Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / One French Creole’s revision of T&T history: Why De Verteuil’s Laventille rant is dead wrong

One French Creole’s revision of T&T history: Why De Verteuil’s Laventille rant is dead wrong

“It is clear that R De Verteuil was referring to Afro Trinbagonians when she criticised Laventillians. Not once did she mention the contributions of Africans to the development of Trinidad and Tobago.

“She praised the Indians, the Chinese, the Syrian/Lebanese community and, of course, her people the Europeans. The contempt for people of African descent is palpable.”

The following Letter to the Editor was penned by Cecil Paul and Gerry Kangalee and first published by the National Workers Union:

Photo: Spectators at the Morvant Recreation Ground look on as Morvant Caledonia United host San Juan Jabloteh in Pro League action at the Morvant Recreation Ground on 16 October 2016. Jabloteh won 4-2. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Spectators at the Morvant Recreation Ground look on as Morvant Caledonia United host San Juan Jabloteh in Pro League action at the Morvant Recreation Ground on 16 October 2016.
Jabloteh won 4-2.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

We refer to a letter to the editor in the Express of October 27, 2016 in which one R De Verteuil is “sick and tired” of Laventillians complaining “about how neglected and disadvantaged they are, and how much more money the government should throw in their direction.”

She said “we all came from different parts of the world without a penny and a lot of hard work was required from the first settlers who cleared land and planted.” She continued that “those who settled in Central Trinidad worked hard, ate flour and water, channa, pumpkin, potato and bodi—to educate their children etc.”

De Verteuil then wrote that “the Chinese came with a sack on their back, opened shops etc; worked hard and made their way in the world.” She then praised the Middle Easterners who “came and started off on bicycles, with suitcases of fabric. Look where they are today.”

Ms De Verteuil then stated that “Some of us of European stock started out without a penny” and said that her ancestors were killed by republican revolutionaries during the French Revolution over 200 years ago and mentioned reimbursement if her relatives were to demand reparation.

She revealed her work history from the age of 17 starting with a typist job and small salaries and described herself as a descendant of French Creoles. She went on that she had neither government housing nor any of the assisted peoples’ programmes except for paying her NIS and other statutory payments which are mandatory and paid for her mortgage and never used the general hospital.

Photo: A French Creole family in New Orleans. (Courtesy Frenchcreole.com)
Photo: A French Creole family in New Orleans.
(Courtesy Frenchcreole.com)

The only freeness she said she got from the government was two years of A-Level education.

De Verteuil finally called on the “lazy touts to get off your butts, get an education, get trained and start working like everyone else, stop waiting for hand-outs which only encourage laziness!”

It is clear that R De Verteuil was referring to Afro Trinbagonians when she criticized Laventillians. Not once did she mention the contributions of Africans to the development of Trinidad and Tobago.

She praised the Indians, the Chinese, the Syrian/Lebanese community and, of course, her people the Europeans. The contempt for people of African descent is palpable. It’s nothing new and it isn’t going away any time soon.

Enslaved Africans came to this country in chains far less “without a penny.” The French creoles came here, fleeing the Haitian and the French revolutions and the British military, which was seizing French–held territories in the Americas. They came from, among other places, Grenada, Guadeloupe Haiti, Louisiana, St Lucia, Acadia in Canada in the latter third of the seventeenth century. They came with their slaves.

Photo: Fernand Louis Joseph Marie De Verteuil. Nationality: Trinidad/Martinique Rank: Surgeon Regiment/Service: Royal Navy Unit (Her Majesty's Service).
Photo: Fernand Louis Joseph Marie De Verteuil.
Nationality: Trinidad/Martinique Rank: Surgeon Regiment/Service: Royal Navy Unit (Her Majesty’s Service).

They got free land in proportion to the number of slaves they brought and had the protection of the state in the form of colonial rule based on military force and the protectionist policy of the British government toward the trade in sugar. The French creoles exploited a brutal slave regime based on the exploitation of free, co-erced labour under the worst form of violent barbarism.

According to Besson and Brereton’s Book of Trinidad: “They were white, Catholic, of legitimate birth, and an aristocratic family… These families lived in large estate houses, with many servants and ornate furnishings. They dressed formally for dinner, and strict manners were observed… It became accepted for the French planters to have colored mistresses. The resulting offspring were sometimes legitimized and educated…”

The De Verteuil family, unlike most of the other French Creole slave-owning refugees, did not come to Trinidad as a slave owning planter. The first De Verteuil came as an officer in the British navy that established British colonial rule. He fought against his own country.

The De Verteuils were large land and estate owners, even owning oil lands, benefitting from the labour of oil workers who laboured under primitive conditions to produce the black gold that enriched the elites.

Ms De Verteuil states “lot of hard work was required from the first settlers who cleared land and planted.”

Yes a lot of hard work was required, but by enslaved Africans who planted and reaped the crops and produced the finished products that enriched the ancestors of our letter writer: all for free and with the violence typical of plantation societies. Now we are being called lazy!

Photo: Django (right) rescues a slave and administers a flogging of his own in the movie "Django Unchained."
Photo: Django (right) rescues a slave and administers a flogging of his own in the movie “Django Unchained.”

When the free Merikin and the Portuguese, Indian, Chinese, American, West Indian and West African indentureds came to Trinidad they met thriving estates of sugar cane and other crops controlled by the French Creoles and the British.

Ms De Verteuil should be aware that her ancestors were not the “first settlers” as she put it. The French Creoles were given the lands of the First Peoples for free by the Spanish cedula; lands the Spanish seized by sword and cannon over the two hundred and seventy five years it took them to subdue and ethnically cleanse those who had lived here for thousands of years. Even the Spanish pre-settled the French creoles.

When slavery was forced to be abolished, the French and British Europeans got compensation (reparations) for enslaving Africans, yet Ms De Verteuil tries to trivialise Africans’ international struggle for reparations. De Verteuil yells “get off your butts” when we were off our butts enriching her European ancestors for hundreds of years.

Post-emancipation Africans became agriculturists, artisans, trades men, service providers of all kinds, industrial workers, business people, unionists, civil rights activists, revolutionary intellectuals and revolutionaries; professionals, musicians, sports people and artists, among other things.

Integral to the colonial economy was that the financial/banking system, jobs in the public service and the private sector and land were controlled by the elites. The then-colonial state, which has always been, and still is, the largest landholder and the arbiter of who gets land and who doesn’t, enacted laws to discourage former enslaved people from owning land.

Photo: Actor Leonardo Di Caprio plays Calvin Candie, a colonial slave owner in the movie "Django Unchained." (Copyright Django Unchained)
Photo: Actor Leonardo Di Caprio plays Calvin Candie, a colonial slave owner in the movie “Django Unchained.”
(Copyright Django Unchained)

The ridiculous situation, then, developed whereby after emancipation, though Trinidad was a virgin territory and there was an abundance of land, you had the phenomenon of squatting.

The shape of all societies is historically determined; the interacting social groups in the society did not fall from the sky just so! We are what we have become. As the inequality in the relations between dominant and subordinate groups in the society increases, as it must in the logic of capitalism, the stridency in the tone of the class conflict increases.

Opposing perspectives emanating from different narratives of History lock horns in the arena of class conflict which in the Caribbean is heavily influenced and coloured by race and ethnicity.

Individual effort is all well and good and is to be admired. But once the power relations between social groups are not shifted to serve the interest of all the people, then economic and social inequality will continue their rapid growth and will inevitably lead to social and political eruptions such as we have not seen since 1970.

