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Dear editor: ‘Anti-black’ racism can only be eradicated when ‘anti-Indo’ racism is also addressed

“Indo-Trinidadians are letting themselves down here in a big way. A lot of Hindus are really put off by what has been said. The community must do better. But I do know that a lot of the Indian/Hindu population feel hated in their own country.

“They remember ‘No Calcutta ship to Tobago’, and ‘to build a temple in Tobago is to spit in the eye of God’, the endless kidnappings and murders done upon Indo-Trinidadian business people (allegedly) by Laventille gangs, the various jibes from Fitzgerald Hinds, decades of being called ‘coolie’, being denied jobs and education unless you converted, the trips of evangelical pastors down to Debe and Penal to ‘cleanse the area of evil spirits’…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the furore over Naila Ramsaran’s description of PNM supporters as ‘loafers’ and ‘cockroaches’ who should be stopped from populating, was submitted to Wired868 by Sanjay Dhalla:

Photo: A racially tinged Facebook post by Naila Ramsaran on 11 August 2020.

Indo-Trinidadians are letting themselves down here in a big way. A lot of Hindus are really put off by what has been said. The community must do better.

But I do know that a lot of the Indian/Hindu population feel hated in their own country.

They remember ‘No Calcutta ship to Tobago’, and ‘to build a temple in Tobago is to spit in the eye of God’, the endless kidnappings and murders done upon Indo-Trinidadian business people (allegedly) by Laventille gangs, the various jibes from Fitzgerald Hinds, decades of being called ‘coolie’, being denied jobs and education unless you converted, the trips of evangelical pastors down to Debe and Penal to ‘cleanse the area of evil spirits’.

Teachers at Anglican and Catholic denominational schools [allegedly] deride Hindu beliefs, wear, language, customs in their classrooms.

The offence and anger caused by the skit performed for entertainment at the PNM function a few short years ago cannot be overestimated. It was a crude mockery of the Hindu religion, where an Indian woman—ostensibly the holy Sita—was ‘stripped’.

The Prime Minister called those who objected to a stridently anti-Hindu act as racist. There was not any sympathy at all from the PNM leaders or membership.

Photo: PNM gorillas disrobe a female UNC supporter during the infamous sari skit at the party’s 2018 Family Day.

Something sacred to Hindus was publicly mocked and insulted, but there was no outrage outside of the Hindu community. Why? Because it is acceptable in Trinidad culture to show contempt for Hindus and Indians.

That was a line that should not have been crossed and it was never sufficiently acknowledged or apologised for by the PNM or its supporters. If a woman in African-wear was ‘disrobed’ in front of a cheering crowd of Indo-Trinidadians, would the PNM be okay with it?

I would find it disturbing, at the very least. [Dr Keith] Rowley could have shown himself to be a true leader and addressed the grievance, but he doubled-down, ignoring that Hindus had valid reason to be upset, calling them racist.

The PNM also campaigns using religious hints that their side is blessed by God, and they are walking through the valley, etc. The UNC supporters, many of whom are Hindu (who are only 24% of the population, by the way) thus feel depicted as evil and heathen–because that is what is being obviously implied.

Indo-Trinidadians have, since arrival, been subtly and openly dehumanised for not being of African lineage and/or for not being Christian. When this clear dislike comes from the Prime Minister, they feel oppressed.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (right) talks to late Hindu leader Sat Maharaj.
(Copyright Trinidad Express)

And when the man they see as an unapologetic race-baiter wins an election, with so much support from their fellow citizens, they feel ostracised and lash out with bitterness.

This will happen until not only anti-black racism is properly highlighted and widely derided, but anti-Indian racism too.

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Letters to the Editor
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15 comments

  1. At what point in history has ANYONE been dehumanised for not being of African descent? The cognitive dissonance displayed in this letter is mind blowing.

  2. john hannibal charles

    There is essentially no difference, philosophically, between this long letter and Naila Ramsaran’s cryptic posts.
    A sense of alienation, of victimhood, and looking under every manhole cover for evidence to justify their racial rants.

  3. Sooooo……basically, All Lives Matter?! Once again we’re missing the point.

  4. Lord have mercy on your soul! These are the dishonest, anti-african articles being posted on an african man’s website, while simultaneously blocking educational articles from the bbc, al jazeera, huffpost
    What a disgrace! Is this lasana or sheila moderating?
    Very oppressive!

    • Lasana Liburd

      Sheila has never been an editor on the site, which certainly is no indictment on her absolute competence (if you are taking about Rampersad the MATT president). I am of African ethnicity, and I am the managing director. But this website is not about my whims and fancies.
      The goal is to reflect Trinidad and Tobago and that certainly will not be restricted to one race. I don’t have to agree with an article to publish it. I just have to feel it offers a perspective that deserves to be explored or addressed.
      I will not allow comments that attack an entire race or religion. So whenever you make such comments, I simply do not let them on the site.
      It is fine to disagree with me or think poorly of me. But it is not cool to make racist attacks–no matter which race is the target.

    • You seem to be in disagreement with the views expressed by the author of this letter. I really have difficulty in understanding your concluding that it is oppressive, a disgrace, dishonest and anti-African.

      If one’s aim is to be objective, one should examine a situation from all angles. In other words, put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

      In my view, a valid point has been made and must be considered on the way forward for a harmonious co-existence, although such would be wishful thinking given the deep rooted seeds of animosity stemming from the long ago days of the indentureship period.

      Nuff said!