Monday 1 June, 2020

Radio host slammed for 'insensitive' comments on Tobago women

(Update: Radio host 'perplexed' at criticism of comments on Tobago Carnival)

A local radio host has recently been criticised for comments made regarding Tobagonian women on an evening radio programme.

The host, who works at an urban radio station, allegedly made comments on Tobago Carnival in reference to the women who live there.

His comments were criticised by former media producer and yoga instructor, Isoke Edwards, who said she heard the comments on national radio and was not impressed. 

Edwards said radio personalities should be more responsible with their statements, especially on national radio programmes. 

"Yesterday I am listening to the radio, (the radio hosts) are talking about Tobago Carnival and possibly making it more of an attraction...potentially giving it it's own separate day and treating it like Trinidad. I thought it was a very good topic and a nice change from the usual topics they send out into the airwaves."

"Then (the radio host) says 'nah it will never work'. So the other guy asks well why. He then retorts well 'Carnival is woman'. His co-host asks all the while snickering, well what do u mean... Tobago don't have women?"

"(The radio host) replies with similar smug disgusting laughter "well is like bringing sand to the beach". His co-host further pokes him to be even more clear... "so Tobago doh have no nice woman?" all the while erupting with telling laughter. (The radio host) grunts "gawd allyuh know what I mean...."

"No, I do not know what you mean.....I know what you are insinuating but it is not what is real to me. That notion that Tobagonian women are not beautiful only exist in your vapid brain and that idea has less to do with those women and more to do with yourself and those parts of you that you hate."

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"Those same women that you think are not nice enough to parade the streets for your carnival I am certain look just like your mother and your sister," said Edwards, whose family is from Tobago.

"What is ironic is that when I look at you I see all the men that I born and bred in the colour of the earth. Tobago is made up of mostly African women...women that look like they birth you Sir ...women black, broad, thick, slim, fat, short, tall, nappy, kinky and did I say BLACK till they blue jus like you .. but without a doubt beautiful!"

Edwards' comments have gone viral online with 400 shares and almost 1,000 likes.

Edwards said to LoopTT that unless the radio host was able to explain or correct what he meant, it sounded like he was denigrating Tobagonian women, which is unacceptable. 

"It was clear to me what he was insinuating. When his co-host asked 'so are there no nice women in Tobago?' He couldn't articulate it because of course, he was on the radio, but the audience is not dumb. We are not stupid. That really incensed me."

"There is this sense on urban radio in Trinidad that you can say what you feel, however you feel and insinuate whatever you want and there are no consequences. You can't insinuate or perpetuate the sense that there are no beautiful women from or in Tobago, that's not the forum for such things, not on national radio when the whole of Tobago is tuning in. That's unacceptable," she said. 

Edwards, who also previously produced a popular radio programme, said that media representatives have a responsibility to the public.

"There is a lack of sensitivity, you have to be sensitive to your audience. Regardless of whether you're making a broad statement or a specific one, you have to be cognizant of your listeners and how they receive that. That is your responsibility when you get behind that mic."

"We have a saying in Trinidad, 'not all skin teeth is a smile' is not enough to say that's not what you meant...what exactly did you mean? Because you are busy having conversations on national radio, so let's have that conversation," she said.

She added that the silence on the issue was very telling.

"What about your job don't you understand? You have the power to reach the nation, there are young people listening to this station, young people who are battling with self-esteem issues, who are burdened with these kinds of issues that we are grappling with every day."

"I'm not saying the radio host is an awful person, I am simply speaking to his job and his responsibility as a media person on a prime-time slot," she said. 

Radio host Kwesi Hopkinson has since responded that his comments were misinterpreted


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