The Indo-Afro Political Dynamic
Jack Warner and Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the People's
Partnership New Day, New Way Forward Rally - May 22, 2010
June 13, 2010
THE EDITOR: Many Africans, especially those who have traditionally supported the PNM, are concerned about a possible racist, Indian backlash from this People's Partnership government. In examining these concerns we also have to understand the difference in the dynamics of racial politics today. We have to examine the significance of Jack Warner as chairman of the UNC (an Indian-based political party) and Cabinet minister in the People's Partnership government. We also have to look at the shortcomings of the PNM as it pertains to race relations.
When supporters and members of political parties say, 'we in power' or 'we lost power' we have to be reminded that they are emotionally tied to these political parties. They share a communal sense of well-being. As with all political parties, the supporters also live vicariously through their party's oligarchy. Most grassroots supporters in Trinidad and Tobago are comforted with a sense of inclusion through seeing their racial kind in leadership.
Many Africans remember the "Is We Turn Now" language and conduct from many Indians when the Panday-led UNC was in government during the period 1995 to 2001. Having seen political power for the first time many Indians in their exuberance were openly spewing their racial dislike for Africans. One must also remember that Basdeo Panday solidified himself as the political leader of Indians by appealing to them on a racial level at every turn. He convinced many Indians that they were under a constant racial assault from the PNM. So in many respects, Africans do have reason to be distrustful of Indians in leadership.
This People's Partnership government is somewhat different, besides the obvious fact that it is led by an Indian woman who has broad appeal across racial lines. At this point in time, this government does not have the appearance of being an extremely elitist, Indian-controlled coalition. The UNC and the People's Partnership coalition both have a better image today and this is largely due to the presence of one man: Jack Warner. He is the only African in a leadership position in the alliance, who, by virtue of being relatively financially independent and powerful in his own right, will not be seen as a stooge of the Indian elite or anyone else. Without Warner, all the other Africans in the coalition could be considered subordinates to Indian elites.
If Warner is ever forced out of that party or demoted in government then the People's Partnership would be led by several elitist-type Indians who were staunch defenders of Basdeo Panday's failed leadership. They did not take a stand with Warner in calling for UNC's internal party elections which eventually ended Panday's political control and which made the UNC attractive to the wider populace for a chance in government.
It is in this light that Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who herself did not take an early stand to remove Panday, must unequivocally defend Jack Warner except if he flagrantly breaks the law.
Many Africans, who are supportive of this partnership, for now, are cautiously keeping an eye on how they deal with Jack Warner and how they control Indian racism.
Of course, because of how Jack Warner invested in Chaguanas and other parts of Trinidad, many poor Indians and Africans are grateful to him and defend him as their representative. This is a welcoming sign because poor Indians are usually the force behind the Indian elites, and with their support behind Jack Warner, he cannot be easily discarded.
Having said this, I am personally not too bothered by some of the racist comments that I hear from some Indians. I am sure that there are racist Indians in the People's Partnership government. But many Indians, including the ones who spew racial venom, are quite aware that this People's Partnership victory was dependent on several African factors – Jack Warner's leadership and finance, and the increased support from Africans on the ground. For this government to survive they will need the ongoing support of Africans in and out of government.
I have also long heard many Africans utter racist comments about Indians.
Christian-Africans through the PNM have dominated political power in this country for a long time and have even marginalized other Africans who promote African awareness. Many Christian-Africans consider any indigenous form of worship to be evil, so their prejudice is not only towards Indians but even other Africans who engage traditional African religious practices. They, like ex-PM Manning, consider the wearing of traditional African clothes on a regular basis to be backward (they make a costumed allowance for the Emancipation celebrations). This Christianized-African PNM dominance has also contributed to Indians holding firm to what they perceived as their only political vehicle, the UNC and its earlier manifestations. It is no surprise that even when Indians were disappointed in Basdeo Panday, they did not throw their support behind the PNM. PNM represented a dominant African-based political force over them.
