Sunday 29th July, 2007

Martin George
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Emancipation from race obsession

I am writing this as I sit in the waiting area at Piarco Airport awaiting my delayed Caribbean Airlines flight to Miami. The airport is teeming with activity and everyone’s in a hurry rushing here there and everywhere.

Dr Morgan Job is moving among the crowd, talking to passengers, engaging some of them in lively debate. Families hug, kiss goodbye and wave tearfully as loved ones depart.

Many people seek to grab their last-minute KFC or Royal Castle, to chow down before boarding, to wrap up and carry on board to then unwrap and unveil, with that finger licking goodness, while the aroma wafts through the cabin space. This is our T&T, our emancipated T&T and this is the land that I love.

You look at the panoply of faces, races, classes creeds and cultures which just make up this morning mix at the airport and you realise that we really have a wonderful melting pot here.

You look at the way people of different races creeds and cultures can get along and work out their issues quite fine, when freed from the debilitating influence of some of the politicians, preachers, pundits and populist leaders who often feed a steady diet of racial tension and intolerance down the throats of their followers, in order to preserve their little cabals and cliques.

They seek exclusivity instead of inclusiveness; they seek to divide and rule instead of fostering harmony and unity among the people.

But no matter what is preached, propagated or promulgated, the essence of the human spirit, the nature of the human condition, is such that we will always find ways in our private lives or personal situations, to accommodate, to get along and to live with each other.

As I indicated in a previous article, the reality of T&T is that “dougla making every day.”

The evidence is out there whether we wish to accept it or not, and in time to come, a significant population group in this country will be “mixed,” and hopefully at that stage we will begin to see ourselves as Trinidadians first and foremost, without seeking to create these divisions and lines among us.

The scourge of racial, tribal, ethnic discrimination is so pervasive that in places like Rwanda, you had the Tutsis and the Hutus, who for all intents and purposes look just like each other and yet were killing and slaughtering each other by the thousands, because they belonged to the wrong tribe.

In India, you still have the caste system which actively causes discrimination among and between Indians themselves and in some situations, they even treat their fellowmen as outcasts, and yet they’re all Indians.

When we look at such situations, we recognise that we really have all the makings of a paradise here on earth in this precious piece of land we call T&T, if only we can expand our vision and focus to become all-inclusive and embracing, rather than segregationist and discriminatory.

On the morning edition programme this week I heard some of the organisers of the annual emancipation celebrations make a very valid point.

They managed to navigate their way around some of the verbal, linguistic and intellectual jousting with Dr Morgan Job and made the point that in their view, the emancipation celebrations should be inclusive of the entire society and should include all colours, creeds and races and it is a valid point indeed.

We all as a nation should celebrate emancipation. We need here in T&T to start the process of emancipating ourselves from the strictures and confines of traditional beliefs and dogmas which seek to divide and control us into little pockets of Indians, Chinese, Africans and Syrians.

We need to free our minds to realise that we have the potential to truly become a player on the world stage and to be able to show the world what a fantastic nation we could be, drawn from many streams, flowing in to one river.

But this takes time, it takes leadership and it takes initiative. It also requires our politicians to have a change of mindset so that they can change the minds of the people.

They need to lead by example and a very good testing ground would be the upcoming elections and the silly season which accompanies it. Can our politicians carry out their election campaigns, on the hustings, in the heat of electoral frenzy and battle, without resorting to using race as a factor?

Will they ever mature to a point when they do not have to raise that race bogey and seek to instil fear among their supporters, that it is them against us and if you don’t vote for us, then it will be pressure and hell from dem?

Can we as a people mature to the point where, even if the politicians throw that bag of hogwash at us, that we reject it and refuse to buy in to that archaic and outmoded type of thinking, which is so deleterious to the progress of the nation?

The power really resides within each and every one of us, as to how we meet and treat with these issues, but as we evolve as a nation, it is also important for us to evolve to a state, of emancipation from race obsession.

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