Home / View Point / Guest Columns / Is Tobago racist or is Rampersad an idiot?

Is Tobago racist or is Rampersad an idiot?

The TOP was not routed in Tobago because it is an uninspiring bunch steered by a leader, Ashworth Jack, of questionable integrity and chained to a People’s Partnership that it is dogged by corruption and which treats the electorate as mindless voting machines. Not even close.

Photo: It isn’t you, Ashworth Jack. It’s them.

Tobago voted against TOP because it is a racist island which was lured into its stance by a reprehensible comment from PNM candidate, Hilton Sandy, who warned that a Calcutta ship was ready to sail to the “Sister Isle” and set up for business.

At least that is the view Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr Indira Rampersad allegedly shared, according to the Trinidad Guardian, in a televised panel discussion.

Rampersad reportedly holds a Bachelor of Arts in Language in Literature, a diploma in International Relations, a Master of Philosophy in Latin American Literature, a Master of Philosophy in International Relations and a Ph.D in Political Science.

If accurate, that statement would suggest she came up short in Common Sense though. So allow me to offer a crash course.

Two years ago, Tobago voted TOP into power for the first time at the General Election despite knowing full well that the party was an affiliate of a UNC-led People’s Partnership coalition. So, ethnicity did not hamper Tobagonians then. And, presumably, they voted for progress.

Did they get it?

Photo: Tobago voted in the TOP at the 2010 General Election. So why change now?

An examination of the People’s Partnership tenure since it was voted into power should have been the first place that Rampersad checked for signs of discontent.

There is a long list of concerns but here are the highlights: Section 34, the State of Emergency, the Galbaransingh/Ferguson extradition matter, the Reshmi Ramnarine appointment, the PURE audit, the Point Fortin Highway, the OPV vessels, the firing of Gibbs and Ewatski and the investigation into the conduct of National Security Minister Jack Warner.

Please raise your hand if any of those aforementioned issues might be deemed racist in nature.

Sandy’s statement was obviously deplorable as the PNM itself acknowledged, albeit belatedly.

It is worth noting that Sandy said it publicly once while he apologised for the statement numerous times. But the TOP replayed the controversial remark, ad nauseum, in political ads for the duration of the campaign.

So, if anyone was playing the race card during the THA elections, then who was it exactly?

Does the PP really believe, like Rampersad might, that one has to be a racist not to fall to his knees when dollar bills are thrust in his face? If so, then the central government has even bigger problems than is widely perceived.

Photo: Was it the Prime Minister’s ethnicity or governance that turned off Tobagonians?

Tobagonians, presumably, know a thing or two about well-to-do non-residents in expensive suits who ask for favours and promise the moon and stars in return. Rampersad allegedly suggested that they are racists; one thing we do know is that they are not prostitutes.

And now that Rampersad has apparently let us into her troubled mind, she ought to really prove her appreciation for the leadership skills of the TOP boss by following his direction and similarly considering her position on the Equal Opportunity Commission.

Where is Rampersad’s research to prove the Tobago, which voted in the TOP two years ago, has suddenly been transformed into a backward, racist little nook?

Who could trust a body that is meant to promote racial harmony when one of its commissioners recklessly seeks to attach the stigma of racism on an entire island?

Without credible evidence to support the claims attributed to her, Rampersad’s position on the Equal Opportunity Commission is as laughable as Herbert Volney returning to head the Ministry of Justice or as ridiculous as it should be to have Warner attempting to thwart crime.

Before President Maxwell Richards vacates his office, he should have a word with the talkative commissioner.

Jack should be off to grow more pumpkins and cucumbers soon. Richards should insist that Rampersad joins him.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

Check Also

Gilkes: From Truman to Trump; how religion oppresses the post-colonial world

Shooting wars begin as culture wars and culture wars are initiated by ideas. So let’s …

101 comments

  1. That would an idiot with a capital “I”…How as a Nation can we progress when a significant portion of our society sees only race?