African PNM supporters should not be in the position they are today of feeling threatened by racist Indians. PNM has been in political power the longest and if they were unable to make their support base feel better about themselves and to be in a position to challenge and defeat any racist group in Trinidad and Tobago, it is their fault. If the PNM government did not allow the education system to comprehensively address racism, then guess who is to blame? It is foolhardy for PNM members to feel that maintaining PNM in power at any cost is about resistance to Indian racism. Their complacency in the PNM is why the party always played down the concerns of African activists who sought to engender African consciousness. PNM's inability to consider African-centred folks to be worthy of promotion in the political landscape is partly responsible for their party members' low self-image.
There is a history of PNM disrespecting and disregarding African activists even while facilitating Indian culture in the state media in an attempt to woo Indian voters. This foolish policy that denied Africans and allowed Indians to use the state media, inadvertently allowed Indian activists to use the same state media to consolidate their political forces against the dominant PNM. PNM members were never interested in what was being presented under the guise of Indian cultural programs. They smugly thought that PNM would be in power forever.
While Indian activists stepped up their campaign of building political awareness and started challenging the status quo in the early 90's, Christianized PNM supporters were caught unaware. They could not decipher which Indian concerns were legitimate and which were illegitimate. The presence of Dr. Cudjoe only helped a little except that Africans who gravitated to him were mostly interested in rivaling Sat Maharaj and other Indians. This is not sufficient to raise the consciousness of Africans so they could liberate themselves while preparing them to guard against both external and internal threats.
Africans who feel threatened this time around can use this time to learn the many lessons that they have traditionally neglected – especially African history – to first raise their awareness to become more creative and more astute financially and politically. If they do this while aligning themselves with other progressive Africans they would never have to feel threatened by anyone.
PNM members (most of whom are Christians) have to be a lot more honest and stop only looking at racism in the context of what some Indians spew and do, but also look at themselves and see how they are racist towards Indians too. They also have to examine their prejudices toward other Africans who adhere to African traditions.
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June 13, 2010 at 9:32 am
I found this discourse by Heru, very well thought out. Although, categorising Trinidadians into Africans and Indians which seems to be the norm these days, makes me a bit queasy. I remember an Indo-Trinidadian woman telling me that she always grew up thinking she was an Indian, until she went to England and met Indians from India, and was firmly put in her place.
As Heru said, both sides have been guilty of racist comments, the people that he referred to in the last paragraph of his discourse would do well to consider Matthew 7:1-5 ..."And why behold you the mote that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye"...
June 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm
The same goes for the "African Trinidadian" who arrives in Washington D.C. who is told by his cab driver from Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Senegal, etcetera that he is not African. If you have to research a tradition, perhaps you should not focus on it as a gateway to the definition that is you.
Kamlas victory was for the People of Trinidad and Tobago. There will be racist comments, but as long as the government is not wasting precious recourses and is trying to help all of the people in the country we shouldn't have a problem with her or how the Peoples Partnership is racially composed. All that matters is that TNT is moving forward with positive growth and improvements to lives of the people.
June 13, 2010 at 10:46 am
How come when we have an Indian PM, we have the talk of racist Indians as shown by the writer of "Indo-Afro Political Dynamic"? He points out that many Africans are going to be exposes to a racist, Indian backlash from this People's Partnership government. I think if that happens, I would not cry over it, because for almost 30-35 years when the PNM ruled Trinidad, Indians were subdued, treated like garbage, deprived of many things, and exposed to blatant racism and prejudice in every sector of society in Trinidad. But, then again, I would not look to an Indian backlash, because the new PM is a too good-natured lady. I do not think she has that mean streak in her veins, which other past Prime Ministers have. You talk about backlash, under Dr. Eric Williams, Indian kept their mouth shut because of the fear of more persecution. If an Indian got a good job in the public, he was lucky. Indian received backlash and more than backlash because they did not vote for PNM.