Photo: Mourners march down Frederick Street on 9 April 1970 for the funeral of the slain Basil Davis. (Courtesy Embau Moheni/NJAC)
Photo: Mourners march down Frederick Street on 9 April 1970 for the funeral of the slain Basil Davis.
(Courtesy Embau Moheni/NJAC)

Editor’s Note: Below is R De Verteuil’s Letter to the Trinidad Express:

I am sick and tired of hearing Laventillians complain about how neglected and disadvantaged they are, and how much more money the Government should throw in their direction.

For heaven’s sake, we all came here from different parts of the world, many of us without a penny; some, from other islands, with a few dollars. Trinidad was a wilderness, an undeveloped land. A lot of hard work was required from the first settlers—the pioneers who cleared the land and planted.

Those who came here later and settled in Central and South Trinidad worked hard, ate flour and water, channa, pumpkin, potato and bodi—to educate their children and teach them the value of hard work and sacrifice. The Chinese came with a sack on their back, opened shops and laundries and restaurants, mostly in country towns and villages. They worked hard and made their way in the world.

The Middle Easterners came and started off on bicycles, with suitcases of fabric. Look where they are today.
Some of us of European stock, despite popular belief, started out without a penny. My great, great grandfather lost his entire family (his parents and all his siblings were killed by revolutionaries) and all his possessions to French republicans.

If my relatives were to demand reparation for what happened during the French Revolution, over 200 years ago, the French government would have to reimburse us for what was unlawfully taken. As a descendant of French Creoles, at age 17, armed with a good education and good family values, with no money from my parents, I set out in the world. I have worked ever since, apart from a few years, to provide for my needs and those of my family.

No Government housing, no CEPEP dollars for an hour’s work, no food card, no stolen vehicle. I paid for my car, helped pay for my mortgage, fed myself, have never used the general hospital—although I paid national insurance, health surcharge, unemployment levy, income tax—and educated myself (no GATE). The only freeness I ever got from the government was two years of A-Level education.

On my first day at work, despite having three A-Levels, I typed envelopes in a typing pool. I did not complain. I was happy to have a job and a salary at the end of the month—$180 or $220, I can’t remember. Six years later, after getting a degree, I was earning $350 per month. I thought I was a millionaire!

But I digress. To come back to my original point… many of us have had to work hard to get where we are today. So I say to those lazy louts who soot me from every street corner (“Pssst”, Darlin’”, “Family”, “You lookin’ nice today”, “I must make a white chile”, etc), get off your butts, get an education (offered to you free by the Government), get trained in a trade or do OTJ training (not only offered free, but with a stipend!), and start working like everyone else.

Whether it be washing cars, planting a garden or being a handyman—get a job so you can gain experience, which is what employers look for. Stop waiting for handouts which only encourage laziness!

There, I’ve said it. I don’t care how politically incorrect this is, it is the truth. And, actually, what I love most about this blessed, lawless country is its political incorrectness. I am grateful I can express myself without fear of being arrested or shot.

R De Verteuil

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  1. lol except laventillians, the actual ppl she was criticising in her letter, are not descendants of Trinidadian slaves. they are immigrants from smaller islands like grenada and st. vincent, brought in by dr. eric williams during his time as pm, to voter pad and secure seats. after he was done with them, lacking land, employable skills or any work ethic, they moved to the hills of laventille to squat, with visions of self-entitlement and government handouts dancing in their heads. a vision they cling to, to this day.
    to be fair tho, laventille was a hard working community before the arrival of said degenerates, but that was decades ago. and even then, many benefited from free handouts of state land, while the rest of trinis worked hard and saved up for years to buy land.
    yes ms. de verteuil is a hypocrite, but that doesn’t make laventille any less of a shit hole.

    • You have it right Narish Surajbally.

    • Mr. Narish,

      Your facts. When did Eric Williams bring in all these people/shit-hole specimens that did not have to work or want to work? The Mighty Sparrow an international ambassador for T&T is one such I can mention. I for one know that not only did the small islanders as we referred to them work their tails off but they were subject to endless harassment all around. Check out the Mighty Blakie’s “Licks in the Police van” for a sample.
      Never the less they came they worked they had families and they made every effort to uplift themselves and their families. You need to have information not speculation. Just as R deVerteuil is uninformed so are you. We all like to pass judgement on other people and situations but too many times facts are absent and surmise is offered in its place.
      Whosoever wants to compare chalk and cheese can say a lot of words but in the end they will hardly ever make sense.
      Africans were deprived of their name, culture, religion, language, family life, et al and when the physical shackels were removed the many other shackles remained still African Trinbagonians developed the only musical insturment of the 20th Century the internationally acclaimed stell pan and of course calypso just so that they could have a cultural and creative outlet and in doing so put T&T on the map.
      No other group came to the western world at such a distinct disadvantage. No other group has had to struggle that hard to stand up. Get the facts don’t promote fiction.

  2. I was wondering when the Trump effect would rear its head in public after all those years hidden away. Mrs R de Verteuil you are what you are an many many like yourself, after decades and decades of riding to economic success on backs of Afro-Trinidadians, being handed free passes to the best education, jobs, lands an titles ,business opportunity,least us not forget the judicial system which is twisted and turned so that non of your kind ever see a day of jail for what ever crime that is committed. You now realise we are lazy touts ,when we worked in your kitchens, cleaned your homes, washed your dirty clothing, wiped you’re kids nasty asses ,what were we then.

  3. Is the author’s name a pseudonym? Is this an attempt at promiting divisiveness coming right after the upheaval caused by Mac Farlane’s costume?

  4. That de verteuil needs to check her history also she has a moot point

  5. Somtimes the privileged must learn when to “hush dey mudda cunt because they talkin shit!”

  6. There are too many resources for one person to be this uninformed. What newspaper printed that article?

  7. Sweet T&T would be nothing without us .She needs to sit her illiterate as down asap.

  8. The problem with history is that we do not know any of it but believe that we know everything. History cannot be changed, altered, re-written, or created. History is what actually happened. Any attempt to recreate, is cheating generations of their times and lives. Do not be ashamed of where you came from or the paths that you walked…….all of it make you into the person that you are. Who you are is just as important as who I am. We are all entitled to an equal place under the sun.

  9. I blame the daily paper that published her racially biased letter …

  10. This statement/remarks are total rubbish she has no idea of this world, firstly yes there are those who are lazy but there are those who earnestly try to better themselves and have contributed to this society positively, and black folks never rise to any wealth because of the racial limits and privileges of society , she also made a big mistake not include the Amerindian society who was rub of there lands and most of them there lives by the same Spain and British “discoverers of Trinidad and Tobago. Are they lazy also when they were rub of there wealth.why did she not mention them, she is clearly a racist.

  11. and also gross mismanagement although, black people have not really made a success of anything either

  12. Yup this is how I first came across it Ryan

  13. Is it just me or is it a fact that the native people have no land? Only recently have dark folks been allowed to work in banks. Only recently have spiritual baptist been allowed to pray openly without being hounded by the f—ng law. Just being dark was and still is near criminal offense in TnT and worldwide. Shit is real. I went to my golf club today. I been a member for ten years. A new security guard would not open the gate for me. I guess I didn’t look like a member. I’m from the other side of town… you know lyrics.

  14. This is a great response to an ill informed even prejudice article. Yes, prejudice against persons of African decent. All of our decendants came from somewhere and all except the Africans came as free persons but the Africans came in chains as slaves. Everything was stolen from them including their names, religions, customs and traditions. Their families were broken apart and their very existance was regarded as either equal to or beneath that of animals.
    The privileged, French- creole writer of that article should do some reading and educate herself on the history of Trinidad and Tobago beginning with the book by C. L. R. James entitled The Black Jacobins followed by Dr. Eric Williams’ masterpiece – From Capitalism to Slavery.

