My laptop real pick a fine time to stage a sick-out. Almost immediately all kinda things start happening: Fr. Harvey get beat up….by people who vex with him for forgiving those who actually beat him up; Saudi Arabia accused another country of supporting terrorism…..That’s right…. Saudi Arabia making accusations like that – the same Saudi Arabia that is the home of the Salafist ideology that gave us such wonderful organisations like the Taliban, al Qaida and ISIL?!…..maybe this is a Saudi brand of stand-up comedy, I dunno…and oh yes, that jep nest raised by a dinner with Anthony Bourdain.
Now it really eh have much for me to contribute here that Muhammad Muwakil didn’t already say. I will, however, point out that the utterances by Sabga-Aboud, Peter George and many callers in support of what they said, brought out once again some major issues we’re forever sweeping under the proverbial rug.
Now me eh sure what exactly people vex with Sabga-Aboud and George for; is not like they say anything people doh say every day in public and in private. Look how so many people called into various talk shows the days after and say “Buh he eh lie, is de truth oui.” Okay, okay, maybe dais not why dey vex: maybe is because ah who said it and the position of power and influence they supposedly hold. Super Mario come off like he was flaunting it. But ent flaunting one’s wealth and/or material possessions is how success is supposed to be expressed here? Since the late 19th century displays of extravagance by elites was the norm and a way of showing superiority. So dais how it supposed to be, not so?
Of course when one does that there’s then that little question of social inequality to confront but that’s minor, dy small ting. It only important for those who want freeness. Former government minister Stephen Cadiz was right when he said that the comments were blown out of proportion. Now for me, that, like the comments made by Peter George, is what says a whole lot. This is the same Stephen Cadiz who formed the Keith Noel 136 Committee calling attention to the high levels of gun violence; the same one who produced a documentary on the 1970 February Revolution. What he said kinda cleared up some lingering questions I had with that documentary. I mean it gave a pretty good overview of that turbulent and heady period. But certain key elements such as the radicalism in south Trinidad and the pan-African, pro-nationalist ideas that served as the foundation, going back to the 19th century were presented somewhat curiously. They were either invisiblised or portrayed in a manner that conveyed a sense of irrational, violent buffoonery (no disrespect to interviewee Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall). Maybe Mr. Cadiz or Alex de Verteuil could clear that up for me.
My main point is that the views expressed during and after that now infamous dinner lifted the plaster off a whole lot of sores festering for a very long time. One such sore was the creation of buffer groups by the British colonial authorities and absentee landlords – something they did almost everywhere they colonised. Many of these buffer groups were given status and privileges even though many times they themselves were the objects of British contempt. Ultimately, when the British retreated upon “independence” the resentments that were created among various groups lingered – often with bloody results (see under India/Pakistan; Palestine, Guyana, Nigeria……..)
Connected to that is another sore: the level of disconnect that still exists in this society. Geography as well as certain social issues gave us parallel communities, often separated by mere feet from other communities, with little understanding of how the people there lived. The realities of whole sections of this society are blissfully unknown by other sections. The little they do know is often filtered through old racist narratives of the laziness and innate violent criminality of African and Indian people. Hence the need for that ‘security’ class.
When many talk show hosts and callers argued that Mr. George and Sabga-Aboud spoke the harsh truth, that they got to where they are today because of hard work and sacrifice – which in many respects is true, I’m not denying that – what was often not being said was a notion based on the lingering belief that the lower-income sections of this country are a bunch of lazy shiftless people who are where they are because they didn’t sacrifice and work hard. In other words, the real issue here is a setta jealous, lazy, poor people who vex cause dey reminded that they living off the fat of the land – as one former government minister called it. This of course is another lingering sore: the internalisation by ALL the various ethnic groups of the racist/sexist narratives the British colonisers used to keep the African and Indian labouring masses out of real political and economic power in this country.
All that then has to be linked to Peter George’s statement about the middle class acting as security between the haves and the have-nots. One wonders if he or Mr. Cadiz ever bothered to make connections between the certain decisions geared towards increasing profits, the marginalising of depressed communities, social inequity and the “civil commotion” George is so worried about. Much of the crime, the general indiscipline, bobol, ratch, and corner-cutting we see here (and participate in) and more ominously, the callous indifference to life has to do with a mindset stemming from a understanding by the labouring classes over the last 120+ years that “by the sweat of MY brow, THOU shall eat bread.” They understood it and decided they had enough of that shit, what the hell did you expect?
So continue to pathologise, and pontificate and dismiss certain people as lazy and unproductive; continue to ignore their calls and treat them like you don’t see them. They’ll have ways of making you take notice; maybe they’ll really decide to engage in boycott actions – it’s only when the list of businesses were put up online that I realised just how many of them I already do NOT patronise – if so, I do hope there’ll finally be a concerted attempt to develop small, community-based businesses. It’ll be great if lower-income people in rural communities rediscover the abilities they once had to sustain themselves. In any case, the elites would do well to remember 1919, 1934, 1937, 1970. Of course you can do like the authorities did after each one of those events and treat them as if it was a first time thing. But somehow I think it will be less likely to ignore the rage this time around.