I grew up under PNM ruled, in PNM and Dr. Eric Williams days droves of Afro-Trinidadians roam the street at night thrashing other party's advertisements/banners during elections. This was done with the blessing of the PNM government. Many supporters of the Indians were beaten, Indians were also beaten. I know of one Indian gentlemen who was beaten and slashed on his hands and back, bleeding he had to run for his life. The only thing that saved him, it was night and his hiding place was in some one's yard. The attacker could not find him. Unknown to this Indian, the yard he hid in was an Afro-Trinidadian yard. With the commotion, the Afro-Trinidadian woke up and found this Indian gentleman and applied bandages to help stop the flow of blood. The police turned a blind eye to everything.
Now we have a different mentality in the police force, they have grown beyond racism. They uphold the law and protect not only Afro-Trinidadian but all Trinidadians, whether you are white, black yellow, green, brown or a colour in-between. Many Afro Trinidadians who supported the PP, see the Indians as their brothers/sisters, they have also grown beyond racism. They no longer want to dwell or follow the racist ideas of the PNM, the want a better society and are willing to work with the Indians.
I am tired of racist writers and critics who turn a blind eye to plight of their Indian brothers and sisters, who perpetuate racism, preach / write words that leads to violence or racism, and who wants to destroy the good things that their new PM wants to build. Please remember that Kamla is the one, who changed the education system, so all children can go to high school. She has a lot of more good things planned to better this nation. In the past the PNM and its PMs only look after the Afo-Trinidadians, others in society were neglected or suffered tremendously. I leave you with a saying, before the pot calls the coal pot (cooker) black; the pot should have a look at itself because both are black. If the Indians are racist, then Afro-Trinidadians are even more racist and this racism has been taught by past PNM Prime Ministers and PNM Ministers. We are looking to build a new nation. Many Indians and blacks are looking forward to a new beginning, justice, and less discrimination and less prejudice. Let us not mess up a good thing for the new PM and all the people of TT. We are looking for a place where "every creed and race finds an equal place." We do not want more racism to be practiced against our Indian brothers and sisters. You had black governments in the past and they messed up the country, let's give the Indians and the PP a chance.
June 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm
Jim, you have to be under 30 years and grew up listening to the PNM gift to the Indian community 91.1 fm. Maybe if the 'author' plays a FAIR game, you may learn something here.
Take a chill pill Jim, how did Indians became an economic force under those oppressive PNM blacks? How did Indians became a "Majority" (I still have reservations about their majority status) in T&T under such oppressive conditions?
Poor Curtis, always thought he was mixed until he hit DC, like so many of these 20% that who claim to be mixed in T&T.. Ent Linda, you are like a willow tree. Give off ample shade and medicine for pain.
Anyway Heru, Gambling is a game of chance.. It is not a good way to earn a living. The 'Jack of Spades' may not be the highest card dealt this rounds.
You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away and know when to run
You never count your money, when you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin', when the dealin's done.
June 13, 2010 at 4:16 pm
George- clearly you read that wrong. My response to Helen is not about being mixed. It's about patriotism in TNT for TNT and not for India or The whole continent of Africa. It's about the reality as Africans from Africa living in the United States view Africans of the Diaspora.
My point is that Trinibagonians should embrace who they are rather than identifying with the separation of racial tribalism that gets nothing accomplished. Dawn a dashiki daily and stick a bone through your nose if you want to. In Africa to Africans you are not African your Trinidadian. In India to Indians you are Trinidadian. You are all apart of something different. Trinidad and Tobago is for Trinibagonians. Everyone else are only visitors, trouble makers, or xenophobes. The country will be there long after you and I have died so we might as well embrace our future together rather than our separate past.
June 14, 2010 at 5:15 pm
Indians became an economic force BECAUSE of the discrimination. Locked out of the Public Service and government institutions, Indians turned to business and professional occupations to support themselves. Higher education was pursued as a means to further knowledge and experience to expand their businesses.
When it became obvious that a centralized economy was not sustainable, and government enterprises were privatized,it was mostly afro-trinis who were let go. Now they would have to compete with people who had degrees and experience in a non-insulated environment.
For the most part Indians have now internalized these educational traditions and are the better for it.