  15. Produced as opposed to producing. When people are granted their freedom or when their colonial masters jus ups and leaves…all hell breaks loose.

  16. There are so many successful men and women of African decent in this country. The letter writer’s content was myopic an off-base for the most part. However, over the decades the Government has created an “Gimme Gimme” society, where all social ills should be paid for by the Government. I think the crux of the matter is that make-work programs are simply a “plaster on the sore” and not curing the problems of our country, by having a wider net of training to let people raise themselves up with honest living. But people have to be self motivated to participate. We also see the results of the invasive drug business on society. Children of single moms with no father role models are lured into the fantasy of easy money from selling drugs and a lifestyle that spirals downwards with violence and death in an unending turf war. The government can’t solve all the problems. Lord knows they are also part of the problem too. Ranting won’t help. Off base ranting is even worse.

  17. Erica from then to now. How do you explain the under achievement?That to me is the critical question.

  18. Ingrid, indeed we may be seeing a spin off of the Trump effect in TT society …. his simplistic revisionist perspective, grounded in misunderstanding and ignorance, appeals deeply to many here in the US who believe that they are losing their status to people of color …. it’s not hard to see how this thinking would find fertile ground within the TT French Creole community…..

  19. So not one of you here could appreciate the lady is talking about a people in general and not just individuals? Be honest with yourself and examine who is at the bottom of the economic ladder, who lives in the hot spots of the country, who are mostly single parents (mothers) and then come to the realization that slavery ended almost two centuries ago. Get over it, however painful it was.

    • Is that how you analyse a problem, Chris Simmons? Would you drive to work on a flat tyre? Or might it be useful to fix said tyre?

    • And are you now saying that blacks are deficient in their family lives too? Should Laventillians take tips from other races on that as well?
      The slave masters gave such wonderful lessons on that too.

    • Yes, I would attempt to fix the tyre Lasana Liburd, but I would want to acknowledge I have a flat tyre first and why it became flat.

    • Whoever “Chris Simmons” is, he sure en “President Powers”.No wonder he’s hiding to say his own version of nastiness, like the letter writer who came out “public”. But you have a right to hide.

    • I’d like to help you Chris. Problem is you don’t grasp your own ignorance. Hopefully someone who loves you reads your message and arranges an intervention on your behalf.
      Good luck fellah. Go with love.

    • I just love how many responses I have gotten on my comment. Of my three points in my first comment, which one is incorrect? The poverty, gravitation to criminality, or the breakdown of family life by one particular race in this country.

    • Garvin Walters, let me quote your PNM AG: it’s the substance that matters.

    • Ppl in general not individuals ? That’s the perfect example of stereophonic language… Removed from the very first point that her history is just way off

    • Yep, I say wallow in your history and forget about the present and the future. That will show those racist, slavemaster bastards.

    • Only one race committs crime…. ? Where is your proof …. Bring evidence for your points or you will jus look ignorant

    • My proof is in the prisons. My proof is in the ghettos and my proof is in the kids who carry different names from their fathers, like our PM’s two sons. You go look for yourself, you have eyes.

      • Your ignorance surprises me. All races and I say all have children with no fathers. Alert: Almost all places in the world have a ghetto.
        Thing is, We have a population where the dominant groups are of East Indian and African descent. A lot of the people of Beetham, Sea Lots, Laventille, Dundonald St James etc are Trinidadian descendants from migrants from other small islands within the last few decades, who came to make their way.Who sees it knows it. It is a daily struggle only they can explain. Some make it out others fall.We live in a society where just being black is a strike against you, worse yet black and poor. As a people we mostly unfortunately have a house slave, field slave mentality. Truly we need to teach and help others that are willing. Up to a few years ago(corect me if they still exist)there were systems that were put in place like the URP etc that bred the ‘gimme’ mentality were not meant to stay forever (Btw not only blacks use this program), the NEDCO program that made it easier for especially blacks to start businesses and become self sufficient. And of course GATE..also not all blacks.
        Unfortunately in this day and time of instant gratification it is easier to fall prey to illegal means (this includes the gun/drug trade which by the way cannot be solely financed by these little black boys from Laventille that sell it). Same way it is easier to tow a firetruck for a few million and contruct programs to rob Trinidadians blind of millions from the Treasury. Only difference besides who does it, is there are no guns involved so it’s easier to swallow. We all do forget so easily.. And this is only a morsel.So dear sir, instead of showing me your proof, do something. Make noise, volunteer, tutor, write an educated informed response. Much thanks.

    • These are the results of the institutionalised racism that is the legacy of Colonialism. A race of people were intentionally denied opportunity and kept as an underclass, poor and starving, to provide cheap and subservient labour for the upper or ruling classes. Problem is now they refuse to be subservient like many of their ancestors, and , as a famous singer says, are willing to do whatever it takes to:’get rich or die trying……’. In this they are no different from the British, or the French, or the Spanish or the Italian, Irish or Russian Mafia as they gained wealth and power by robbery and murder on an international scale using soldiers and armies and killers and hitmen. This is what racism and greed and subjugation over centuries ends up doing to a group of people, and their own leaders work for the rulers instead of creating opportunity for all their people.

    • One thing I hate, is people “brave” enough to say what they want, even if they know they offend others with their venom, but hide behind the pictures of other faces.
      I like people who’re fearless, by showing who they are, to the world.

  20. Who really planted the sugar cane in this country the great caroni land deception.

  21. I’ve edited the headline and blurb–admittedly after a complaint–to read “One French Creole’s shocking revision.” We don’t want to spread the idea that R De Verteuil speaks for all French Creoles. So sorry for any discomfort that initial headline might have caused.

  22. Extremely upsetting that people still stereotype in 2016! There are lazy, ambitious, bigoted, transparent, dishonest, greedy, hardworking, egotistical, people of ALL races and ALL creeds.

  23. That article was satire, right?

  24. Its the free labour that they are missing .

  25. Let’s call this arseness! Knowledge of the history of your country would certainly have prevented your ‘PC’ rant from being thought of far less published.

  26. Sooo…the question I would ask and I suppose the author would ask as well would be…”so does this mean that the lazy louts should not get off their asses???”…cuz it would seem to me that that’s the greater point of her article. The response to ‘everybody had it hard so stop whining and adopt better habits’ can’t be ‘well actually we had it worse and I can prove it so ur ignorant and misinformed’….cuz that duznt solve the obvious problem of the lazy complaining lot being lazy and complaining…jus saying

    • I see your point Jude, and I don’t think the general response is to that of defending the lazy. One commenter even made note that all French Creole shouldn’t be painted in one brush, in comparison to the letter painting the residents of laventille.
      Now to touch on some things, we know all residents of the area aren’t of the lazy ilk. To use incorrect historical context to make that point is dangerous in itself. For her to say “everyone had it hard” when in fact, her ancestors had gone so far as pushing legislation to make life harder for African predecessors shows that the bootstraps she wants these people now to pull up on aren’t the same ones that she was afforded.
      Should the lazy get to improving their circumstances? Indeed. But the privileged have said this in many places, situations and times throughout, while providing very little answers or means.

    • You can never get to the right place if you are heading in the wrong direction Jude.
      The article is full of inaccuracies and degrading stereotypes for starters.
      Now tell me who is lazy? There are good and bad, productive and slack people in ever race.
      You think “Laventillians”–a metaphor for Afro-Trinis I’m assuming–should be grateful that she took time out from her privileged life to throw insults and racist lies at us?
      There are many ways to help the downtrodden if she or anyone else is really interested. This isn’t one.
      If you think “Laventillians” are upset because they want to remain lazy, then you need to expand your mind.

    • well i would argue that the ‘rebuttal article’ is the one filled with inaccuracies. ok maybe inaccuracies isn’t the right word but purposeful and convenient misinterpretations..definitely! for one it purports to be exposing the revisionist nature of the original article but largely ignores most of the background stories contained in it. essentially de Verteuille talks about how several different ppl came here with virtually nothing and had to work hard to acquire wealth and property which is for the most part irrefutable..the rebuttal chooses only to focus on refuting the position of the french creole, during the course of which i believe the biggest ‘inaccurate understanding’ occurs. the author speaks of her relatives not her ancestors!…and she speaks of her personal experience and to the fact that SOME ppl of European stock did not land here wealthy. Again…something I don’t believe is inaccurate. To take that and launch into a lecture about the history of all French creole settlers and suggest that the author is completely off-based cuz she ignored those things is a bit of sophistry to me rooted in some racial insecurity. And I don’t believe the author is attempting to characterise all ppl of predominantly African decent as lazy….but I do beleive that she’s suggesting that most of the people of the type she resents i.e. lazy and complaining are of predominantly African decent (true or not i don’t know but nothing in the rebuttal article speaks to that). And Kerry Thompson I dare say it is not the role of the priviledged to help the lazy or downtrodden nor do I think thats the author’s objective…to help anyone that is. she quite frankly couldn’t care less whether they help themselves or not she’s just tired of hearing their whining apparently and thought they should be aware that it is possible to improve your circumstances without government handouts…as so much have done before throughout history not just in T&T.

    • It was not my intent to place the role of improving the circumstances of the poor on the backs of the rich. My point to that was that yes, you’re tired of the lazy, yes some Europeans have come here pockets out, but, similarly as Lasana said, lazy can be found in all societies, including hers. Just as some of hers, arrived poor, some of the others worked for theirs and prospered, but no mention of such. So, what are her solutions or suggestions other than pull yourselves up by the bootstraps, when the bootstraps haven’t been equal in centuries?

    • But Jude, that’s a given. I’ve mentioned that. It’s just a farce to paint an entire geographical region the lazy moniker then use inaccurate historical references to justify the coded malicious statements.
      She complains of “sooting” and being harassed. You honestly think she is IN laventille when this happens or at any other given moment?

    • And despite those bootstraps being unequal many have been able to take their place at the table of the landed gentry here in Trinidad & Tobago and thats the point everyone keeps missing. human beings are very prone to resisting the inroads of useful information and insecure human beings even more so…so we will ignore the obvious merit in studying how other socially deprived and downtrodden advanced up the social ladder and instead focus on moaning about inequalities in world where complete equality either of opportunity or outcome cannot be found ANYWHERE in this world. That is not to say that we should not be concerned with addressing inequalities when and where we can but no one advances anywhere unless they adopt the culture that allows for advancement..and that is far easier to address than imbalances in power.

    • And Jude that is where you are wrong. The “virtually nothing” is a myth. Once you start with that false idea you are never going to arrive at the right conclusion.

    • The other myth would be that “Laventillians” are not succeeding and don’t have genuine success stories despite the other classes who sometimes intentionally try to keep them off the table.

    • A myth???..how so????…so everyone but Africans came here well positioned to succeed????…this is threatening to become really silly now eh. and secondly no one says Laventillians aren’t succeeding and I’m sure if one was to ask the author she’d probably say ‘Exactly’!! they succeed cuz they adopt a culture that encourages success..i.e. embracing hard-work and sacrifice!!! so why can’t more of them follow suit???..I really should stop trying to speak for someone i don’t know eh but I’m trying to keep this discussion on track here.

    • WHat madness I readiing here?
      Insanity is alive oui

    • First of all you are comparing people who came as slaves to people who came here looking for a job or with jobs already waiting for them.
      So I’d agree with you that this is becoming very silly.
      If a Trini was the Mayor of New York and there were many very influential Trinis throughout New York who owned massive companies like Walmart, train companies, restaurants…
      And if I showed up in New York with $5 in my pocket and a Trini passport and ready to network. Would you say I was just disadvantaged as an another people there who were scorned by society and purposefully kept on the fringes?
      Jude, continue to enjoy your enlightenment. Thanks for the chat and I’m glad that you voiced your thoughts.
      i think it is important to know what those around us REALLY think.

    • Hear nuh.. I need to read this !
      I is in shock.. complete utter shock.
      Awareness is a helluva feelin. Almost surreal, this convo in 2016 on a Trinidad & Tobago forum.

    • Ms Price , indeed in 2016 we still must have these conversations, and sadly still we haven’t found a better way forward for all, together.

    • Kerry Thompson we are already LIVING the “better way forward” the biased jaudndiced eye of the racist would never see it.

    • Mr liburd Again…another purposeful misinterpretation..meant to advance ur narrative. I never attempted to equate anybody’s circumstance to another and this is where these discussions always begin to go in circles unfortunately…because people become hell-bent on proving they had it worse as if proving that at any point is useful to anyone, rather than understanding how an underclass in any society whatever their circumstance is able to rise. Tell them about How Japanese ppl advanced their situation in America in the face of post world war 2 discrimination hate and disenfranchisement… they respond yeah but that wasn’t as bad as slavery! Tell them about how the Chinese in Malaysia are able to become a dominant minority despite widespread hate and systemic racism (laws purposefully set up to marginalize them) and they say yeah but did they have their culture taken away tho??…and apparently tell them how Indian ppl came here with virtually nothing faced racism and discrimination from all including Africans but now are major players in the commercial class and they say yeah but that’s not like slavery tho! All the while ignoring usefulness of observing how these ppl advanced their causes..because it’s more important to prove that they had it harder than to learn how to improve themselves apparently.

    • Ok Jude. Let’s start with your quote here: “it’s more important to prove that they had it harder than to learn how to improve themselves apparently…”
      Now prove that quote is the reality and not just a “romantic” notion you and De Verteuil share. Show me that “Laventillians” are less inclined to improve themselves than other races.
      If you can’t, then your premise fails.

    • Jude Campbell yuh come back?
      Because yuh could type and form a sentence ain’t mean you literate.
      Me ain’t about discourse with vomit under the guise of nourishment.
      Simple is always most & best effective… eg. yuh typin shit.

    • Lasana Liburd later luv… I have pastelle to make.
      Christ came for sinners not the “saved”.
      Yuh wasting time with Jude.

    • Mr liburd That was not directed at Laventillians that was directed at ppl that in response to suggestions that since others have done it in the face of adversities so can u/they seek to differentiate themselves from others as opposed to seeking to understand how those ppl did it…similar to what you are doing now. I am not saying laventille ppl can’t advance themselves at all..in fact I. Am saying the exact opposite! Those whose situation requires advancing that is…cuz as u pointed out and I would know as a former Laventillian myself not everyone there is a sufferer!

  27. The reason why Mrs. De Verteuil could rewrite Trinidad history and purposely omit the contribution of Afro-Trinis is because Afro-Trinis have never seen themselves as a homogeneous group so she knows many won’t recognize the slight. When De Verteuil says “Lavantille” what she actually means is black, but she can get away with that because many Afro-Trinis themselves look down on Lavantillians as worthless “ole niggas” while harboring a natural affinity for African Americans with whom they have much less in common.