  2. Hmmmm that’s our political analysis FYI

  3. She is one of the persons along with Devant Maharaj who wanted to see Trinidad divided, what equal opportunity

  4. Lasana it is really a roundabout way of reframing the REAL issue, the REAL way that the ” Intelligenstia” in the PPG see Tobagonians.

  5. It is just the PPG apologists getting butthurt from a sound rejection of their treachery and dishonesty about Tobago’s autonomy. They treated it like a carrot stick, inflated the issue with Hilton Sandy,… and paid the price of pitting Tobagonians against one another.

  6. If Tobagonians are so insular, how come their two seats voted in three different governments: PNM, NAR and People’s Partnership?
    How many constituencies in Trinidad have voted in three different parties since independence?

  7. Pot calling Kettle. When you point one finger at someone, three points at you.

  8. I would NEVER forget the night of the 21st January, 2013 after all the polls were counted and the results said PNM=12 vs TOP=Zero.
    The people were in a state of shock and it got worse when the UNC “independent” political guru said “Tobago voted race!”
    I’m like: “Did I miss something? Were not all 36 candidates of African origin? ”
    Then I put it down to the her being bazodee from the “Red Wash!”

  9. Can I choose both or just one?

  10. Lol but they wasn’t racist in 2010 when Tobago supported them

  11. Ar-rima, ammy (army), cha-rack-ter … I can go on and on.

  12. Rampersad is a Capital Idiot…

  13. I don’t know if they are, but I have been called the “c” word twice while on vacation there. 1. By a man who got mad because we didn’t want to go on his boat to get to the nylon pool and 2. By one of the ladies selling red mango/ snacks etc. near the port. The latter used the word like it was a word in the Webster dictionary. (Very cool and without hesitation). It also happened to me while vacationing in Barbados….a teen walked up to me on the beach and said, “are you a coolie from Trinidad”. I was left speechless and shocked. Later I found out that it was a word used loosely there and without any sort of malice…

  14. I vote…. Rampersad is an idiot

  15. I almost ran off the road recently when a radio host pronounced croisse as ”croy-c”.

  16. I sometimes ask myself whether English grammar is still taught at our schools.If so,the teachers aren’t doing a very good job.

  17. They represent those of us without standards. I cringe when I hear them and I am concerned about the fact that they are hired to read when reading alone seems to be a problem.I also have the same problem of grammar errors with our print media.

  18. But they represent us…or Trinis, whilst the Tobagonian, is fully represented in his lingo by Radio Heritage! They have a right to be Clannish, as we are quietly ambivalent as to who and how we are presented and represented to the world!

  19. lol.Judy Ann,The radio and TV announcers we have now, are the result of our acceptance of mediocrity.It is apparent that most of them do not read extensively or even listen to foreign broadcasters in an effort to hone their skills.

  20. Chidubem, I’m not understanding your comment on our radio and TV announcers who for the most part cannot pronounce simple English words and who are also for the most part strangers to the intricacies of English grammar. I won’t even go into their inability to pronounce names that are foreign (or even local)!

  21. Thanks Miranda,in my humble opinion ,it’s the only way we will move forward as trinbagonians.

  22. Lance is right in saying we need to keep that discussion open.

  23. Lord, no Judy-ann Stewart! That was a reference to Indira. She have some letters behind her name…

  24. Some Indians would have wanted, and may still want to hold on to that class structure, but we know it is not acceptable in this part of the world.

  25. Chabeth, I hope you are not calling Sat an intellectual?!

  26. Yes and they have a right to beChabeth Haynes, seeing that we can’t live side by side with each other in Trinidad, without having “Border wars, “gated communities” and down-right distrust for one another, based on texture of hair or cusine….cause it can’t b based on complexion, when both Races cover the same spectrum of colours!

  27. Chabeth, no so much from those who came immediately after emancipation, but those who came subsequently. India also has a class structure that was never so defined in Africa.