June 14, 2010 at 12:22 am
Heru, thanks for a well-thought and balanced article. Most political blogs spend a lot of time in spewing racial and cultural hatred based on Indianese or Africanese. This fear lies rooted in our psyche and usually comes out in words like 'balanced', 'equity', 'majority', 'multiculturalism','minority','is we time now', 'racist','nigger','coolie', 'African', 'Indian' etc. These and many other words describe our fear of the other gaining (mainly) political power over the other. Naturally, with the inclusiopn of cabionet ministers like Gopeesingh, Rambachan, Ramlogan who have in the past uttered words that were coloured with racial innuendos people will become more sensitive to the backlash (real or imagined). The 'elevation' of Sat Maharaj's presence in voicing and gaining what appears to be 'Kamla's ear' does not help these fears also. The People's Partnership have a great opportunity to show and convince all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago that under their governance there is no reason for one to worry about racism or cultural elitism. Most people applaud the make up of the cabinet and are willing to see where we are being taken by this new government. If they deliver on a non-racial theme and treat all citizens with respect and work to eradicate ignorance in our society then they are well set to remain in power for a while but if they fail we will definitely return to our tribal ways and the words 'African' and 'Indian' will forever haunt us to the point where we may never aspire to be real Trinidadians.
June 14, 2010 at 11:54 am
Imagine today, many people still do not understand the difference between race and nationality and believe that one negates the other. Let's see who can help explain this?
June 15, 2010 at 12:40 am
What do you mean by, "and believe that one negates the other?" Most countries have many races or minority groups. Whites born in South Africa are White and they are South Africans, but they are not African racially speaking. A European (white person) born in China is Chinese by nationality, but a European racially speaking. The question is who are they loyal to, their nation or tribe. In the U.S., most Irish Americans pledge allegiance to the U.S. and acknowledge daily their Irish ancestry. However, to say that they are Irish over American would probably be inaccurate.
Most immigrant groups in the United States conformed or assimilated to a social norm of patriotism throughout the states until recent decades, but who says that they are the example that TNT should follow?
Most Black/African Americans (the descendents of the transatlantic slave trade in the 13 colonies and eventual U.S.) when asked will tell you that they are Black, and that they are American. Domestic issues concerning the community most groups think in terms of racial, religious, or ethnic group. When it comes to patriotism most think in terms of nation first.
In TNT, it seems currently that most people try to prove how in touch with their ancestry they are over their current existence as a Trinbagonian. Nothing will ever be accomplished with that train of thought.
Thats my attempt to help explain the difference between Nationality and race.
June 15, 2010 at 10:11 am
What do you mean by, "and believe that one negates the other?"
When people say they are African or Indian, some people react as if race is somehow incompatible with nationality.
We commonly hear people say that someone is not an African – they are a Trinidadian. Similarly, as you pointed out, one's race does not deny one's nationality. One could be Asian, Indian, African, European by race and Trinidadian by nationality.
June 14, 2010 at 1:23 pm
Trini-Africans are not accepted as real African by our Africa-African, and Trini-Indian is not acceptable real by India-Indian what are you all point (Try studying in an Internationational University you would find out when it is group sessions). So stop the nonsense 'daah' we all are Trinbagonian. LOL
June 14, 2010 at 5:57 pm
There is confusion among many people across all cultures about race. And, it would not be correct to presuppose that continentals (Indians and Africans) are somehow more knowledgeable on these matters just because they live on the continent. Africa and India were also colonized, and as a result, had to learn how to deal with racism and the concept of race just like everyone else.
Below is an extract from Bukka Rennie's article, "The Lyrics and The Licks: Re-Brand the PNM!" which you read and commented on. While my own definition is somewhat different I think his point of view is worth considering.
