Is racism an issue in T&T sports? It is an issue in global sports but is T&T an exception?
Racism, classicism, elitism and variants of those "isms" in most spheres of life here in T&T are never it would seem far from the surface.
There is as a result of a perceived standard operating manual that guides the interaction amongst the diverse members of society.
Dare to raise it and run the risk of characterisation as being racist and or playing the race card. There is a deliberate attempt, that is, age-old to intimidate discussions in respect of surmounting the issue of racism, classicism or elitism, in particular, when it comes to the perceived underdevelopment of afro-T&T communities.
If you ask the question why is racism, classicism and elitism such a taboo? The superficial answer is we are a rainbow and cosmopolitan nation where every creed and race find an equal place.
But is that true? Or is it that T&T is, in reality, more about know your place and space and stay in your space and place It is subtle and covert but at times overt and not so subtle.
There is a lot of talk about inclusion but the truth be told, it's dependent on knowing your place and space.
Recently someone asserted to me of not "messing up things". I couldn't help but chuckle to myself as I wondered what could I have done since first elected T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) president in May 2013 to make someone feel it necessary to express the thought that I run the risk of messing things up.
The history of sports in T&T is unquestionably linked to the nation's colonial past and its socio-cultural dimensions. Sport in the main was considered one of the cultural foundations of British Colonial policy and was introduced to T&T and the Caribbean by British military officers and plantation owners. The history of sports on the twin-island is connected to other aspects of colonial society.
Sports in T&T, based on historical antecedents, reflected ideological socio-economic developments and the social structure at a point in time in history.
The social structure at one time reflected white planters, merchants and the colonial administrators at the top of the pyramid, a predominantly brown mulatto middle class in the middle, and a large group of black people and indentured Indians from India at the bottom- (Brereton 1981).
In the pre and post-Independence period there were fervent calls for a nationalistic orientation away from the values, norms and prejudices of the Colonial ruling class.
Because we shy away from constructive and progressive discussions about racism, elitism and classicism in many spheres the historical antecedents remain impenetrable and drive unconscious bias and prejudices that inform how we view and interact with individuals who may not be perceived as historically fit for purpose to run things or lead.
The cautionary attitude of don't go there in respect of the three pillars of racism, classicism and elitism is a constraint as T&T attempts to fulfil its potential as a nation.
Brian Lewis is the President of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the organisation.