Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Dear Editor: Mrs Robinson-Regis has nothing to apologise for; stop the victim blaming!

Dear Editor: Mrs Robinson-Regis has nothing to apologise for; stop the victim blaming!

“[…] Mrs Camille Robinson-Regis, at the relevant political meeting, laid a series of charges against Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar. In so doing, for dramatic effect—as is the norm on the political hustings and in the court of law, as depicted in movies—she referenced the Leader of the Opposition’s full name, including her middle name (Susheila), before laying each charge.

“[…] What in the world does Mrs Robinson-Regis have to apologise for?! [She] is the victim of an unprovoked and vicious attack by a rampaging Leader of the Opposition…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the furore caused by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s reference to MP Camille Robinson-Regis’ ‘slave master name’ was submitted to Wired868 by Louis W Williams of St Augustine:

Photo: Minister of Planning and Development and Arouca/Maloney MP Camille Robinson-Regis.

The latest incident that has erupted over the studied, vile, brutal, and obscene insult by Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar concerning how Mrs Camille Robinson-Regis acquired her name (a slave master’s name) reveals so much about who we are as a people in Trinidad and Tobago.

We live in a plural society with many unresolved issues which reside beneath an elegant tapestry that falsely gives the impression that all is well. We are being challenged to look beneath the surface to discover our true identity.

How is Mrs Robinson-Regis a responsible party in this imbroglio is beyond my comprehension.

Mrs Robinson-Regis, at the relevant political meeting, in effect laid a series of charges against Mrs Persad-Bissessar. In so doing, for dramatic effect—as is the norm on the political hustings and in the court of law, as depicted in movies—she referenced the Leader of the Opposition’s full name, including her middle name (Susheila), before laying each charge. 

The same thing has been done to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and other politicians in both the PNM and the UNC.

Mrs Robinson-Regis took great care not to mispronounce any of Mrs Persad-Bissessar’s names. There was no name-calling by Mrs Robinson-Regis, as she did not seek to distort any of Mrs Persad-Bissessar’s names or to attach some demeaning label to them. 

No English dictionary, I have no doubt,  would describe what Mrs Robinson-Regis did as name-calling.

The same thing cannot be said about Mrs Persad-Bissessar. In keeping with what is described as name-calling in english dictionaries, she sought to attach a demeaning label to Mrs Robinson-Regis’ name.

Mrs Persad-Bissessar described it as a slave master’s name, and boasted that she got hers from her ancestors—displaying contempt, and a feeling of racial superiority  over someone she viewed as having a bastardised name. 

The undertones were pellucidly clear.

[…] Some may argue that Mrs Persad-Bissessar was seeking to sidestep the issues raised by Mrs Robinson-Regis at the PNM’s political meeting and, perhaps inadvertently, put her foot in her mouth. Others might opine that she had expressed how she truly felt, and ‘mouth open, tory jump out’.

What in the world does Mrs Robinson-Regis have to apologise for?! This is a classic case of victim-blaming. Mrs Robinson-Regis is the victim of an unprovoked and vicious attack by a rampaging Leader of the Opposition. Why is Mrs Robinson-Regis being held partially or entirely at fault for the harm that befell her?!

In times past, a very senior citizen indicated to me recently, the main culprits of the phenomenon of victim-blaming were women.

When a woman was the victim of domestic violence or rape, strange as it sounds, other women would blame her for ‘answering back’ her husband and thus causing him to abuse her, or for being out late at night—as if it was an invitation for some pervert  to rape her.  

Image: Cancel victim blaming.

[…] Suffice it to say that some very prominent women of African descent in T&T  have called upon both Mrs Persad-Bissessar and Mrs Robinson-Regis to apologise. One of those illustrious ladies even suggested that Mrs Robinson-Regis started it and, therefore, should be the first to apologise. How pathetic and unbelievable!

Mrs Persad-Bissessar does not have to go fishing for friends. Gary Aboud of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea indicated that the furore arising out of  this incident has its historical deep  roots in the ‘sodomisation of an entire race by the dominant other’ (emphasis added). He made it abundantly clear that he was referring to Afro-Trinis as the dominant race, and Indo-Trinis as the ‘other’. (Daily Express: 6 June 2022).

[…] It is clear to me that we, in T&T, have a deep-seated problem which must be addressed sooner rather than later. There is perhaps the need for some mechanism similar to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where we can openly address our fractured race relations, and our sordid colonial past, and chart the way forward. 

Photo: UNC leader and Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar (background) during the run up to the 10 August 2020 elections.
(via UNC)

Let us not wait for the explosion that has taken place elsewhere in the world and, instead, adopt a proactive approach. Such an  explosion would be extremely damaging to our already fragile economy, with the many other challenges which we are encountering.

Many of us felt that a military coup could never happen here. Look at what occurred  in 1970 and 1990. What ain’t meet yuh, can’t pass yuh.

It is not chupidness, we need help!

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