This major failing, promoted particularly by PNM regimes, facilitates the continued degradation of Africans and African descendants in this part of the world. The justification and/or escape mechanism constructed to support or assuage this posture is, in fact, a confusing of RACE, as classification of origin, with NATIONALITY, one's place of birth; so we end up with the typical "we are Trinidadians and Tobagonians, not Africans" syndrome while everyone else holds dearly to their ethnicity and are clear on the difference between racial origin and place of birth. The PNM promoted that stupidity and utter nonsense. Today, there is little solidarity, emotional or otherwise, among African citizens here, a basic requirement for socio-economic networking for the advancement of any social grouping in this plural context. Today, there is, to quote Best, no "validating elite", whether land-holding or landless, among this milieu to provide the required social leadership. And all this has resulted in a lack of capacity of the members of this social milieu to develop or to take collective responsibility for the development of widespread independent economic means thereby rendering this social milieu totally dependent on the State for day to day largesse in the form of "salaries and wages" and, therefore, locked outside of the processes and systems of wealth generation and accumulation.
June 15, 2010 at 7:14 am
It is nice to hear talk of nationalistic tone.This is what Trinidad and Tobago should be about.We are not Africans,we are not indians we are not chinese,we are not Syrians etc.We are all one people,Trinidadian and Tobagonians.I think somebody should have the courage and attempt to cut the crap of Indian arrival Day and Emanciapation Day. We should have one day, and that should be Trinidad and Tobago Day.We are going to stay under develop if we continue to show allegience to Africa and India etc.We have to bo one people.Remember our Father of the nation"There can be no Mother Indian for those fore paremts who came from India ,or Africa.China,syria,Portugal or otherwise.There is only one mother and that is mother Trinidad and Tobago"Try this ,we will be proud of our maturity. GOD BLESS TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO.
June 15, 2010 at 10:12 am
Here are race and nationality definitions for general consideration:
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state. Nationality can be acquired by being born within the jurisdiction of a state, by inheriting it from parents, or by a process of naturalization.
Race is the categorization of people into populations or ancestral groups on the basis of various sets of heritable characteristics. The physical features commonly seen as indicating race are salient visual traits such as skin color, cranial or facial features and hair texture.
keeping it realer
June 16, 2010 at 2:34 am
Wikipedia heru, really?
Anyway, from an anthropological stand point there are only three (3) racial grouping for which all human fall into. In any case it is simply a social construct developed by the Europeans to "scientifically" claim superiority as all this categorization by early physical anthropologists were done solely based on physical attributes which they believed to have predominately genetic determinations. However, the concept of race in the human species has now become totally discredited and obsolete with the cracking of the human genome and modern evolutionary biology. Instead of physical race, anthropologists are now talking in terms of geographical race, as it is clear now, that physical features are more determined by geography than anything else. In general, most people still think of race in the archaic sense that the early europeans created it to be. Hence, we still have the feeling of one race being "scientifically" superior to the other.
Lastly, what I think is being discussed here is the distinction between race and ethnicity, not necessarily nationality.
June 16, 2010 at 9:00 am
I agree with those two definitions that I quoted and I have credited where I copied the text from.
Here are another definitions for consideration.
In order to debate this properly, it is important to understand, firstly, the definition of race.
I disagree with your assertion that "the concept of race in the human species has now become totally discredited and obsolete." What in fact has been discredited is the racist idea that people are either inherently superior or inferior based on groups of people's major observable physical characteristics (race).
Race – a: a family, tribe, people or nation belonging to the same stock.
b: a division of mankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type.
- Webster's New College Dictionary.
Race – n: each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.
- Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
In this regard, 'race' is a group of people who share major observable physical characteristics that can be transmitted via their genes. Race is based on phenotype or physical characteristics of the human specie. Physical features such as hair, skin colour, and facial appearance are all taken into consideration when defining one's race.
In other words, the term race points to the differences among groups of people. It distinguishes one population of humans from others based on visible traits such as skin color and facial features. These physical traits also point to biological and cultural adaptations to environment.
Posted By: Leslie – www.rastafarispeaks.com
Scientists have not discredited the fact that, in the human specie, groups of people have major observable physical characteristics that, for the most part, reflect their evolutionary history.
In my view, race is not static: it is fluid. As humans continue to evolve and groups of people develop unique physical characteristics, then people's idea of race will also have to evolve.
Lastly, what I think is being discussed here is the distinction between race and ethnicity, not necessarily nationality.