  28. You guys realize that had Donald Trump expressed those views about African Americans every Afro-Trini would have been beside himself with indignation right?


  30. I am with Tanya Carr that the writer feels comfortable to sit, compose a letter and email it. Trump like…

  31. Ha ha ha..
    When I read the original letter to the editor, I nearly died laughing.
    Couldn’t believe that in this day and age,with free access to research material on almost any topic, someone could be so ignorant.. Clearly,that woman doesn’t even know the history of ” La Ventille” / Laventille or even Port of Spain ,much less Trinidad..
    My simple advice to her is,if she’s “sick and tired” of any particular race in this country,she ‘s free to go back to the land of her ancestors.
    ** say no to drugs** ???

  32. Lol. TV6 should seek out Ms. De Verteuil and see if she wants to expand her views on the Morning Edition. If yuh name woman “come outside”! Although I suspect someone so ignorant and uneducated (miseducated??) would hardly be so brave. She content to hide behind the “R”

  33. Please don’t malign all French Creoles based on this one.

  34. The level of ignorance is found in the people condemning Ms De Vertruil is disgusting. because she is “white” she must be wrong..
    So let me post Dr. Eric Willimas saying the same thing, lets see how many people call Dr. Williams a racist and liar ..

    I am sorry that so many people hate the truth so much that they must create a fictional history of T&T ..

    the people of Laventille are NOT decedents of local slaves, They are Johny come latelty’s . The Indian people have been here longer than they have… Many fine former slaves did help develop T&T, and Ms De Virtule did point that out,,,,

    here please take a READ of this before you start commenting :


    • I’m assuming that you want to have a totally different chat. I think we have our hands full ideologically already. But just because all the people from Laventille were not in local slave houses does not mean they were not on slave houses elsewhere eh.

  35. A shocking use of ambiguity in the headline.

  36. While we are on this discussion (still checking out the authenticity of it) I recently heard that Economics is being replaced by Entrepreneurship at 6th Form level. Say it ain’t so. We are extremist? why throw out the baby with the bath water? So everybody is going to be an entrepreneur, so where will the Economist come from,? I continue to say politicians make adhoc decisions in the short term and the country pays in the long term Example cease prayer in schools, where are we today. Stop corporal punishment, you took away the power of discipline from teachers and give it to students, who pulling guns on teachers?, who beating teachers. Who closed down all the youth camps so an ethnic groups will be disenfranchised and today we have to import Chinese and other labourers,because we have no tradesmen and the list goes on and on. We continue to do the same things over and over and are getting the same result. As a political scientist George Modelski said History is cylical. As my deceased daddy used to say Common sense ain’t all that common, but it sure beats the PhDs (false or purchased)

  37. we have two of the greatest giants in the francophone caribbean,franz fanon and aime caesar who gives you an insight of the french colonial thinking ,we need to rap her on her knees

  38. I’m currently teaching Caribbean studies “culture and society to 6th form students. The Mc Farlane debacle sent me to do research on the French role in Caribbean history. I learnt so much, I gave my, students to do research on the issue and they will be doing a presentation in two weeks. This article is timely especially, since we are always taught about the British and the Spanish. .I agree with St Bernard partially about the removal of History in schools,its’ one of my biggest peeve. Why are we hiding the truth from our kids . I don’t blame the PNM or UNC, When it occurred, as parents in this country, what did we do? Like everything else in T&T. Nothing (it was removed, but some schools I dare say prestige and private schools stiil teach history). Our kids are devoid of such pertinent information. Ms Deverteuil talked about reparation but do not think African are entitled to same. Also you have not walked in the shoes of any African person, so don’t judge maam,. Like myself you need to read, read ,but more importantly there are so many so called ‘historians’ out there, be certain thatI’ you are reading the correct information

    • Rosanna, could you share more on the removal of history in schools? I’m far removed from the system at the moment…

    • apparently, it was replaced by Social studies. I’m new to the teaching system. However a few years back while on campus I attended a discussion , and the feature speaker alluded to the same thing had occurred in Jamaican schools (the teaching of history) I always wondered if it had to do with the MDGs. You know we like to listen to the US , who I believe when it comes to Education is N#11 e,g the no child left behind, which President Obama just signed a rewrite. It failed to meet its objectives ( too much testing, and other things) which we adopted. SEA putting all children in secondary schools When they are not at all academically inclined, so they disrupt the class and then drop out , then hanging on the block, then to a life of crime.and now we complaining about CRIME. We ALLOW politicians to do these things and sit idly by . I read an article on line yesterday about Finland schools which is #3 in Education. the European way is more on interaction and games for children,than testing and the kids, mostly refugee kids are excelling.

  39. This is a piece of trash written in an attempt to rewrite history,how can we right the historical wrong that has been perpetuated on our people who are seen as worthless ,no self esteem,the article simple adds to the list of wrongs committed against us,she needs to look inwardly,seem to be full of misplaced emotion,the poor sion of a white family trying to gain notice of her rich relatives,the poor cousin has been left out of the will.

  40. R de Verteuil needs to explain how despite free land, free labour and subsidies white people still fuck up the entire sugar and cocoa industries.

  41. No I wasn’t suggesting that. But human virtue often develops when it’s affordable, when the human is in optimum circumstances. And vice versa perhaps. I don’t know. My point is that the history as written is very kind. Not that any individual was good or bad.

    • First, I have limited interaction with him. Because he was a good principal doesn’t necessarily mean he was a good man although I’m not ruling that out.
      Second, I won’t tote feelings because of something his pappy or grand pappy might have done anymore than I would for a kid in the ghetto with a mean daddy.
      Life and bloodlines can be complex. I totally accept your point Justin.
      And the ones who tell their own stories are invariably heroes. Ask Ken Gordon. Lol.

  42. I didn’t write it. I shared it. But I think it is a good read indeed. 🙂

  43. Lol. Father Anthony De Verteuil was my school principal. And I don’t have a single bad word to say about him based on our limited interaction.

  44. Just because I find Ms Bharath too calm tonight

  45. And engineers n pannists n humans n others

  46. This individual is misguided and simply adding to the injustice historically perpetuated against the people of laventille,there are documented cases of residents applying for jobs and once you were from behind the Bridge ,sorry your application was thrown in the waste Basket,my parents and others who came from the eastern caribbean were marginalised seen as been brought in by Dr Williams to vote for PNM.She needs to visit these communities and have conversation with persons who reside there to get their side of life,I don’t want to be to hard on her based on her french creole origin,Dr Bridget Bretton is outstanding in document the french creole,she is just playing out her emotions

  47. What she does not know or does not want to know is how many scholars Laventille produced.

  48. what level fuckery that ass on ?? privilege fool she is..

  49. I did a little expirement in work one day . I told four co-workers that i am going to describe two TV shows for them and i want them to say what comes to mind . The first show involves four nerdy super intelligent teens that star in a new comedy , and the second involves a group of young men who turn to selling drugs as a way to making it in life . All of them said the first show is definitely white actors and the second blacks . They now see what the media has done to them . Always observe people !

  50. Her belief system is not shocking, she is merely stating what many like her and also wannabe whites believe deeply …. the shocking part is that she feels so comfortable making these statements in public …..

  51. Onika Nkrumah-Lakhan you on d ball- this has not survived decades just so, it’s promoted by the same ppl who it holds in contempt

  52. From the super rich to the poor everyone depends on the state to provide contracts . That is why the business sector is lazy ?