  28. I agree with discussions on matters of race, ethnicity and tribalism. What I keep saying is that TT does not experience racism. there may be vestiges of it that need not be rekindled. What I keep seeing is racism. You have to love racism to understand what it is.

  29. No Chabeth.i speak of structured discussions,not necessarily at the intellectual level.Leaders in communities of different ethnicities engaging the community to speak out.

  30. Miranda La Rose, when you say “Indian immigrants”, you mean people now coming from India or descendants of Indian immigrants?

  31. Miranda,does that comfort have to do with a ”looking down” of sorts on the Afro Trini?Just asking.

  32. Right, Lance Noel, but open discussions across communities isn’t the same as the constant “race talk”, is it?

  33. Excellent point Chabeth,but the only way we can help to erase this is to have open discussions within the different communities.

  34. Like I said, it is who the people are comfortable with.

  35. People still live in enclaves. In Guyana for instance, you might still find a village or villages with only descendants of Africans, or of only East Indians. It is not as rigid in Trinidad.

  36. I’m asking ,why are Afro trinis not hired.I subject myself to your enlightenment Miranda.

  37. I’m just saying, I know some racist black people in this country. People who have said to me, “yuh can’t trust den people, yuh know.” When I say who is “den people”, I’m told Indian people. I’m like you can’t trust any Indian person? The answer was yes, you can’t trust any Indian person. So again, yeah, we all have our personal experience, but please let’s not think any race has a monopoly on racism in this country.

  38. You have to look back at things historically as well. At Emancipation Africans outnumbered Indian indentured immigrants. Today, Indian immigrants in Trinidad and in Guyana outnumber Africans. Do you know why?

  39. Chidubem Al Mutasim, Hahahahaha at the journalist story. I’m just saying though that I think Tobagonians have more pride in Tobago than they do in Trinidad and Tobago.

  40. Pls clarify.the fresh wave you speak of ,are they the people who do not hire Afro trinis?

  41. I don’t know that we have a fresh wave of African entrepreneurs in TT or the Caribbean.

  42. ”Fresh wave”,you say Miranda?I think not.

  43. They are in the minority and they are from a fresh wave of Indian immigrants to TT. You find it with Chinese.

  44. care to hazard a guess why,Miranda?

  45. I’m saying Chabeth Haynes, Trinis are easily swayed from their true identity and it can be viewed by our fondness to assimilate into other cultures whilst still on our shores! I’m generalising, but, the Announcers and Commentators give life to my point..all 20plus radio and 5 local tv stations! Further proof of such, is the Anchor who used to be on CNMG..(I believe Piere), who spoke proper bad broken british on air, went across to greener pasturers on Press TV and whilst covering a Conflict, broke into a “Oh gawd”, as something detonated in his vicinity! My point, a Tobagonian would have said the “Oh gawd…yuh mad” when given the assignment!

  46. Miranda La Rose ,are you aware that there are stores in Trinidad that do not employ Afro trinis?

  47. He posted year old article to remind us , it’s Like white Americans when we remind them of 1950 and 1960’s how blacks was treated they always say why bring up the pass . Smfh keep preaching bro

  48. To some extent I agree with Miranda on the tribalism but I think that this is restricted to the Indians as they are the only ones who will generally only hire their own tribe. No other group does it except in putting their own to control the cash register.

  49. I am neither Black, East Indian nor White. Trinidad and Tobago is the only country where I have lived for at least over four years,and I have not been a victim of racism. You know what that feels like?

  50. Maybe her views contributed to her state appointment Rhoda Bharath?

  51. A racist believes that his race is superior to another.This belief transcends into his treatment of others,who he chooses as friends,who he employs etc.Can we identify that in T&T?

  52. Indira is simply an ass Lasana Liburd. And should have been relieved of her state appointment fortwith.

  53. Nah, Lance Noel, I don’t need these “intellectuals” to keep attributing everything to race… I don’t see it as productive. And anytime Sat decided to shut up would not be soon enough for me.

