Tuesday 22 September, 2020

Groups, soca artistes denounce racism, call for unity in T&T

Calls denouncing racism in Trinidad and Tobago is growing from various quarters including the church, cultural groups and those in the music industry.

The Catholic Commission for Social Justice, the Emancipation Support Committee and soca artistes are speaking out following the seeming increase in racist comments in the aftermath of the General Election.

In a release, the Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) described racism as a vile worm that eats at the very soul of our beings and our nation.

“Racism is a sin and should be eliminated in all its forms e.g. individual, institutional, direct and indirect.  Let us not forget the impact of racism on the lives of our ancestors.  As T&T’s Independence Day approaches, let us reflect now on ways in which each of us may have, wittingly or unwittingly, through thought, word or action, fed this socially constructed, hydra-headed monster,” the CCSJ said.

 The Commission said as long as racism exists, justice and peace will never become a reality.

“The time is long overdue for us as a people to reject racism and embrace and promote unity in our diversity. We ignore, at our peril, the call of all right-thinking people to do so.  We must pray for a conversion of hearts because, as the US Bishops said: “True justice and peace can be a matter of policy only if it is first a matter of the heart.” Let us pray for God’s grace to open our eyes and those of our leaders, so that we will choose values and virtues that will help us to flourish/progress as a people.”

The Emancipation Support Committee in their press release, called on the leaders in our society to publicly denounce openly inciting racist statements and take measures at the level of the State and Civil Society to rescue our society from growing negative racial sentiments in our society, particularly between our two numerically dominant populations.

Referring specifically to statements attributed to Facebook comments between Naila Ramsaran and Akash Vish Pundit, the ESC said we cannot continue on a road that will lead to the destruction of our country.

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“We are still at a point where sanity about race relationships is strong enough in both our communities, where there is enough genuine goodwill and recognition of our co-dependence and common interests for us to arrest what is potentially a very destructive slide.

“As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Black Power revolution in Trinidad and Tobago we need to revisit its lessons which can teach us the principled path to achieving harmony in diversity in a society which needs it, even more so with the challenges which are just ahead.”

Soca artistes also weighed in on the racial discord via social media comments, using their social platforms to appeal for unity.

In a rare post to his Instagram account, soca king Machel Montano appealed for unity.

“So now that it is all said and done and we have passed through this election process I just want to each out to everybody and hope that we can all come together and unite as one beautiful nation, separate all the differences we had during election time, from this time now, work together and do the right thing to keep our country moving forward,” he said in a video on Instagram.

Montano said he was happy to see his music inspiring people during the elections and did a mix showcasing all of his songs that were remixed for both the United National Congress and People’s National Movement.

In one of a series of posts on her Instagram account, Soca Queen Fay Ann Lyons said racism in any form or fashion is stupid and is a weapon of the weak.

Speaking directly to Afro-Trinidadians, she said we need to show racists how to treat us.

“When we attack each other based on skin colour and facial features we are actually teaching other racists how to disrespect people of our particular race,” she said.

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