  53. She referred to being cat called by “Laventillian” men and so on Justin.

  54. Very contemptuous and disdainfully written. With such scorn one has to wonder if shes descended from the De Verteuils that were allegedly a slaveowning family. Anyway Im always glad when people like this voice how they really feel. Because many of us Africans need a goddamned wake up call. Always begging for acceptance and inclusion, always supporting other people, always the laughing stock. Madame de Verteuil is NOT alone. Many of us will learn the hard way

  55. Well I didn’t see that, must’ve missed it.

    • Earl Best

      Justin, your gender complexities may may be showing. She talks about being “sooted” by men on the street who fling snide comments in he direction. Do you get that too as a man?

  56. The writer said she is female Justin.

  57. What do you mean? There are indications that the writer is female.

  58. Why does everyone refer to R de Verteuil as “Miss”?

  59. The level of ignorance from R de Verteuil is astounding but expected. We do not explore our history and educate our citizens, a desperate necessity if we want diverse unity on any real level.

  60. I don’t want to underestimate Mrs De Verteuil’s ignorance, Vernal.

  61. Irony that De Verteuil’s letter comes a day before Hal Greaves died and a week before statistics were released showing that serious crimes drastically decreased in the East POS area compared to the same period in previous years.

  62. The de Verteuils in 1840 thereabouts got a law passed to prevent free blacks from buying Crown Land. She could go fuck herself.

  63. As I said Rhoda, I often see such people lecture the “have-nots” about pulling themselves up by the bootstraps. Yet, they never offer said bootstraps to help the process.
    What use is an even well-intentioned: “Get on yer bike” when all I have is a raggedy pair of shoes?

  64. Rhoda I’m genuinely so offended that I don’t even know how to respond.
    She’s behaving as though all of Trinidad’s people began on an equal playing field.

  65. Madam De verteuil is a product of generations of white privilege via her ancestry her comments are disingenuous and lacks historical facts…. she has the unmitigated gall to state afro Trinidadians are lazy when her ancestors gain their wealth from the blood and sweat of slave labour……. talk about misrepresentation of history

  66. Wait wait wait….a de Verteuil penned a letter in praise of white oppression and privilege? #GTFOH? In the year of our Lord 2016?

  67. Wow ! Got to blame de PNM here. They should have done a better job of instilling the truth in the school curriculum after independence. Dr. Williams was a Historian. The writer of the book, “From Columbus to Castro”. He knew better and should have known the importance of building the nation on our true history

    • Not a “PNM education”. That comment undermines the seriousness of my argument and puts a political spin that’s not needed. PNM were the party in power after independence for about 25 years. For good reason, Dr. Williams is often referred to as “The father of the nation”. Therefore, if the school curriculum was implemented to teach us the history of our country, we all would have been better off. Thus, De Verteuil position would have meant “white noise”. Hope I have better explained.

    • I didn’t mean to make it political. Because of her age, her education would have come under the PNM and I know that term is widespread.
      In any case, she has a very strong sense of history–as flawed as it is–and I suspect that came from her family. It isn’t easy to pierce such a bubble unless the person is actually looking for knowledge.

    • You think a PNM education could have saved De Verteuil? I’m not so sure.

    • The curriculum DID teach us our history. From since primary school I knew who Cipriani and Butler were. And the then-CXC syllabus featured History which included European and West Indian history.

      • Earl Best

        Ah, Colin, but she probably had a private tutor. And if she went to a convent or other catholic school to de her A-levels, there would have been in those days nothing like WEST INDIAN HISTORY.

    • Dr Williams didn’t visualize the need or importance of putting our history into the school curriculum. ..I was taught about Columbus in school. ..I only got “some”of our history informally from a history teacher in Fourth form….so this is indeed their fault. ..but coming fresh out of colonialism. ……..

    • The issue of the education system and our text books is critical… You see some of the misinformation people were spouting about the origins of Carnival (not to mention the “Caribs and Arawaks”) this week? At least some is courtesy our education system. I had to relearn a great deal of it as an adult researcher. But a lot of people aren’t even aware of the limitations of what they’ve learned. They parrot it like gospel. The other area where the state has failed us is the make work programs. While partly intended to temporarily alleviate unemployment and create opportunity, they’ve essentially been utilised by multiple governments as means to buy and reward party loyalty, and to create a dependency and entitlement culture. And that’s reinforced some of these stereotypes, entrenching myopic perceptions. While each of us has a responsibility to search for truth (not cultural bias) and check our privilege (whatever it may be), the state has largely engineered the frame within which we do those things. And the frame lil off.

    • Touche Caroline. I think that temporary employment thing might be a wee bit more complex. Because the Gov’t might also need to do more to protect citizens from unfair treatment by employers.
      There is more than one reason why some of those CEPEP workers don’t want to leave.

    • It certainly is complex. As is the education system issue. One of the hardest working people I know was a CEPEP forewoman. And I also had a friend who boasted of showing up to day 1 of 10, singing while others worked, never showing up for the remainder of the contract, and collecting her money anyway. She was a performer, and just used URP to plug the hole between gigs. To your point, though, yes, labour laws and conditions always stand to be improved, and we have a vigorous union culture here that helps lobby that. If only there were at least one in the creative industries, but I digress. Our industrial relations structure is also fairly robust. At the same time, the pay at CEPEP and URP is not a living wage. People can and should be able to enter the workforce and earn more in permanent positions. Government needs to work with the private sector to ensure training and a positive transition into the workforce. It *should* be win-win. I just came across this as well, authored by the PNM: http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2016-10-30/vision-2030-draft-blames-cepep-urp-crime

    • I know one national footballer who once worked URP to get the pair of boots he used to represent Trinidad and Tobago at national youth level.
      I bet there are actually some wonderfully inspiring URP/CEPEP stories that never get out. Bunji Garlin was once a URP worker for instance…
      Maybe I will touch on that in the interview we have been talking about doing for about two years or so! Lol.
      (My second published story ever as a journalist–back in about 1995 or 96–was on Bunji Garlin!)

    • Nice! 🙂 And yes, without a doubt, there are countless hard-working, honest people working in CEPEP and URP…and those are exactly the folks that are needed and should be valued in the workforce. Government and the private sector have to create an enabling environment where workers can transition to positions (even as entrepeneurs or freelancers) with a certain amount of job security where they can earn a decent living, and companies can get the skilled labour they need. That’s the problem with both those programmes and our education system… they’ve become bogged down with things that are ineffective and counter-productive, and there seems never to have been the vision and commitment to reforming them…and the plethora of other systems that need major reform.

    • I suspect “vision” is definitely the keyword here. And that is fixable.

    • I think so. If the leaders are well-intentioned, then it is matter of listening to how the thing can be tweaked to serve a better purpose.

    • Lasana, I stayed with this thread because our educational system is my pet peeve. I went to Jr sec and Sr. Comprehensive schools. Therefore, I might not be as bright as you all who went to the elite high schools. Nevertheless, I learned more about my self and my country when I migrated and attended universities in the US. Most of our leaders went the universities in England or the U S so they know better, or as much as I do.

      Since Dr. Williams, “Vision” is not something any of our leaders have have embraced. Protecting the status quo or “my turn to run tings” is more like it. I have supported several politicians, both in the PNM, NAR and UNC, only to see them get elected and morphed into the standard “dem bad, we good” mantra.

