Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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The lost tribes of Trinidad
I’d intended to move on from the small-islander business, but Prof Theodore Lewis, writing in another paper last Friday, convinced me otherwise. Prof Lewis wrote about the fate of little black boys, how they does come out gangsta, and how things change so much from the good ole days of Best, Brathwaite, and so on.
It was a replay of an endlessly repeating script. No facts, statistics, or theory needed, just clichés of victimhood and sentiment. Evidence, anecdotal. Solutions involved highway billboards to communicate with young black men.
Nonetheless, one striking assumption stands out from the proposition that young black men of today are not what they were a generation ago: that there is and has always been a single mass of undifferentiated black people in Trinidad. This is the implicit assumption of Prof Lewis’s and every similar armchair, quasi-professional and professional analysis of this phenomenon. Therefore (the reasoning goes) the criminals must be an organic part of the “African” community. Then silence, as the implications register.
But this is, as they say at the NAACP, wrong. AfroTrinidad is divided into at least three ethnic groups: the Ellis Clarke Afro-Saxons; the Lloyd Best/CLR James “organic” continuum of peasantry/clerisy/middle class; and there’s the urban underclass. This is not an inference you’ll find anywhere in the sociological literature, which says much about the literature and its producers.
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