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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 managing director and chief 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.

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  1. 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!

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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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

  7. 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?

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

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

  14. 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.

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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

  22. 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

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

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

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

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

  27. 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

  28. 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!

  29. 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

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

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

  32. 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.

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

  34. 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?

  35. 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

  36. 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. .

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

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

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

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

  41. 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

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.