      When you identify that transformational leader with a “vision”, please let me know. I’m willing to sign up for the heavy lifting to change the direction of our beloved island. As Stalin would say, ” ….wholeheartedly fuh meh country”

    • Eric A St Bernard it is untrue to say the PNM did nothing in terms of teaching history – as Williams in the 50s and 60s went around from Woodford Square to communities talking about our nationhood and need for self-determination. He published ‘The History of T&T’ in August 1962 when we became a nation. Indeed the lack of a deep sense history was political – that this history has been diluted over time but political in a different way – denominational schools had greater influence on what is taught through the Concordatt and well I suppose various education ministers over the years left their mark… also recall our public service which had its colonial elements well into the 1970s designed curriculum, and may have wanted certain ‘standards’ or maintain deep colonial roots – who challenged the public sector in these days to deliberately incorporate a social studies or history curriculum early on? For Williams teaching history was informal and was hardly institutionalised and standardised across the board. In my day history was optional from fourth form. We were taught ancient history in form 2 and social studies from form 1 at QRC. I imagined this varied across different schools – because of the denominational schools. Many people still do not know who CLR James is partly because of Williams fallout with James in the late 50s, and Williams’ disdain for anything socialist, and his disassociation with the labour movement – so in part Williams was a contradictory figure – his politics and his scholarship were very very different and it’s something we ought to know about the man.

  68. And one thing we know too is that the “De Verteuils” of this land never ever accept State contracts, State lands or States briefs right… Or is it that “handouts” are limited to just CEPEP contracts?

  69. Do not draw any connections between this, the Cazabon Mas (#notCallingThatAssName) and the list of top T&T Whachelors.

  70. I wonder what section in Cazabon she jumping in?

  71. And seeing that Ms De Verteuil is in such high support of work ethic in Laventillians, I’d have to assume that she is wearing a “Team Thema” jersey as we speak eh.

  72. What I want to know is how it got published.
    So anyone can email their hearts out and get it published.

  73. Ahhhhhhh the age old filter, “create and tell a legend, and when the legend becomes fact…print the fact”

  74. You know there was a huge debate raging last week over why some people were offended by McFarlane’s romanticized rendering of slavery in his 2017 band, Cazabon. De Verteuil’s revisionist history regarding the contributions of Afro-Trinidadians, their exploitation and the denial of their humanity by their European masters explains why.

  75. As with Columbus and the pilgrims, history started after they got there.

  76. Nah. I actually don’t mind the letter at all Vernal. Nice to have a little reality check now and again. I’m happy the Express published.

  77. And that ignorance is a helluva drug.

  78. I’m shocked that the Express would run such an overtly racist letter to the editor.
    I would ask what MATT’s position will be on this but ….

  79. She never made any reference about meeting the first settlers who were the slaves and they had already labored on the land. They came after.

  80. This emphasizes the point of why we need to have a factual museum which narrates the story of our nation so everyone knows the facts and can make their objective decisions on various matters.

  81. Hmmm. What reparation for the French Creole she talking about????

  82. I certainly agree that De Verteuil’s view is share by many of different races including people of Afro ethnicity.
    Someone can walk into Laventille tonight and shoot any man, woman and child dead in cold blood.
    What would people say here? That they probably deserved it right? They had it coming?
    But if that some gunman entered a gated community… Not so Brian Harry?

  83. That letter full of stereotypes boy!

  84. As I read her letter, a few thoughts came to mind (1) she’s using Laventille broadly (probably referring to the east-west corridor and a few other areas) which frankly is more offensive because it lumps ALL of a certain group (poorly defined). She properly juxtaposed her true meaning and declared her deep race pathology when she referred to those who ate flour and water and channa etc and sacrificed to send their children to school. In many stereotypes there is often some truth ! The Laventille proper (my home since is was six having moved there from Tobago and with a hart stop in between) does indeed have its share of anti-social behavior. But we have our many successes too and they out number the failures.

    (2) she’s not the only one who shares these misunderstandings as they are more widespread than we are willing to admit. Laventille is the surest political seat in the country yet as a community has received less than any other from any government except platitudes like “you are my people” etc. Thus the fact that we’ve succeeded as abundantly as we have is credit to us because most of us weren’t raised on cepep/dewd/urp/10-days. (The laventillians in the geographical sense have worked hard and made major contributions! ). She is though correct in that these programs fostered a type of entitlement amongst a small percentage of the narrowly or more broadly defined Laventille . Her broad generalization is therefore insulting and illustrates her rank ignorance!
    (3). Let’s not kid ourselves though her views are widely held by even some people of the more broadly defined Laventille. Which is why it’s easy for her to hold on so tight because she may often get reinforcement from a few people who look like me.
    (4) this article once more supports an assertion I made in an interview in 2006 that there will be no Developed Nation status in TT until we care, as a nation for the development of all our peoples – including the broadly defined Laventille.

    And development is much more than big buildings, highways, shopping malls. Development is about real and true stepping outside of some dark, place where we can hold private and unchallenged views of each other and live in a state of “tolerance” ( oh how I hate that word). Real development is going to be about harnessing all of the talents and capabilities of all TT toward one set of common goals. To get there requires political risks, a more relevant constitutional framework, a more useful governance framework and a society where collaboration and real thought and intellectual discourse is supported and fostered. I’ve spoken a lot publicly about this and I’m passionate about a true TT development. Ms de Verteuil doesn’t bother me she simply reminded me that a deep seated cancer exists amongst us

  85. Anyway, when it is time to hand out reparations… Please remember Mrs R De Verteuil said she is first in line! 🙂

  86. Hahaha. Yeah. Don’t forget the supervisors are always the ones who do the “real” work. Bless them.

  87. Whenever I read the words ” cleared land and planted” the first people that come to mind is African slaves. Who did she think did the hard work? The European settlers??? It must have been hard work sharing all that licks!

  88. It isn’t ignorance that scares me you now. Just unshakeable and unrepentant ignorance.

  89. Do you know how many people firmly believe that TnT should have never gained independence? They loved the way it used to be…when people who looked like me could not work in banks insurance etc….when their parents were captains of industry. I was born to make life great/better for them….I suppose.

    • Rose-Marie Ingrid Lemessy-Forde did he say these were good old days?

    • Yes Brian Harry. That was a quote from him pretty near exactly. He said it was a beautiful time i think. I can tag you in story on it.

    • Your comment make my mind run on Mac Farlane production. He was reminiscing about the good ole slavery days in his mas production. Apparently to him it was a lovely period.

    • Don’t forget that when Bishop Anstey High School was being founded a “high society” woman complained that educating black women would decrease the supply of maids for her and her ilk.

    • And look what happened! Now we have people who do not see the importance of educating their children. Very sad.

    • What people don’t see the importance of educating their children?

    • Lasana Liburd placed in the context of his Mas i wasn’t sure what he meant – did he mean fashion, did he mean social structure? I read the statements but I was unclear about a lot of them. I also think he was a bit lazy to not have been clearer about – plot, intent etc

    • It was a dangerous statement even if lazy Brian. And it most likely was lazy. It isn’t as if he was alive then after all.
      But it was a pretty stupid thing to say. At best!

    • Lasana Liburd well we all interpret history and as an artist even more liberty is taken. I’m not ready to throw the sink at him yet did that. And I’m waiting fir some ass to tell me not black

    • Brian, I’d love to hear more about what he loved about that era. Trust me. Ignorance doesn’t get emotional responses from me though.
      Spite, malice and contempt perhaps. Not ignorance. And even a brilliant artist can be ignorant. I remain a huge VS Naipaul fan. I think his work is inspiring. But I can’t say I’m as fond of the person.

    • Lasana Liburd and I think that’s our right to chose what and who we like. Because he was not clear I suggested that he was intellectually lazy. I’m not sure I want to rush to the racist , malintended label yet is my comment. We’ve never seen this from Mac before as such my question is “what did he mean/intend?”