If people are trying to make a distinction between race and ethnicity then I would suggest they get the meaning of ethnicity. Race and nationality are also ethnic groupings.
keeping it realer
June 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm
For the most part, what you said about race above is essentially what I said. I should clarify my assertion, though. The archaic model of race posited that there was some major genetic difference within the human genome that explained the physical attributes that distinguished the inherent differences (superiority, etc) between the perceived racial groups. This model was based on "nature," that is, the genotypes is completely responsible for the perceived differences and each specific racial group has its own specific genotype.
Instead, we now know that all humans share the same genes (genotypes) and each have different ways of being expressed (phenotypes). How it is expressed is very much dependent on "nature" as well as on nurture (environment). And, nurture, plays a much bigger role in how racial phenotypes are expressed than previously thought. Thus, we now think of races in terms of geography, i.e, geographical races. It is no coincidence then, that the darkest people are found at the equator and skin color gradually becomes lighter as we radiate further away from the equator (I use skin color because this is probably the most distinguishable racial feature to most people).
Anyway, what I asserting is that most people still ascribe to the old concept of race. This is why we still have people saying thing like Indians smarter than creoles and vice versa. I still hold that the concept of race has become discredited and obsolete in the modern world given the body of evidence. (See here: www-personal.umich.edu/~jonmorro/race.html)
Now, on to what I said regarding race vs ethnicity. Now, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I see race as typically classified along physical lines. While, ethnicity refers to shared cultural practices, perspectives, and distinctions that set apart one group of people from another. Ethnicity may or may not include race and nationality. Nationality is simply the membership of one in a nation/ sovereign state. Now, each of these concept can be mutually inclusive or be mutually exclusive of each other. For instance, someone born in Trinidad who migrates to the US and becomes a naturalized citizen may choose to identify his nationality as American, but ethnically identify as Trinidadian while being of the negroid race. On the other hand, someone born and raised in India will have the same ethnic/national/racial identity (yes their are different ethnic groups in India but for the sake of parsimony grant me this example). Now, if you agree with this assessment, I will say that in Trinidad and Tobago we have two major racial groupings, one nationality and several ethnic groups. These ethnic groups seem to be divided along religious lines for the most part (I think the fear Africans hold towards Indians is mostly directed to the Hindu groups and I think the Hindu groups has made it abundantly clear that they are separate from the whole.) Therefore, the tensions that we see between these groups seem to me to occur along ethnic lines. Lastly, I will agree with you also, that there is some unfounded nationalistic tensions, as some groups seem to hold allegiances to India and "Africa" moreso than Trinidad and Tobago.
June 16, 2010 at 8:59 pm
RACE – Etymology
"people of common descent," c.1500, from M.Fr. razza "race, breed, lineage," possibly from It. razza, of unknown origin (cf. Sp., Port. raza). Original senses in Eng. included "wines with characteristic flavor" (1520), "group of people with common occupation" (c.1500), and "generation" (c.1560). Meaning "tribe, nation, or people regarded as of common stock" is from c.1600. Modern meaning of "one of the great divisions of mankind based on physical peculiarities" is from 1774 (though even among anthropologists there never has been an accepted classification of these). Klein suggests these derive from Arabic ra's "head, beginning, origin" (cf. Heb. rosh). O.E. žeode meant both "race" and "language;" as a verb, gežeodan, it meant "to unite, to join." Racial is first attested 1862. Race-riot attested from 1890.
As an addendum to the above: If we look at the Arabic root word "ra", which some claim is the root of the word race, I see another similarity. 'Ra' could have been derived from the African-Egyptian Ra, which signifies head in the Egyptian pantheon. So here is possible evidence that the word race had its conceptual origin in Africa. Because of where Egypt is situated, the ancient Egyptians were, very early on, aware of several groups of people who looked different from them. Also, in the Egyptian "Book of Gates" there were four racial classifications based on the people that they interacted with. So, in other words, although not ascribing the word 'race' to describe the differences in people, as evidenced by some hieroglyphics, they recognized different races that lived around them, particularly in the northern regions.
