United National Congress Senator Jearlean John has suggested that new Police Service Commission (PolSC) member Maxine Attong is ‘eminently unqualified’ for the role owing to her criticism of the UNC’s controversial ‘Trinity Triangle’ advertisements in the build-up to the 2020 General Elections.
The first video advertisement depicted a young woman of African descent, Trinity, begging for food and dismissed by a tall bald-headed aggressive man of African descent who is driving a red Mercedes Benz, Chris. Another man of lighter complexion, named Kamal, sees Trinity’s plight and offers her water and what appeared to be a bag of fruits but the only fruit actually seen was a bunch of bananas.
Viewers are then asked whether Trinity would fall for ‘bad boy Chris’ or ‘caring Kamal’.
Attong was one of thousands of citizens who publicly expressed misgivings about the ad, which Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley described as ‘humiliating black people’.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar did not defend the advertisement either. Instead, she claimed she had not seen it and suggested it might not be ‘a UNC ad’—although the ad appeared on her Facebook page. The Trinity Triangle ads were subsequently deleted from YouTube.
Attong, in a Facebook post on 6 August 2020, wrote: ‘I’m black. I’m not starving. I’m educated and always worked. All the black people I know are just like me. #MissMeWithThatBS’
John did not express an opinion on the controversial ad, from which her own party distanced itself. However, she felt Attong’s objection to it was ‘vile’, ‘divisive’, ‘race-baiting’, and ‘an attempt to portray, not just our political leader Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar but, all the UNC candidates and supporters as racists, of having no soul, and of having an agenda against ‘Black’ people in Trinidad and Tobago’.
John, without offering any proof beyond the Facebook post below, further accused Attong of ‘political activism, evident bias, race baiting and religious intolerance’.
“Even worse, [Attong’s post] targeted the ‘Black men and women in the UNC party’, accusing them of ‘self-hate’, thereby implying that any person with a political view which was different to what is being offered by the PNM is a victim of self-hate,” said John, in a UNC press release. “Because I do not use race, colour, creed or class as a factor in making personal, business or political decisions, I have chosen to respond to Ms Attong’s post at this time, only to show her clear bias is established.
“[…] Ms Attong’s message, as quoted in the Facebook post, was certainly not veiled. It is vile, in the context of the position for which she has been proposed by Her Excellency the President.
“[…] Unless and until Ms Attong apologises and sets the record straight—as would be the norm in the international political arena when the past words and actions of someone called to public office is duly examined—she remains eminently unqualified to sit as a Commissioner on the PolSC.”
Attong declined the chance to respond to John’s accusations.
Below are a few of the screenshots sent by the UNC in apparent support of John’s allegations: