Naila Ramsaran has been fired from family-owned business, Ramsaran’s Dairy Products, for a controversial Facebook post on Tuesday in which she referred to supporters of the People’s National Movement (PNM) party as ‘loafers’ and ‘cockroaches’ and suggested that contraceptives be placed in the water to stop them from ‘populating’.
The founder of the Ramsaran’s company passed away in 1980 and the business, which he started as a small dairy farm in St Augustine in the 1940s, has since been run by his sons. Naila’s relation to the founder is not confirmed, although the company admitted she is a ‘close relative’ to the owners and an employee.
Today, Naila ‘apologised’ for her comments, via social media, but did not win many friends in the process as she attempted to offer ‘context’ to her initial post.
“[…] I would also like to apologise to my family and the customers of Ramsaran’s Dairy products as I pride myself of always being fair and giving the best customer service,” stated Naila. “To clarify the context of the screenshots, they were posted out of anger and in response to years of racial discrimination and criminal acts against myself and my family in the last few years.
“I understand that this does not justify my reaction but I do hope that you accept my apology and respect my family and their business’ privacy by not defaming them or the business…”
It did not slow down calls to boycott the Ramsaran’s business; and, within hours, national grocery chain, Massy Stores, confirmed that it had pulled their products after a petition from customers.
“Massy Stores Trinidad operates as a responsible retailer and we make every effort to align ourselves with partners who hold similar values,” stated a release from Massy Stores. “We have listened to our customers and have taken a decision to remove Ramsaran products from our shelves at this time and temporarily suspend ordering of this product.”
The Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT) was next as it asked members to also boycott Ramsaran’s goods.
“The Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago takes note of the very derogatory statements made by a member of the Ramsaran Family,” stated a release. “These divisive and inflammatory comments do not belong in our multi-ethnic society. We recognise that given the rich diversity of cultures and ethnicities in our cosmopolitan nation that these actions will not be tolerated.
“We are advising all our members that a boycott of all Ramsaran’s Dairy Products is to be undertaken immediately. This will stay in place until such time that the company seeks the appropriate remedy action in a consistent and satisfactory manner.
“SATT recognises the keen values which underscore the fabric of our society and is prepared to uphold the fundamental right that every creed and race is given an equal place and will adapt this policy until further notice.”
Ramsaran’s responded with a statement of its own, as the company distanced itself from ‘a close family member’ and described her post as ‘utterly unacceptable and reprehensible’.
“It is with a heavy heart that the Ramsaran’s Dairy Products family addresses below the recent damaging and offensive comments posted on social media by a close family member of the owners of our organisation,” stated the company. “Ramsaran’s Dairy Products wishes to unequivocally state that such views expressed by the family member, which were widely publicised, are not in any way whatsoever reflective of the views and beliefs of our small business.
“[…] Given these unfortunate developments, we have taken urgent and active steps to part ways with the employee and author of the subject comments and statements, the content of which cannot and will not be tolerated by us.
“[…] While the said employee cannot speak on our behalf, even by association, we must unreservedly extend our apologies nationwide and to all those who have been impacted by the statements which were utterly unacceptable and reprehensible. Ramsaran’s Dairy Products assures that it will continue to serve this nation and remain unwavering in its stance of equality and fair treatment to all.”
In a separate incident, Bishop Anstey High School and Trinity College East has launched an investigation into school teacher, Kamel Ali, for a series of racist Facebook posts into the aftermath of PNM’s electoral victory on Monday night.
In the lead-up to the election, a message on Ali’s page said PNM voters had ‘no shame no common sense and less education’ and said the second wave of Covid-19 came when ‘PNM mammie open she leg’.
After PNM triumphed at the polls, further posts on Ali’s page appeared to mock PNM supporters with claims that ‘half of them only eat bread and KFC so the price of groceries wouldn’t matter to them’ and that they similarly did not own property or vehicles.
Former People’s Partnership government Minister of Sport Anil Roberts, who spoke on the UNC platform during the 2020 election campaign, posted a photograph of himself eating a banana on General Election day, to howls of laughter from his followers.
Ruper Rampersad: ‘Love this politically mischievous photo right up to the hilt Anil.’
Vishnu Deonarine: ‘Don’t let Rowley see you with that banana. lol.’
Basdeo Bekharry: ‘A wonder if Rowley go be able to eat one this evening.’
Abraham Mohammed: ‘Yah tooo wicked!!!’
Baboolal Singh: ‘For some reason Rowley dose (sic) look at dem big bananas with a lot ah envy.’
Roberts did not respond to the comments, or chide any of the persons who appeared to interpret his photograph as a racist taunt.
Up until the time of publication, the United National Congress (UNC) had not addressed the multiple racist social media posts by its supporters, or the suggestive image by a former minister in the UNC-led coalition government.
Instead, there were multiple messages of support for Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to continue at the helm of the party—despite losing successive general elections.
Full statement from Ramsaran’s Dairy Products:
It is with a heavy heart that the Ramsaran’s Dairy Products family addresses below the recent damaging and offensive comments posted on social media by a close family member of the owners of our organisation.
Ramsaran’s Dairy Products wishes to unequivocally state that such views expressed by the family member which were widely publicised are not in any way whatsoever reflective of the views and beliefs of our small business.
The Company’s history and traditions have always been steeped in equality and respect for every person irrespective of religion, creed, race or belief.
Given these unfortunate developments, we have taken urgent and active steps to part ways with the employee and author of the subject comments and statements, the content of which cannot and will not be tolerated by us.
Ramsaran’s Dairy Products has been in operation serving the people of Trinidad and Tobago for over 70 years without incident. We started our operations as a humble business and over time, only with the cherished support of our loyal customer base, have our products been able to become a staple in many homes across the nation.
Throughout this time, we have built, developed and maintained a bond with countless employees, suppliers, customers and the public at large.
While the said employee cannot speak on our behalf, even by association, we must unreservedly extend our apologies nationwide and to all those who have been impacted by the statements which were utterly unacceptable and reprehensible.
Ramsaran’s Dairy Products assures that it will continue to serve this nation and remain unwavering in its stance of equality and fair treatment to all.
Editor’s Note: JT Allum Group of Companies today ‘terminated all purchases of the Ramsaran products’ due to ‘zero tolerance towards discrimination of any kind’.
S&S Persad Supermarket, Xtra Foods Supermarket, Tru Valu and West Bees Supermarket also stated it will boycott Ramsaran’s Dairy Products out of solidarity with its customers and to ‘align ourselves with partners who hold similar values’.