  54. Gino Mckoy and Chabeth Haynes,I disagree totally with your comments that we need to stop the race talk.Open,transparent discussions on race/ethnicity are what we need now.Dialogue is the only way we can clear up whatever misconceptions we hold about each other.Open dialogue will enable us to discover things we didn’t know about each other.Bring on the race discussions.

  55. Indira herself is tribalistic, cause she can never say that he is better than her academic colleagues as per her race. She has accepted that.

  56. Yes, Miranda La Rose, I agree, the Trini definition of racism isn’t the international definition of the word.

  57. Indira is not objective. She clearly sits in the UNC corner so that has to be taken into consideration when reading her articles

  58. I don’t see Tobagonians as racist. People go into a comfort zone when things are not right. It is protection. Some may say a false sense of protection.

  59. I have lived racism in Guyana, where I was born. So I can speak of both racism and tribalism in Guyana.

  60. I speak from my own experience living racism in East Africa, Central Africa, South Africa, and also in London, England and in the Province of Ontario.

  61. I think it’s BS. First question have you’ll really experienced racism before so you can really understand. Secondly what is the yardstick used. Thirdly if we going to say Tobago is racist the every store in south trinidad that doesn’t hire a black or afro Trinidadian is racist or any store that doesn’t I
    Hires east India is racist. Can anyone explain to me what makes tobago racist. What I do know a lot of the island like Tobago don’t like Trinidadians because of our attitude. Does that make them racist? Or is it us who have a nasty problem

  62. If there was racism Tobago would not have voted for TOP and the PP in 2010. Jack Warner would have never won Chaguanas west in the 2013 by-elections.

  63. If I may share my views on racism in Trinidad, I often tell my colleagues that based on my own experience with racism, both islands, Trinidad Tobago, do not know what racism is. What is experienced here is tribalism.

  64. I think there is a difference between a racial stereotype and a racist thought. I went to a school where the student population was conservatively 70% Indian and probably a higher percentage of the teachers were Indian. Not sure. Anyway, I have a lot of Indian friends and based on that I have stereotypes. For example, if I meet an Indian woman who can’t make roti, I’m like huh? how did that happen? Simply because all my Indian friends from school can make roti. I don’t consider that to be racist but it is clearly a racial stereotype.

  65. tobagonians are not always open
    its not a racial thing
    its insularity
    indira R sounds uneducated
    she forgets the problems the PNM had in Tobago

  66. i condemn racism and will never support any form,what is the problem ,the pseudo intellectuals who perpetuate the thinking,i cite uwi as a study be a full time student and some behaviours come out ,people donot feel at ease it is a competition,that can be called the unseen hand

  67. racism in itself is not monolithic
    ppl will have racist thoughts and still have a spouse of that race

  68. Uh, Chidubem Al Mutasim, Idk that Tobagonians have more national pride in Trinidad and Tobago than Trinidadians do.

  69. the problem in tt is that people are ascribing racism to groups of persons
    that in itself is racism

  70. tobagonians should not be identified as afro trinidadian
    totally different culture and they themselves are not monolithic

  71. i used to think that only racist actions and views were from some indian people whilst realising i got more help perosnally from indos than afros

    even people i knew had racist thoughts have helped me more willingly than afro trinis

    then i started to notice racist reactionary views from afro trinis as UNC got in power because of claims of being fired from state jobs

    what i notice about racism in Trinidad is the limit to opportunities
    some indos will only hire indos in their workplaces and only sell land to indos

  72. Plus I’d prefer a study done on what makes the Tobagonian, so distinctly different from us Trinidadians! Their sense of national pride runs deeper than a Trini, who more often than not, will change accent, based on the direction his plane is going or where ever he just came back from….and b4 you’ll start harping not all Trinis, just turn on to cnmg and listen to the Anchors wheel in and out of their fake british accent and local haughty…and don’t talk bout the radio Announcers!

