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Sowing Wind? Then Expect Whirlwind
Quite recently, the Jamaican mother of a black youth who was murdered on the streets of England by a group of young white racists, in what ostensibly was a random and senseless assault, simply because he happened to be black, was internationally featured because, after a long 18-year campaign, two of the five young men involved in the vicious unprovoked killing had at last been tried, convicted and sentenced. She, the mother, had her son’s body buried in Jamaica and not interred in what she considered a racist environment. An ugly feature of the unfortunate episode was what was seen as the reluctance of the police in pursuing, if not frustrating, the solving of the case. The bereaved mother has said that she’d rather have had her son back than his cruel and untimely death now making his memory a “poster child” for the ugly reality of racism and the challenges thereby posed. Incidentally, it’s being held in some quarters that it’s not police incompetence or dereliction of duty but the more serious indictment of “institutionalised racism.”
By the way, the challenges relevant to multicultural demographics are not confined to Britain. Incidentally, the times that we sang “children of the Empire we are brothers” (and presumably sisters, as well) all are long gone. Some European countries contend that immigrants should make some effort to compromise with the dominant host culture. I suppose that the question of “multiculturism” is probably a significant enough topic to merit the attention and study at institutions of higher learning, perhaps event engaging public discussion in the press and elsewhere. Of course this discussion is probably already going on at levels that may not always be objective or away from an emotional and partisan atmosphere, with the easily anticipated “back-ah-yard” flavour and “bacchanal aroma.” In our neck of the woods, it’s quite easy for public discourse on emotive issues to slip into the realm of personal bashing and abuse, however disguised, and sticking to or elucidating germane issues aren’t always easy, even for the best of us.
That, by the way, does not in my opinion only apply to the unlettered or the unlearned. Perhaps sometimes surprisingly, the barefoot man thinks with his head; no offence meant. Besides this, so-called “public debates,” more often that we care to admit, tend to degenerate into exercises of recrimination and counter recrimination, not only in attempts to score sterile academic debating points, but sundry protagonists daring each other that “he/she who is without sin to throw the first stone.” All that’s interesting, perhaps entertaining. However in my own little way, I try to navigate through much of the fluff and keep focus on the essential difference between “who said what” and “what was said by whom.” Simple soul that I am, I may well be wrong in not seeing both as synonymous.
In our little neck of the woods, we should take warning that incendiary and inflammatory rhetoric is always an easy option for reckless and over-ambitious politicians and political demagogues. Guyana is a stark example of the situation that once you let the genie of racism out of the bottle, you’ve got to wait till hell freezes over to get it back in, however much you try. It’s hardly a secret that there are politicians (the bubble-head tongue-twisters) and aspiring political office-seekers who, with their mossy slogans and musty catch-phrases, are only too eager, with their forked tongues, to sow the wind of ethnic discord at the drop of a feather, in the hope of deriving enhanced personal advancement or political prospects, whatever the ensuing whirlwind. Even the lunatic fringes of one sort or another could hardly resist the temptation of seeking to exacerbate and/or exploit multicultural faultiness or create them where they don’t already exist.
Now I don’t have a dog in the hunt, but one can’t help observing that beside lip-service to creating a wide comfort zone such that few, if any, can feel disenfranchised or not getting a fair shake at the country’s resources or what it has to offer, we’ve long been witness to a display of insufferable arrogance and profligacy, not to mention an unbelievable insensitivity to the inherent challenges of managing our God-given resources in a genuinely (not cosmetic) multicultural fashion. I’m by no means suggesting that the situation envisaged is only of recent visage. I can’t help being reminded of a bit of advice being given by then Governor General Sir Solomon Hochoy to Dr Winston Mahabir when he bristled under his public humiliation on the part of his then political leader Dr Eric Williams. Hochoy advised, “Take it in stride,” or words to that effect, “because the party is greater than the man, and the country is greater than the party.” That can be confirmed by Dr Mahabir’s In And Out Of Politics.
Ironically, when the concept of multiculturalism is touted, there is a tendency to give less credit to the smaller (in numbers) ethnicities. The Trinis of Carib descent, who are arguably the Trinis with the most “bragging rights,” are all but completely ignored. There is an expressed view that we don’t vote at elections as we party and this “all ah we is one family” is simply a popular myth. However, according the calypsonian Black Stalin, whether or not we came on the same trip or by the same ship, we’re not all in the same boat. Calypsonian Mighty Trini flaunts his patriotism beyond realistic lengths, so he said, “because he staying on the boat, sink or float, and if it needs a push, he go push like bush.”
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