    • Unfortunately Mac Farlane capitulated and pulled the section. I too would have appreciated some insight into his interpretation of the era and what was so romantic about it. His costumes were beautiful but bore no resemblance to Cazabon’s beautiful and colorful art. So yes discourse was needed. Maybe he’s not as articulate as say Minshall who I figure would have given us an earful to defend ” the mas”. Maybe Mac Farlane was lazy..maybe he was uninformed in romantisizing such a painful period for the majority of the population. What ever it warranted a detailed explanation which was not forthcoming.

    • Rose-Marie Ingrid Lemessy-Forde I agree with yiu because I do think it was a conversation worth having. We do not have a properly prepared media because an astute media practitioner would have generated a really insightful discussion. That’s what TT lacks because these teachable moments elude us. I am equally sorry that he just pulled the section . But then again we not really about learning in the broader sense

  90. I think you are reading too much into her letter. That generally happens when people specifically mention persons from Laventille in a negative way.

  91. I just read this and the responses. Was anything more heard from Ms de Verteuil?

  92. Maybe she thought the cedula of population was a candy brand. Absolutely foolishness. Dont mind me working myself through grad school because according to her people who look like me are lazy and only looking for government handout. Dont mind the fact that i am paying 100% for my schooling.

  93. I doubt it. I’ve heard this talk before.

  94. What is sad is that the De Verteuils I am friendly with don’t think like this at all.

  95. I hope some of these responses pierce her bubble.

  96. My favorite part:
    ‘Ms. De Verteuil states “lot of hard work was required from the first settlers who cleared land and planted”. Yes a lot of hard work was required, but by enslaved Africans who planted and reaped the crops and produced the finished products that enriched the ancestors of our letter writer: all for free and with the violence typical of plantation societies. Now we are being called lazy! ‘

  97. Wow. This person claims to be educated but clearly she never read about the Cedula of Population which my 10 year old standard 4 daughter knows all about. Sigh…it is appalling and sad that after 200 years the historically privileged are of this mindset.

  98. This person obviously does not travel past the lighthouse.

  99. Hmmmm so maybe we should take all our money away from other groups who see us as lazy and start trading/working among ourselves. Take away our money and they all will go broke and then you see that nasty scornful tongue of theirs against us turn sweet as honey. I dont know when my africa. People will take note of the fact that we are not liked in a country that loves to fool us into believing “all ah we is one”.

  100. Always lovely when the “haves” take take time to inspire the “have-nots” with that lovely “get off your lazy asses and pull yourself up by your bootstraps” story… Often delivered without handing them bootstraps to pull themselves up with. 😉

  101. Amery you think she doesn’t know?
    This letter was simply penned as a means to publish her contempt for an entire ethnic group.

  102. Of course she got a job when the ads specifically said ‘Whites only’ in those days.

  103. To think we have to even have this conversation.

  104. A sad mixture of contemptible ignorance and snobbish arrogance. If the letter’s author did some research on the Cedula of population she might well find evidence of much greater and far-reaching state largess than “2 years of A’levels”.

  105. ..In colonial Trinidad white people had invaluable commodities – political power, land and their race. Other peoples may have fought their way forward, as peoples, but whites didn’t have to fight. They were “in control” of all aspects of economic, political and social life. For black people, Emancipation exchanged the bondage of wage slavery of under-developed colonial capitalism for the bondage of chattel slavery. Indians got land and/or money after indentureship. Chinese and Middle Easterners relied on family and community support, and the psychology and drive of the immigrant, to carve out their place in society. The one tool of social advancement made available to black people was education. For this reason Dr. Eric Williams made education free and made his famous dictum, “the future of the nation is in the children’s book bags”. Yes, black people – as a people – have work to do to (all over the world) but to lay blame for historically enforced limitations on racial or personal weakness or incapacity is beneath contempt..

  106. Scotty Ranking

    With permission, I quote this response from Nicholas Westmaas, whose grandmother happens to be from “behind the bridge”:
    While i understand some of Ms. De Verteuil’s frustrations regarding people’s work ethic and her having experienced derogatory comments targeting her “ethnicity”, it seems to me that her analysis was a bit superficial. Such retrograde and problematic attitudes that she has described do exist in our society in general and very correctly ought to be condemned and addressed by means of well thought out programs which identify the root cause of the problem and addresses them by means of humane intervention as well as being exposed to exemplars in society The attitudes identified by her ,in my opinion, cannot be attributed to one’s racial grouping but one’s upbringing, the environment in which one lives and the value systems that influence people. It can be perceived, based on her use of the term “Laventillians” that she was unfairly targeting the Afro-Trini population, a group that is largely represented in the Communities of Laventille . I Have always held the view that Afro Trinis are a soft target because they comprise a relatively large percentage of the population that traditionally dwells in more visible and congested settlements fringing urban centres as opposed to Indo-Trinis, and to a lesser extent, the “Cocoa Panyols” who arrived as a post emancipation replacement labour force on plantations in sparsely populated and remote rural settlements . I would hesitate to lump The Afro-Trini population together as one group since within each “racial grouping” there exists other subdivisions such as social class, level of educational attainment and religious affiliation.
    I must admit however that it is difficult to agree with one aspect of Mr. Lennox McLeod’s response where he asserts that “class, wealth, contacts and colour are more important than drive and ambition in Trinidad and Tobago”. While this may be so in some instances, assertions like these help to create a defeatist mind set in people, a mind set that can only encourage dependency and laziness- the same accusations made by Ms. De Verteuil about “Laventillians”.
    In my opinion, hard work, drive, honesty and ambition coupled with love and respect for all are the essential ingredients for bettering our wounded and divided Nation!

    • One grandmother was East Indian from Rose Hill, the other French Creole. So he is speaking as a descendant both of a “Laventillian” (albeit not black, which is what I believe Ms de Vertueil really trying to say) and of French Creoles.

      To add to his comment, I want to say: Besides her racist rhetoric already dealt with by others’ responses, I need to point out that she does in fact benefit a great deal from government hand outs that she condemn “Laventillians” for accepting. Do you know anyone who does not benefit from the gas subsidy because I don’t. She drives on roads, correct? She therefore ALSO benefits from government largesse which taxes alone do not pay for. She is also lucky that she has never had a medical emergency in her family, because most doctors I know tell me once its critical head for the General Hospital not a private one.

      I am also a descendant of French Creoles. I know my history. This woman clearly doesn’t. Rest assured she must be of an almost gone generation who were accustomed to privilege not always earned. My generation has learned that in Trinidad, while to some extent who you know still holds, your education, your ability and your experience is what gets the job, not your last name. The days of Mum and Dad organizing for you to get into oilfield are largely gone, as many of my peers have learned. Who you know may still get you in the door, but judging from my own experience and those of my peers and family members, the same group she disparages now ALSO have the Bsc and Msc to keep them in the job. So, in my humble opinion, this original letter is a lash out not only at what she considers “laziness” or whatever she put, but more so a desperate reaction to a way of life that has forever gone.

      I am certain that those under 60, and more pointedly those under 30 who are living in debt and overpriced townhouses or renting and cannot afford the areas and neighbourhoods of their parents and grandparents, do not share these views. I feel sorry for this person, it is clear that she needs a dose of reality. Maybe she will get it in this recession.

  107. This is precisely why I was explaining last week why Afro-Trinis MUST never allow the history of their dehumanization and exploitation to be minimalized, diminished, romanticized or white washed by ANYONE.
    Those are the very tools that would be used to soften us up before condemnation. What pissed me off is that so many still don’t understand.

  108. The besotted rantings of a locally assembled ‘white’ person. #”white”priveledgeineffect