During slavery, Whites were using the term 'race' in the same way – to differentiate among the different human groupings – but this time they were claiming inferiority and superiority based on these differences. The idea of one group of people being superior to another has been bandied about throughout history, even before the word race was used to describe physical differences. In fact, as recently as two centuries before the 19th century pseudo-scientific theories of race and its connection with superiority and inferiority emerged, there were arguments among ethnic groups in Europe about who was superior and inferior and who thus had the right to lead or the right to land among other things. So there is evidence that concepts about inferiority and superiority were on the minds of enslavers, as indeed others, based on differences such as region, gender, nation and other factors. It is not that one's race or sex or nationality is the problem – these differences would always be as long as humanity exists. The real issue is people's prejudices. So to dismiss the word 'race' or racial classifications such as African and Indian and claim that they are irrelevant is not only inaccurate, but it does not stop people from being different along the same lines as defined by race; neither does it negate the hate or distrust based on observable phenotype.
The reason some modern anthropologists had problems dealing with racial classification annexed to ideas of inferiority and superiority was because they were not finding evidence to support these claims based on racial classifications. The fact that a small portion of our genes account for these physical differences led some to claim race is insignificant. They were not making an argument for dealing with the social ramifications of racism, which they confused with race. In other words, what they were discounting was the false science that was developed to claim inferiority and superiority based on race. The fact that many people still ascribe to White supremacist concepts annexed to race only means they are uninformed.
The meaning of race in itself is not discredited. If anything else it is even more relevant today as a point to start addressing racism. One cannot address racism without referring to race and addressing its effects on people.
About Race and Ethnicity:
The dynamics of ethnicity are broad. Ethnicity is not a specific label; it is a general term for a broad rage of differences. For example, Indian, African, Orisa, Shango, Christianity, Hindu, PNM, and UNC are all ethnic groups. People often share many ethnicities and not just one, so to just use 'ethnicity' as a label is being too general when addressing specific issues. (By the way, I do not accept the term "negroid" as a racial classification. Others can if they want). If I am addressing issues relating to race then I will have to use the word 'race' and not 'ethnicity' to be specific about what I am addressing.
Let me quote you here:
Now, if you agree with this assessment, I will say that in Trinidad and Tobago we have two major racial groupings, one nationality and several ethnic groups.
Here is why I will disagree with you on this. My point may appear to be minor but, in my view, it speaks to the general misunderstanding many people have about the meaning of ethnicity. I would have said:
'In Trinidad and Tobago we have two major racial groupings, one nationality and several OTHER ethnic groups.' I would include "other" in that statement because race and nationality are also ethnic groups.
Your last point about there being "unfounded nationalistic tensions" based on some holding "allegiance to India and 'Africa' moreso than Trinidad and Tobago," is not a valid reason to dismiss such allegiances. In fact, the conditions under which races evolved points to important aspects of our history and culture that are often neglected in favour of preaching colorblindness and assimilation. Embracing or rejecting one's ancestral homeland can pave the way for more discussions, feelings of pride and unity or to tensions and disunity. However, a true historical search can point the way to the commonality of all, which, by the way, still does not negate the validity of identifying with one's place of racial origin.
Being of different races and recognizing such does not mean that people of different races cannot work together, or fraternize, or even be intimate with one other. The problem is racism which means that people act in negative ways against themselves and others based on negative assumptions about people's race. Also, based on our unpleasant historical past, and indeed some of the struggles of the present, it is quite understandable that some people reject allegiance to their nationality. And even those who claim to love country first, that is, the country in which they were born, can still harbour very divisive and racist thoughts and act in ugly ways. Still, the holding of allegiances to different countries of origin is not what is negative: arrogance is.
June 17, 2010 at 7:33 pm
Thank you very much for making this clear to me. I therefore hope that equality be legislated so we could all feel a part of Trinidad and Tobago. We need to feel equal and I guess we do not so we squabble over our feelings of inequality by looking at race or sex.
I think if we felt protected by our constitution and law we could then be able to move on and truly develop as a nation.
We can not appreciate who we are ,as a nation, if we do not have a feeling of belonging.
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