried and accused (justifiably) of being racist. But I am white ... an undeniable fact ... and I am proud. But I don't need to put the two together. In fact I shouldn't! And if I shouldn't then neither should he! I have no problem if he says that he is a proud man. In fact, the question then would be why shouldn't he be proud? And he is black. That is an obvious fact. But him putting the two together ... well, it doesn't come across very nicely to say the least. (I prefer, incidentally, when defining myself to simply say that I am a proud Trini! If that doesn't explain it then nothing ever will.)

We need leadership in the country that sees us all as citizens with an equal right to our own little piece of this twin island Republic.  And to be clear: we need this leadership to come from all sides ... including the unions.We need the media to step up to the plate and slap down anybody and everybody who plays the racial card ... and the slap must be so hard that the person never does it again. But the media has so far shied away from doing this. Why? I don't know. Ask them.

Why am I saying all this as passionately as I can? Because I see trouble looming on the horizon. I see the PNM not doing enough to erase the perception of racism and in reaction I see the non African element swinging the other way. And I see politicians on both sides fanning the flames of racial division. After all, it is much easier to say that "dem" (and "they" are whichever race that you are not) "doh like we and go cause us pain" rather than come up with ideas and policies on how to fix the many problems that face us. The PNM's internal campaign was singularly devoid of any policies, plans or meaningful discussions on what either side would do for the country if and when they got into power.

Prime Minister-elect Modi really said it best when he referred to his political opponents not as the enemy, but as competitors. If only our politicians would see each other publicly in that light we would be half way there towards solving our problems. Why can't the two sides get together to discuss the best ways to fix crime, health care, education, etc.? It would be so nice rather than to here the same tune with the same words week after week in Parliament which can best be summed up in "all ah allyuh is t'tief!" For crying out loud, please tell us clearly what exactly will you (the politicians) do to fix things? What?

It's not too late ... yet! But, trust me: the time is now very, very short. We can help save things if we make it clear to the politicians that we will not tolerate racism. And a first step will be getting Rowley's PNM to fix that horrible perception that is held of them. Don't fix it and I guarantee problems for the country. Big ones.


  1. You are a brave man, Senator. Not many people have the courage to write what you have. You are also quite right!


  2. Racial discrimination is alive and well in T'dad & Tobago. I have been living in the US for 33 yrs. and can't remember a clear case where I was discriminated against here but I can see the discrimination from the time I land at Piarco to the time I leave. Case in point, a man of another race refused to move his stuff that was spread out all over the grocery store counter so I could put down the heavy things I was carrying, saying that "you supposed to wait your turn, that's how it's supposed to be. " This is after I asked him very politely " May I put these down?" Lack of courtesy or racial discrimination? Maybe both!