Dr. Kwame Nantambu

T&T has an ethnic problem, NOT a racial one

By Dr Kwame Nantambu
October 27, 2020

Against the backdrop of the recent chupid, ignorant putative "Racial crosstalk in Parliament", this article seeks to conduct a genuine, professional, mature analysis of the dire, systemic public Euro-centric mis-understanding with regard to the thorny intractable problem concerning racism in this country.

At the outset, "to put it simply, anyone who has the same color as you is also of the same race. And those people who live in the same country as you, follow the same traditions and speak the same language, in most cases belong to the same ethnic group as you."

The salient fact of the historical reality is that Africans were violently and involuntarily brought from Mother Africa by various Europeans with original African names to the so-called New World from 1516, then, the fundamental question that immediately comes to the fore is: Why are you an Afro-Trinbagonian in 2020? Conversely, Indians came mostly voluntarily in 1845 with original Indian names. Similarly, Why are you an Indo-Trinbagonian in 2020?

The bottom-line is that there has NEVER been a Continent or landmass named Afro in world history, period. World history has NEVER referred India as an Indo country. The salient fact of the matter is that the term/label "Afro" has been expunged from America's societal jargon since 1988. Time to get with the program Trinbagonians. Ergo, to call/address an American as an "Afro-American" today tantamounts to "fighting words."

Furthermore, India has always been in Asia. Asia has NEVER been in Europe. Ipso facto, Asians are NOT Europeans. They are NOT white.

In other words, if a Prime Minister of African descent were to deny a citizen of Indian descent a radio license, then, that is NOT a racist decision. It is just a vicious ethnic political victimizing decision simple because the two entities are of the same racial hue, period. They are both non-white.

On the contrary, if a white policeman shoots and kills an African-American in the United States, then, that's simple an overt racist act because the two entities are of different racial hue. However, if an American-American were to shoot and kill another African-American, then, that act is just a straight case of "Black on Black crime." It is NOT a racist act because the two entities are of the same racial hue.

Put another way, in 2020, the Indian Premier League cricket competition is now being played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is designated as the Indian Premier League. No problem. Are Trinbagonians saying that if the Indian Premier League cricket were to be staged in T&T that it would be designated as the Indo Premier League? Or if the Africa Cup of Nations football competition were to be played in T&T, then, it would be designated as the Afro Cup of Nations football competition?

Therefore, by way of Euro-centric dysfunctional Trinbagonian logic, if there are Afro-Trinbagonians, Indo-Trinbagonians, then, there should exist Syrio-Trinbagonians, Lebano-Trinbagonians, Chino-Trinbagonians and Corsico-Trinbagonians!

By way of international elucidation, African-Americans consist of 13.4 per cent of the national population; ipso facto, African-Americans are a minority in the United States.

Conversely, the 2011 national population census figures for T&T reveal that Indians comprise 37.6 per cent, Africans 36.3 per cent, Mixed 24.2 per cent, Whites 0.63 per cent, Chinese .03 per cent, Amerindians 0.1 per cent, Syrians-Lebanese or Arab 0.2 per cent. In other words, the majority population in T&T is non-European(White), African, Indian, who collectively makes up 73.9 per cent.

Let this writer be very clear, there is absolutely NO category designated "Black", "Afro", "Indo", "East Indian" in this country's official national census population data presentation. NONE, period. Who are the "Afro", "Indo", "Black", "East Indian" people in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Could you tell me? Sans Humanitay! Indeed, now is the time for Trinbagonians to get with the program and to cease and desist from evaluating human interaction in T&T per the paradigm/lens of the United States. That's worst than mixing apples and oranges or as deceased Dennis "Sprangalang" Hall once put it: "mixing roti and egg."

And let this writer be perfectly clear as can be. Barack Obama is America's first African-American-Black President. Is he dark-skinned? Halle Berry the beautiful African-American movie actress---is she dark-skinned? Deceased international reggae musical icon Bob Marley was a Black man—Was he dark-skinned?. And the list goes on and on. The crucial point that is being made here is that a person does not have to be dark-skinned to be considered Black, period. And that's according to international best practices.

By way of international elucidation, in 1992,when there was genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina in during which 200,000 people were brutally slaughtered and killed, the United Nations and the international community described that act as "ethnic cleansing"—NOT racial cleansing simple because the entities were of the same racial hue—White.

In 1994, when overt wanton slaughter and killing occurred in Rwanda during which 800.000 people died during the struggle between the Hutus and Tutsis, the United Nations described that atrocity as "ethnic genocide" It was NOT described as racial genocide simply because the two entities were of the same racial hue—Black.

And in May 2008, when 35 people were killed in Rajasthan, a state in western India, the international community described that incident as "caste violence"---NOT racial violence because the entities were of the same racial hue---non-white.

In the final analysis, now is the time for Trinbagonians to operationalize the true meaning of the national anthem: "where every creed and race find an equal place."

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is Professor Emeritus Kent State University.

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