  73. yes but look at the legislative process,why do we need an equal opportunities commission in this small 2×2 country,is discrimination, real or perceived ,go to uwi st augustine and ask students what is their views on the subject and it is seen in the institution

  74. In 1971 Mr Jim Barrat, Uriah Butler’s deputy told me about PNM’s mongoose gang. Probably that is why.

  75. The speed of light is faster than the speed of sound. That’s why so many people appear bright…until they speak.

  76. Gino McKoy, definitely need to move away from the race talk. The frequency with which it comes up is obscene. No doubt, Lasana Liburd, racism/racists views are not limited to Indian people in this country at all.

  77. many of the older generation benefitted from the structure of old trinidad and thats why they oppose meaningful change

  78. The ironic thing too Chabeth Haynes is you see that on both sides. I’ve seen “Afro-centric” PNM supporters tell people we have to support our own kind. They don’t see that as racist either.
    Is that a different discussion?

  79. put this to sat,he is the bastion of this thinking,serves as the intellectual base of like minded individuals,we cannot wave a magic wand and it will disappear

  80. Chabeth Haynes I notice a lot of these educated minds in Trinidad is still get caught up in race politics but the nation as a whole still clings to race and class as their backbone.. you don’t hear these partisan supporters of both parties argue policy.. however, I think Trinidadians need to move themselves away from the Indian and African talk.. because it only serves to divide the nation.. most of the people in Trinidad have never seen India or Africa. .

  81. What’s her take on why some Indian people don’t vote PNM?

  82. she is just following the established pattern cry race when you cannot get your way

  83. Indra does not try very hard when it comes to analysis

  84. People just thought that if Tobago went TOPLESS there would be more tourists coming to improve the economy.

  85. Gaiven Clairmont

    All I will say is very well said and the politicians are smart they know once they keep the issue as race, we will never hear about the “real” issues

  86. No amount of letters after your name makes you educated. Its what you have gleaned while pursuing those letters that puts you on the road to educated status. This lady certainly isn’t educated nor has she learnt anything from past experiences. A pig in mud and a pig in a concrete stall is still called a pig.
    I am tired of the PP party playing the race card… When a UNC stronghold swings a vote in favour of another party….just once…..then maybe I’ll listen to them. Persons from other races have voted against the PNM as swing voters, never in the history of T&T has this occurred in this particular tribe. So who really is more racist? If you vote UNC or PP or TOP apparently this makes you non racial but when you exercise your franchise as a citizen and vote PNM you become racist. To Jack Warner, remember to be a Hindu you have to be born one. Don’t fool yourself with all this conversion thing.

  87. Very insightful. Apparently you don’t even have to mention the term “East Indian” to be accused of talking Race. Just the mention of “UNC” and those who can read the writing on the wall are screaming “RACE!!!”. Yet, for all this, somehow Tobago did not vote racially when they voted the way they did back in 2010! Seems like Kamla and co. were actually telling Tobagonians that Section 34, Reshmi Ramnarine, Ish and Steve and their friend Anand Ramlogan, Jack Warner and his ethics are not issues worthy of consideration when you decide who runs your country. So according to the PP, Tobagonians are not only racist, they are also stupid.

  88. I think the THA election was a rejection of PP politics, plain and simple. Sandy’s stupid remark would, of course, hold appeal for some people. But for a whole island? Please! This is another one of those scapegoats… like blaming the media for negative public opinion. Rampersad is looking more and more like a UNC apologist.

  89. Shame that someone so highly educated (a PhD no less-are they giving those to just anybody these days?) could sound so ignorant. TOP had their chance, they blew it and tried to swab the mess with free cellphones and other misguided mamaguys. Tobagonians may have proven they have a lot more common sense than Trinidad when it comes to electing the people who will truly represent them.