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HDC boss on election claims: No racism in Tobago
As reports of racial tension grow in Tobago, managing director of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) Jearlean John says racism never existed when she was growing up in Charlotteville, Tobago. She was responding to reports that East Indians were fearful of a backlash if the Tobago Organisation of the People wins the upcoming election.
John, who attended the Roxborough Secondary School, said her stepmother was of East Indian descent and racism was never part of their family. “I don’t think there is racism in Tobago. Growing up, I never experienced this. That was not the values that Tobagonians held. “I don’t know if things have changed since then because I haven’t been living there full time at all.”
John said she was always embraced as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago and her childhood home was always open to people of all races. She said every summer, families from abroad would come to Charlotteville for vacation. “People came from Europe and Canada and every holiday we embraced them because they would come every year. We always had a lot of tourists and we looked forward to them coming every year.
We all played as one as little children. We snorkelled, pelt mangoes and we never had a problem with our physical differences.” John also said there was always inter-racial marriages in Tobago. She said racism had no place in T&T’s society. “We have to be mindful of our motto and pledge, which says every creed and race will find an equal place. This is what makes us a strong people,” she said.
Several people of East Indian descent living in Tobago have complained of racism. Many who have set up lucrative business in the food sector said they had been exposed to racist remarks.
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