Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 8th 2015 Contents A21
Wednesday, July 8, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Applications will be accepted from ten (10) working days prior to the auction date. The
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bidder agrees to accept the weighted average price of the successful bids determined in the
For competitive tenders, payments must be in the amount of the total cost of the bills; for
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The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago invites tenders
from the public for the following issues:
TREASURY BILL AUCTION
www.central-bank.org.tt/content/treasury-bills or call
The Repeating Island is a
famous book by the late
Cuban scholar, Antonio Benitez
Rojo. I could get into its content
(which is fascinating) but in this
case it s just the first phrase that
comes to mind in the present dis-
pensation. It seems that every-
thing in popular culture, academ-
ic, media, political and social
spheres, is stuck in an endless
repeating loop. This kicked me
listening to Franklin Khan and
Keith Rowley limply denounce the
racism coming from their plat-
forms, and try to flip it (suggest-
ing the PP is the racial party).
Politics, in addition to being the
art of the possible, seems in T&T
to be the art of the amnesic.
No one has any memory of
anything before 2010, which is the
furthest historical horizon. The
medium term stops at Section 34.
The short term is Fifa & Jack, for
this week. That s why the PNM
can so confidently and brazenly
say it s/ they re not about race. In
the Express s two-article chuckle-
fest in April about PP/government
bloggers attacking women and Dr
Rowley, the general secretary of
the PNM, Ashton Ford, was quot-
ed saying of racism something to
the effect that "it s not who we
are", or some such thing.
Which leads to a few obvious
questions, the first being: WTF?
The others including: do they
actually know what "racism"
means? Is this the PNM who
selected as a candidate Maxie
"Chutney Rising" Cuffie? Is it the
PNM one of whose frontline sup-
porters wrote in the Mirror (June
4, 2004, p 34) an article with the
headline "Dem Indian and dem
too deceitful"? The same person
who was going round saying Indi-
an teachers were not teaching
black children in 2005?
Is this the PNM whose radio
host supporters have shows called
The Black Agenda and organiza-
tions called The Black Caucus?
And other supporters who say
and sing things like Indian doctors
deliberately sterilize black women?
(Singing Sandra s calypso, Geno-
cide.) Or beg "bandit pardners" to
"kidnap dem" (Cro Cro s calypso,
Face Reality)? And what of Body-
guard, Snakey, Karene Asche et
co? (Ever listen to the lyrics of
Asche s Be Careful What You
What about PNM leaders
meeting with Louis Farrakhan
when he came here? If, in all
seriousness, the PNM is aware of
all these things and still thinks it s
not racist, then we have a horse
of a whole different species here:
one with a horn growing from the
centre of its forehead. The ques-
tion is, how could such obvious
delusion pass as normal? As dis-
cussed in this space, a large part
of the reason is the fundamental
flaw in Trini Afrocentric/ethnic
logic: its premise that
AfroTrinidadians are identical to
African Americans, and are there-
fore entitled to all the rights and
so forth. To repeat: wrong.
Suffice it say, of more interest is
why this flawed premise persists.
In the US (and the Metropole
generally) ethnic positions and
politics are so over-analysed,
over-determined, and overdone,
that talking race can be like walk-
ing though an ideative minefield.
White people either keep discus-
sions strict limits, or say nothing
at all, but remain unconvinced. So
their words say one thing, actions
Thus African Americans have
enormous cultural latitude in the
US: in effect able to publicly say
and feel things no other ethnic
group can, but they re by far the
most discriminated against in
terms of employment, incarcera-
tion, and policy generally.
And it s not just opinion.
There s no shortage of high-quali-
ty social science produced on the
ethnic issue---from empirical stud-
ies like Michelle Alexander s book,
The New Jim Crow, and journal-
ism and cultural criticism from
Michael Moore, John McWhorter,
Stanley Crouch, and Dave Chap-
pelle. So whatever else ails it, US
ethnic discourse doesn t suffer for
Here, it s the opposite: almost
no empirical data, and most
attempts at discussion on ethnic
issues are anecdotal and moronic.
The Centre for Ethnic Studies was
formed in the early 1990s to
address this need, but as its
reports began to confirm that
Indians were the real Africans
when it came to discrimination,
the institution was promptly
A couple of edited collections
like Trinidad Ethnicity (Kevin
Yelvington) and Identity Ethnicity
and Culture in the Caribbean
(Ralph Premdas) exist.
They confirm that once the
analysis becomes rigorous, the
conclusions that racial asymme-
tries might not be against
Africans, but in their favour, in
Trinidad at least. And you get the
impression that s the reason local
academics prefer to leave the area
understudied, and import conclu-
sions from the US. I wrote a
paper on the issue a few years ago
and sent it to two journals.
One (where the referees were
not locals) said it was good
enough to publish with revisions.
The other sent it to a highly
respected local academic to refer-
ee, who concluded it was a con-
spiracy theory and not worth
pissing on. (I kept all the emails.)
Through this means, much schol-
arship which attempts to shine
unwanted light on the ethnic issue
in T&T is quickly stifled.
And the PP is more guilty here
than the PNM. The PNM has its
mythology (Father of the Nation,
multi-racial, but not really). The
PP has not attempted to counter
with legitimate scholarship, and
instead concocted "multicultural-
ism" to distract the nation while
billion-dollar contracts were/are
being handed out. One of the
consequences of this PP cynicism,
mixed into a population socialized
by US "reality" television and the
low end of African American pop
culture, is that the PNM can
claim they re not racial, and no
one has the wherewithal, data, or
apparently desire, to rebut.
THE RACE THING, REPEATED
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